Monday, January 2, 2023

Simple Days (Day 2, Year 3)

There is this one January day etched in my memory from almost two decades ago. We didn't have children. We lived in our sweet bungalow. It was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I was off work without any big plans. I got up, I cleaned up, edited a press release, did some laundry, I went to the store, went to lunch and Ikea with a friend, came home, made a Chicken Pot Pie, read my book and spent the evening watching a movie with Mike and knitting. 

It was a really simple day that I am forever trying to recreate. I am not trying to recreate the exact things--we have three children now and things are different. I am just trying to recreate that feeling of contentment--of accomplishing what needs to be done and still finding moments of peace and connection with those I love. 

A simple day, friends, is my dream day. 

I don't know exactly how to create a feeling of contentment in a day when there are so many more demands---our jobs have given us more responsibility; parenthood has given us the ultimate responsibility and the world piles on extra responsibility once you hit 40. We've got our health to worry about and bills and an old house and an old dog and an old lady, my mom, who lives with us. My husband mentioned this to me today, too, wondering how do we keep the anxiety and stress of regular, non-days off, from creeping back in? How can we hold onto to contentment, the way I keep holding onto that one simple day years ago?

How can I recreate those simple day vibes again?

I've been trying for 20 years with no luck. 

Lately the memory of this day has snuck up me more frequently. I spent much of last year feeling both completely adrift and at other times, completely connected. I know from observing myself that I feel the most adrift when I don't have a plan or vision for what I am doing. I feel the most connected when I am doing things in service of others. Whether it is an actual service project or helping for something at school or serving my family by making dinner, I feel content when I am doing something for others (and even myself). It's like I am exercising my spiritual muscle--breaking a sweat and seeing the results, which are hopefully, useful to the recipient. 

Even knowing this one piece of the puzzle, I still start to overcomplicate things, which is the exact opposite of that day. I overcomplicate it all by thinking I can plan a simple day, when really, I have to cultivate a simpler, less jumbled spirit in the midst of complicated days. I have to find contentment when a deadline is breathing down my neck or when my kids are being kids or when my mother is simply being an elderly woman who has her own ways and also maybe needs a little more support. 

This is all hard. I don't know how to do it. But, I do know some of my 2023 intentions--like writing earlier and getting more sleep and stretching myself to be uncomfortable are good starts in finding quiet spaces to feel content.

Today, I woke up after a nice long sleep, I cleaned, I got dressed, I went to lunch with Mike and the grocery store. I read my book and chatted with my kids. I made a giant pot of soup. I laughed around our dinner table, with my kids and Mike and a bonus child-Chloe's great friend. I wrote this early. I'll maybe ride my Peloton and plan a birthday party. And I'll try to remember that through all of this, I am connected and content. 



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