One of the hardest aspects of being a teacher is following my own advice. If I can’t walk the walk, what right do I have dispensing advice? In the last five months I attempted to truly and deeply care for myself without apology or judgment. This blog post is my reemergence from the chaos and tranquility of complicated, non-linear self-exploration.
Truth be told, there is a very simple explanation why I haven’t written a blog since early November. We bought a house. Like all things that I do, I only fully understood the significance of the purchase and the process involved four months into the project. My brain is very talented at hiding the facts from me until I am capable of understanding them.
The house required a significant renovation. The renovation, which we initially thought would take 2 months, will probably take seven to twelve months. While we are surprisingly close to budget, the human resources spent in the last five months are legendary. The project has included a new heating system, new windows throughout the house, a huge messy spray-foaming extravaganza and taking the second floor down to the studs and exposing the attics in the kitchen and master bedroom so we now have beautiful vaulted ceilings.
My dream house now comfortably arrives at 73 degrees when I get home at night and returns to that temperature about 15 minutes before I wake every morning. This makes me feel a little like I am living in a sci-fi movie, but all the African batiks and flea market furniture quickly remind me I am simply home. I now have a kitchen with painted drywall and a bathroom sink with running water. So I feel like a queen all the time.
When we bought the house I didn’t know it would expose all of my personal flaws and shortcomings. I didn’t realize the spectacular mirror of a project of this nature. While everyone was busy talking about how stressful homeownership is I was attempting to shower once a week, show up for my yoga classes at all and just remember my patients’ names.
It was delirious, delicious, brainless exhaustion. Sometimes I would work all morning demo-ing drywall or plaster and then rush off to my morning class so physically exhausted that I didn’t think my legs would hold me in standing at the front of the class. Other times I would spend entire days in front of the television after working for twelve hours the day before. Never, ever, ever have I been this tired.
So I started developing strategies. I took to making five minute meals. During the course of the construction process my husband dropped about 10-15 pounds and so anything I put in front of him seemed gourmet. I didn’t judge myself and he didn’t even seem to notice. We stopped cleaning our apartment. I showered only after construction work when the demolition dust was toxic or dangerous to the skin. I didn’t market my business. I didn’t hope for new patients. I didn’t write blog posts or even answer all my emails. I took good care of my patients and I taught my yoga students and I sailed through life. Somewhere in the last four months I learned a new language. I learned how to use a chop saw, a jig saw, a chalk line, shims, screw gun, and circular saw. I learned how to stand in a room full of contractors at 7am and get my questions answered.
Priorities have been a big concept in our household lately. What work do we need to finish before some inspector or subcontractor needs to be called? What is really necessary on a Friday night before a big work weekend? Is construction work more important than saving money on take out food? Where does romance fit in after three weeks of knocking down walls and tearing out ceilings in silent companionship?
I try to tell my patients undergoing major life changes to forgive themselves for a temporarily imperfect life. The occasional take out meal or splurge on ice cream is really quite inconsequential for the physical body, but if it gives you enough strength to keep going and finish that current challenge it can be a lifesaver for the emotional self.
Some might have said I should have started blogging in early March when the pace changed and we actually moved into the new house. But I didn’t want to. Instead I savored March. I spent a lot of time curled up in front of the tv and even more time in bed in the morning staring out the window incapable of moving. I reconnected with friends and started really cooking again. I even took an R&R day at Kripalu and spent most of the day sitting people-watching and drinking tea. This level of wellbeing feels new, like maybe I’ve never ever been here before.
My teaching is better, patient work is brighter and more interesting. I’m doing new design work for my website and I’m tackling some new projects. I’m even closer to being on time to everything in my life.
Just like resting an overworked muscle is the fastest way to heal, resting an overworked body and mind requires saying no to a lot of responsibilities and staying true to what the body requests. I am incredibly proud of the courage and the audacity it took to get through this winter. But it is April and I’m heading home to a sunny, cheerful non-toxic building. Someday it will have drywall on the second floor and someday I’ll get to sleep in the master bedroom. But today I have the mental capacity to write a blog post and think about my audience again. I am nourished again. Full of words, full of spirit and filled up with tons of ideas of what this spring could include. Rest does not encourage laziness, it restores our drive and power. Hope you enjoy the pictures.