The pause that refreshes

Have you ever had a really bad cold, and when you recover you suddenly fully understand how joyful it is to be well? That’s what I feel like right now. I haven’t been sick—I’ve been busy getting ready to move. Everything is done now but the last minute details and I am suddenly able to relax. It feels tangible, like a holiday spent at home in the state of free time.

I started my sojourn into relaxation on Tuesday. I’ve been going to bed early and actually getting enough sleep. It feels good, and I’ll need the energy for the actual move. I’m going to a burlesque show with my friend, and the luxury of it feels good. The universe also gave me an early birthday present. I went to an Expo at the convention center last weekend, and I entered lots of drawings. I won a spa package. I’ve always wanted to get spa treatments as a birthday gift, so I appreciate the universe for thinking of me. I’m going to try to go the weekend after I move—it’ll be the perfect indulgence for a task well done.

I’ve been taking little relaxation breaks during the whole process, and I’ve been going dancing, but it’s nice to know that I don’t have to fit any extra work in after work this week. I’m looking forward to the unpacking process, because that always seems to be a lot easier. The excitement of a new place will help to carry me through all of those tasks.

This also reminds me to appreciate other joys I’m experiencing right this moment. I’m not sick, and I haven’t been sick for a good long time. I live in a city that I adore, and I have the greatest friends a person could ask for. Tonight I’m going to celebrate the simple things. Raise your glasses for a toast, and join along with me.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

134. Stress is so insistent on being noticed that we often forget to pay attention to the things that aren’t going wrong. Take some time today to remember what is going well in your life. Are you healthy? Do you have a great family, a cozy home? What is going right? Share your happiness with someone else if you can. Tales of woe get told all the time. It’s great to be able to share some positive experiences.

Drinking with Feste

I write to you today peering out from a deep fog of exhaustion. The weekend was hectic, and I’m looking forward to being able to take a day of rest sometime soon. Everything should be packed away in moving boxes in the next hour of work, and then I’ve only got to disassemble a few pieces of furniture and clean up. I can’t wait.

I don’t feel like the weekend was all work, though. Despite spending a good deal of time cloistered in my apartment packing, I did get out a bit. I chatted with friends and I had a cheap Chinese meal a few blocks from my house. They would have delivered, but I needed to change my environment even more desperately than I needed the stir-fried string beans.

I also spent part of the weekend goofing off with a good friend. My friend Laurie says that you know how you feel about an issue by paying attention to which friends you call to ask about it. I think that’s true. Our friends inspire us in different ways, and when we consult them or agree with them we fall under their particular spheres of influence. We allow them to season our moods with their own special charms. The friend I went out with on Friday night adds mischief to my personal mix, and I know that about him. When I say yes to an evening out, I know that I won’t be able to stay as serious and focused as I might with someone else. This is a good thing. It’s not that my friend can’t be serious—when the mood strikes him he is as insightful as the proverbial wise fool. We had a good time, and I needed the break.

It’s important to take these rests amidst the struggles, because otherwise life becomes a relentless toil uphill with a boulder that won’t stay put. I have no need to claim the labors of Sisyphus. I think I’ll take the joyful life of Cathy instead.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

126. Next time you have a big project make sure to take some breaks for fun in the middle. I set a kitchen timer this weekend and took a fifteen-minute break for every forty-five minutes I worked. I worked a lot faster because of it. If you get stuck, call a friend for advice and comfort. You know which one of them has the answer.

The potato soup sounds good

Today is Friday the thirteenth and my brain is feeling a bit random and disoriented. I don’t think that the two things are related, but I thought I’d just let you know. You’d be bound to notice anyway—the blog tends to reflect my mood. It’s the end of a long and hectic week at my temporary workplace, and I’m looking forward to going dancing tonight and getting to my weekend.

I’m still packing, but I believe I see the end in sight. I’m hoping to get the last major items into boxes this weekend. After that, I’ll be camping in my place with the bare necessities. I’ll wait to disassemble my bed until the last night, because I’ve found I don’t enjoy sleeping on the floor.

