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.

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