suspension bridge up close

Comfort, even without safety

I was chatting with someone a couple of days ago, working through how I’m feeling about this season in my life. For the last few months (let’s call them “summer”), I’ve been faaaaaar less ‘productive’ than my normal pace of life.

If you’ve been around for more than a minute, you know that doing a lot is kind of a core component of my identity–for better or worse. Friends often jokingly ask how many jobs I’ve got at any given time … but it’s a fair question, as I’ve rarely had just a single job as an adult, and even when I did, I had a couple of side pursuits running at any given time. E.g., book clubs! Podcasting! Coaching! Yoga teaching! Writing! Etc. etc. etc.

But since May, I’ve really trimmed my schedule to a couple of low-demand work-like things, and I’ve been doing a lot of … well, nothing. Reading for pleasure (and sometimes to learn stuff, but only things I want to learn). Watching TV. Spending time with my doggos. A little bit of home edit-type stuff. Some yoga teaching in the pool. Acupuncture.

I have mixed feelings about all this. On the one hand, because of The Circumstances, it feels appropriate to have a season of less striving. I’m very much in a state of limbo right now, the details of which I can’t say much about because … well, it’s all in limbo. As my conversation partner said Monday, “You are not safe.

You are not safe.


Not safe. It was such a succinct but powerful way to encapsulate this moment in my life. I won’t feel safe again until The Circumstances (the limbo) are resolved and I have a path before me once again.

On the other hand, I don’t feel like myself when I’m not doing. And I know, I know — we are human beings, not human doings … but I am a human being who does stuff, and right now, there’s not much stuff in the doing list. It feels like being stuck. Like I’m losing an important part of me. Like maybe I might not ever get the doing back.

I am savvy enough to know that’s my inner critic talking, but I’m also discerning enough to know that the inner critic isn’t necessarily wrong, and that she’s trying to keep my best interests in mind.

So this week, with the start of classes on Monday — importantly, with Doug leaving the house for work hours on his campus, leaving me and the dogs at home alone for a good portion of the day — I decided to do some really tangible things to try to get into a routine for this fully-in-limbo time as a teacher.

Three days in, it’s going pretty well. I’m adding a little bit more each day. These aren’t hard things, but they feel hard to someone who’s had a hard time finding motivation and gumption the last few months. (And I’m mindful of the admonition that motivation follows action, not the other way around.)

I think about my favorite quote, from Arthur Ashe: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. -- Arthur Ashe

Here’s how I’m trying to live this right now:

  • I’m starting my day with a smoothie that includes a prebiotic and probiotic, some other allegedly healthy stuff, and a couple of servings of fruits/veggies. Will it help? WHO KNOWS?! But I’m reasonably confident that won’t hurt.
  • I went to do aqua yoga (solo) this morning, and I’m going to try a water exercise class tomorrow. Being in the water is a powerful contributor to my overall wellness.
  • I’ve completed a personal development course module each day this week (Scott Barry Kaufman‘s Transcend course). This is really fascinating learning that is helping me keep the juices flowing for my book project.
  • I’ve also read a chapter of a nonfiction book each day this week — Jesus and John Wayne — for my book club meeting tomorrow.

Today, I also unpacked four boxes of books that I brought home from my under-renovation campus office, did some other office organization, and generally tried to do some cleaning/decluttering around the house.

Again, these aren’t hard things, but they feel hard when inertia has been the M.O. for several months. And I’m proud of that.

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