The Warm Breeze

We were suppose to go camping for New Years.  But both of us felt a wee bit under the weather so we decided to stay home, build a fire in the back yard, drag the tv outside, sit in our fancy new camping chairs and toast in the New Year with single malt scotch.  Then go to bed at like, 10:00 pm.  Haha, true story.

I didn’t realize how exhausted my mind had gotten until this little season of rest came strolling in.  Around my birthday (November) I was still looping back and forth from super highs to extreme lows.  I remember hiking at Big Bend and feeling like every sense was on hyper alert.  My breathing was full and deep and seemed to source directly from the trees.  I could hike for miles and miles and feel no pain.  The clouds were within reach and dancing around me.  The colors were vibrant and singing just for me.  All of Big Bend was created just for me and my pleasure.

A couple hours later I remember sitting in my camp chair, exhausted, overwhelmed at the thought of boiling noodles for dinner and anxious about the upcoming night knowing I wouldn’t get any rest.

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Back and forth, back and forth.  It became my norm.  I loved the highs, I didn’t want them to leave, but the lows were unbearable.  Even more so, the energy required to cycle back and forth was draining.

I came home from Big Bend, and like a warm breeze drifting through a cold, wintery, locked up house, it just arrived: rest.

I don’t know if my medicine finally kicked in.  I don’t know if getting more strict on my diet helped.  Or if God knew I finally had enough.  But rest came drifting in.

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The days seem longer, less frantic or hurried.  My yoga classes slowed down for the holidays.  My personal practice involved more restorative poses.  I took baths, lots of baths.  I started a new book.  I dabbled in paint.  I cuddled with my very old dog.  I stayed away from social media.  I drove around and listened to Van Morrison.  I felt the calluses and layers of my brain start to smooth out.

Over the holidays I still was taken aback each time when people asked “How are you doing?” and I could answer, “You know what.. I’m doing really well.”

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I didn’t realize how unhealthy mentally I’ve been.  I had been forcing and controlling my way through my days, tight jawed.  Letting go does not come naturally to me.  When I pause I feel like I’m being lazy and struggle with guilt.

I find it is a practice to allow my body and mind to slow down.  To take a stinkin’ bath, to be still, to not fill up the space with a task but to allow silence.  How often do you rest?  What holds you back from allowing yourself a break?  I’m not talking about 2 hours of alone time.  I’m talking 10-20 minutes of quiet.  That could be time in the car, no music or talk radio or phone calls.  Getting up early to spend time with God, pray and meditate on his word.  Eating your food without looking at your phone or tv or reading a book.  Sitting outside for 5 minutes and enjoying the sunshine.  And not Instagraming it.

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Can you allow yourself little breaks during your day?  I’m preaching to the choir here.  It took me coming almost to a mental panic before I finally slowed down.

My goal for this New Year is to rest more.  And to not feel guilty about it.  I think that we are in a culture of do do do and if you are not doing and Facebooking about it then your life is somehow less.  Less satisfying, less filled to the brim, less worth it, just less.  I know this is so cliche, but I am making it a practice to be more satisfied with the norm.  With the everyday moments that don’t worthy an Instagram.  This is life.  This is it.  And these everyday moments without the extreme highs and lows are pretty dang awesome.

So here’s to the New Year, here’s to rest, letting go of guilt and looking at clouds more often!

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3 thoughts on “The Warm Breeze

  1. Ellen, I’m so sorry you went through such a difficult period, but glad to hear you have come past it now. I know that, unfortunately, that is part of your bipolar journey, and something you are all too familiar with. Praying that this new medication will help keep you more stable, so you will have fewer of those swings. Meantime, as always, this post, is wonderful and thought-provoking. I’m one who always has to have something to read when I sit down to eat or any other time, be it a book, a newspaper, magazine or phone; unless, of course, I’m having a meal or a time of conversation with other people, then even the phone goes down. The point is, there’s rarely a quiet moment as you describe them, except, of course, in prayer. Guess I need to work on that, as well!

    1. Debi! Thank you so much for your comment. I love them as always, so thoughtful. Yes. I struggle with this to, I was completely preaching to myself here. I really struggle just sitting still. It is such a practice for me. I find that when I do just sit. And eat. I notice what I’m eating, enjoy my food more, take deeper breaths that in turn, helps me to slow down. Thank you for your prayers! I hope you enjoy your times of quiet!

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