Thursday, January 8, 2009

Slow Start to 2009

My last blog post was shortly after Christmas. Immediately after that I was laid low by a respiratory infection that kept me home for 6 days and off the computer for 3 days. Like so many humans, I turned to my spiritual practice when the going got rough. Of course, the loudest message I heard was the admonition that if I kept a more constant practice, I might not be thrown so far off balance when challenges arose, but I've been wrestling with that message for most of my life, and I didn't let it guilt trip me too much.

Instead, I kept meditating and reading and when I came across a line in a book called The Barn at the End of the Worldby Mary Rose O'Reilly I knew I had hit pay dirt. O'Reilley wrote, "The universe is such an efficient school." Indeed her whole book is a collection of spiritual insights that she gathered working in a barn as well as in other mundane situations that were ripe with teaching.

Cindy and I have a practice of writing in our journals on New Years Day, and one of the things we do is make a list of all the things we did during the previous year. My list was long and rich and full of lessons about living as well as spiritual guidance if I cared to examine it from that perspective.

The most compelling information was the sheer volume of what I'd done during the year. I won't rewrite the entire list but a little sampling is illustrative of the fullness of 2008:
  • participating in home school all spring, including going to Little Red School house writing classes and weekly field trips around the county as history lessons;
  • celebrating my 60th birthday party with a family work party;
  • taking a trip to Oregon & Washington with my friend Kathy;
  • participating in the arrival of Clare Olivia Tippett, my 14th grandchild;
  • being the shag truck for August's half-iron man;
  • planning and enjoying the launch of my book;
  • going back to work part-time at the college;
  • more home school in the fall;
  • taking a spontaneous trip to the Ashland Shakespeare Festival;
  • taking a trip to visit my Aunt Jean in Yuma with Anna Mae;
  • seeing the Nutcracker in SF with Taylor, Candice & Jenny;
  • planning and executing a family Christmas party with Cindy, Bonnie, & Raymond;
  • taking numerous trips to Mariposa to join in Dixon family happenings, culminating with a 5 day Christmas trip.

Then I got sick and felt my energy evaporate in sneezing and coughing. Sitting and reading and reflecting, I realized that I want the richness of all these experiences but with less emphasis on the go, go, go. I need space to relish the wonder. I was blessed with innumerable wonders in 2008. Sickness taught me that less might be better.

I've been practicing: I refused a tempting offer to travel with August to racing camp, a trip that would have given me a chance to see my sister too; I postponed the start of home school until mid January. I'll return to the college in February doing considerably fewer hours; I've asked for help in my yard; We have 3 vacations planned and almost paid for, including a 10 day cruise to Alaska. I'm gong to spend more full days at home.

This is a most difficult lesson for someone who hates to miss out on any opportunity; who signs up impulsively for exciting experiences and most of all loves every single chance to be with family.

Mary Rose O'Reilley suggests that I remember that I'm not my past. She also reminds me to breathe in the deep roots of the fear that I will miss something and breathe out peace.

Happy New Year!

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