It is funny how the passage of time works. The benchmark of a year simultaneously feels as if it is creeping by at a leisurely pace until it arrives without warning with sudden, jarring realization that time passed you by.
My last baby will be turning three in a matter of weeks now. I haven’t worked an official job since her birth. I help at the family restaurant, but my vocation is homemaker. It is not my bigger calling, but I think it was what my family needed. My youngest no longer smells like the sweet scent of new life, but she still has hints of baby around her which is a thing I find magical. Chubby, soft arms, the way she smiles, and how she still climbs into my arms all are wisps of infancy that are fading each day. A year ago, I knew I needed to start thinking about what came next for me once this one is lost to school. I know it even more now, but still am lacking a clear vision of what it will actually be.
Being close to and needed by my children is wonderful, but hard. Which, I suppose, is essentially how all the parts of all life human really is. Last year, as we turned the bend to her almost being two and this life was grating on me like all things transitional, I invested in myself. I was looking for something. I think what I had hoped for was clarity for what to do with my one precious life. I took a class that was certainly not practical or economical: (https://www.lauramckowen.com/yes ). Yet, I was drowning in something. Not crisis, but unable to breathe in the mundane. I threw myself a rope. I wasn’t sure if it would be something that would fit, but I had mulled over the course a few times and ultimately decided that it would do no actual harm. Although, I should have been wise enough to know that being clear and devoted to any sort of calling would be a lifelong commitment that flexes and ebbs as the world moves you along. I did not fully think through what I would be actual committing myself to.
Spring arrived last week. That benchmark of “a year later” is only weeks away. I am feeling melancholy about losing some of the resources I float back and pander through. The class is over and the once active group is more silent than involved these days. The course website will be gone soon. I still like to revisit and scroll through sometimes. I like to listen and watch. Pick through for nuggets that resonate. Mull over the pieces that don’t fit into my spaces. I’ve always been sober, but I loved an addict. I started life over and now have to unofficially co-parent with a hard, inconsistent personality. From years in sales, I am constantly adopting best practices and molding them into ways that make me better. The Bigger Yes had a lot of tools and resources and new ideas that I am chewing on still. Yet, the crutch of reliving things I already know is about to be removed. That doubt of can I keep this up without a touchstone is wandering around anxiously in my body.
My not-quite-found-dharma and a career are not yet converged, but I am paying attention more as I limp towards the next steps of my life. Taking time to look at it was worth every penny. It has been what is making staying at home a place to thrive a little more these days instead of just sustain.
A year later, a lot of things are falling into places. I have figured out some non-negotiable needs to be the better version of my own self. A concept I never looked at closely until this course pointed out the obvious. Hopefully, the practice will get easier and broader as it becomes less intentional and more just how one lives life. It will bleed into molding some sort of bigger “yes” in life. The newest one, the one that fell together the past few weeks, is that I need time to think. It makes sense that we grew our family, the lack of sleep and a chaotic daily routine of interruptions, that I lost the practice of just sitting with my thoughts. I had been walking around bereft, but not knowing that’s what I was yearning for. The same woman who ran the course, teaches yoga, and I had been looking at a writing workshop the same art studio had offered. Yoga was less expensive and the person semi-familiar than a new class on memoir that seemed a bigger commitment than a mom with three young kids was ready to make. So, once a month, I drive along the coast for fifteen minutes, smell the ocean, and sit in a space that beckons warmly. I have now twice warped my body into weird poses, breathed in ways I hadn’t ever thought to, and get to think for ninety minutes before I return to the day to day.
So, at almost a year, from the course I have kept on a few suggested practices. The one that stuck the most started off as something that felt embarrassing hokey. Yet, now just feels like sweet daily mercy. I wake up and start each day with a prayer. I had a HARD time with being comfortable praying. I equate church with people and prayer with listening to my church. I have always and still believe that the divine is in the mundane really. Had I know before hand that prayer, even not in a religious sense– would be asked of me, I might have shied away. Yet, I was there to learn and so began to wake up and stumble through these foreign, hokey, words that just did not seem to resonate with me. They were words from A Course in Miracles that felt far from being miraculous. Yet, I kept doing it. If I didn’t wake up with the words in my mind, I said them later in the day. Three hundred or so days later, that weird, hokey part is nonexistence. I don’t feel awkward asking with a fresh mind, “Where would you have me go? What would you have me say? What would you have me do?” anymore. I don’t have answers everyday or universal pushes, but I have found serious faith now in this practice. Some days the world does answer. I listen. It is amazing when it happens. The other days just pass unexceptionally. However, I don’t. I no longer just pass through the day. I am more purposeful, do things with clearer intention, and find myself with more attention to the world.
I have seen the slow completion of parts of my vision board. Setting and achieving goals. I am working, albeit hesitantly and slowly, or re-doing the parts of it that have come to fruition. I am still wrapping my faith, mind, and heart around how a board with pins, pictures, and words can create focus and energy that leads to actual checks in a mental, to-do, wish list. Yet, here we are.
I started to poke hesitantly at the idea of Enneagram. I took a test this week and am trying to see how it will help me fit a little cozier in the world. I read more about dharma, big magic, and re-read a lot of sentences in a lot of books that make my insides stir. I feel like the more I practice experiencing that feeling, I will recognize and follow it when I meet a person, visit a place, or have something call to me. I feel like it will help me align in ways I hadn’t quite pieced together in this ambition to make life run a little deeper. I meander, stop, discover and repeat. I feel like its working. I feel closer to my people and less wishy-washy about what will come next. I feel better and sure footed in a lot of things in life. I still mange to fall flat and err, but the dusting off part has a lot more meaning to it these days. It feels more like finding a little wisdom and less like paralyzing doubt. I think having been given some framework through The Bigger Yes course helped me get there.
During my standard day-to-day existence as witness and manager of the “Mom, she touched me,” lost shoes, and meltdowns of being almost three in a messy world, I find I feel different than I did a year ago. I am grounded through the mess. I can hear myself through the din. I feel the floor in more moments than I did before. I’m not just drifting from one problem to the next putting out fires and surviving the day. I can see through it. I can breathe through it. Not every time or perfectly or without some choice cuss words uttered, but I am better. I see abundance more. I forgive more. I build boundaries more. I have more than I did a year ago, five years ago, or ten years ago.
I guess, in the end, I just feel grateful for the past year. I didn’t have a big revelation or a light-bulb moment of purpose, but I get an evolution instead. A slow burn of clarity. Pieces falling apart and together over time. I created a mini-revolution in my daily life and I feel closer to a bigger yes in life. Even if I am beginning to think in my case bigger might just be small things that collectively make me feel closer to a calling. That maybe for me, my dharma is making sure I live authentically in my way of life instead of trying to find one outcome that feels right. Instead, I’ll just close an empty gate swinging in the wind, keep to promises I can keep, and simply be there to support my kids as they get bigger in this life. That feels like small callings, small right steps, small things that will lead to bigger things. I answer the small, whispered “yes” that are there all the damn time now. Yet, somehow, it feels collectively big.
I don’t know where I’ll be in a year from now, but I think I have figured out enough that I know how to keep going. I guess the larger thing is that I know I want to keep going. Making time to think, breathe, and follow the small callings so I can really hear the bigger ones when they beckon.