With last chapter closed and September approaching, there is a wind of motivation billowing crisp and clean through the house. After a somber spring and an indulgent early summer, we finally found time to rip through the jungle of strangling vines and 5-foot stalks of God-knows-what crowding our rather imposing collection of flower beds. (The previous owner was a retired woman who gardened every day and converted every strip of grass bordering anything – be it house, driveway, fence, or planted tree – into a square of black loam suspiciously lacking in low-maintenance perennials. It’s more than two working people can manage.) A plan was hatched to convert the verdant but oft ramshackle and unused courtyard into a more easily maintained deck, and we worked our bodies to the point of exhaustion, digging out root systems, transplanting bushes, shoveling and spreading piles of black mulch. It’s the kind of work that makes your chest swell with that suburban homeowner’s pride when you stand back at the end of the day with a cold beer and savor the tidied landscape.
I also just finished reading Buettner’s The Blue Zones Solution after seeing a great little article about him in the Times. It resonated so powerfully with recent efforts to nurture my emotional well-being despite obvious exterior stressors because he discusses nutrition as an important but singular piece of any plan to foster long-term health, so I’ve abandoned the Whole 30 stuff (no human being needs to eat that much fat and meat) in favor of a heavily research-based approach that appeals to my common sense. This book-sparked epiphany set a few things into motion:
- I finally bought a bicycle. After many years of throwing it into the pot of ideas for my birthday, or eying them on the Walmart website but closing the browser after dismissing it as a whim, I pulled the trigger this time. It has saddle bags and a basket, and it looks like it was sent here by time machine from the 1950s. I’m excited to take it food shopping or down to the bay for a cruise.
- I bought an impressive supply of dried beans since this is the mainstay of the nutrition profile the book sets up. Bonus is they’re cheap and they don’t go bad. I have a two remaining weeks of summer vacation, so I’m hoping to amass a stash of freezer meals for those back-to-work manic Mondays when pizza gets ordered and exhaustion-induced sloth and gluttony ensue.
- I picked up a copy of The Bread Bible on a chef-friend’s recommendation. I have been reading up on sourdough and a starter is in the works (fun new hobby).
- I spent some time considering whether some gray area existed for an agnostic to be part of a faith-based community, and ultimately poked around on the websites for two Unitarian congregations in my area. I’m not sure what will come of it, but I’m committed to the inquiry and exploration. Sunday services resume in September. (Perhaps I’ll ride my bike there.)
- I cemented my commitment to meditation by scheduling it into my daily school-year routine, and, in general, mapped out a schedule on Evernote that balances my personal priorities with work demands so that the latter doesn’t again eclipse the things that make me feel like a whole person. That is a sneaky slide, and it’s why teachers have dark under-eye circles and chin pimples by February.
- As part of a girls night on Saturday, I saw a friend who hurt me. It’s a relationship that has sort of been on life support, which is a stinging, nagging, uncomfortable place to inhabit. Chock it up to the meditation or the book, but a switch flipped inside me, and I just decided that I don’t have the luxury to let it bother me anymore – not with her or any of the other friends, cousins, in-laws who have been acting like shits since all life exploded in April, though I’d be lying if I pretended that it started with the loss of Dakota. I just woke up one morning as if all these toxic chords had been slashed away in my sleep, so when Saturday rolled around, I was free – none of that acid roiling around in my belly or the elephant sitting on my chest. We drove along the ocean highway while all the guys were at the Van Halen concert, blasted Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson and Toots & the Maytals while singing at the tops of our lungs, stopped at a beach bar for mudslides with rum floaters in the sand, laughed. I keep thinking about that famous proverb, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
- And the motivation is contagious. I negotiated with The Hubs until we could agree on a lunch salad and healthy breakfast he would want to eat this week, and it sits packed in containers and ready to grab in the fridge. Today he scheduled Thursday morning as his return to his boxing/martial arts training after going AWOL on his trainer back in April. He has been talking about picking up where he left off in the studio and finishing all the songs he left half-recorded plus a new one born from the events of April. I’m so relieved to see him moving on too.
I realize as I finish this long-winded post that it’s likely not very interesting for anyone outside of this brightening and breezy household, but, maybe, gentle reader, I wrote it for me, like a contract with myself. Sometimes that’s what’s needed.