Keeping Yourself Intact

Last night, I stayed up until one in the morning, grooming a 4 page file that will print into a stair step fold on synthetic treeless paper and offer the words I have read forwards and backwards after waking and writing them at odd hours throughout the year, all lined up with inspired artwork, imagery and packaged up in a signature out side of the box idea.

It has been a labor of love and I can only pray with fingers crossed that this next proof has the measurements right so that I can confidently move all in on the next step.

One of my favorite parts of last night, was reading to my sister over FaceTime while she worked on a puzzle. I still can’t quite read the end without crying and when I got through it, I laughed through tears and looked at my sister. Who normally has quips and ideas and thoughts but in that moment, just looked over while still working on the puzzle – had tears in her eyes as well – and said, “that’s awesome.”

It is awesome. It’s a stew of memory, real stories, and intention.

Lately, when I feel like I absolutely have bitten off way too much, what helps me is that this project is actually awesome.

See, I don’t yet know how all the yoga fits with the self-publishing my personal canon fits with raising the dogs fits with perfecting the homemade biscuits supports the new marriage helps with the step parenting guides the getting one kid off the college informs the shaping the upcoming driver tends as the helpful daughter makes space as the committed granddaughter.

But I do know life is not right without it all.

And I do know the one consistency in all of it is my need to “not quench the spirit”.

Which, for as important of concept in my day to day life, ironically is the theme of the devotional I just cannot seem to get off the ground.

In conversations lately, I have heard several friends expressing a desire to be out from under the microscope, relieved from the tone police, allowed to live their life, trusted.

I find this theme is as present in my day to day (through my own experience or in listening to theirs) as the theme to not quench the spirit, and both ideas are equally present in my ambition – my active, iterative task list – my yoga life.

Again, this leads me to this question: how does it all tie together?

Keeping yourself intact when you feel ripped a part or scrutinized takes an enormous amount of mental resolve. Mental resolve takes patience.

One of the original Greek words for patience was “long suffering”.

What I have learned in my creative process and the requirement to “hold the line” of concentration in order to bring all of the inspired bits and pieces into one completed work, is it is an active state of listening. At least, for me it is.

Does “long suffering” get easier when patience isn’t working through something, but listening through something?

Relationally, I know the more tense I feel equates to the need I have to defend myself or explain, to accommodate or justify.

I have learned over time, becoming witness and listening helps any emotional mess that wants to cause erroneous emotional labor in my emotional world stay outside of my world. Similar to my midnight hours last night, it is all about listening. Responding, not reacting.

Keeping yourself intact, I do believe, requires you know the root truth of who you are, what you are trying to accomplish.

These motivations help you say yes and allow or to say no and avoid.

My file is at the printer this morning. I am hopeful about it. I am excited. I listened last night. I stopped when a part of the layout didn’t fit easily together. I picked up what felt right. I went back and forth, pruning, twisting, loving, allowing.

More than anything, I feel I have matured in my ability to avoid letting unanswered questions – the general unfolding of life – make me feel unworthy or unable to get something done. It looks different than I thought it would at first, but the spirit is well hydrated. :)

If you feel like you are emotionally man-handled, I would love to know some of the ways you recognize when something or somebody is creeping into your world and loosening the threads. It’s a really common theme for a lot of people. You aren’t alone.

Trying noticing if silence helps you. Use the breath. Make some art.

5.1.20 On the Road

Started into a podcast this morning when Maddox, our youngest, asked for music for a little bit. He is so sweet, I obliged.

As I scrolled for a good easy song to play, I stumbled upon Oceans and said to David, “I think I’ll start us out with a little worship music.”

“I really don’t want to listen to worship music.” He said, with his loving laugh voice which I’m thankful exists.

“Well then that probably means you should” I say in my loving laugh voice which I’m also thankful exists. It was a sweet exchange.

I looked out the window at this beautiful sunny morning, headed into our 9 hour journey to Black Hills National Forest. My heart started to tremble:

// spirit lead me where my trust is without borders //

Listening to the repetition of the prayer while watching the landscape with the lingering smell of a PBJ in the truck cab (made for Aria) made me aware of this reality that I have been led to an adventurous man.

This commitment we are in has me on a roadtrip, through a part of the country I have never been in, using strengths my life has equipped me for (like making three kids comfortable in a backseat and making sandwiches from a front seat – wrapped in a folded napkin with a quick scribble note to the recipient on it) and in a landscape of people so wide and deep that the only realistic expectation I can have of myself to help guide and mother is to stay present. To pay attention.

When I consider the whole of all that is on my mind and heart and how much is unknown, I am led just to consider its opposite: “known”.

I considered seasons of “known” (where nothing major was in question or in flux) and realized those seasons were seasons of plans, concrete planning or where plans were in motion.

If what is “known” means to me that I know the plan then, very much so, my life right now is “on the fly”. Big stuff: I don’t know what June looks like, yes. But even daily stuff like tomorrow night, I’m sleeping “in Montana”.

I did a little word math, a way I journal to try and make sense of complex ideas, to find my center. And I saw quickly that living “on the fly” and living “planned” have the same root: my intention.

If living present, per my true honest root, my intention, I believe, would not make my plan that much different than what I would come up with in a split decision. Said another way, what I come up with in a split decision is probably similar to what I would have planned… I think this is where the lyrics got me, spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.

Maybe living spirit led allows them to be the same: making plans and winging it. Just like Covid changed the best of plans, a boon can change the worst of winging it. If you’re true to your intention, to being spirit led, your trust is without borders.

To close, I’m stunned at how much of my life with David rings true to what I am accustomed to – like long road trips and lots of people – while also having me in unknown territory where I am reminded to rely heavily on the spirit. In yoga, we call this the balance between effort and ease – and when we find this place, we have just the right amount of tension to grow and explore newness with just the right of softness to trust and relax. It’s humbling: how simple the complexities of life can be.

Lots of love. :) me

Iowa. <shrug>