We celebrated Christmas yesterday. The best present for me was that Dexter was here with us, having another good day. We hadn’t expected that, hadn’t even wished for it because it seemed so impossible. On Christmas Eve, he slept in bed with me almost the whole night, curled up and warm right next to me, something he rarely ever does anymore. In these moments, I remind myself that this time is short, to surrender to it, to sink into the space I have left with him.
In the same way that having Dexter here but at the same time still dying, Christmas is always a mix of happy and sad for me. I love Colorado and my little family here, but I am also homesick, nostalgic for that other home, that other family, remembering so many Christmas’s past spent at the Farm, the laughter, the good company, and the food. I don’t mind telling you, I miss my mommy. Christmas music and twinkly lights are just as likely to make me feel joy as they are sorrow. For example, this song from A Charlie Brown Christmas makes me tear up every time.
A friend and I were talking the other day about issues we both have with perfectionism, feeling unworthy and thinking we need to earn love, permission, rest, self-care. At the end of our conversation, she said “well, how are we going to help each other with this? we are like the blind leading the blind.” I responded “we aren’t blind, we just have our eyes closed.”
I find this oddly hopeful, comforting, that once there’s even a slight shift in awareness, once I understand that this isn’t permanent or fixed and therefore choosing another option is always possible, I can open my eyes, things can and will shift.
Today is the first day of a seven day retreat for me, the final week of a year of retreat, (my guiding word, my intention for 2012). When I told Eric that’s what I was doing, he asked what that meant exactly. I said I’d be meditating, reading and writing, but not much of anything else, and his response was “how’s that different from any other time?”
I was telling that same friend that I mentioned before about this week of retreat, all the contemplating, reverbing, inward looking, unravelling, and reset.revive.restart.-ing I was planning, and she said “I think maybe you need someone to tell you, you are doing too much.” I’ve been telling myself that for months, asking “how are you going to keep this up?” to which I typically have answered, “shhh, I’m working.”
As far back as late 2011, I was trying to figure this out, wrote about it in Turn the F*ckin Faucet On! and Pace Yourself, about how much I wanted, but how I also realized “There’s just not room for all of it, at least not in this space and time continuum. I am greedy, taking on more than I can possibly do, but there is just so much I want.” I went on to say “Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I shouldn’t dream so big. Obviously, I believe in that. Dreaming and wishing and opening myself up to new possibilities and different options is propelling me after years of being stuck. What I am saying is that I need to ‘pace myself.’ ” I’m not quite there yet, kind and gentle reader, but I keep trying.
As I write this, I have about 40 pages of reading and prompts, along with two books sitting next to me–the “plan” for this retreat. Some of the prompts I’ve already answered in other ways–what I accomplished this year, what kind of relationship I had with my body. This was the plan, but instead I found myself allowing the day to unfold naturally. Instead of the plan, I: slept in a bit (Sam joined me after he had breakfast), played with Dexter and one of his Little D babies, wrote and drank half a cup of coffee while snuggled in my purple fleece robe, went to a yoga class, worked out with my trainer, took a hot shower, cleaned my shrine, ate a bowl of apple pie oatmeal while I watched an episode of the Good Life Project, took a nap, talked to my brother on the phone, meditated, walked the dogs, played with Sam in the backyard, looked up at the sky, ate a big salad and a cookie.
Maybe this retreat isn’t about having a plan after all, isn’t about doing or accomplishing anything. Maybe it’s about a rest, a reset, finding a workable rhythm, experiencing both the joy and the grief, maybe it’s about not being in such a hurry to get somewhere, but rather relaxing, surrendering and sinking into being here.