I sit on the couch in my living room, cat at my feet, blanket on my lap, Christmas tree to my left and an expanse of huge hard wood trees in front me dropping their leaves with all the time in the world. ‘Tis time to write…
I just took a time out from this sitting to attend to Ruthie – my 4 year old – whom I heard wailing softly in her bedroom. Rest time in our house is more aptly titled Alone Time. Some family members sleep for the hour and a half. Some play quietly. Some write their newsletters. It all depends upon the day as to how each member fills their time but each one of us has at least 90 minutes mid-day of being alone. Each kiddo must be in their room for the period. (Don’t ask me what I’ll do as they get older because I just go with now and it’s worked for the last 7 1/2 years so day by day we proceed.) Ru Girl’s norm is to play with her cars or trains, build a library or play dress up (yes, all alone and with her door closed) for the 90 minutes. But, when her body, mind, or emotions are toasted, she has a pattern of tears in the mid to late portion of the rest period. This is rare. It is only a couple of times a month that her body needs the sleep and not just the retreat from people, sounds and the plethora of mental gymnastics that encompass a day of being human.
And then there is my colorful internal thought train in reaction to her wailing:
“Bah! Ru is crying. Don’t wake Nora up! It’s so frustrating when this happens. I’m trying to write my newsletter and this is by far the best time to do it (since I’ve avoided it for a week or so). How totally inconsiderate of her!”
Simultaneously, my heart speeds up in my chest and crawls up toward my throat. The blood in my head starts pulsing more intently and my eyes squint. Oh boy. My reptilian brain through these awesome signals of my nervous system firing ON ON ON says “Your very survival is threatened right now! You will self destruct if all does not right itself!!!”
Seriously? Yes, seriously. My nervous and limbic system think this is life or death and I can even feel the tension and stiffness in my neck from my classic freeze response.
Sigh. Oh, sweet Rachel, you glorious mammal of the animal kingdom.
I think you and I are both pretty clear that this is not life or death. I’m just frustrated (that word is more socially acceptable than what I wanted to write) that I’m not getting my way.
And so, the Practice that is now innate to me kicks in next. Pause and feel me and how my body is reacting. Sit with it and notice the discomfort and rigidity. Then breathe and notice how the slightest softening comes on its own. I don’t have to consciously DO anything for this release. As I sit in my muck and see myself honestly while feeling my body as well, the rigidity of my “rightness” softens just a hint.
Scars and all are bathed in the light of the Christmas tree. And – who knew? – the leaves and trees are still there outside the window.
As I soften inward, I now physically go to Ru. I explain to her that her body is telling us it is tired through her frustration with some buttons. I help her get the dress on that she wants to wear for her rest. (Yes, you read that correctly.) And then I tuck her in (again – we already did this before rest time) and she closes her eyes and surrenders.
This holiday season, lean in to those around you. Lean in to sharing your story, sharing your truth, sharing your trust. Lean in to the fact that we’re all doing our best that we know how to do right now. Lean in to feeling your body when the self-judgment starts to shake its heavy and loud shackles. And lean in when you can watch another person embrace support or love, and you can see opportunity to mirror their grace in your own being.
Be ever so well,