Eyes Wide Open

We have family staying with us for several days.  There are sisters and kids everywhere,  lots of goodness and extra pairs of shoes by the back door.  Since I’ve been out of sync with my routines for weeks now, I’m tempted to get antsy when I think of the days ahead, though I love each person under my roof.

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I’m tempted, I say, but I’m determined not to give in to the feeling.  Because I’m understanding, more and more, that life is just a handful of breaths–and that God and people are the only real things when it all comes down.

Routines should serve us and not the other way around.  So the thing I’m going to do this week, if I don’t do anything else, is to look my people in the eye.  I’m going to be here, listening and remembering, not writing my novel in my mind, or grumping about the watercolor days.

I will stay awake.

Alive

When I look through the glass of your little box and see something sort-of like you,

an amoeba swimming on jelly who looks good to me

because I cannot see the hard edges, I get thirsty.

But if I log off, if I feel dog fur and trace the blond streaks in my real daughter’s hair,

I can feel my feet again on the cold floor.

When Things (Don’t) Fall Apart

After nearly three weeks away (first out of the country, then out of my state), I’m back home.  The first thing I did when I came through the door yesterday was to pet the dogs –I hesitate to admit how much I missed them–and to sniff the air.  Our house smelled stale, like mold, kind-of.  But the friend who cared for our two dogs and Russian tortoise while we were away had cleaned the place, bless her, and changed the sheets. She was even trying to prepare chicken for us before we stopped her.  It definitely wasn’t her causing the smell.

I’m always anxious right up to the time I catch a plane somewhere.  Not-so-deep-down, I believe that if I don’t prepare for every domestic eventuality, heading off each maybe with typed lists and Martha Stewart efficiency, things will go horribly wrong while I’m away, and I’ll pay for them in the end.  Every, single time I leave.

But, so far, things have been OK when I’ve returned.  Sometimes even better than OK.  I know that God is teaching me how to trust him, one tarmac at a time, though I’m in the slow group when it comes to these kinds of lessons.

Because, in the end, there is so much that is out of my hands.  I (purposely) forget that as queen of my little domain.  It’s only when I leave that I’m reminded how fragile, how miraculous, the everyday workings of life really are.  So then it’s pure, blinky-eyed luxury to walk back through the door and find that my home world kept turning without my managing it, even if the air is slightly funky.

I’m tucking these travel revelations away to chew on later, and, like some desert animal, I’ll call them up when I need them again.

But I plan to set off one of those mold bombs, too, just in case.

On My Way Out…

I’m off to Africa with my husband.  I still have approximately ten thousand things to do before I go and, naturally, only about half a day’s time to accomplish them.  So why am I sitting at the computer?  Because I won’t have it in front of me for a longish time, and like my morning chocolate coconut Luna bars, I’ll miss it.

“See” you on the flip side.

P.S.  If you’re new here, feel free to take a look around while I’m out.  :)

Avoiding (and recovering from) the Dreaded Goal Drift

DSCN0939Drifting.  It’s something we all do, I suspect.  We start out with plans or goals, and for a while, if we’re very motivated, we implement them.  After some time, new habits start to feel kind-of normal, and we think, “This is it.  I’m a changed person.  Look at what I’m doing these days.”  We’ve turned a corner and now we’re unstoppable.

And that’s when it starts to happen:  the drift–the sliding, ever so slowly, away from our original intentions.

It may be that we’d committed to eating better, and for a while we do.  But then, after a month or so, when we’ve shed a little weight and kale is our friend, we indulge in fries once.  Then twice.  Then three times a week.

In my case, I’d been waking up well before my kids for several weeks.  When my alarm sounded each morning, it felt wonderful, if also a little painful, to know that the sun wouldn’t be up for a while, and that I had loads of time to read, write, and pray.

But then, little by little, I started to shut off my alarm a couple mornings per week.  Sleeping in felt wonderful, too.  I began to want sleep more than I wanted to observe my morning routine.  Before I knew it, I was consistently using all of my reflective, alone time in order to sleep in.  This meant that I tried to grab that time during other windows in the day when it was much harder to protect.  I grew grumpy, as if this predicament were my kids’ fault (it wasn’t).

Furthermore, even with the extra sleep, I didn’t feel more rested.  I felt irritable.  I knew I needed to revisit my original goal.

These days, I’m waking up early again, and it feels great, just like it used to.  I’m reminded why I made this decision in the first place.  Instead of beating myself up about my previous drifting, I’m simply savoring the return to this happier (more disciplined) state.  My hope is that, if I pay attention to how good it feels to wake up early, the next time I’m tempted to drift, I’ll remember why I chose to do it in the first place.

Because, in the end, joy and contentment are better motivators than guilt and fear.

Routines

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You position yourself and

you do not know if things will turn out,

though you’ve bled a little, and hoped, and hated.

And there are worse things in the world

if your words return to you, flat yellow and slightly

dishonest, and you have to swallow hard because they belong to you.

There are worse things than that.

So you keep sending them out, you keep pushing, letting the dead ones die,

because what else can you do?