|Unknown woman gazing out to sea|
As many of my readers know, I have a hard time with a break in my routine. I just don't quite know what to do with myself, and now that I count my steps every day, trying to keep myself to a minimum of 12,500, it meant I had to find a way. Fortunately, this six-mile walk ended up getting me right up there before it was all over. And yesterday it was back to my normal routine with the Saturday morning ladies' walk. I wondered if anyone would show up, because the rain had returned, along with wind, making it less than ideal. Thirteen of us walked twice around Lake Padden anyway.
When I got home and out of my wet clothes, I settled down into my favorite chair with a new book I bought myself, Upstream by Mary Oliver. I have read and enjoyed many books of poetry by her, but this was my first time to experience her essays. I am finding solace in this book, which is meant to be read slowly, taking time to ponder her words, her world of wonder. Oliver recently turned 81, so she, as well as myself, are in the winter of our lives. One of my favorite poems of hers, "The Summer Day," ends with the following question:
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.I feel pretty good about what I've done so far with my one wild and precious life, but there's more to come, apparently. I am still in good health, at least as far as I know, and the aches and pains of age are manageable. I wake every day looking forward to what it might hold for me. Although I have been known to fall into despair when coping with loss or illness, my natural ebullience always reasserts itself. And I learn new methods for getting through from here to there.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
--Mary Oliver, 1990
I've stopped watching television, except for the PBS News Hour now and then, and try hard to keep myself from reading too much about what our incoming president is doing these days. It's the only way I've found to keep the knot in my stomach from getting out of hand. At first, in hopes that he would appoint people around him who would help him make good decisions, I would read about them, until I realized that, if I continued, I would be unable to keep myself out of despair. Our worldviews are so completely different that I must turn away to stay sane. That's all I'm going to say about that sad turn of events. Let others agonize over it if they wish.
In just over a week, I'll be heading off to Florida to visit my dear sister Norma Jean. I've already starting thinking about what to take with me. With travel these days being not only expensive but also very tiring, I'm only taking a few things so I don't have to check a bag and can walk right out into the street and into her car. Once I land and turn on my phone, she is able to leave the waiting station and be there right away. It works very well. I am so looking forward to seeing her! It's been just over a year since I last visited, but it seems longer. I'll be writing this post on the 11th from there.
I also need to say a little about what my yoga classes have given me. It was early 2015 when I began to look for a class that might help me regain some flexibility and balance, as I was noticing that I was falling on our Thursday hikes more than other people, and that my lower back was beginning to be unhappy more often than not. I took several yoga classes in other venues, even trying out the ones offered through my own gym, the YMCA, but nothing was quite right. Then a friend on one of our hikes mentioned the gentle yoga class offered at Yoga Northwest. The rest is history: I began with the easiest level and then moved to what is called Gentle II, and from there I have taken two full semesters of Level I along with the Gentle II. I just signed up for a fifth semester, taking a class with a more advanced teacher, and I am really looking forward to it. Today and next Sunday will be my final classes with Laifong, after taking the summer and fall semesters with her.
I can now get into the shoulder stand, and even some other inverted postures without too much trouble. I find that there is something really beneficial about getting upside down, and I'm hoping I will be able to continue to advance at this very special studio. I met a woman who was taking a much harder class that takes place right before my Gentle II class, and we chatted for a minute. She was obviously older, like me, but in such great shape I was a little envious. She told me she has been taking yoga at the studio since 1985, and that she credits it with her ability to stay very fit. She's 77 and looks much younger. She told me that starting at any age, even as an older person, will have its benefits, and I can say it's certainly been true for me, and I've only been attending for a year. I am so happy I finally found this place where I belong.
Just sitting here and writing this morning has made me feel like I know what else I want to incorporate into my life, and that's a special time for allowing my creative juices to flow. You would think that being retired I should have all the time in the world, but I have found that I must carve out moments into my day so that I can fit it all in. Otherwise, the days slip by and things I have wanted to do haven't happened. I want to get back into writing that short story that keeps wafting its way into my brain. Mary Oliver says in her book, "The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time."
I don't want that to happen to me, so I'll find a time to answer the call. I certainly have heard it, and I will. Writing that intention here already gives me a focus, and now all I need to do is feel out the logistics of it. Right now my life is balanced between activity and inactivity, and the creative spark is trying to find a way out. I'll help it along. This blog is a first step, and perhaps I just need to get out that pen and the notebook and get started again. What do you think? Any tips for me?
But for now, I'm beginning to change my focus from this post to the next part of my day. Get up, get out of bed, drag a comb across my head. And take a moment to give thanks for all that I have present in my life today, this moment: my partner, pretending to sleep next to me, my laptop nestled across my lap, a respite from the rain, a latte with a good friend, and a yoga class to attend.
Until we meet again next week, I wish you the very best of days, with love surrounding you. I am sending you a virtual hug through the ether; your vibration is present underneath my fingertips. Be well until then.