Sunday, January 30, 2011


This past week has been one of the toughest I've ever lived through.  And I'm through it, and while I'm pretty tired, I am also still standing and able to smile.  There are weeks and weeks of challenge in front of me - but for today I am grateful to be where I am.  Thank you to those of you who are reading this and helped make it happen.  I appreciate it more than you may know. 

So of course, when things are very tough, you should start major organizing projects.  Yes, that was sarcasm.  Here is a question:  are your cabinets, closets and storage spaces filled with things that you will never use, wear or display again, but that you keep because they are "too valuable" to toss or donate?  I spent most of my afternoon digging through a biiiig cabinet in my house.  It contained:  nail polish, a truly shocking variety of nail and foot care devices and products, OTC cold medicines, lotions, suntan lotions, bandages (including 14 varieties of neatly-rolled elastic bandage), knee/ankle/wrist braces, a lot of greeting cards, a bunch of wrapping paper/ribbon, a stack of beautiful but not-for-me plates, five big oversized photo albums (empty).....and two more shelves of stuff. 

Does anyone want to see how much the packaging has changed for AlkaSeltzer Plus Cold Medicine since 1997?  Anyone? 

I'm grubby and tired from sorting through 13-year-old documents and 10-years-expired self tanners.  And I find myself thinking that the habit of tucking such things into a cabinet is the same habit that has me leaving more important things half-answered until I'm pressed into a corner and must do so.

This is definitely the year that I am focused on committing to each moment fully, living through it fully.  I don't have the inclination or the energy any more to tuck things into corners to be dealt with at some hazy future moment of truth.  Nope, I intend to simply decide, each moment, and move forward. 

If there is one very true gift that comes from experiencing pain, it is the gift of clarity.  I intend to put that to work in my life.

Best to all who happen this way!

~ plk

Monday, January 3, 2011

Commitment, Not Resolution

At various times in my life, I've felt certain that I knew how to prioritize effectively.  No, actually the word I mean to use is not effectively - let's try appropriately.  We all need to prioritize, but I have three characteristics that, together, are something of a perfect storm for filling my days with opportunities to do things. 
  1. I have quite a lot of energy.
  2. I have an overly developed sense of responsibility.
  3. I possess an almost-hilarious five-year-old's curiosity about everything I see, touch, smell, taste, hear or in some other way perceive.  
Also, I like things to be done well.   Also, I like to change things for the better.  Also....yep, the list continues.

But in the last several years, either I've lost my ability to appropriately prioritize or I've lost my sense of certainty in that ability.  I'm never wholly sure that what I'm doing is the very best use of my minutes.  I'm never certain that I won't regret or curse the minutes I spent doing X activity or task when Y activity or task is late, missed or simply left undone. 

So, that whole paragraph doesn't sound like me.  At all.  I read that, and I think....who is this person writing at my keyboard?  I'm not terribly fond of her.  Why?  Because what is really missing is the truest, surest priority - that once you commit, you're in.  You do the thing you are doing, and you are wholly in it, and you feel every pleasurable or painful bit of it, and then you put it in the memory pile and move on.  So yes, it occurs to me that what is really changed is not so much my ability to prioritize.  No, it is my ability, willingness or commitment to stay in the moment long enough to truly live it and experience it, to taste, experience and even savor every sweet, salty, peppery, bitter, putrid, awful and wondrous millisecond of it. 

How this happened is pretty simply to deduce - when the ugly moments become more frequent, and the demands become more numerous, it's very tempting to hurry through them as glancingly as possible.  When I close my eyes, I think of this rushing as being something like the sensation of running through the sprinkler on a hot day, not pausing long enough for the sting of the chilled water to become welcome on your skin.  But that's a pretty image.  It's not a pretty habit, not really.  So here I am, showing you why that is a bad strategy - the habit of hurrying through difficult moments becomes a way of being, not a choice.  And before you know it, as quickly as you're running through the dark moments, you're hurrying through moments of beauty, laughter, love, connection -- and leaving in your wake a life half-lived.  Worse yet, those difficult and dark moments are far better than the joyous ones at reappearing insistently in front of your nose, demanding that you deal with them. 

I'm not in charge of what the world throws at me, but I'm wholly in charge of how I respond, and how I spend each moment.  Let's not call it a resolution, because words matter.  Let's call it a commitment.  To the extent that I am able, and strong enough, I'm all done with "multitasking" my moments.  It doesn't work, even when it makes me feel or look superproductive.  One moment, and then the next, and each one allowed to have the time and space it needs. 

My intent is to wring the sweetness out of the good moments, and let the bitter and putrid ones have their due time, all of it.  And not a millisecond more.  Count your good moments, and be thankful for your strength in getting through the awful ones. 

Best to all who happen this way ~ plk