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Understanding Contentment

This ‘balance thing’ is difficult.

• Live with intention – but let things flow.
• Focus – and breathe.
• Change – and accept.
• Feel whatever you feel – and then feel gratitude for it (including those things that hurt).
• Understand your wholeness – outside of your story.

For me, these things are more challenging than learning to write with my non-dominant hand. Or mastering a yoga balance pose on shifting sand. Or apologizing (particularly when I know I am the one who is wrong). Or listening patiently when I have something to say. Or being open to examining myself ~ truly examining myself ~ and then being willing to change.
Balance Check

While on vacation this week I explored balance in two ways: I read (three books and bits from two others) and I swam in the ocean on a rather stormy day. Simple perhaps, but in doing these two things I was able to finally come to a place of ‘knowing’ a peace that I did not have before.

About the reading:

“Confessions of a Slacker Mom” by Muffy Mead-Ferro is a short read; funny. In its simple abundance I found myself trusting my intuition again and not taking life so seriously.

“Drop the Rock” by Bill P., Todd W., and Sara S. are Steps 6 and 7 from the 12 Step Program. While I don’t struggle with alcohol and substance abuse, a friend felt that I would benefit from this particular reading and I am making every effort to remain open. It is difficult to own character defects and to actively, willingly let them go. I have much work to do here. So, I began.

While, at the same time, “Choosing Happiness: Life & Soul Essentials” by Stephanie Dowling gave me permission to simply be: “…your spirit, your soul, all that you are, is not always or inevitably up for change. Trust that.” Some things about me are…well…ME. I don’t need to apologize for them. I don’t need or want to change them. They are not defects at all. They are beautiful just as they are.

(The trick is discerning the difference.)

And, finally, “Here If You Need Me” by Kate Braestrup; a lovely, short true story about love and moving forward in the context of loss. The rawness of her message inspires me to continue toward balance; and the simplicity and candor of her book gives me the confidence to someday write my own knowing that it will touch people.

About the swimming:

Before going to the beach this year I heard an interview on the radio about surfing. The unpredictability of the ocean requires that the surfer stay in the moment. In addition to my absolute terror about water due to a near drowning at the age of 4, I think I have been avoiding the water for this very reason. I don’t like to be in the moment. It’s uncomfortable. I never considered it this way before.

My youngest, Reilly, took me into the water first on a day that it was calm. (Calm, by the way, is relative based upon terror.) She taught me the basics. And then, surrounded by my children on a stormy Friday morning I swam. One child anticipated the waves for me and gave me guidance, another extended her hand in case I needed it, a third spotted me nearby in the (likely) event that I took a tumble and the fourth backed her up in case she missed me. And I swam…in the moment….surrounded by love and my children to watch over me and did not feel frightened or alone.

If you have not yet achieved this same ‘knowing’ what I am about to say will not make sense at all. You will probably think “Really? All this for THAT? Mediocre…blasé…basic.” I once said these things myself.

When I emerged from the waves and sat in my chair to watch my children continue to swim I felt content. That’s right…content. I was entirely present, entirely aware, entirely at peace with whatever emotions lived in those moments with me. It wasn’t ecstasy or even happiness. It wasn’t sadness or misery. It wasn’t even the average of any of those things. And it was with the understanding that I have a long road ahead to keep this balance minute by minute. But, most of all, it was absolute peace and awareness devoid of any noise.

I am the totality of a great many things; and yet I exist in the absence of all of them and because of them at the same time. I am not the story…but I am. And I am content.

In Kate Braestrup’s wise words:

“I can’t make those two realities – what I’ve lost and what I’ve found – fit together in some tidy pattern of divine causality. I just have to hold them on the one hand and on the other, just like that.”

And Be.

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