Remember, for a moment, learning to ride a bike. Probably your story includes an adult with lots of advice. It might go something like this…
There you are on the bike, perhaps without training wheels for the first time.
Probably, as you’re reading this, without a helmet. (So glad we know better, now!)
In my case, on a suburban street, somewhere in the midwestern USA. (Please feel free to substitute accordingly!)
So, kid, bike, driveway, and the concerned adult mentioned above.
You set off, wobbly and, perhaps, more than a little anxious, with the concerned adult jogging along, holding onto the back of the bike, who finally lets go.
Your plan is to proceed down the driveway, turn at the sidewalk and make your way in triumph next door to show your friend how empowered you’ve just become.
One tiny problem. The concerned adult, who is totally focused on the very large tree off to the side of the driveway.
(Nevermind that the tree has been standing very still, just there, for 80 or 100 years!)
“Watch out for the tree,” yells the concerned adult. About 8 times.
And, you, finally liberated, in an entirely predictable fashion, smash your precious bike right into the tree.
Or, as some of my meditation friends would say, Where the attention goes, the energy flows.
Which is to say, that if you’re totally focused on the tree, you’re probably going to hit it.
Now, I’ve known this story for years, in its therapeutic sense. Focus your attention on what you want, as opposed to what you don’t want.
Frankly, it’s harder than it sounds.
And, just between us, I’ve been having a bit of a cosmic reminder lately. You see, lately I’ve been focused, not for the first time, on Don’t be in pain!
There are lots of reasons for that.
Frequent flyer miles with the knee surgeon. A couple of falls that weren’t quite serious but came pretty close. Some losses in my life. More than my average amount of stress, lately. And a bit of fear, here and there.
And, you guessed it, I hit the tree. Anxiety. Difficult dreams. Trouble sleeping. The kind of loss of strength that comes from the notion that being still is being safe.
Frankly, it hasn’t been working very well.
So, I’m making a different choice. A choice I’m calling, with thanks to the amazing Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, Radical Self Care.
A choice like this takes a bit of preparation.
A bit of inspiring reading. Some pantry weeding. An uncomfortable amount of self-disclosure and asking for support. And, a bit of shopping. Organic fennel tea, local grass-fed soup bones, and my most essential colors of paint, along with a painting called Apothecary.
I begin, officially, a week from today.
Except for the fact that I’ve actually already begun. You see, my eyes are already on my friend’s driveway, instead of the big, scary tree.
I’m headed for where I want to be instead of where I don’t.
It won’t necessarily be an easy trip, especially the part that involves NO dairy or wheat for at least 2 weeks.
Today, though, when we had lunch at Stiles Fish Camp in Ponce City Market, after picking up a couple of my paintings from their adventure with the magical scanning machine, I practiced eating fabulous oysters without crackers!
(This is not something that we folks raised in Florida are accustomed to, but it actually worked!)
And, I have granddaughters watching. And paintings to paint. And prayer dots to make. And hope to share. So, eyes on where I want to be!
May it be so for you, as well.