Tag Archives: control

Slow Down and Feel Strong – Week 8 Task

18 Dec

In this chapter of Julia Cameron’s book, Walking in This World, one task in particular spoke to me.  The title was: Slow Down and Feel Strong.  Even though my work is finally slowing down at year end, I still feel myself in a rush.   It’s almost like the end of a 100 yard dash, where you’ve crossed the finish line but the momentum keeps your body moving forward and you just have to keep moving your legs so you don’t fall flat on your face.  Actually, a better analogy would be a small child who, at the end of the day is exhausted, yet they get even more wound up and are literally running mindlessly in circles. Yes, that’s what I feel like at the moment.  So, if I’m truly to enjoy these holidays, I need to slow down. 

The task is to write down a list of 5 areas in your life where you feel a sense of haste and pressure.  Then, to determine if your urgency is misplaced or if you can reset your timeline, and ultimately to slow down, be more in control and not make yourself crazy!  Here is my list:

1.    Reading.  This one is odd.  And a little sad.  Reading is one of my very favorite activities.  I couldn’t wait until the end of the semester so I’d have time to read some books for pleasure.  But am I finding it pleasureable?  So-so at best.  Why?  Because I am literally racing through them.  Just let me get to the end so I can see what happens.  Oh, and check it off my list.   That’s the subliminal refrain I can hear if I slow down for just a moment.  I’m skimming, not savoring.  Ugh.  

This one I definitely need to change my timeline on.  And go back to enjoying reading.

2.   Home ‘refurbishment’.  I know why I’m feeling skitchy about this one.  Because we just finished a major project but there are other, smaller ancillary projects that spun off of it.  You know how it goes – you remodel your kitchen, then it’s obvious the living room needs painting.  And the dining room, and the den.  And then, oh, those window coverings could use a little perking up.  And on it goes.   And I just want it done because I’ll be hosting for the holidays and I want everything to be just right.  

Okay, if I’m being realistic, this is one I can change my timeline on, too.  The truth is, my guests will have a good time no matter what color my living room wall is.

3.   Holiday cards.  I usually like writing and sending holiday greetings.  But I’m rushing through it this year and to be honest, it’s not doing anything for my holiday spirit.  This one I can’t change the timeline on if I actually want people to receive their cards before Christmas.   I’ve already blown the beginning of Hannukah deadline, but I can still make it by the end of the 8 days.  

I could just say ‘forget it, I’ll make them New Year’s card instead’.  But I’m not going to.  This timeline stays.

4.   Eating.   Now, this one sounds really odd, but with everything else going on, I find the very last priority in my day is eating.  I sometimes literally forget to eat lunch or breakfast.  This has never, and I mean never, been my m.o.   Not only do I get painfully hungry and grumpy if I don’t eat often,  I truly love good food.   The thing that makes me such a picky eater is the same thing that makes me go all When Harry Met Sally over the perfect heirloom tomato salad or lemongrass risotto – I can taste every flavor x10.  But now?  I’ll realize among my working, painting, cleaning, making meals for everyone else, rushing to the store and drycleaners and so on that I never made time to eat.   And when I do eat, I just shovel it in.   But don’t worry about me.  I’m not wasting away.  I’ve actually gained 5 pounds in the last few months. 

This is a basic self-care issue.  I need to and I will slow down, make sure I eat, and enjoy my meals once again.

5.   This blog post.  I know, this one’s a little bit of a cheat.  But since it’s 5 minutes until midnight and I said I would get this out “today”, I have to make a choice. 

And, the choice is…no pushing back the time.  Finish it and hit ‘publish’.  And that’s what I’m going to do.

Grout of Control

28 Feb

Last night I spent five grueling hours cleaning my kitchen tile grout.  With a toothbrush.  After nearly fifteen years of marriage, my husband knew exactly what this meant: I was feeling completely and hopelessly out of control.

Like most “average” adults who have successfully survived childhood, I come from a dysfunctional family.  I can say this with the greatest love and respect for both my parents.  Whatever they did wrong in raising me, I now allow them to blame fully on their parents.  And I reserve the right to do the same. That’s part of the circle of life, right?

Nevertheless, there were inevitably those times in childhood when I felt small.  Helpless.  Unable to make others happy, much less change them.  But somewhere along the way, I learned to turn my attention to a different world, the little one I could at least try to control.  I might clear off my dresser, enjoying the sensations of an ammonia-rich paper towel wiping away the marks–as if my own troubles–by the power of my own hand.  Or I might rearrange my bedroom furniture, afterwards closing and opening my eyes from various vantage points, pleased at the newness of my surroundings.  I found great solace in my space and even greater comfort in cleaning it.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I seriously considered renaming my two-year old “Bissell”, somewhere between finally vacuuming up the thousands of nearly microscopic beads he spilled all over my office floor and steam-cleaning the bronze metallic paint he stealthily applied to my window-seat cushions.  And don’t even ASK about potty training, because we’re making fabulous progress.  He’s all for it, when it’s time for bed.  Otherwise, he saves his most “high-impact” BM’s for when we’re running out the door and late.  Then there’s my sweet Cassidy, whose future middle school education has become the impetus for my husband and I to consider moving, as well as for my husband to mention the possibility of my returning to work–sacrilege!

I am not often at a loss for words, but there are simply times when I’ve said and heard too many of them.  That’s when I choose to retreat into silence.  So after the arrival of The Great Peace, that precious evening time after Avery is in bed, I quietly took up the grout-scrubbing.  I went to bed at three and woke up four hours later to the screaming sound of “Mom-MEE!  Poop-PEE!”  (Yes, he’s also fond of waking me up to tell me he’s just gone.)

Yet even amid the rush to get everyone ready for church, I admired my work.  The grout glistened bright in the light of dawn, not hindered by the morning’s crumbs or frustrations.  Its beauty eclipsed even the extreme tiredness of my body.  I had conquered the grout.  Here, at last in my week, was something I could control.  Now, if only the problem of Cassidy’s middle school could be solved so well.

My answer came soon after.  As the Chicks know, I sing in the Praise Team at Peace Church here in Hunter’s Creek. Well right there in the middle of singing the closing song today, I began to realize how up until now, my recurring life theme could be summed up as:  losing control, trying to regain control, losing control, etc.  Maybe I need to stop trying to control so much and just get used to living more out of control.

After all, the creative process–like the rest of life–is downright messy.  But maybe there’s a time for tidying up and a time for living in chaos, if you will.  In fact, it seems like the chaos time is the vast majority.  So then the key is how to live within it, how to find lasting peace, how to create, even if the grout is dirty.

Oh, and the title of that song?  “God Is in Control.”  Well, at least someone is.

For those who are interested, here are the lyrics by Twila Paris:

This is no time for fear
This is a time for faith and determination
Don’t lose the vision here
Carried away by emotion
Hold on to all that you hide in your heart
There is one thing that has always been true
It holds the world together

God is in control
We believe that His children will not be forsaken
God is in control
We will choose to remember and never be shaken
There is no power above or beside Him, we know
God is in control, oh God is in control

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