This summer has been….well, not what I expected it to be, honestly! Not at all.
I knew going in that it would be a busy and probably somewhat challenging period of time, what with moving (and shepherding two jittery elementary-school-age kids through the process.) And that’s been true. But I expected that.
What I didn’t expect was the rest of it! Particularly all of the personal growth/emotional/swirling-contents-of-my-head stuff that has come about.
I have a fair amount to say (quite a bit to say, actually) about each of the areas listed below – but I decided to condense them first to their basics and just list them out. I figure that I can write subsequent, more in-depth posts linking back here when and if the spirit moves me.
So, without further ado:
6 Things I’ve Learned (about myself, mainly) This Summer:
1. A daily blogging practice (which I recently toyed with implementing) doesn’t work for me. You might have guessed that by the fact that I haven’t blogged in six weeks – regardless of the fact that I was supposed to, as of June, be blogging daily. 🙂
And the problem is actually not because of a lack of discipline – or even because I’ve been busy. It’s because I really don’t enjoy the kind of rigidity in my personal blogging that is required to blog every single day; it’s as simple as that.
That’s useful information for me as a blogger/writer! So it wasn’t a completely failed experiment. But the experiment is officially abandoned now.
2. There is nothing like a total change of scene/environment for exposing to the light all of the ruts/holes/broken/worn-out/outdated spots of your life. A change like, say, a big move.
But that kind of exposure of the hidden places can be a rather disconcerting experience.
There are all kinds of levels to this (and I’ll be talking about some of them, I imagine, in subsequent posts). But in the interest of brevity, I’ll just mention one somewhat straightforward one:
It happened the day I wandered into the shiny new workout room in the clubhouse of my new apartment complex. I was alone in a big room with lots of light and full of brand-spanking new machines…and a mirror that completely covered an entire wall.
And I stopped and looked at myself in that mirror.
And there was something about the light, or the sheer size (floor-to-ceiling, spanning the wall) of that mirror, or just the newness of everything…I don’t know. Whatever it was though, when I looked at myself in that mirror, I saw myself – really saw myself -for the first time in a very long time. I saw worn out, too-heavy, dark-circled, slumped-shouldered, chaotic-haired me, in workout clothes that literally had holes in them (because I haven’t wanted to spend the money on myself required to replace them.)
And what I saw ticked me off. A lot.
The upside is that it also woke me up.
It wasn’t/isn’t just about the obnoxious reality of stress-induced weight gains or whatever (though damn it!!)
No…it was (and remains) about the unsettling evidence – right there in the mirror – of self-neglect.
It’s not about looking heavier than I’d like or unkempt to the point of embarrassment. It’s not about realizing that it’s time I bought some new clothes. It’s about the whole picture – and what it said.
It’s about looking like someone who doesn’t value herself or her own health. It’s about being that person.
The truth is, I haven’t prioritized my own well-being in…well, quite a long while now. And the result was right there, looking back at me from the mirror.
If I had no other reason to be glad I made this move this summer, I’m glad I did for this moment in the workout room. New environments make you see yourself differently. They take away your complacency, your habits. They take you off of auto-pilot – and that’s a very good thing.
3. I have some rather major personal strides left to make regarding this whole “conscious uncoupling” experience my ex and I are in the middle of. It’s personal growth stuff (nothing, thankfully, to do with my ex and our relationship; that’s stress I don’t need right now!) But I didn’t expect to feel that – not at all! And as little as two months ago, if you had asked me, I would have shot that idea right down.
Now…not so much. It’s another example, I suppose, of a new environment/new routines/etc shaking you out of ruts of behavior/thinking.
I’m trying to keep this as brief as possible – so I’ll just note that there’s a certain metaphysical idea that says that you’re destined to repeat your mistakes in life until you finally learn the lesson they’re trying to teach you. I feel instinctively that there’s truth in that. And that maybe some of this everlasting stasis-state that is being separated (for FIVE YEARS and counting) is due to that. Like, on some metaphysical level, part of the reason it’s dragging on – and on and on – is because I haven’t learned all of what I’m personally supposed to be learning from the experience yet??
