Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Busy bee

          Yesterday I was teaching a kids' yoga class and mentioned the possibility of an overnight snowfall.
          One of the boys sighed, "I'm done!  I want to go back to Tennessee where they have bumblebees and sunshine!"
          I can certainly relate.
          In mid-April I'm usually a busy bee in my gardens, planting seeds and hoeing and preparing the soil for annuals I'll bring home in May. But not this year.  Yes, I've enjoyed bike rides to the park.  I've been able to rake out all the dried leaves and muck from the flower beds.  And I've even spent a few afternoons hanging out on the front porch swing, visiting with friends and enjoying warmer temperatures.
          But something in the back of my mind has been whispering, "Don't get too used to this.  Winter's not done yet."  And on this full moon/lunar eclipse Tuesday, I'm reminded once again the challenges and benefits of taking two steps forward and one step back.
         
          Mondays are usually late nights for me and I don't get to bed until after midnight.  Tuesday mornings are luxurious as I can sleep in and enjoy the comfort of a good book and cup of tea while slowly waking up.  I don't have to teach until this afternoon.  I could be editing a book, but I'm choosing not to...at least not yet.  I could be doing laundry or grocery shopping or a host of other things to keep me busy.
          But I'm not. 
          Instead I'm choosing to ease into the day in peace -- a reality quite unlike the life I once lived as a workaholic.  Back then my days began at 5:30 AM and didn't end until after 11:00 PM.  I taught first grade all day, ran errands in the afternoon, then volunteered here, there and everywhere from Monday through Friday nights.  Saturdays were spent taking care of the house.  Sunday were spent grading papers and preparing for the week ahead.  I ran on the hamster wheel of a life I had created and never once asked myself why I felt compelled to bleed myself dry in the process.
          It wasn't until the overwhelming stress of trying to do it all...and do it alone...created health issues I could no longer ignore.  Only then did I begin to heal the addictions to sugar, to chaos, to keeping a busy schedule, to working myself to death in order to prove to myself I was worth something.
          So I saved a little money, quit my job, and spent the better part of four months wondering, "What's next?"  I had long, empty hours to myself.  Even longer days to contemplate the consequences of my choices.  It was a necessary time to live in the space of not being busy.  Of not having a thousand and one things to do so when people asked, "How are you?" I could give them a laundry list of everything I was accomplishing.
          However, the seeds of what I would soon create were always there.  When one of my friends made the comment, "Well, if you leave teaching, you won't get your summers off anymore."
          "I won't need summers off anymore," I quickly replied.  "What I'll be doing won't totally stress me out or take up all my time so that everything I need to do for my house or myself has to be crammed into one season."
          Thankfully, as long as I've been teaching yoga and writing, I've been able to create a more balanced way of living.  Yes, I have bills to pay and responsibilities to meet.  We all do.  And there were times when I cleaned houses and cut grass and organized offices to make ends meet.  There's no shame in that.  But over time I've learned how to work smarter, not harder. 
          And I've always been met with benevolence and ever-evolving opportunities in the process.

          Our culture likes to pride itself on how much it can accomplish.  How much money it can generate.  How much "stuff" it can accumulate.  How much information it can jam into technology and then prove it to be obsolete in less than six months.  
          "Go...go...go!" seems to be the American motto and one I used to embody, body and soul.  Just last week I ran into a friend I hadn't seen since last fall and she asked how I was doing.
          "I'm keeping busy," I blurted out.  Then, quickly realizing my knee-jerk response to that question, I immediately edited myself saying, "But it's all FUN busy...I'm happy doing all the things I love to do."
          For now I choose to find the balance in healthier forms of "doing."  And I also find great pleasure in waiting, in watching, in noticing the little things I often missed when in a flurry of activity.  The songbirds in the morning.  The patterns of ivy uncurling themselves around my flowerpots.  Even the silent beauty of an early spring snowfall.  
         
          Life is too short to spend it always on the run.  For me, it's not enough to take the time to stop and smell the proverbial roses.  I need to tend them in my own garden.  For I have learned that to be busy is a choice, not an identity.  That I'm no longer a "human-doing."  I'm a human being.
          Being in my work or play with equal attention.
          Being in my garden or office or yoga studio with as much awareness as I can bring to the moment.
          Being in this space of grace, knowing that cultivating balance is just as important as cultivating my gardens.   
          So it you pass by my house this spring or summer and find I'm a busy bee in the flower beds, feel free to stop and chat a while.  Enjoy some lavender lemonade on the front porch swing.  Know that I'm delighted to be in those spaces in-between "doing" and "not doing."  
          For there, our true being comes alive.