shortest day of the year

It’s snowing. A lovely day for staying inside, cleaning the house, wrapping presents, and generally preparing for Christmas. I’ve given myself the gift of hanging out at home this morning and avoiding the snowy roads. Yet I’m strangely agitated. Is it Christmas? Is it the sense of unstructured time? Two weeks of time to play with, to shape into something meaningful? I’m reminded that I need to focus on the one day at a time and look at doing things just for today. After chasing my tail around this morning–trying to decide which task I should tackle first (first things first)–I realized that I could/should write about what’s happening.

The birds are hungry…feeders covered in snow and ice. And the cat is somewhere out there stalking them. The dogs are lounged about on couches. Scott Simon is telling a story about a guy who’s worn the same outfit for his school photo for 40 some odd years. I sit here typing, wondering what I’m supposed to say and do. Perhaps I’ll let this feeling settle over me–not something I usually do. When I feel this way, at loose ends, I usually generate some drama, develop a project, create a mess that needs cleaning up. Why? What is wrong with feeling agitated? Obviously I don’t want to feel this way forever, so I can thank God that I don’t feel this way all of the time, but I probably need to understand the depths of this feeling…explore its margins, move through its intricacies.

Options. Too many options. I’m daunted by choices. So on a day like today, my choices overwhelm me. I could practice some yoga, I could vacuum, I could finish my book, I could wrap some presents, I could meditate, I could shovel, I could drive to Fruit Heights, I could bake some cranberry bread, I could watch “Breaking Bad,” I could plan my break, I could call family, I could read some magazines, I could…I could…I could…. But I don’t. I sit, with my feet tucked under Henry, writing this blog…writing this blog…writing this blog.

Reminds me of the two sessions I wrote for National Novel Writing Month. The process was liberating: cranking out as many words as possible in a compressed time frame. I liked the freedom that that kind of writing gave me. I didn’t worry about spelling, grammar, cohesion, etc. The process helped me get out of my head and into my heart. Stuff came out that I wasn’t expecting–stuff I’ll probably return to and refine for the memoir project. My instincts tell me to write, to take a sabbatical next fall. At 3 in the morning, when I can’t sleep, my instincts tell me to read or get up and write something. The story I just heard on NPR, embracing the night, resonates with me. Why not use the time that I spend lying in bed engaging in what Wes refers to as “mental masturbation,” to write?

Fear. Fear dictates so much of my life. I let fear control my decision making. I’m afraid of writing honestly, of putting stuff on paper that makes me uncomfortable or that may make other people uncomfortable. I hope to break through some of that fear over the next year and especially on sabbatical. As much as I let fear rule me, I also crave release from it. Even as I’m afraid of letting go of fear. Does that even make sense? It probably makes sense to some of my Al-Anon friends.

And already I feel better. Diving into the agitation, I’ve found some serenity. I need to remember that this feeling exists for a reason. It presents me with an opportunity to enter the place of creativity, to pause in my racing around and linger over the thoughts swirling through my head. To let the thoughts settle, like grounds of coffee in a cup. Let them settle.

About BJ

living the dream in northern Utah
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