It’s Greg’s birthday today so I’m seriously considering changing out of the pajamas I’ve worn for 10 days while caring for sick kids (and a sick me), and changing into regular clothes. I mean, it’s mid-afternoon, and I haven’t actually taken anything resembling action to Put on Regular Clothes, but it’s a possibility, is what I’m saying. Also, by “regular clothes,” I mean leggings and a t-shirt. Possibly a bra. If he’s really lucky, I’ll wear my fancy bra; the one that’s not stretched out in the back, and doesn’t have the fine pieces of elastic erratically fraying like they’ve been fried in a horrible electrical accident, and whose underwire isn’t about to snap, making one boob significantly saggier than the other. It is, after all, important in any marriage to keep romance alive! Also, birthdays are special around here.
I texted Greg to see if he wanted to pick up a few boxes of scalloped potatoes, which are his favorite, so I can make those for dinner along with ham from a locally-raised pig because we believe in Both/And around here; both delicious, preservative-laden, dye-infused, freeze-dried, simple-carbohydrate potato products from a box which we will rehydrate with yummy, yummy saturated fat (read: All the Butter), AND hand-fed, gently-raised, locally-produced, happy, organic ham. Maybe I’ll find some freezer-burned green beans to microwave so my kids will have a green vegetable to refuse to eat, too. That sounds fun. Happy Birthday, Greg!
We’re hanging in there, friends, during this weird, weird season. But we’re doing it by taking one thing at a time, deciding what’s actually critical right now, letting everything else go, and being gentle with ourselves when we drop balls and mess things up and live in the muck and mire, muddy and mangled. We are tired. Donald Trump has been president for 17 days, and we have been sick for 10 of those. Our Christmas tree is still up, and we have no plans to change that anytime soon. We are working our usual 3-4 jobs. Our kids’ book reports and science assignments are late. My son just spilled Gatorade all over the living room floor, which WAS NOT PUKE, so HOORAY! And we spent the night on the phone with our college kid who was stranded in Seattle trying to fly back to college in the midst of a snow storm.
Yes, we’re tired — like All of America, I suspect — but we are trying to be kind to each other because changing the world starts at home with tiny acts of kindness and choosing to lay the infinite opportunities for bitterness aside. Some days, all we have the energy and wherewithal to do is put on clothes. Or make scalloped potatoes. Or just breathe; one breath in, one breath out, in and out, over and over. This, too, though, is an act of love. This breathing in madness. This remaining in the midst. It’s a choice to find magic in the mess. An insight into grace in the grime.
So, friends, if you are here, too, in this messy space where the only thing you’re doing right now is taking one breath at a time, welcome. We are not alone.
P.S. I tend to be more of a doer than someone who knows how to rest and take respite. I react more than I respond. But I am attempting to learn to be more attentive. To take in what the world sends me and to let it flow back out; in, through, and out. A conduit for Love. A conductor for Grace. A reflector of Light. I am better at it some days than others.
Along with some of my most trusted people, I’m trying a new thing next month when it comes to retreats. As you may know, I have hosted writing and spiritual formation retreats in the past; the Magic in the Mess Writing Retreat (next one in May), and the Grace in the Grime Spiritual Formation Retreat. I love both. I’m also asking myself, though, in the midst of what we’re experiencing as a nation and a world; as mothers, mud-dwellers and magic-makers; as humans who want to learn how to listen well and love much, how I can HELP? How can we, collectively, learn to reset so we can SEE each other for who we all are, with curiosity instead of judgement? Out of conversations like this — what does the world need most right now and what do we need in order to not just survive it but build something better and brighter — the Mindfulness Retreat was born.
Simply put, mindfulness is taking care of our nervous system. It is noticing what’s happening right now. It is using curiosity instead of judgment, for others, and, perhaps especially, for ourselves. It is digesting the intensity of being human. Schools throughout the country are learning how valuable it is to teach this practice to kids; I think adults like me need it just as much. On March 9-12, just over a month away, at the Oregon Coast, we are going to offer our first Mindfulness Retreat. Unlike the spiritual formation retreat, this one is secular. Like all of our retreats, it’s open to people of all backgrounds who need rest, respite, and a safe space to learn in a community of friends. Also, we have a shit-ton of fun. I hope to see you there. You can find all the information about the retreat, including how to register, here.
P.P.S. Sorry I didn’t give you more advance notice about the retreat. See the rest of this post for reasons why.
P.P.P.S. Not to brag, but I just put on deodorant. #WINNING #HappyBirthdayGreg