Sunday, December 14, 2008


It's snowing in Boise! We had a little skiff of snow yesterday when I went out for my walk, just enough to blow about a little. But when I was a block from home it began snowing more heavily, and soon I was abominable snow Patti. I stopped every half-mile or so to brush off the flakes and shake out my hair, and it was very smile-worthy. And I walked 8000 steps, which is a bit over 4 miles for me. Today the snow is really falling, we have accumulation and the world is frosted in white. Sigh.

Yes....I have a step counter. I'm not sure I mentioned that here. I'm wearing this bodybugg thing that measures your calorie burn and steps (which for the most part is not all that effective for me). The very accurate step counter IS motivating.

So. On the deck at the moment is my Christmas tree. It is a fake. I'm mildly morally opposed to fake Christmas trees, but I'm also very very aware of not pushing myself too hard. As a result, I went Christmas tree shopping yesterday, and came home not with the fresh smelling fir that I normally select, but with an artificial, pre-lit fir in a big box. I was trying to wrestle the damned thing into my Explorer in the parking lot when a nice guy nearby came and saved me. Probably he was laughing on the inside, but he was just plain helpful on the outside. And that experience made me smile, too.

Don't overcommit. That is my current motto. Choose. It's hard to do that everywhere, maybe hardest to do at work. At work there are so many competing needs, and I am relatively certain that those needs would not be equally prioritized by everyone who might want to vote. But...I still need to choose. And I am. In my personal life, choosing is clearer, if I stay mindful of the fact that a choice exists. Fancy dinner, or take that time to exercise? Read a book or watch a movie? Decorate for Christmas, or not? It is amazing how the awareness of choice calms me. Amazing.

My bellydance classes are now at the studio. We are putting together step combinations, not so much a scripted dance (though that will come, I am told) but step combinations that work. It's so very much fun. I find myself dancing all the time now, hearing the correct rhythm pattern in a song on my iPod and dancing - three-quarter shimmy to Melissa Etheridge, or Bryan Adams, or....well, almost anything. It is goooood.

But I digress. The studio classes are smaller, and that means more chitchat with the other dancers. The woman who knocked me down last week is 28, it turns out. She was surprised by my age, and the other (supertense!) woman standing nearby said "you don't have kids - and anyone who doesn't have kids has no idea how hard life can be." My eyebrows hit my hairline, and I opened my mouth but did not say anything. Supertense woman is an interesting case. She is in her 40's, married, very tense and her parents buy her things that she shows us - like her new Cadillac SUV. She is...unhappy. Visually, clearly and in every line of her body unhappy.

Her comment reminded me of a Thanksgiving I once spent with my friend Carol, her mother and her now-ex husband. I was in a great mood, and I was making everyone laugh. He was laughing as hard as anyone, but at some point he said - "only someone who is deeply unhappy can be as funny as you are." And I felt defensive, and then I felt sad for him. The truth is something else, I think. Difficult things happen to you, and you can choose to stretch your schema a bit. You can either shift your whole "potential for happiness" range down, to allow for the new bad thing that has happened to fit in your range, or you can stretch your range. In other words, if something that bad can happen, there must be an even higher high that can happen. That is what I believe. I think my earliest life, with parents who truly believed I could do anything (except sports!) and who made me believe it, too - that set me up to be the person I am. And, too, I am of the opinion that the experience of loss or hurt or pain can give you a fresh and sharp perspective on what is at risk, what you should celebrate having in your life. Nothing is permanent, everything changes. That hurts, and at the very same instant it reveals opportunity and joy in every tiny shift.

So, to that cranky now-ex-husband I say - I'm sorry that you could not believe sadness could transform someone into having a greater capacity for pure joy. To supertense woman I say - stretch a little and own some of your unhappiness, so that you can change it. To the charming 28-year-old-with-THREE-left feet I say - life will send you dificult things, deal with them and let them sharpen your appreciation of good things. And to the universe? I'm thankful that my experiences have made me perhaps sometimes-tired, but not bitter. I'm grateful that somehow, despite everything, the way I look seems to suggest to others that I've led a life without pain or loss.

So while it has been a very rough year for everyone, I am very very lucky in many ways. So while I'm decorating my well-lit and unscented Christmas tree, I'll light a "glistening snow" candle and practice some threequarter shimmies to Celtic harp music. I'll wish I could hug the people I love who are far away, and bake them brown sugar shortbread cookies, or other buttery delights. I'll send them good thoughts.

Hug 'em if you've got 'em. :)

~ patti

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Brown sugar shortbread? Ohhhh....