Thursday, July 12, 2012

I'm not dead/just floating (again)

Sometimes the most unnerving aspect of life is when we take a step back to get perspective and, in doing so, we recognize the patterns in our life. I was trying to come up with a title for this post and kept coming back to the title from that song by Pink - I'm Not Dead, Just Floating. And then I realized I'd used that post title before, so I went and found the other, older post and read all about how I was in a bad place and wasn't blogging or sleeping well and was sorry for pushing people away and not talking about it. It was from July 2011.

So here we are, full circle. Another July post with the same title, same issues. It's tempting to feel discouraged, to feel like I haven't moved forward or progressed much in a year. That my patterns are just endlessly, mindlessly repeating themselves. That I'm walking down the same street, making the same mistakes, falling into the same holes. That I've got no one but myself to blame for the record-skipping that happens in my life.

But nothing feels farther from the truth, actually.

Yes, I still have the personality of someone who doesn't like to ask for help or talk about it. I might always have that. Yes, I suck at blogging on a consistent level. Life keeps me busy enough that I might always do that too. But sleeping is getting easier. Stretching is getting easier. Breathing is getting easier. I am back to doing martial arts, even if it's not as often as I'd like, and I started yoga, and God help us if I don't become a yoga enthusiast by the end of the year with how wonderful it feels, even when I'm doing Pigeon Pose and trying to flip off my instructor at the same time (SPOILER ALERT: it's hard to give someone the bird while doing yoga. Just thought you should know). The strength that I feel, that I remember from before, is coming back and it feels fantastic.

One of my earliest (good) memories of spending time with my family is while hiking. As a family we were a mess. Angry, violent, crappy at communicating. But when we went up into the hills by our house in New Hampshire to pick berries in the summertime, somehow we were able to put our shit aside. Something about being outdoors, about putting one foot in front of the other. Maybe it's that when you're on the side of a mountain with four other people you don't understand and don't particularly like and actually wonder how on earth you came to be related to them, you also realize you can't just leave them there. That you're all in it together.

Or maybe it's perspective. Maybe when you're on the side of a mountain you realize how small you and everyone else is, and the things that you thought mattered don't actually matter all that much. And the anger that usually tightens up your shoulders and jaws just leaves, because you don't have the time or energy for it.

I kept hiking, long after we moved from New Hampshire, whether it was in national parks or deep in the hills of Santa Ana or Angeles Crest Forest or trendy Runyon Canyon in LA. I kept putting one foot in front of the other, taking each step one at a time, listening to my breath and my body telling me what I needed at that moment. Rest or keep going? Rest or keep going? Rest or keep going? I would slowly ascend up mountains, circling around, seeing the same view but each time from a little bit higher perspective. And regardless of whether or not I got as far as I would have liked, I enjoyed the journey and what I learned about myself along the way.

I like to think hiking is the perfect analogy for life. I am higher, much higher up the mountain than I was last July, and though the view looks the same the perspective has shifted. I am stronger now than I was a year ago, and next year I'll look at the same place from an even higher viewpoint and there will be no loss, just gain upon gain upon gain. As for the rest or keep going question, I rested for a few weeks, and now it's time to keep going again. The burnout I felt was a response to pushing myself to do daily uninteresting tasks that will nonetheless yield very great rewards, and I simply needed to step back and get perspective on why I'm doing the things I'm doing and to enjoy the journey, not just the rewards. And finally, to set aside non-negotiable time for myself to do things that rejuvenated, refreshed, and inspired me. Yoga. Naps. Gratitude lists. Prayer. Poetry. Lunch time walks. Good books. I can feel the changes happening under my skin as I take my time for myself. My lungs and heart expand. My fists unclench. My shoulders are less heavy.

The girl who wrote the blog post a year ago probably felt a lot more trapped than I do today, and hadn't quite learned yet that she needed to take care of herself just a little bit better. I am miles away from that girl.

I'm not scared/just changing.

14 comments:

Wine and Words said...

I have moved forward. I have moved INTO the woman you were last year. And THAT was a step FORWARD for me. I obviously have miles to go before I sleep. But I am learning. I am trying to be compassionate with myself...and everyone else (although that has always been way easier). You are a tough cookie, and yet still a sweet and tender one. It is a good mountain you climb :)

Marion said...

