Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Simply living

Backyard window
The house holds memories and clutter everywhere I turn. Noah must intend not to be forgotten as he always leaves a pair of shoes and one shirt each time he visits. As of now, I have two pair of shoes that belong to him, two shirts, an electric guitar and a cassette player with Lesson One for Klingon in a stack by the door. I intend to return these personal items to him when I bring his "back to school" lasagna to his apartment tomorrow.

Johannah's stuff is everywhere. She left her make-up bag, one pink and gold shoe (its mate made it to college and then came home having forgotten it's left foot match), her Smart Car (tiny toy Italian vehicle that makes happy music when you open its door or turn on its motor), and oodles of books. This morning I found Jane Eyre and her ACT preparation book sitting on the entry bench.

My "office" (a make shift space in what ought to be a dining room) is littered with file folders of new students, lesson plans, homeschool worksheets, the first week's assignments waiting for grades and a box of Gevalia coffee I intend to open for tonight's first PHEN meeting.

I can't begin to describe the exhaustion I feel. My mind is limp. My imagination vapid. I've lost all energy to think, process, examine or reflect. I wonder why I ever cared about anything intellectual, why I've worried about faith (what it is, whether I have it, what God thinks about it all).

Instead, I read Vanity Fair over morning tea and gleefully circle Tuesday and Wednesday of next week on the calendar. Why? Those days mark the return of House and CSI: Las Vegas.

That is so not like me!

So I decided to give in to it. I'm letting myself be. I'm being with myself. Yoga emphasizes that we must only go to our edge, not beyond it. When the muscles send signals to the brain insisting that I "back off" of that particularly tough stretch, I'm supposed to obey. I'm not supposed to say, "Forget your face - I'm stretching! I was a gymnast a million years ago so I should be able to flatten my tummy to the floor while my legs are spread eagle." I've learned to love my body by listening to it.

It occurred to me that I'm at that tender edge spiritually, intellectually. I may have had all the energy in the world for mental yogic postures for the last four years in particular. But today, I don't. All the years of intensity followed by the quick, important exits of my oldest kids into the "other world" have left me quiet in front of a computer screen and backyard window. Sometimes I do nothing at all, but sit and try to remember what I'm supposed to be doing. Then I get lost in a thought and notice a squirrel run up the tree branch and I come to.

Liam and I are watching birds again this year. We'll watch them, record who comes to our feeder. We'll think of new treats to give them so more will come. We're learning ornithological terminology together - a new world of words. I never tire of new words. That feels like enough challenge for a little while. It feels just about right.


Elleann said...

Sometimes I do nothing at all, but sit and try to remember what I'm supposed to be doing.

Right now, that describes my level of functionality just perfectly. At moments like this, just keeping on breathing in and out is about my limit. :-)

Beautiful picture of your backyard, though! It looks incredibly peaceful.

Anonymous said...


brian said...


I see lots of wisdom in this post.


Steve said...

As I sit in the San Jose Airport, I can totally understand your feelings of exhaustion. I feel that way most days, with two teenagers, a company to run, and a church to attempt to be part of breathing new life into.

I have secured 4 (count 'em) tickets to UCLA v. Notre Dame. But after last week, I am a bit less enthusiastic.

Looking foward to seeing you, for you to meet my bride, and for some sipping of wine and good conversation. Only wish Big Jon were coming too!

julieunplugged said...

Steve! Can't wait to see you and I agree about the UCLA match up. Sad that they lost (ugh) and worse that ND stinks. My poor dad. :) I'll be at that game in the Irish section so I'll be picking up a mandatory Bruin hoodie before then.

Brian, thanks.

Jo!! I've tried to call you and you aren't answering either. Keep trying.

Elleann, thanks for the reminders to breathe. I need them. :)

carrie said...

Probably your brain needs restorative "sleep." ;-) You've worked it really hard over the past 5 or 6 (or more) years and I think our brains are like our bodies- they only go so long before they need rest. In this case, you probably need some empty space and time. Peace.

R. Michael said...

isn't it great when peace breathes restoration back into our lives again? It's like an emotional vacation.

reminds me of a line from a movie..."I can't think about that right now. I'll think about that tomorrow."...from Gone with the Wind? I can't remember.

Emily said...

Oh, Julie! I'm so happy it's not just me. I haven't been able to string together an intelligent thought since I finished my thesis, and I was beginning to think I would never do it again.