Confession Tuesday

It’s the most wonderful time of the week! Time to confess.

This past weekend, I was in one of my “I just don’t want to be called mommy for 24 hours” moods. So I hopped on a bus to New York for a break in the routine. While I had a great time eating my way through NYC, I think my real purpose was to make time in my life to read the book. Eat, Pray, Love.

First of all, let me say that the amount of books I read has diminished the last two years. In fact, I think the last book I read was Moneyball , a book about the analytics of baseball (a very good read, BTW).

Most days I feel as if I have more good luck than I can handle. But occasionally, I get sad or frustrated about not having more time. Can’t imagine what it must be like to be my family, listening to me stay, “I’m going out to write.” To do that, I often look past my kids’ dejected faces to get a hour to myself at Starbucks. Sometimes it feels as if I say no (to them) more than I say yes. And my husband … well … let’s not go there.

Fast forward to last Saturday.

Sometimes, books, like people, find you at a time in your life when you need them the most. I opened Elizabeth Gilbert’s book determined to distract myself on this four-hour ride. And as cheesy as it sounds, she has some passages that seem to reach out, grab me by my shirt collar, and say, “Pay attention.”

As Gilbert is deciding how to free herself from her life long enough to travel abroad for a year, I was immediately struck by this passage:

“The great Sufi poet Rumi poet once advised his students to write down three things they most wanted in life. If any item on this list clashes with any other item, Rumi warned, you are destined for unhappiness. Better to live a single-pointed focus, he taught. But what about the benefits of living harmoniously amid extremes? [And the line that touched me most]What if you could somehow create an expansive enough life that you could synchronize seemingly incongruous opposites into a worldview that excludes nothing?

In these economic times when all of us are learning to live with less, I’m thinking about what it’s like to like with just enough? What kind of life can I live that’s just enough for me, where my family and friends are happier because I’m a little happier. And if I expand that circle, how can I make my community a little better if my life is a little better? What unnecessary things do I shed to make time for the things that matter?

At this moment, I have no answers to my questions. And I don't know if life philosophies are supposed to be this simple. Maybe in a few days or weeks, I can do a follow up to this confession. But this is enough for now—to finish reading Eat, Pray, Love.


susan said…
I do think when we are happier, we contribute more. We create space for happiness.

And I firmly believe, the questions are most important. Good questions, good starts.

Lastly, so I'm not alone in my guilt about saying no? I'm relieved and trying to find that expanse. Thanks.
...deb said…
Thoughtful post, January. I keep Gilbert's book at arms length, thinking that if so many people love it, I won't. But it does seem to have some wisdom.

I'm one of those who wants to learn to live with life's contradictions, who can handle the stress (not too much mind you, just enough) that can bring richness of experience, one that comes from being able to access dichotomy.

Here's mine, the first lines formed by American sentences. Ha.
christine said…
Hey, I know I don't stop by here often, but I was getting your link for the ouroboros contributors' page and couldn't resist telling you I like this post.

I know what you mean about Gilbert's book. It sort of speaks to you even when you know it's cheesy.

I wonder if Rumi was speaking about the main goal, union with the divine?

I just read (make that skimmed) a book on time management, and the one thing I took from it was to focus on one thing at a time during the day. Sounds like you needed to focus on you.
~ said…
Hi January,

Good post. I think one thing that is hard for writers is that many of us work from home so there is not that geographical boundaries that most working parents get. Going to Starbucks to write is your geographical boundary--keep it. Mine is going into my shed.

I realized today that as much as I'd love to say yes to everything, 1) it's impossible and 2) it would not be a good for anyone -parent or child.

And you never know what curveball a kid will throw your way- for example, I think we have a fantastic yard because it's huge and you can kick a ball and play without worry of bushes, roses, etc. but on the way to school my daughter said she likes how two of her friends have beautiful garden areas with patios and pretty flowers and that we just have "a field."

Was I even thinking about relandscaping our entire backyard? And when she said this there was a part of me that felt guilty for not having a patio (forget the fact we have a ridiculously large deck you could park 5 trucks on, but a stone patio, yes, that is what we need!

I guess the older I'm getting the more I realize our actions cannot make everyone happy, including our kids. They will find reasons to be annoyed with us, even if they are reasons we've never even thought about. We just do our best and we learn a way to do better, we do that.

Thanks for sharing that, I think a lot of mothers can relate. I know I can.
January said…
Taking your advice, I'm responding to you from Starbucks. I'm a happy camper, indeed!

"... the more I realize our actions cannot make everyone happy, including our kids. They will find reasons to be annoyed with us, even if they are reasons we've never even thought about."

I feel like you were in my house tonight. I have the one-two punch of a son and daughter. Relentless! Thanks for your kind words. Much needed advice at this point in my life.

And thanks for sharing your story. How interesting that your daughter sees your lawn as a field. Maybe this is an opportunity for you both to start a garden together.
January said…
Christine, thanks for stopping by.

I tend to shy away from best sellers for some reason. But I heard Gilbert speak and I was instantly drawn to her. That hasn't happened to me in a long time.
January said…
Deb, I'm with you. I stayed away from Eat, Pray, Love for a while. And then I heard Gilbert speak and that was it. I had to buy the book.

Coming by to check out your confessions next.
January said…
"... so I'm not alone in my guilt about saying no?"

Susan, I say no so much I feel sometimes as if I've forgotten how to say yes. I have to work on that, but the guilt is ever present. *sigh*
odessa said…
january, i'm glad you gave yourself the gift of some "me time". i've been thinking lately that maybe this is the reason why i don't think i'm cut out for the married life, i'm too selfish of my solitary time.

thanks for your honesty.

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