Friday, July 6, 2012

month of beauty: reach for the positive

Sometimes you have to remind yourself to reach.

Sometimes it's a small thing that threatens to dip you, take you off somewhere where all you want to do is complain and see the Awful. It might be clutter or a meal you just don't feel like making. It might be the cats fighting, again again again. It might be a bill you're not sure you can pay, or just not enough sleep. You feel the pull of it—it's almost tantalising. Yes, you want to give in to the dark…can't you, just for a moment? You want to stamp your feet and say, I don't wanna! I can't! It's too hard! It's too busy/ annoying/ sad/ frightening/ overwhelming; maybe some days it feels impossible to the point of tears. And sometimes a scared part of you wants to take others down with you. You might snap, a little, or a lot. Everything you say might come out tangled and finger-pointy and filled with Wrong. You might feel panic, tight in your chest.

You feel the siren call of the dark. It's so familiar. What do you do?

You reach.

Today our peed-on, cat-destroyed carpet got replaced with bamboo flooring. A new floor! We had to put the whole living room into the only other room downstairs. Right now I'm sitting on a couch which is crammed against drawers which are crammed against a cupboard. The other couch is crammed against this couch. Homeschool books are stacked higgledy-piggledy, on shelves and on the coffee table and the desk is pushed up against the shelves. The cats are going crazy with it. As the floor got replaced, it turned out the sliding doors needed to be taken out and couldn't be put back in without a carpenter altering them. Cats now have total access to the upstairs and have been jumping on the bed as my daughter tries to go to sleep. My girl is sick. Rising fever, totally clogged up, coughing coughing. We couldn't watch the big jazz showcase tonight at my husband's work and missed my son's first performance with the latin jazz ensemble. That's a lot of Stuff. Cluttery, tangled Stuff upon Stuff.

I felt the panic this morning, coming like a wave inside. Oh, how it wanted to take me down. I started fretting, worrying over things I couldn't control. I started speaking All In Colours Dark. (A language I can tumble fast into when I'm stressed). My husband had to go to work. The flooring people were screeching with their saws and hammers. My daughter was sneezing and coughing.

What did I do?

I took myself with a cup of tea to my daughter's bedroom. There was a cat on a chair and a patch of sun. I sat on the carpet. It was SO quiet in there. I stretched my legs so my feet were bathed in sunlight. My daughter was making a movie with the iPad in our bedroom. My son was building a Minecraft house with earplugs in downstairs. Everyone was actually happy. The floorboards were going in seamlessly.

I breathed. I breathed in, and breathed out. And I just sat and sat until the only thing I felt was calm.

And the day moved forward and the things I could have carried like a lumpy parcel inside me moved to the outside.

At some point my husband called to check on me. Was I okay?

Yes. Yes—I really was.

The rest of the day I spoke in (and felt only) Colours Light. Colours kind of muted, but colours peaceful, colours that didn't clump up or snarl.

We missed the concert, but my son and husband had a wonderful time. They are home now, and have told me about their night. My son got to talk with all these amazing jazz musicians, some of the best in Australia. My two boys are eating soup right now, at 10.30 pm and chatting together about bass drums. They are happy.

My husband has just now somehow put the doors back up in the living room and the cats are contained.

My daughter will probably be up tonight, and she will need me, but right now, I think she is sleeping. We lay together for almost two hours as she snuffled and blew her nose and held my hand. We watched a movie earlier, drinking hot chocolates on the couch, watching the movie on the computer. We had a blanket over our knees and we laughed at the same time.

Sometimes all you need to do is find a patch of sun. A moment of quiet. A realisation that the call of the dark is something you don't have to listen to or hold inside. You can see the old paths, old grooves you used to travel down, the ones that took you almost effortlessly into depression. Old grooves so well worn you didn't even know you were walking them, wearing them deeper. Now, I see them. Now I try to find the sun patch. Now, I remember to breathe.

The floor looks amazing! It looks like a ballroom. I'm tempted not to put any furniture in, and hold grand parties. We'll waltz about in our tuxedos and ball gowns, serenely moving to the music, stepping forward, around, twirling. Moving forward, always moving, again and again and always.


  1. Once, when my oldest was about 6, I found him in a room by himself at a friend's house. We were visiting and there had been much kid-playing. I asked if he were all right, and he replied, "Yes, I just needed a piece of quiet." I'm glad you found your piece of quiet! And I love the floors. :)

  2. I love your new floors, and I love reading your perspective. I would love to join you there for a waltz around :)

    I'm so good in a "crisis" when I know I need to hold up (like this crazy last week in our lives). It's when life is back to normal and nothing is apparently happening that I slip into darker colors. But yes, a patch of sunshine (or quiet), breath in , breath out, repeat, powerful medicine, this.

  3. I had a day like that yesterday. Everything seemed overwhelming, frustrating and pointless. I started snapping at the boys. We'd planned to go bowling with friends but part of me wished I could just stay home and wallow in my misery, under the pretense of trying to gain some ground. I went anyway and had a really lovely time with two other mums. They grizzled a little and I grizzled a little, and we exclaimed over each others problems and then we laughed a lot. I felt so much better afterwards.
    Your floors do look lovely! They'll be so much easier to clean now- one less thing to stress about.

  4. I would love to come dancing on your floor! I want (I might have to "pin" you!).

    I know what you mean about the dark, the finger-pointy. I am a lot like that today. I might go find some sun. That sounds like a nice idea.

  5. This is what I call being dragged down by bourgeois suffering. When 90% of the world is starving and I get shirty about tiny little sufferings like the internet is too slow or, my daughter is spending too much in front of the TV.
    I find it's good to go online or watch the news and get some perspective on what real suffering is and then let some empathy for others cut my own petty problems in half.

    1. Hi k, I'm not sure if you're agreeing with my post or hating it by saying it's an example of bourgeois suffering…! But either way it's made me think. I think what I'm trying to communicate in this post (and others on this topic) is how I change direction, away from a slope that—if I give it free rein—takes me into depression. Which—if I give THAT free rein, and don't take care of myself—becomes clinical depression and becomes quite dangerous.

      It's true that there are a lot of other people suffering. I've found that when I have clinical depression, thinking about how others are suffering (and the extent to which they are suffering) actually doesn't help me. It makes me more depressed, and because I feel so silly for having depression in the first place, when in fact my life is fairly blessed and others have it far worse, my mood goes even lower.

      So I focus on the good I see around me. I focus on the joy in my own small day. I focus on giving joy to others. I focus on the small, good things I can do and see around me.

      When I am better, and the terrible fog clears, then I can look at the suffering around me, and do something (even though it's only small) about it.

      There. Those are my thoughts! Thank you for your comment :)


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.