On July 3rd, my mom could have died. I didn’t get a call about it until just last week. Apparently my mom had tripped and fell, hit her head, temporarily lost consciousness, and fractured her pelvis. What was I doing at that time? I was half way across the country, alone, worrying why my now ex-boyfriend, who was putting his family first in Pennsylvania, was bailing on our 4th of July plans and not talking to me. After receiving that phone call from my mom, I contemplated a lot of things. I began to think, what am I doing here in Oregon? Is giving up this time with my family, is not seeing the closest thing to a niece I will ever have grow up, worth the joy I experience by calling Oregon home? A big part of me wanted to call it quits here immediately to go home and be closer to my family. That would be a huge decision to make, so I wanted to make sure it was the right one.
I took the weekend to think it all over and meanwhile talked to as many people as I could about what I was feeling. I went out for happy hour drinks with my neighbor that Friday night on the waterfront and told her about what I was thinking. On the walk back, listening to her talk about how much she loves Portland reminded me how much I really loved it too, although I struggle to enjoy it the way I really want to because it’s just so expensive to live here. Cole and I went to the coast with another friend and her dog the following day. The dogs had an amazing time running around the beach while we waded into the ocean and enjoyed the waves as they crashed into our legs. I went out to brunch with my ex on that Sunday, our first face to face attempt at moving forward as friends, and he proved to be a good listener to what I was contemplating. I talked on the phone with my cousin and then with another friend on the east coast at different points throughout the weekend, it seemed as if everyone was supportive no matter what I decided, as long as I was doing what made me happy. After much deliberation and soul searching, I made the difficult decision to stay put. Going home felt like it would be a step backwards and I didn’t want to take the chance that I would somehow get stuck in Wisconsin permanently. Oregon is my soul food and I think when you find something, someone, or someplace that does that, you owe it to yourself to see it through.
|Indian Beach at Ecola State Park in Cannon Beach, Oregon|
Standing still, on the surface, may seem like an easy thing to do but nothing could be further from the truth for me. I feel like most of my adult life, I have been chasing “the next thing”. I’ve been so preoccupied with what’s next, what goal am I working toward, of constantly moving forward, that I’m losing the joy of now. I feel all of that in the tenseness of my neck and shoulder muscles and in the anxiety that builds up in my chest. I began to wonder, is all of that forward momentum just a distraction? When a relationship ends, I tend to focus on analyzing my career path more but what’s wrong with just being happy to have a good job? Why does it have to be going anywhere? When I’m in a relationship, I’m usually preoccupied with the future of that relationship, are we working toward the next step? Why can’t I just focus on the here and now with that person? Why can’t I just relax, breathe, and be content in this moment in my life? What’s wrong with just standing still?
|Cole has this whole stillness thing down|
Those who have been following along with my blog know that this year, I’ve been trying to focus on living a more minimalistic life. From time to time, I lose focus on that though and I’m working hard to keep it front and center on a daily basis. Recently I discovered an online forum of like-minded people trying to do the same and have found that helpful. I began reading a book this week called Chasing Slow and it has been truly eye-opening. This weekend, I have been spending a lot of quiet time alone. I consciously avoided doing activities to just pass the time, to keep my mind numb, things like binge watching Netflix. Instead of zoning out to a TV screen, I spent an hour or so just looking out my living room window and listening to the sounds of the city. I sipped a cup of coffee while I talked to my mom on the phone to see how her recovery was coming along. I spent hours reading on my balcony while the warm breeze swept by. I briefly broke the silence with some music while I cooked a meal which I then enjoyed as I sat by the window, focusing on each and every bite instead of zoning out to a TV screen. I spent time thinking and writing about the things I am grateful for and that which are most important to me.
There definitely seems to be an art to standing still in a world that is constantly moving. With any art form, it takes practice to perfect and I think that may possibly be the best use of my time right now, practicing mindfulness while standing still.
“Ask a bird how to fly, and it might tell you to remove the weight from your wings.” ~ Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner
Kristin, I sympathize. I have been struggling with the stay in oregon/go back where my family is conflict for 21 years now. There's no easy solution. Thanks for this post. You're not alone.
Thanks, Sue. This struggle has to say something for the magic of this place if we continue to stay, right?