I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Coping with it all

Unknown woman gazing out to sea
I took this picture during my walk on Friday. Since I didn't have a hike to enjoy on Thursday, and my class at the gym was canceled for Friday, I decided to go for a walk in the sunshine. It was also a day between rain systems. The puddle on the walkway made for a nice reflection, I thought. It was early, around 9:00am, and a few people were out enjoying the break in the weather, but by the time I headed back to town, Boulevard Park was crowded with people smiling and walking off some of their previous day's indulgence.

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 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 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'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.


Linda Reeder said...

Thanks. I'll take that hug. Even though I made it all sound lovely on my blog, thanksgiving was stressful for me, and on top of noy yet recovering from the election and the loss of our pet, I am experiencing some low level of lingering depression. Joy is hard to find right now, but i am actively seeking it.
Today we'll make the wreath we picked greens for yesterday. I have some grocery shopping to do, and at 1:00 the Sounders and the Seahawks play simultaneously.
This week we will be finishing up some yard work and getting outside lights up for christmas, weather permitting. Inside I'll start decorating. There will be lots to keep me occupied for the next month. Now to find the joy in it.

Gigi said...

Routine is important - I know if I don't have one life gets messy! I also stay away from television and news - not only because of the election results but it's just too depressing in general.

Have a wonderful week, DJan. Sending you a virtual hug!

The Furry Gnome said...

So nice to read your Sunday morning posts! Calms me down and inspires me. Take care.

Anonymous said...

I always tell people: Instead of reading a book, why don't you write one?

Far Side of Fifty said...

I hope you find the time to write your book and I hope I get to read it! :)

Marie Smith said...

You have found a good way to handle the election result. We have to insulate ourselves sometimes for our own well being.

Yoga is great. I need to get back at it again. You inspire me!

Elephant's Child said...

Hug gratefully received and returned.
Love that you continue to stretch - physically, and mentally.
On this side of the world I cannot watch the news. The only way I can cope with it is to read it (newspapers and online). Watching it, and hearing the 'offenders' is too much.

Bonnie said...

Creativity brings us calmness and purpose as it helps us to grow and heal. I always enjoy what you write! Have a wonderful day!

Mel said...

Thanks for the reminder to give yoga more time in my life. It brings nothing but good when done routinely. I hope you have a wonderful visit with your sister, and love how you are simplifying the travel. It is both expensive and exhausting. I'm finding myself getting restless legs and muscle cramps on planes these days, and it's getting harder to convince myself to go the places I want to go. It's always good to get out of the normal routine and go somewhere new though, and even better to come home again :) Safe travels!

Tabor said...

My creative side is well nurtured in retirement. Hubby watches CNN at least 2 to 3 hours, so it is hard for me to leave a find a space. Even now while I am waiting for the oven to heat, he has the news on in earshot. I am changing my donations, changing my reading materials and changing my volunteer efforts to turn this ship around. I will not hide my head and quit!

Red said...

The story you'd like to tell...compose on the computer. You have much more flexibility and can change things very easily. I'm glad you have a story to tell. I also admire your tenacity to keep on with yoga and other activities that keep you sound in mind and body.

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I like to read Eye and then sit and reflect on it for a few minutes. One thing we share for sure is our view of the political world. I truly find some comfort in reading today's post and all the comments. The little poem from Mary Oliver ... Wow, that is going to take a little more time for reflection, isn't it? :-) I wish I knew how to give you some credit for books I buy on Amazon that you've mentioned. I just added Mary's book to my Kindle. I really enjoyed your words about yoga. I've heard a lot about it but never tried it. That may be my next thing to pick up from you. I do want to thank you for all your comments on my blog ... I appreciate them and look forward to them. Lastly, your happiness and anticipation about your trip to see your sister is quite contagious. I'm smiling about it and I won't even get to enjoy the sunshine. :-) Wishing you a fine week ahead!

Glenda Beall said...

I love Mary Oliver, too. And that last line is one I ponder. I am so happy you enjoy Yoga and it helps you. I must find a good exercise for myself. When the smoke clears and I can go home again, I have planned a schedule for myself to improve my balance and start moving more.
The problem with being a writer is I lead a sedentary life. Write that short story. I know you will enjoy it and find a good writing group to help you with feedback.
Have a great time with your sister in Florida.

Arkansas Patti said...

I so admire your determination to progress in Yoga. We have only one advanced class here and I know I need the gentle stage to get going. Someday-- maybe a video.
Me too on the news. I record the news programs and just fast forward through the political stuff. It is a hard time to be a caring person right now.
Know you will have a wonderful time with your sister. My brother is down there right now and loving it. You will get your fill of sunshine and fun with your sister.

Rita said...

I've barely been online and haven't blogged for three weeks. I have no regular TV since I moved here and the antenna didn't work so the news I get is online...and I have been avoiding it, as you have. Just keeping busy.

No regrets here. I hope you write your book. You are so organized that I'm sure you could slot in time every week someplace. You have fit in yoga and look how you love that! ;)

Linda Myers said...

Your post jogged my intention to take up yoga again. Thanks!

Sally Wessely said...

Thanks. I needed that hug. I am sitting in Utah watching it snow. I have been here a week. I head home this evening. I am trying to not be terrified about flying in this storm. I hate flying in snowy weather. Your post makes me ponder all the more what I have done with these precious days of my life.

My Thanksgiving was the best. I haven't been in Utah with my children for Thanksgiving since 1982. That's a long time. I've had the kids to my house. I've been here at Christmas, but not a Thanksgiving. Being together around the table at this time of year has been a wonderful gift. I'm grateful I had it. I spent my life giving to my family. That was my greatest desire when I was young. Now, at this stage in life, I have no regrets. Most of my creative powers went into make a life for my family. I have no regrets.

C-ingspots said...

Your walks always sound so wonderful to me. Would love to have people to walk with, but my dogs help. And yes, yoga. I have hopes, but still haven't been able to get into it. I really think a class atmosphere would be beneficial to me. I find I don't have much incentive to get out of bed early to allow myself time. Hope you enjoy your week.

The Broad said...

I have never taken a yoga class in my life but recently have been thinking that I should do this as I've been having lots of aches and pains and need to t=do something positive. Thank you for a good reminder to get on with this plan. Indeed the election result is a big shocker and will probably require a lot of resolve and determination to get through. It is important now to enable healing to take place because we will need a lot of wisdom and fortitude in the coming years...

troutbirder said...

"natural ebullience" I love it and hope to keep it going for myself. My approach to the political trauma of recent events is similar. No ignorance of events no ostrich approach but ignoring what has become all too obvious and repetitive and focusing on financially helping groups like conservation organizations and the Southern Poverty Law Center....