What Sustains Us

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This week has felt like an eternity. It’s hard to believe it’s finally over. After working from home most days for months, having a full week at the office with a packed schedule was insanely exhausting. And it looks like I won’t have any less work to do next week either. I consider myself someone who is very easily overwhelmed. So it’s a miracle I’ve been able to keep it together so well this week. It’s been a struggle though.

I’ve been trying really hard to keep the promise to myself I made last week, to use whatever comes my way. Growth is always uncomfortable. And I’m trying to look at this week and the next as chances for growth. Even though it’s been stressful, I must admit there is something satisfying about making it though tough times. It seems like we are always somehow more capable than we think.

As I reflect back on the past few days I feel only gratitude. One of the things I’ve noticed is that when we find ourselves struggling just to keep our head above water, it gets easier to find gratitude for the smallest things. Things I’ve taken for granted for the last few months were the very things that meant everything to me this week. When you are home every day it can be easy to forget just how wonderful it is to be there. To light a candle, to burrow into soft, warm blankets while sharing the body heat of loved ones, to rest your head on a plump pillow at night once the time to rest has finally come, to lovingly prepare a hot meal, to enjoy a cup of tea. All of these things often blur into the background of life. But when it comes down to it, these are the moments that really matter. These are the experiences that sustain us, that make it all worth it.

If given the choice I imagine we’d all prefer for things to always be easy, but it’s actually the difficult times that provide the context that allows us to truly enjoy those easy moments. It always feels extra amazing to rest after you’ve been working hard, to shower after working up a sweat, to eat when you are really hungry, to drink ice cold water after a long run on a summer day. This week has reminded me of that. So as this week finally comes to a close, I am grateful. Not only for the chance to rest and recharge, but for the struggle that will make this time spent resting feel truly divine and well deserved.

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Setting Aside Time to Savor

Since the beginning of December, I have been slowing chipping away at cleaning and organizing that needed done around my home. I made a long list and spaced each task out so that I would only have one reasonable thing to do each day instead of trying to do too much and getting overwhelmed like I usually do. I had my doubts that I would actually follow through with any of it though.

After over a month and a half of diligent efforts, I am happy to say that I completed everything on my list as of yesterday! My last task was one I was dreading having to do. I needed to paint over this atrocious wallpaper my grandmother had up around the ceiling border in the kitchen. I knew it would probably be a huge mess and take a long time. Not to mention I had no idea if the results would even be worth it. But knowing it was my final task, I went about it with as much enthusiasm as I could muster.

It actually didn’t end up taking as long as I’d thought. And it’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do for a room. Now I am even more determined to convince my father to let me paint the wood paneling around the house white as well. But I digress. The point is, I only spent a few seconds admiring my work before my mind was already racing off to what else there was left to do.

I never seem to allow myself any time to just enjoy what I’ve accomplished. I am always looking towards the future. And that can be exciting, but ultimately when that anticipated future arrives, I only acknowledge it briefly before looking forward to something else. I’ve never been able to truly savor what I have or where I am in the moment.

I’m kind of at a loss when it comes to what to do about this. I have gotten so used to most of my pleasure coming from the excitement of expecting things in the future. When I can’t think of anything I have to look forward to, that’s when I really get anxious and depressed. Even though at any given moment, there is so much all around me that I could be happy about and be enjoying.

Even within the span of a single day, I am always thinking a few steps ahead of myself. I look forward to my coffee, then slurp it down mindlessly. I look forward to my daily drawing, then get anxious when I pick up the pen. I look forward to dinner, then inhale it in only a few minutes while distracting myself with Netflix. No wonder I am always so anxious. I have been living in the future for so long.

I am present and peaceful when I meditate and do my yoga everyday, but that is only a small fragment of my life. I want to allow that presence to slowly bleed out into the rest of my life as well. I want to allow myself time to be proud of my accomplishments and savor my hard work. I want to enjoy where I am right now. Because, all things considered, it is a pretty wonderful place to be.

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