On the Importance of Quietude

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I was selfish this weekend. Blatant, unabashedly, selfish. Sequestering myself in a lovely hotel suite on Friday afternoon, I made some time for myself. I only did what I wanted. Nothing that ‘needed’ to be done, nothing that ‘should’ be done. Only what I wanted. I spent hours in bookstore and selected four new titles to read through the weekend (as of this posting I’ve finished two)… and I took my time. I picked up and I put down. At one point I had a dozen and had to cull the stack slightly. I debated Moleskine journals versus leather-bound sketchbooks. You get the point… I did it slowly and thoughtfully, allowing myself the time and the luxury of being in the moment. The rest of the weekend, I stayed in sweats, ordered room service and read.

I’ve not turned on television or music at all during this time, nor have I had phone calls or emails. A few texts (and by a few I mean, 3) only. By the time I check out, that will have been 47 hours of silence.

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It was decadent.

I also did a lot of thinking and pondering, and sorting of things that I’ve not made time to digest. Allowing myself the quiet and space to recuperate from life and rejuvenate from my responsibilities helps me to be my highest best self. I see that now. I’ve said to my family, I don’t have time to ‘insert anything related to self-care here’. And in doing so, I’ve done us both a disservice. I can’t be the best I need to be for them, nor myself, if I don’t make time for the care and keeping of me.

And wow, does it show. Over the last few months, I cry easier, get more easily frustrated, and I found that I’m harboring resentments that are either trivial and silly or they are downright toxic. And I KNOW better than to allow emotional things to fester like this… but getting in my own way, I disallowed both the notion and actually experiencing quietude in my life.

Quietude   Definition and More from the Free Merriam Webster Dictionary

A quiet state. Repose. Mind boggling states of being, as they felt so huge and foreign on Friday. I realized that I had to consciously make myself slow down when I went to the bookstore. I had to consciously force my shoulders into a relaxed state. I had to consciously let go.

Being fully present in the cocoon I created this weekend, was both intriguing and alarming. I saw how short my attention span has become, reaching for the mobile device (which had made no noise to indicate a message of some kind was received) every 10-15 minutes. I felt myself become bored and tried to remember what that felt like, so I’ll recognize it the next time it shows up. In our ADHD culture, we don’t often allow ourselves to feel boredom. Once the tiniest inkling of it strikes, we’re off to do something faster, bigger, better, shinier… anything ‘more’ than what we’re doing. I allowed boredom in and let it stay awhile. It came to visit a couple of times over the weekend and I had to make more conscious efforts to stay in my chair. My monkey mind was telling me to get up and go shopping (‘you need new clothes for work’), or to go to a movie (‘you know you want to see that Star Trek movie AND it’s probably in a dollar theater somewhere’), or other things similar to this.

Reminding myself that this stuff used to fill in the empty spots or buying things or short-lived experiences (like the movie, which I would also sometimes equate to ‘stuff’) doesn’t add to the quality of anyone’s life. It adds to the quantity of things in your life, which I might add, don’t fill the empty spots at all.

It’s been liberating, this realization (or re-realization), that it’s acceptable to be somewhat selfish when it comes to taking care of yourself. No one can, or will, do it better than you will. By the same token, no one can fuck it up as greatly as you can either.

I’m making a list of things that I will try to work on… things I’ve realized that have to be a priority.

1) Inject more quiet in to my day. No TV, no music, no audiobooks. Just quiet. It unfettered the mind and allows it to go to some pretty interesting places.
2) Move. Get out of bed a little earlier, go to bed a little later, actually take a lunch break and get up from my desk and walk. If the day’s schedule allows for no other form of exercise, walk.
3) Make the time to cook really good food. Life is too freaking short for take out. (When you extrapolate this one out, it also means making the time to plan and shop for everything required to cook really good food).
4) Limit screen time at home….for everyone.
5) Remove toxic relationships and behaviors from my life. (Even though the last few years have been huge in this area, it’s still obvious that some are still there.)
6) Live with more integrity. (This doesn’t mean that I am living without it, but rather, is a note to further refine how I live with integrity and how to do it better.)
7) Spend more time with friends.
8) Laugh more.
9) Love better.
10) Write. (Every.Stinking.Day.)

and lastly,

11) Schedule the next Weekend of Quietude. (I think this must become habit.)

P.S.

It’s just not possible that I can sleep any later than 7 AM anymore.

This feels more a harbinger of lurking middle age and a reminder of life’s responsibilities than any number of crows feet I might see around my eyes in the morning mirror. What the hell… at least watching the sun rise is a decent trade-off.

