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Saturday, 17 December 2016

The Crazies.....



This is how it’s been going for me recently....
Messily. Stressily. Agitatedly. Exhaustingly. I-don’t-want-to-feel-this-way-edly.

Moving home; the second highest stress-inducer there is after bereavement, which it kind of is too. For me, in this case, anyway. And it’s Christmas time, too.

Why? Why is it feeling so tough? How am I being to experience this as 'tough'? That’s what I have been asking recently. ‘Stalking myself’ to see how I react to this whole moving thing. Watching lightly - corner-of-the-eye stuff, like watching butterflies, to see what it is I do to move house. 

The obvious is obvious: clearing stuff out - going through things to see if they warrant the moving and possible storage charge. That’s a tricky one in itself; do times of my life, and the photos, books, letters, crockery, clothes thereof have to prove themselves to me in order to stay? Does half my life have to be worthy of staying? Who says? It’s all worthy; it’s me! So, I recently decided to change my approach to the sorting; if I still like it it stays, if not, it goes. Yes, a sort of version of all the current books on Japanese and Danish clutter-clearing, but softer, more honouring of the life they have been attached to - mine. 

There seems such guilt around ‘having too much’, and yet out we all go, buying more much. I’ve been stepping into more gratitude and less guilt. More poignant tenderness than shame. More smiles than derisive laughter. (Well, some of the hair-do’s in the photos....!) Guilt helps no one. My take is that if I have these things, and have had, and have, the life I have, Aren’t I Lucky! 

So, lifting the guilt about, the resistance to, and the heavy burden of, revealed a path through and out of the fatigue.

Then came dealing with the fumbling, stumbling, ‘I’m-surely-going-mad’ness. And more crunching and crushing ‘I hope no one can see this’ness; I’m meant to be able to handle this; I teach how to handle things with more ease. I’ve taught it for 35 years, for goodness’ sake..... What is WRONG with me...???’ (Hark, the Herald Judgements Sing...!) I must have a serious illness... (Good Inner Panic-ers Rejoice...! It is the festive season after all.)

The frantic reasoning and management was clearly not working. What could I do? 
But, no, not that one. I’m not listening to that one. I CAN’T do that one; there is So Much To Do... 
But I did. I stopped. Only for a moment. But a real stop. Not an ‘I’m thinking about stopping’, whilst still careening along at 100mph. Not an emergency stop with screaming tyres and burning rubber, foot still firmly planted on the gas. And not a total collapse - a soggy sag, a flumph on the sofa, a despondent-give-up. Neither is a stop. Those are battle or victim. I know there is a place in between, I know there is. I just have to find my way there...

The place, being made by the very act of stopping, appeared the moment I stopped. Did I fix, hold, constrain, and resist my self? No. All I did was become very present to what I was doing. Not what I should be doing. Just what I was doing. Observing. Witnessing. Watching without judgement. That last bit is key; if I judged what I saw, I would immediately try to change it into a perceived ‘should’. I would interpret instead of observe. I would get caught up in the future should and lose the present now. 

So, what did I see? This is what I saw in the simple act of making myself a cup of coffee....

I click on the kettle whilst looking up at the mugs, and whilst moving towards the fridge for the milk. All at once... I know I can’t do them all at once, for they are one-at-a-time actions. They don’t need to be done all at once, but, of course, if I do them all at once I will gain more time for ‘it’, wont I? Nope. I wont. And what is this ‘it’ anyway? In my case it’s ‘selling and buying a house’. And, no, doing three things at once wont buy and sell a house any quicker or more smoothly. That’s as if I think I can gain life-time by playing all the notes of a symphony at the same time... The result is no music, just an ear-splitting crash! Oh, blessss....!!

Actually, how sweet something in me thinks that will idea work! Maybe a product of the ubiquitous early-years’ experiences of, ‘Hurry UP! We’ve to be somewhere important, and you’re holding us up!’, because the adult ‘important’ wasn’t important to me as a child; that puddle was... 

Where was I with that puddle? Content and un-rushed as I was? I was there. Present. Nowhere else. The puddle and me. Us, as one. Back to my coffee-making, where was I with the kettle? I was with the mug. Where was I with the mug? With the fridge. Was I with the fridge? No, I was with the squirty-cream inside the door. (It's an Annie thing.) Was I with the cream? No, I was with the chocolate dust I like on top and which lives on the shelf across the kitchen. Was I with the chocolate dust? No, I was with my laptop in my bedroom. Was I with my laptop - bearing in mind I’m actually still at the kettle....  No,  I was with my cousin in Wiltshire whose email I was going to reply to when I got downstairs.... Only I already ‘was’ downstairs, except I wasn’t; I was upstairs attempting to jab my finger at the kettle-switch and thinking I had an incurable disease because this simple task seemed beyond my capabilities.... And I was wondering why I felt even just clicking on a kettle 'had' to include all the things I wanted to lose - Messy. Stressy. Agitation. Exhaustion. I-don’t-want-to-feel-this-way-ness.

It gets to us all this thing; this busy-ness of not being present. I mean, how can being present to the kettle switch help me move house? How can watching my hand reach up to the chocolate dust in its old sugar-shaker on the shelf release me from the mind-twisting worry of whether it’s all going ok in my purchaser’s mind? How can observing my hand on the cupboard handle still my inner-judges and quieten their endless yabbering of, ‘You’re Not Doing Enough!’...?

And yet it does all these things. As I come to them all with every part of me I feel a release. I feel stillness within me. Not one I create, but the one that is there all the time. I sense the inner football crowd turning down the volume. Right there, softly, my fore-finger-tip alights on the kettle switch; its ease of depression happening with a surprisingly sensual click. My hand can both see and sense the brushed steel, squared-edged, cupboard handle. How good it feels in my palm and fingers. My eyes actually see the old glass sugar-shaker with its silver top, and even in a nanosecond takes in its story - the wonder of where it has been on its own journey, both with me and before I found it in a charity-shop 8 years ago...  As I pick it up I feel the coolness of the glass, and its hexagonal shape in my palm, the weight of it, it’s steady real-ness. Then the fridge, and the gratitude which simply self-ignites as I see its wonderful contents, and witness its continuously willing job of keeping food safe for my nourishment... 

I didn’t think or look for these things, I found them within the action. And the funny thing? I didn’t sense a stopping; I sensed movement. I felt in flow. I felt easy. I felt I was actually getting somewhere for the first time in days. Through stopping, I had stopped stopping myself.  

In a second things really did change into something quite different, and all by simply witnessing where I was now, and without judgement

I offer you your own curiosity. I invite you to get inquisitive. Discover how you are being whilst you do what you are doing. (Read that one again, slowly. 😊 ) Christmas is a pretty crazy time for most of us. Maybe a word or two of this can support you too. Or not. Both are really ok.

As I sense the laptop keys under my fingertips, gratitude for modern technology floods my body. The chair is beneath me. The coffee is coldly still delicious. The soft dog curled up beside me. The house sale? Oh, that. Well, it’s not here now; it’s for later, when I will consciously choose the time to be present to just that matter, and not down the road in my mind with the Christmas list....

Lots of love, and Happy Crimbo!