I’ve been reading a lot the last few weeks. I’ve read dozens of novels, but I’ve also been spending some time perusing my cookbooks. Somehow the very act of reading about a home-cooked meal makes me feel a little bit cozy. I have to be careful about this tendency, because all of the books I’ve read on fitness haven’t turned me into an athlete. I love to read about organizing things, too, but somehow my files haven’t yet caught up with my knowledge on the subject.

I just started a fascinating new book. I picked it up on the deep sale rack. It’s called Julie & Julia: 365 days, 524 recipes, 1 tiny apartment kitchen. The book chronicles author Julie Powell’s attempt to cook everything in Julia Child’s cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. I’m fascinated by the author’s quest to find meaning in the preparation of marrow bones and poached eggs, even while I’m repulsed at the notion of some of the things she prepares. I’m a vegetarian, but even my meat-eating friends wouldn’t touch some of the delicacies she describes.

The author also details the chaos going on in her life while she works towards her self-imposed goal. I find comfort in that—some days I feel alone in my struggles, alone in my grand schemes. I salute her for taking on the challenge—and presumably—completing it. I’ve just started reading, so I can’t wait to see how it ends. I’m tackling my own challenge this weekend. Stack of boxes, here I come!

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

125. Set yourself a small personal goal. Reward yourself when you’ve achieved it.

Whole lotta packing going on

I had a busy holiday weekend. I didn’t barbecue; I didn’t go to the beach; I didn’t travel. I didn’t even blog. I packed for my move. I didn’t get it all done, but I made a significant dent in it, and I rewarded myself with some time off for good behavior. I watched videos with my friend and we ate Mexican food. Yum.

The weekend was warm and sunny, so it was a great weather for me to stay inside. I prefer the slight chill of the damp, drizzly days to the rays of everyone’s favorite natural light bulb. It was a perfect time to be inside putting things in boxes. Most of the people in my building are moving out, too, so there were several U-Hauls outside to remind me to keep to task. It also reminded me that I’m not the only one having to do all this work.

I listened to a lot of good music while I worked, and I tried to keep things as enjoyable as possible. It was still a big effort, but I’m really looking forward to my new apartment. I miss my old neighborhood, and it’s great to be moving back there. All this work will be worth it when I’m finally settled in the new digs. I’m trying to keep that in mind as I struggle with the mess that packing creates.

I’m also using my resources. I’m a fairly positive person, but it’s hard to stay happy when you’re sitting in the middle of a great big pile of boxes. My friends cheered me up. It helps to know that I won’t be carting the boxes by myself, and it’s good to be dragged out of the house for a while when I’m starting to get overwhelmed. Otherwise, I might just have to crawl under the bed and not come out. There’s not a lot of room under there, so it’s not a very practical plan. I think my new apartment will be more spacious than the slot under my futon, so I guess I’ll keep getting ready to move. Now I’ve just got to get there.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

112. Do you have a difficult task to get done? Ask your friends for moral support, and don’t feel guilty about it. I’m sure they’d be glad to help. Wouldn’t you do it for them?

Many ways to celebrate

As I wind up another five days of work the weekend stretches out before me, bright with promise. The holiday on Monday gives me three whole days to do whatever I fancy. Since I live in the bustling city of Seattle, I have a lot of options for spending my free time. Among the many possibilities—I could go to the free drag show on Sunday night; I could take a ferry ride; or I could go to the Northwest Folklife festival. The festival is tempting—three plus days of dancing, music and performance, and the admission is free with an optional donation.

It sounds like loads of fun. I may stop by for a bit, but I think I’m going to do something even more rewarding. I plan to pack for my move. I don’t have a lot of time during any given week to concentrate on tasks like this, and the sheer enormity of it has set me to worrying. I’ve already done quite a bit, because I don’t believe in procrastinating, but there’s a lot more to do. If I focus, I think I could get the majority of the work done. Then I’ll be able to relax until I actually have to cart the boxes from one place to another. Of course some items will have to be left to the last minute, but I’ll feel a lot better if most of it is squirreled away now.

