Saturday, February 04, 2012

On Slowing Down

For longer that I would like to admit, out loud to others, or even to myself, there has been a huge sadness in my life that I haven't been able to shake. I'm able to ignore it, for a time. To fill my days with work, and with chores and with activities involving the kids that keep me busy until it's time to settle in for some mindless TV or computer work at the end of the day and then head to bed. I have more hobbies than I currently have time to pursue, even though I enjoy all of them equally as well as the others. They were started over the years as something that was new and exciting and that would bring a bit of something extra that I felt was missing, each one serving it's necessary purpose at whatever point I was in during that time. I have practiced Yoga, and Pilates, for both the physical benefits to my tight and stressed out body, and the mental release that they provide when I am finished. I bought snowshoes to escape the feeling of being housebound in the winter, a bike to offset the days that I don't run, and I began running as an escape from a situation in my marriage that was making me feel ugly and miserable.

My dear friend C invited me over to her house one afternoon early last spring, and as we sat on the porch overlooking her pond she said to me, "I'm glad that you are here, because while you are here, you are sitting, resting, and doing nothing. Your life makes me tired!" Her comment stuck a nerve somewhere in the depths of my heart, and it has stayed with me since that day. My life doesn't just make her tired, it makes me tired. Over the past few months, I have done a lot of soul searching as to why I have this great need to keep busy all of the time. Why I can't seem to be happy to sit, and relax and spend time "doing nothing" like most other people. For a long time I thought it just wasn't in my nature. One of the things I like best about knitting, or crocheting, is that it allows me to be in the same room as the rest of the family, when they want to watch TV, and spend time with them. I think TV is a colossal waste of time, even if I do enjoy some of the shows, or a good movie now and then. Having something to keep my hands busy while I watch has been a huge help in this area. On top of that, I'm a multi-tasker. I can't just sit and talk on the phone. I pace, I do chores, I tidy up, I write lists, I do a million other things, because even above TV watching, the phone is the biggest time suck that I can think of. So keeping busy just felt like who I was. A part of me that I accepted and wondered why no one else could.

Over the past several months or so, I have done a lot of soul searching. Winter and I aren't such great friends, as I have mentioned before, and part of dealing with the winter this year has been to take a long, hard, and sometimes painful look at what is going on in my life and why I am still struggling with some of the things I am struggling with. One thing that was a huge eye opener for me was to discover that I keep busy all of the time to fill a huge emptiness that I feel in my life. I don't know what that was so surprising to figure out, because I'm sure if I asked anyone who knows me, they would have told me point blank what was going on.  Or, maybe I do such a great job hiding it all, and wearing the mask of "I'm fine", that I've got them all fooled. I really don't know. During January however, as I have been dealing with these feelings of sadness and emptiness,  I have allowed myself to just be. To not try and drown them out with hobbies and chores and business. To sit in the chair and stare out the window and think if I wanted. To sit in front of my laptop and listen to Pandora and cry if that was what I felt that I needed. To sit and read mindless magazines or watch boring TV. I've learned that sometimes, you just have to be quiet and listen to what your body needs, and that maybe, just maybe, what it needs is calmness. I will admit, that it does feel a little bit lazy. Being such a doer, it goes against my instincts to want to be moving and going and doing. But isn't that what winter is, really? A time to slow down, and rest. I guess I'm just a slow learner.

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