One of those early childhood memories came back to me this morning-- the kind that is made up of thoughts & feelings, more than colors, words, or details. I remembered being on a swing that felt impossibly high-- the chain reaching the cross bar somewhere in the stratosphere, up there with my proud feeling of accomplishment.
You see, my cousin, who was (and still is) a few months older than me, had already mastered the envious skill of being able to "pump"-- to swing himself on the swing, without the help of his mother. But on that fine day, something clicked inside my little brain, my body suddenly understanding the art of swinging, and I was able to control my own rocking back & forth. It was a glorious moment. I was sure that the other children in the playground were green with envy as they observed my freedom & independence.
I remembered this major accomplishment this morning as I was reflecting on the current state of my life-- and sadly it has much more to do with the feeling of swinging back & forth than reaching some new crowning glory. You see, the last several weeks have been feeling a bit like a pendulum swinging between overwork & gluttony; bone-tired semi-consciousness (from too much activity) and groggy headed muddled thoughts (from a lack of activity).
Our schedule has been full lately-- but not simply full of activities, full (chock full) of people. I used to be a little social butterfly, never able to get enough of conversation & company. Somewhere along the road, though, that butterfly crawled back into her cocoon & just wanted to stay there. It's not that I have lost my love for people-- it's just that I need a lot more time to re-charge in between uses now (like an electric toothbrush, or something).
Picture for me a wagon. Inside that wagon are all kinds of wonderful ways to recharge-- long walks with my hubby (okay, I know you can't take a long walk inside a wagon, but it's a metaphor, so roll with me on this one), creativity, writing, reading a great book, baking, and all sorts of other lovely restorative activities. This wagon is organized, disciplined-- balancing work with rest, knowing when to quit and what it needs to maintain equilibrium.
Well, my friends, I am sorry to say that I have fallen off the wagon. Gone are the days of Maintaining with 5 minute clean-up's, of date nights with Chris, nice long hikes or bike rides on the weekends, or any sort of creativity what-so-ever. Lately, life has looked more like a series of binging & purging-- packing our schedules until my brain is melting out of my ears, then crawling into a cave until I feel a little like Gollum.
I swing myself one direction until I hit excess, and then I swing myself back in the other direction, finding a whole new extreme. The floor in our tiny apartment becomes hidden under a physical manifestation of my lack of balance, I eat terribly because chocolate just feels so right when things are crazy, my clothes grow tighter, I start to hate the mirror, I don't have time or energy for long walks, working out, or creativity, and am reduced to falling asleep in front of the TV most weeknights. It's a vicious cycle, I'm telling you.
I recently witnessed a humorous living parable of my jerky attempts at balance. We have this [absolutely insane] friend who ran a 50 mile race last weekend... up a mountain. He trained for his race by entering two marathons every weekend (I always thought overly zealous health nuts trained for marathons-- not with marathons). But I digress...
He completed his titanic race and celebrated with a huge party that night. When we arrived, he was sitting in an arm chair, a celebratory beer in one hand and an IV bag connected to the other. After cringing & wanting to vomit (I hate needles), I discovered that our nursing friends had hooked him up to the IV to make sure he stayed hydrated while he drank. We joked about the one balancing the other out, but inside I was thinking a little of my own nonsensical attempts at finding equilibrium. I do the same thing, really... but I'm working on it.
Tonight, the floor is visible & clean, the dog is bathed, the bath tub scrubbed (I even bleached the shower curtain liners), and we had a healthy, home-cooked meal three nights in a row. Not to mention the fact that I made chocolate pecan clusters for the neighbors, and created the most incredible giant 3D snowflake. And although those might be small, surface symptoms, it helps me to feel like I'm banishing the chaos, and help to restore my insides just a little (well, making snowflakes & pecan clusters is restorative... scrubbing the tub is not as much). Things are looking up.
I may not be on the wagon yet, but I'm at least dragging behind, moving in the right direction (like in an Indiana Jones movie, or something). The next several weeks are going to be a challenge: when I look at my schedule, I foresee way too many opportunities to fall into the binge-and-purge routine (isn't that what Christmas & New Year's Resolutions are all about?). But I'm going to work hard to maintain that healthy balance... wish me luck.