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I Return To Myself

Now in the stillness . . . the light returns to the water, the shadow to the boulder, and I return to myself.  Elizabeth Coatsworth, from the poem, Now in the Stillness

I had the best of intentions.  The holidays, the extended twenty-three days of Camp Haskell Remien, had come to a close and our kids and our grandbaby and the two grand-dogs had returned to their homes, and Cam and I, we had returned back home also from a palate-cleansing post-Camp Haskell Remien five-day trip across the Atlantic to Barcelona.  And now, it was mid-January, the week of my birthday, and I was officially starting the new year, my new year.  My birthday was on the fifteenth, but my beloved women’s group wasn’t celebrating it until the twenty-fifth, so that gave me ten days of birthday mindfulness, ten days to release whatever I needed to release to come into alignment with my deepest values and desires for this new year, ten days to discover what was lighting my fire as I looked forward into 2013.

So with a Capricorn’s willful focus, I set up a plan for myself – practices that I would do every day for the next ten days to nourish my body, my mind, my spirit, practices that would bring me clarity and groundedness and a sense of excitement and renewal.  It was a manageable list, nothing daunting about it at all; in fact, most of the practices on the list are ones that I do on a regular basis anyway.  There was something for my body — every day I would juice my greens and lemons and ginger into an invigorating concoction powerful enough to make my hair stand on end just the way I like my hair to stand on end.  And there were the to-dos for my mind and my spirit as well.  I would read one poem each day, any poem that struck my fancy, and I would read it slowly and I would savor its every word.  And I would go through my house and release ten things – daily, I would do this — bag up the old, the worn-out, the no-longer exciting and let it all go.  It was that easy, just a few practices and the intention that these would lead to a clarity as I move forward.  And I was doing a banner job, a Capricorn banner job.  I was forging ahead.  Day One, Day Two, Day Three – I was juicing up a green-ginger storm in my kitchen, I was tossing into a bag the bright red sweater that was too big for me and the winter hat that does nothing to flatter my little pin of a head and the kitchen gadget that I had never figured out how to use.  And I was feeling good about myself.  Vibrant and curious as to what this ten-day parade of practices would bring into focus.

And it was subtle at first, the way this Capricorn-girl’s New Year-Birthday Plan began to unravel: the sandy feeling behind my eyes, the slight pull in my chest as I skate-skied up Forestville’s first big hill, a chill that lingered a little too long after I had made my way back into the warmth of my house.  And, for a time, with a goat-girl’s determination, I was able to ignore it.  Grind up those cucumbers and kale and ginger, shove in an apple, and loads of lemon.  You’ll be fine.  You’ll be fine; that’s true.  You’ll be fine!  But, right now, you have the flu!  And all of a sudden the practices were no longer on my priority list.  The green juice that usually sets my hair on end and my spirit flying tasted like murky spicy horrible mud to me on Day Four.  And who cares about releasing ten items from around your house when your nose is releasing mountain-loads of snot?!?  I was bed-ridden on Day Five, lying there with a head that felt as though it might really explode.

But, something interesting began to happen as I lay there with this exploding head.  I began to feel on fire.  And it wasn’t just a fever that was talking to me.  I could sense it, the clarity that I was asking for – it was beginning to bubble up – and it wasn’t coming to me through a series of made-up practices.  It was rising to the surface on a winter-virus as this Capricorn-girl gave in to something stronger than her Capricorn will.  First, it was a glimmer.  A remembering that she’s writing a book, that I’m writing a book.  I’d put it aside for the weeks of Camp Haskell Remien, hadn’t given it a thought since a mid-December trip to Maine when my friend, Muriel, helped with some editing.  A book!!!!!!  It hadn’t been on my radar as I sang to Baby Viren or skate-skied with my boys or watched episode after episode of Downton Abbey.

And now, in the midst of the lowest-energy weekend, I remembered that I was on fire.  I felt on fire.  On Day Six, I brought the book to bed with me, and, fortified with Kleenexes and sticky notes and a purple pen, read through, from cover to cover, with fresh eyes, and an enthusiastic spirit.  In fact, I could hardly contain my enthusiasm.  And I hadn’t had my green juice in two days!  Who needs juice when you’re writing a book!  Of course, that is what is lighting my fire!  Of course, it is at top of my priority list for this new year!  And on Day Seven, with my energy nowhere near 100%, when I bundled up and headed out into the frigid cold for a short ski, the fire continued.  I was warm inside as I slogged along half-sick.  I could see it, how this book, that doesn’t lend itself to traditional readings, is going to make a banner of a one-woman show. So there you have it.  It’s Day Eight.  My practices are in shambles – and who cares!  I certainly don’t.  I’m remembering what lights my fire and what could be better than that?!?

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