Two Things and One to Come

With R away in Uganda, I’m doing my best to keep the household from falling apart. I’ve managed to keep the boys clean and well fed and they haven’t been late for school or missed any of their soccer, swimming or martial arts lessons. I’m remaining diligent with all the daily tasks at home, even with my broken wrist, and so far I’m not feeling overwhelmed by the extra work. I’m happy that R is able to have this experience in Uganda, so it’s all worth it.

On Day 5 of 15, however, I’ve noticed two challenges. First, it’s quite difficult to run outside unless I do this before picking up the kids from school. Second, I get lonely when I’m not able to talk with R. The first challenge isn’t a huge deal, especially for a two-week period. I don’t feel safe running on our treadmill with my broken wrist (I often have to grab onto the rails when I need to adjust the speed or stop), so I’ve just accepted that I will be running much less than usual during this time (even taking days off completely). The latter challenge is becoming more significant as the days go on. I was surprised by the number of times I automatically tried to phone R today. She’s the first person I reach out to when I have news to share and need to either vent or cheer about something happening in my life. I also miss her physical presence around the house, particularly in the evenings, which is when we usually take a break from the busyness of our day to sit and chat and spend time together.

Within the next few days, a third challenge will emerge that will trump the other two. This will come when the boys get tired of counting down the nights that remain until their mother returns and decide that she needs to be home now. I got a glimpse of that this evening, so I know it’s coming soon. Thankfully she left us some video messages on my phone, so I can use those to allay their sadness.

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Skipping

On Sunday afternoon, R is leaving for Uganda, where she’ll be volunteering in the north for two weeks to support internally displaced persons and refugees. She’s upstairs right now packing everything that she will need for her trip. The boys are having a sleepover with their cousin at their grandparents’ house, so this is a free night for the two us to hang out together.

I skipped my run this evening so that we could walk along the boardwalk at the beach while we ate ice cream and walked the dog. And now I’m about to skip writing my daily blog post so that I can go help her pack. Does writing a blog post about not writing a blog post count as a real blog post? Doesn’t matter…

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Slow Breaths

When I was travelling two weeks ago I installed a meditation app on my phone to help me relax on airplanes and in hotels. Today as I was using the app, the narrator told me to focus on how my body felt as I slowly breathed in through my nose and exhaled out through my mouth. As I took a few slow breaths, I realized at that moment how tired and sore my body felt. If I hadn’t taken a break for these few minutes of stillness and inward reflection, it’s likely that I would have spent the whole day without noticing my fatigue or the soreness in my back and shoulders.

It’s important to take time to listen to my body and care for it properly, especially now that I’m in my 40s and seem to be quite skilled at tripping and falling. It’s also critical that I find daily opportunities for quiet reflection so that I can listen to my mind and heart without the distractions that come from everyday life. It’s so easy to neglect my physical, emotional and spiritual needs by focusing on other things, whether it’s essential activities such as work or diversions such as TV or the radio.

Slow breaths.

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Tighten

I’m currently in the Minneapolis airport on a layover while travelling from Indianapolis to Winnipeg. During my first flight I experienced what the pilot referred to as “extreme turbulence.” It’s not often that the flight attendants are instructed to remain buckled into their seats for the entire duration of the journey.

When the plane hit the worst of the turbulence, it rocked, rattled and shook for a prolonged period of time. The woman sitting next to me gripped her armrests tightly and her face turned pallid and tense. The other passengers were bobbing up and down in their seats and bumping into each other’s shoulders. This was the only time I’ve ever seen people en masse put down their phones and tablets voluntarily without being instructed to do so.

Then the voice of a flight attendant came through the intercom. “Ladies and gentlemen, tighten up those seat belts.” And so I did, and found that I immediately stopped flailing around so much in my seat. There was nothing I could do to change the turbulence, but I felt more secure and safe while I waited for the worst to pass.

Over the past few months I’ve often felt like I’m on a journey I can’t get off of and on a trajectory I can’t change. Today’s flight taught me that while I may feel powerless and vulnerable at times, it’s always possible to find security and safety even in the midst of extreme turbulence. I just need to remember what to tighten around me.

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