Begin as you mean to go on…

Today is my birthday.
And for the last … many … birthdays this is the mantra I have used to start “my” new year:

To me, it epitomizes how I want to start my birthday each year. I begin as I mean to go on. I don’t make the day very “special” – I have never been one for parties or celebrations. (Oh, the time I had a surprise party that everyone thought I would love. It was… torture. I really dislike being surprised, and being the center of attention. You can see why a surprise party was not exactly how I wanted to spend my birthday!)

So today, I went to the gym. I came to work and I am going to work hard. I am going to see my husband and his family tomorrow for dinner. But that’s it. Nothing special. I try not to tell people about it – I never mention it at work, and I don’t expect people to “celebrate” me.

Instead, I want to be sure that I am living the life I want to live. That how I am spending my days is how I want to spend my life. (Thank you, Annie Dillard.)

Some years, I have time for a personal retreat to align my intent with my purpose and values, and figure out how I want to live that out in the next year. Not this year – it’s a busy time, with the academic year starting next week.

But I will take some time for reflection this weekend – not a retreat, just a… review, perhaps.
And tonight, well, tonight I might just have an extra bit of peanut butter ripple ice cream. Because, you know, another year on this planet is nothing to sneeze at.

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Happy birthday to me. Now, time to get on with it! 😉

A snippet

And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
~Max Ehrmann, a snippet of the Desiderata

I have always, always loved this…benediction? Poem? I read it at my high school graduation, and even now, when I am in the throes of a panic as I was yesterday, I hear this bit in my head. 

“…no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

And I breathe. 
And remember that yes, the world will keep turning. 
Despite my mini-failures along the way. Despite the actions of our despicable “President” these days, and those who align with his views across the world. 

I don’t know what the plan is, what the end is, what it will all look like. 
That doesn’t mean I stop working, stop advocating for change, stop trying to be a force for good.  
That doesn’t mean that I stick my head in the sand, and just assume that everything can just go on without my contribution.

I do need to keep trying, to do better, to do more.

But I also know that there is a bigger process at work here. One I can contribute to, yes, but something that will continue to unfold when my short time on this planet is done.

So what do I take away from these seemingly contradictory thoughts?

Do good things, add to the positive balance of the Universe.
Actively work against those who aim to advance the negative, the dark.
We can shift the unfolding…we can make a better end.

Remembering to breathe… or trying to

I got completely overwhelmed yesterday with all I have to do in the next 3 months.
I looked at my to do list and could not fathom how it would all get done.
I panicked.
How can one person do all this? and yet, I still feel  like I am not putting enough time in at work.
I still feel that what I am doing is “less than” so many other people are doing. That I do not measure up. I’m falling short and showing that I am less capable than others.
And then I try to remember just how much I have done. I try to talk myself out of the downward spiral.
But it’s hard. And it’s even harder when few people understand what you do, everyday, and why.
It’s harder when the person I am supposed to be closest to doesn’t support what I do. Doesn’t understand what I do. Doesn’t understand why I make the choices I make. 
Which is making me think long and hard about the choices I am making in that relationship. 
I guess the only place to start is at the beginning. What needs to be done first? And then next? And, if something doesn’t get done, what will happen? My job is certainly not anywhere close to important. People will not die if I do not check everything off my list. If something falls off the long list of to-dos.
But I’ll let myself down. I’ll let others down. And I really hate to do that. 
So, trying to remember to breathe. To remember that these times come in our lives, and that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. (And hopefully, as my great-uncle used to say, it won’t be a train coming at me…)
I can only do so much. 
I will do what I can, when I can. I will get it done. (I guess that means it’s time to get to work…)


I wasn’t going to write today, but then Jamie Varon ( sent out one of her fabulous Friday letters that I read this morning (yes, Saturday morning) and it had this gem in it:

“Why do I still have to justify being tired or needing a break by recounting how much I’ve done in the past week, two weeks, month? Even though I know the restorative power of rest, why is it still so difficult to recognize when enough is enough for me?”

followed by this: 
“The part of caring for myself that has continually been difficult for me is admitting that I have limits. That I am human.”
I think she was in my brain. No, seriously. I  have Steph to thank for making me aware of Jamie’s writing, and I am ever grateful. Her Friday letters speak to me so clearly, and most weeks, I completely agree with what she writes. 
This week was no exception. 
Simply put, I suck at taking time for myself. I must be busy busy busy busy… and if I stop, it’s only because I am sick, exhausted, or recovering from something like, you know, a colonoscopy. (Fun!) 
Regularly resting because it’s healthy? Ha. As if. 
Taking time for myself because I need that to be my best self? Not so much. 
I know that it’s a combination of my personality and my job… and I truly love my job, so that’s not going to change. But I am working so hard on remembering to step away, to step back, to rest. Regularly. I cannot be productive and succeed the way I want to if I am completely burned out. I need to rest my body and brain. But oh, it is so hard. And I’ve hit the wall in the past, and it hasn’t been pretty, but I still have not learned. 
I am still trying, though. Not necessarily succeeding, mind you, but I’m trying. 
I am human. I can only do so much. I need to breathe. I need to take breaks. That doesn’t make me less than, it makes me a person. 


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I am a chronic overthinker. 
Turn off my brain? Ha. Not going to happen. 
I’m trying to get better – I have tried meditating for years now and it’s starting to finally stick. At least a little bit. 
It’s hard for others to understand how my mind is constantly active. How I can never really turn it off. I wake up in the middle of the night…thinking. I get on the treadmill… thinking. I am in the shower, cooking, baking, working… thinking. 
I do get immersed in my work and in reading and that helps – probably why I do those two things so much! 
But it can be exhausting. Sometimes I just want to find the off switch and have my mind be, well, blank for a bit. But that’s not going to happen. 
So instead, I need to find my own version of Dumbledore’s penseive. I need to figure out where and when my mind calms. Being in nature helps. Concentrating helps. New experiences help. Hiking definitely helps. 
And now I need to find time to do those things. To get out more, to hike more, to disconnect more. I need to give my brain a break. 
I am working on my half-day trip list. This weekend, I am staying in town but I plan to hit up a new used book store that is having a massive sale and my favorite thrift shop, to see what has come in as the summer ends and people clean out, again. 
I wish I could just pull thoughts out through my temple with my wand.. but until that miracle happens, this will have to suffice. 
Happy Friday! Off to overthink my way through another workday. Ha.