Ditto what Annie said. ;-)

Floating is awesome...so relaxing and healing and probably just what you need. Well, I'm thinking of floating in the Bahamas...I'm stuck, too, but I'm trying to read (and Pinterest) my way forward. Were it not for books, I'd have been dead and gone many moons ago. You are a young, strong, beautiful, talented, amazing woman. I know you'll do just fine. Love & hugs! xoxo

Two Tigers said...

This morning I was setting aside a journal I began four months ago and filled the last page of today. I was horrified to discover that I was just as preoccupied then with how my patterns seem to be repeating and nothing was changing, and I was just as lost and stressed (yet hopeful) as I was four months before THAT. I looked a little deeper though and realized in many ways I'm in a lot better shape now. It's good to look back - it shows you not only what hasn't changed, but what has. I love your metaphor of the uphill climb and nothing but gains ahead even if the view sometimes seems the same. The view may only alter slightly, but that woman on top of the mountain is not the one who set out in the foothills. Thank you so much for coming out of your brief "blog retirement" to write this post at just this time! You're writing yourself through a tough time with great courage and candor, and you're bringing us all along with you towards the better times ahead. Onward and upward!

Lira Kellerman said...

My wonderful friend,

You live in a ton of fear. "I can't do this because," "I have to do this because," "I want to change but I have to keep doing this because," and on and on.

With your June 2013 end date to that thing we talked about, you will be thrown into a panic - only to find that that decision - which you have been too scared to make -

was

the

best

decision

you

made

in

years.

Because it will free you up to do so much more;

to breathe more,

to nap more,

to love Yourself more.


Only better things are in store for you.

Kudos for realizing life is cyclical until we stop it. It is up to each of us to move toward the entropy.

Always, with so much love.

Robin said...

This post sooo describes what I was going after with the Airplanes song. There is that one section in the first verse that made me think so much of you:

There comes a time where you fade to the blackness
And when you're staring at the phone in your lap
And hoping, but them people never call you back
But that's just how the story unfolds
You get another hand soon after you fold

It is all a big circle, and there is always another hand. So, don't ever give up on your airplane or be afraid to take your shot.

I am glad that you are doing restorative things. Life can't be all just soul sucking tedious crap or you will miss that plane for sure. Sometimes I think we have to walk around in a fog, run into the walls a few times, etc in order to figure out that we need to make a change. That we need restorative things.

Keep reading at lunch. And start telling yourself that you love yoga. And pretty soon you will.

((Hugs))

Anthony Duce said...

This is wonderful writing, and encouraging to know what new has been learned, and realized in a years time.
This had me looking back at my journal entries for July of last year, and then the year before. What was learned and realized is surprisingly similar.

Barbara said...

Perhaps July isn't such a bad month if you can sit back and get perspective on your life. It's usually August for me, as I try to get away a couple weeks in August and that's when I mull things over. My daughter says she does it when she comes down here to see me. We all need that time.
As long as you feel you're moving forward, all is well.

JJ said...

Phoenix: You are a writer, actress, martial artist, and a zillion other things, and you have a partner in crime. You have everything! You are living your life, so enjoy it every day!

PS: One criticism - You "suck at blogging on a consistent level." But we love you anyway!

kj said...

tracy, i have vowed never to feel guilty about when or how often i blog because i have enough chores already. blogging and gardening: i swear i will do both only when fun.

i am so happy reading this. the foundation's stronger. knowing that ought to let you coast right into now!

life isn't always easy, but you are making something of it, tracy, and i think the payback is satisfaction

love
kj

Chris Okelberry said...

Keep pushing on. One step at a time...not yet where you want to be but farther along than you were. The view just keeps getting better, but sometimes the trail feels steeper too.

Gwen said...

Every time you write a post I am so inspired by you. For me life just is on repeat most of the time. Same feelings and experiences but it's how we learn and grow from them that changes how we see life. While you feel like you are in the same place you definitely have grown. Keep climbing that mountain my friend! XOXO

drollgirl said...

i heard something the other day that is so obvious and so true -- one of those things that just bears repeating....life will keep throwing you curve balls. things will be difficult sometimes, and that will never change. but we get older and wiser and we learn (WE BETTER) how to better cope with trials and tribulations. :) clearly i am still learning. i guess we keep this up as long as we can. :)

Bathwater said...

Life is cyclical it seems like we never change even when we do. We don't hear from you enough, often I take your strength for granted because of your silence.

Even with this post you leave us with a lot of questions. I hope you are happy, your comments and the attention you show others is appreciated. I always have good thoughts for you as well.

krista said...

i don't always enjoy hiking. i think you just told me why.

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