Checking in: after going a little further South

Hello and happy 2011! Here at home we didn’t do much to celebrate, since the wee one is still in recovery mode (as are the not-so-wee adults, as well!) from our ten day sojourn in West Texas for the holidays. But I am excited it’s a new year, just as I’m excited about how awesome it felt to sleep for a glorious eleven hours last night — a very nice way to start the new year!

Being in Texas, on the southernmost ledge of the flatter-than-flat Western plains, was absolutely lovely — weather in the 50s and 60s every day, and basking in more sun in ten days than I’ll see in the next three months before Portland’s summer arrives. Getting the red West Texas silt in my sneakers. Picking up dry bolls of cotton at the edges of the harvested fields. Wind that swirls your hair up into tangles and loops. Looking out at a horizon that goes and goes forever, without a single hill or tall tree for hundreds of miles. The stars that are closer than you’ll ever see them in the city.

And hanging out with my in-laws was a treat, too. I feel lucky because I know not many people can say this, but I truly love spending time with them. We get along well, we chat for hours, we laugh ourselves silly, and we eat amazing food. They are the very rare people who accept you and love you for exactly who you are, place no obligations upon you, and delight in whatever delights you. It was a fabulous vacation for all those reasons.

I won’t deny our trip had its tense moments: moments of practicing airport calm and  sovereignty when our original flight was canceled, moments of practicing careful listening and grudge-releasing around an estranged family member who kept showing up unexpectedly, moments of slightly painful learning around the topic of What Happens When The Guest Bed Kinda Sucks. But on the whole, this was balanced by a lot of wonderful relaxation, merry holidaying, and joyful reunions with old friends.

It was nice to feel like I was in my own little forcefield, too. Or that I knew how to get back to it. When I was overwhelmed, I took what steps I needed to get back to rightness. When I found myself dwelling in a bit of dread about unwanted/unneeded presents, I reminded myself that a present is not an obligation, it’s merely a glimpse into another person’s mind. I can love that person’s mind and self through their present (even if it baffles me) and then let it go. This brought immeasurable calm to what can otherwise be an occasion to get panicky (do I have to adopt all this stuff someone gave me?) or resentful (I can’t believe they gave me this thing I can’t carry home on the airplane!). Nice.

I also did a lot of Shiva Nata in my head. Sometimes you’re stuck in an airplane seat and you can’t dance with your body, or you’re stuck in a bed where you can’t sleep and you don’t want to dance with your body; so I danced in my head instead. Slow or fast, simple or complex. I meditated on the words calm, simple, enoughness, and energy. Because I wanted to remind myself that there is energy and calm to be found in simplicity and enoughness, and that these four qualities would sustain me in moments of stress.

I hope you found what you needed to sustain yourself through this end-of-the-year stuff (which is most certainly out there in the atmosphere even when one isn’t celebrating anything in particular) and that this first day of 2011 is future-full and restful and anything and everything else that you need it to be.

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About jesse k.

Writer. Mama. Spy in the house of self-awareness. Occasional crafter, letterpress geek, and academic snob.
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