It’s admittedly a strange – but interesting – thing to consider. (Definitely more on this in future posts.)
I’ll add that one of the (many) angles to this is the fact that:
4. I need to just be “MAGGIE” more often. Myself. I need to give some time to that – to prioritize that. Not want to, but need to. And this plays back into #2 again also. I need to find a way to take care of myself no matter what else is going on in my life. I’m starting to grasp this summer the vastness of the extent to which I suck at this.
I was already aware, to a degree, of this need in myself to go forward into the world as myself. Not as this woman who is stuck in this endless separation…not as a person who has taken a seriously long time to figure out what she wants to do with her life and her time and her energy…not as an individual embodying a role as somebody’s mom or neighbor or daughter or sister…but myself. So the fact that I need this (and haven’t been serving myself adequately in this area) is not new information.
But something about this move has made this need more bare and exposed and raw. I find that I can’t ignore it now – and I’m realizing simultaneously how very much I’ve been ignoring it up to now or stuffing it. And that I’ve been doing that for quite a while now. And that it’s hurt me.
It’s like being aware that you’re thirsty, and have been for a while – but then realizing suddenly that what you actually are is dangerously dehydrated! That’s where I’m at right now.
5. On a lighter note: I’ve been reminded that it feels surprisingly good – and is fun, too! – to step back sometimes and free yourself to just go ahead and consume the content of others without feeling compelled to actively engage with it (outside of the engagement that takes place privately, within your own heart and mind and self). That’s been the unexpected bonus for me of not having a great deal of time and/or focus for blogging this summer (or for taking photos, or for engaging much in my web design/coding work.) The fact of not being able to embrace these usual activities was at first very frustrating (particularly the coding stuff – as I really, really want to advance here. I did not intend or desire to take the summer off from it.) But once I accepted that life was what it was this summer, and that I could only do what I could do….well, then things actually started to get kind of intriguing!
Without blogging/writing, without photography, without coding studies, what I’ve been doing is reading a lot, particularly online, and looking at a lot of photography again (more than I have since I started to get serious about taking photos myself.) I’ve been listening to music more, and I’ve watched a ton of movies (for me) as well as more online content. I’ve given some much-needed attention to my own fitness/wellness, too.
So much to say about so many of these things!
6. Mentors can be found everywhere – and sometimes you’ll run into the ones you most need when you aren’t even actively looking. I grabbed the book, Yogalosophy for Inner Strength, by Mandy Ingber, at the library on impulse, just because I was looking for something else nearby and it caught my eye. I actually didn’t even register the “inner strength” part. I was talking to my daughter at the time so only half-reading. I saw “strength” and I saw the blurb from Jennifer Aniston on the cover (Mandy Ingber is or has been her yoga instructor, apparently) and so I just grabbed it to look over more closely at home – basically to see if I liked the way she presented the poses, because I’ve been getting interested again in things-yoga lately (one of the results of #2 above.)
But what I stumbled into is a yoga/philosophy/wellness practice that is absolutely speaking to me.
Definitely more on this to come.
One last thing I’ll note, being as this is my first post since moving:
Richmond, VA (in case you were wondering!) is very a nice town to spend time in. I’m really glad to be here! And that’s even with all of the above stuff weighing on me (as well as some other, thankfully fleeting, but serious-at-the-time stresses. What a summer this has been!!!)
As noted above, I haven’t had my camera out much as yet – but I did snap the below shot of my kids with my phone a few days after we moved in:
The light reflecting on the glass cereal bowl is admittedly a little blinding!! But I couldn’t help snapping this.
There’s something about morning sunshine that makes me feel really good inside. I like the new apartment – but the morning sun is, in my opinion, one of its best parts!
It makes me smile every single morning. 🙂