Recently I mentioned something I call the “sweet spot.” It’s a concept that for me has its origins in hiking. I started noticing that when we go hiking there is a spot, a moment that comes after miles of hiking, some of which were maybe difficult and even made me want to give up, a moment where/when we reach a vista with a beautiful view, or a spacious clearing under a vast sky, or a particular cluster of rocks or a specific tree or meadow of wildflowers, and I experience this moment of awe, amazement, gratitude. All the hard work is worth it to be able to see this — the sweet spot.
I’m living in a particularly sweet spot in my life right now. To get here I’ve experienced many difficulties, some that I’ve shared here and some I haven’t because they weren’t my stories to tell. At times I wanted to give up. I’m so glad I didn’t. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this, this sweet spot, this particular magic, this specific moment in time.
I was contemplating yesterday how I sometimes get stuck, when there’s too much to do, so much I want, and I’m frozen in place, can’t seem to do anything. I understand that it’s because the awareness of all the things at once is too much. To be able to get anything done, I need to focus on just one thing at a time, the thing I’m doing right now. To be aware of it all at once is overwhelming, feels impossible, makes me want to give up. I have to break it down into smaller bits — what do I need, want to do right now? That’s it. Just do that one thing.
I read somewhere about a book or a class related to focus or organization or something that recommends an exercise where you set a timer for 30 minutes and clean your toilet. You gather all your supplies ahead of time so during the half an hour, you are only cleaning. For that 30 minutes, the full 30 minutes, you do nothing but clean your toilet, every nook and cranny. The intention is that at the end of that half an hour you have a super clean toilet, as well as a new appreciation for what it means to truly commit to doing something, to being present with it completely, to giving that kind of attention to one thing at a time.
I’ve realized that in order to offer and accomplish everything I wish for, I have to take this sort of approach — one thing at a time. It’s too much to focus on all the changes, all the miles at once. I have to take one small piece and work there, give it all my attention. Then, I move to the next small piece, take the next tiny step. It’s the only way I know how to get anywhere.
All of that effort adds up, and I find myself in the sweet spot. Rachel Cole creates a three month intensive program, Feast, that seems as if it was created just for me. My friend Courtney Putnam offers me a spot in her amazing writing class, Zen Pen. I go on retreat with Susan Piver and I write the opening to the book that’s been worming around in my brain for the past year. In her annual report for the Open Heart Project, Susan announces that one of her goals for 2015 is to offer meditation instructor training and certification. We figure out what is wrong with Sam and are able to help him, which means he’s a much happier dog. Ringo grows up so much, is so much easier to care for, is such a joy. I’m a yoga teacher. I quit working with a trainer and a whole new world of movement opens up for me. I take refuge vows. I stop coloring my hair and clean out my closets. I start cooking more and eating better. I finish the Self-Compassion Saturday eBook and almost 400 copies are downloaded within the first few weeks.
So a reminder for me, and maybe for you as well, kind and gentle reader: Don’t give up. Don’t be overwhelmed by what seems like a vast distance between where you are now and where you’d like to be. Take one small step, and if that’s too much, take a half step. Focus on one thing at a time, one breath. Have faith that all the tiny things, the small parts, the bits and pieces will add up over time. Know that there is a sweet spot, and if you keep moving, no matter how slowly, you will find yourself there. Maybe you are there right now?