Happy Sunday Aunties-
Sundays for me are happiest when they include going to mass and then going to the coffee shop to sit, read, journal, and be in the community that has formed here. The Sunday coffee shop scene in Austin isn’t filled with students and entrepreneurs, but instead with thinkers, readers, and conversations. It just seems that instead of people intensely focused on a goal for school or work (as happens during the week,) people are making connections for their happiness, and that is a good place to breathe for a moment.
This week I feel challenged to slow down, to relax, to be comfortable with no plans, and it may be one of the hardest challenges of the year. Bake four types of dessert, broker an international agreement, balance a client’s budget, and then charm people at a social event? Sure. Sit still and reflect on life? That is simply asking too much. And yet the universe/Great Being/Master Plan seems to be ushering that my way. From a sprained muscle to cancelled work meetings, rain, and delayed planes, everything seems to be whispering “just relax.”
Sitting still, relaxing, is hard. It usually leads to us confronting our fears, and those things that we would rather not sit with. (Maybe we would prefer to close the curtains and pretend we are not home.) But the best way to move past these things is to sit with them, invite them in, listen to what they are trying to teach us. A good friend once told me that she gave her fears, her doubt, a name. When those fears and doubt walked in, she would imagine herself sitting across from her old friend and would wait patiently to see what the old friend would teach her. “Lucy*,” she would say “what do you have to tell me?” I imagine her Lucy, my Penny*, as a grandmother figure who knows what you need to hear, and is going to tell it to you, despite your protests.
Yet even in knowing this somewhere in my brain, I am still fighting it tooth and nail. “Everything is so slow!” I told a fellow Auntie as a complaint/frustration (whoops, so much for that complaint free life!) “I’ve been praying for you, for peace, for understanding, for time” she responded. “This is an answer to my prayers.” Woo-wee, how can you argue with an answered prayer? So with that reminder, I released my frustration and changed it to gratitude. The stillness suddenly had a rose-toned hue, it was a gift.
So Aunties, here are some things that I am doing to take advantage of this time. To arm myself with the tools to offer my fears a cup of tea, and to dance in the gift of stillness. Because if we are realistic, we know that soon we will be back to our over-planned lives.
- Restorative Yoga aka “nap yoga” – ok Aunties, stick with me. Restorative is a type of yoga where you use about 30 props. You stay in a pose for 15 minutes. In my 80 minute class, there will only be 5 or so poses. The idea (paraphrased by me) is that the props allow your muscular body to relax (since the props take away their work) and thus offer a deeper nervous-system type relaxation. Sometimes people snore, it really is an experience.
- Walks – Typically my workouts include a loud bass, desperate spinning, and/or digging into my last reserve of energy to keep up with the class or trainer. But twice my doctor has said “your prescription is a 20 minute daily walk.” At first I was shocked, I mean, what is a 20 minute walk when I can burn 800 calories in 45 minutes? Well, Aunties, I love those walks. I notice the clouds, I say hello to pets, I take note of changes in the neighborhood. Adjacent to this is being outside and touching the earth, which is what my woo-woo podcasts recommend. Give it a try.
- Reading/listening to podcasts – I am lumping these together because I think that they offer something similar, and choosing one over the other may be a preference thing. I actually do both. I like them because they can either offer an escape, or be used as a tool to understand what your fears are telling you. I can put a few recommendations in the comments.
- Catching up with friends – Aunties, last week I had some extra time as I finished a project early. I checked in with a few friends, and later I reflected on the fact that each one of them got back to me. I mean, how amazing is that? All these people, humoring me and Penny. I also advocate for writing someone a card and sending it. I once did this as a Lenten devotion. I wrote people cards and told them how much they meant to me. I still see them on refrigerators and in frames. But it was really a gift for me, to remember how lucky I am.
Aunties, I promise I do not mean this as a curse, but I repeat my dear friend’s prayer for you. I pray you receive the gift of time. I wish for you that your dear friend Fear comes to visit you, I hope you receive his/hear lesson with an open heart, and I promise not to laugh if you snore next to me at nap yoga.
*I made up Lucy after one of my young friends, but Penny is the name I use (from Inspector Gadget.)