I also like the fact that this festival is happening this weekend. If I concentrate, I think I could get most of it done in two days. Then I’ll be able to reward myself for a job well done without spending any money—an important consideration as I save for the move. I plan to have fun doing the work, too. I could use a weekend of good music and home-cooked soup, and all that can happen while I pack. It will feel good to see the empty closets and the neatly-stacked cardboard boxes, and to know that I won’t have to spend next Saturday similarly engaged. I can’t wait to get started!

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

111. Is there something that you need to get done? Get it out of the way right now. Do you feel relieved?

Amigos, together

I am so tired this morning! My arms are aching. I need a nap. I had a rough weekend, and a wonderful weekend. It was very difficult because Seattle had uncharacteristic heat, and the renovations on my building meant that I couldn’t open the windows. My house mate also decided to move most of his stuff to the new apartment he found. We were moving in the midst of the heat. Saturday was warm and sticky, which is weird weather for the Pacific Northwest. I helped him to put up shelf paper, and the effort was enormous for both of us. Sunday we did the whole U-Haul thing, carting boxes and lifting furniture. It was very productive, but also exhausting.

We still had a lot of fun. The amazing thing about good friends is that you can have a really good time together even when you’re all stressed out. He had decided to move his stuff right away because he’s got company coming today, and the visitors are going to stay in the new place. The decision to move on Sunday was kind of a spur of the moment thing, but his friends all pitched in to help. We made up songs about moving and were singing as we carted things from one place to the other. We collapsed together and drank limeade afterwards. It’s good to know that you have people to help you through life’s stresses.

He’s going to help me to move when my time comes, and I know it’s going to be the same mixture of hard work and goofy shenanigans. I tried to bring that spirit of fun back to the apartment with me last night, and I packed a whole bunch more of my own boxes. It’s like Mary Poppins always says: “a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.” It’s much easier to get hard work done with music playing and a spirit of playfulness in the air. My friend and I are looking forward to a time later this summer when all this will be behind us and we’ll be drinking the limeade without the lifting. Until then, it’s great that we have each other.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

107. Who helps you through life’s stressful times? Celebrate that connection today by doing something fun with one of those people.

Whole lotta shaking going on

Things have been really busy lately, and my world has been getting disarranged. I’m in one of those snow globe phases—just when I think I might be starting to stabilize, everything gets shaken up and I have to wait for the dust to settle again. It’s rough, but it keeps life from getting too stale. I’m definitely not in any ruts.

This stress also reminds me of the goodness of the world around me. I’ve put the word out amongst people I know and local e-mail lists I belong to, and people are sending me tips and leads for apartment hunting. I’ve already started to check these out, and I’m hoping that one of them will lead to a new home. The sooner I find something, the more relaxed I’ll be, although I trust that a new place is out there.

Sometimes that trust is difficult. It can be hard to believe that everything will eventually go right when it seems that everything has been going all wrong. This is one of the reasons so many people question karma, the Buddhist concept that you get back the energy you put into the world. It can be hard to see it at work, but I believe in the operation of karma. It happens on a small basis like this—people are willing to give me leads because I’m a nice person and they’d like to help me—and I believe it happens on a larger basis, too. Who knows what my world would be like if I were a different person? I live indoors; I’m not a drug addict; I’m educated. My challenges can be a real struggle, but I am very fortunate compared to a portion of my city. I try to remember that.

I also think that all my hard work will pay off eventually. I think that all the effort I’ve put in to making a life for myself is building up somewhere in a cosmic bank account. Now I just have to find the pin number. It’s right on the tip of my tongue—I’ll get it.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

102. Are you going through a snow globe phase? This is the perfect chance to get everything in the right place. What would you like to change? What are the positives here?