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(I’m also learning, as I approach middle age, that I must start writing down the brilliant writing ideas I have while lying in bed watching the sun rise, all while cursing my inability to sleep late. They don’t like to stick around, or aren’t as clear, by the time I make my way to my laptop.)

i want to live in a world where…

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i want to live in a world…
where i can go barefoot everyday.
where the grass is soft beneath my feet
and the hard Georgia clay sticks to my heels.

where the roar of the ocean is never far away.
where my pulse matches the undulation
of the waves, kissing on the shore.

where the creativity in my soul is expressed
in the labor of my hands and
the sweat of my brow.

where laughter and love and conversation
flow like the water that so often
quenches the fire in my spirit.

where friends are family
and family are friends
and my backdoor is always welcoming loved ones inside.

nascence

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the bulb, knowing only the cold earth around it, its envelopment complete, has no knowledge of the sun, or of it’s power. it sits dormant, biding it’s time. only it’s not fully aware that it is biding it’s time.

the sun, radiant in it’s all it’s life affirming glory, gently lords over the whole of the universe. so many worlds under it’s dominion, so many things relying on it for heat and energy and for sustenance… and yet it pays no heed.

at the first warming of the earth, the long silent bulb warms and becomes aware that YES… this…THIS is the moment it wasn’t aware that it had been waiting it’s whole life for. reaching, ever reaching to be closer to the source of such amazing and soul-fulfilling warmth. pushing through the all-enveloping earth, the nascent flower struggles to reach the surface, slowly breaking through the monumental obstacles seeming to keep it from the finding the source of the heat that caused it’s awakening.

the sun continues to sit at the centre of all, seeing all and nothing, simultaneously. as it’s sweeping gaze passes the particular field wherein the tulip resides, there is a small, green protuberance otherwise curious and out of place. each day, it’s gaze passes over the field, seeing ever more evidence of growth of the small flower. each day, it’s gaze is longer transfixed to the spot of ever growing greenery.

petals and leaves finally have the chance to unfurl at the dawning of the sun. as the sun’s rays grace the tender petals and the newborn glory of the flower’s petals grace the sun’s gaze, the mutual feeling is one of a long held breath, exhaled.

how does one put into words what the sun means to the tulip, or what the tulip means to the sun?

Namaste

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When I’m here…there’s a crispness to the wind.

It’s cold, and stings as it whips across my face.

Aged and faded lung ta gallop just as fervently through the mind as the freshly offered.

All is well.

May you be filled with loving kindness.
May you be well.
May you be peaceful and at ease.
May you be happy.

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thank you note….

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dear mother and father god,

it feels odd writing to you, like i’d write to a friend who lives in a distant city, but i’m trying to view you in that manner.
i’ve taken issue, for some time, with how people do such terrible wrong in your name. so much issue that it’s pushed me away from most of your places of worship.

my most favorite place to commune with your universal spirit is sitting in my bed. i light incense and candles, assume a quasi-good lotus position and then i just breathe. i take measured breaths in and out, and i seek you, in the many different facets in which you enter my life.

how my youngest child laughs so much and so often, reminding me of joy, peace and harmony. and reminding me that no matter how heavy situations feel, there is still joy to be found.

how the next youngest is growing out of her shell daily. she has always been the most introverted of my children, and by giving her room to be herself, and to understand who she is and allowing her to be comfortable in her own skin, reminds me that i have to allow myself that same opportunity.

how my middle child, my youngest son, is so smart, and so easily bored. how video games hone his hand/eye coordination, but i worry that they stunt his social skills. but again he’s just brilliant in my eyes. his quirky and ecentric nature, and makes him so happy when he is present in his element. this reminds me to remain present in hthe myriad of moments that present themselves to me everyday, seeming choices to either be happy, or not.

how my eldest son, so steadfast, surefooted and strong, is firmly rooted in the firmament of the earth. the most steady of my children, yet nearly grown himself, i can always count on him to make me laugh, even when he’s helping me to clean the kitchen or mop the floors. his playful, yet steady spirit, reminds me to laugh, even when there is work to do… and even better, laugh while i’m working.

how my oldest child, my oldest daughter has a gypsy heart (stole a piece of my own, i think she did), and a wild spirit and never says no to anything. never have i seen her let anything get in her way, particularly if it’s something she’s set her mind upon doing. i’m reminded of perseverance and the benefits of struggle, and the joys of a gypsy heart.

from the mister, i’ve learned that anyone can change, and that the change can be real and true and meaningful. that love knows no bounds when it’s soulful.

lately, when things have seemed really hard, it’s as though i’m finding love notes from you scattered throughout my day. a word or a phrase that resonate with thoughts in my head, or worries and concerns that are weighing me down. reminders to allow myself to feel the joy that is in my life, the laughter, the experiences that are woven into the cloth of my day.

so mother/father god, this letter was a small thank you note. thank you for the reminders you give me daily, both directly, through my family, and indirectly, through the cloth that wraps itself around me every day.