Dealing with Reality

We almost didn’t come. After the summer we’ve had, it just seemed like too much of an effort to pack up the car yet again and drive the 10 hours to our rustic summer cabin in the Sierras for only the nine short days left of Tom’s summer break. And the reality was I hadn’t been home or focused on my work in almost two months, and I simply had too much to do. I mean just look at the mess. Of course I wanted to go to the cabin but wasn’t it wholly irresponsible of me to do so? I had to get back to the reality of echo lakemy life and quickly if I wanted to continue to have a thriving business and an income for the remainder of the year.

In the end, tossing reality to the wind, irresponsibility ruled the day and we decided to go for it anyway. What was another blasted week at this point? We threw together two duffle bags of clothes, dumped the contents of our fridge into a cooler, grabbed a couple of books on the “I’d like to read this someday” shelf and headed out. And I’m ever so glad we did.

My sixth summer at Echo Lake just might be one of the best experiences I’ve had yet at the cabin. This year no cabin improvement projects will be tackled, no friends will visit, no fancy meals will be cooked, no lists will be made. Quiet, rest, and simplicity are the only order of business. When I asked Tom over our morning coffee, “What’s on the agenda?” the answer has been, “What agenda? You’ll do whatever your heart wants you to today.” Turns out my heart wanted a big, fat bunch of nothing.

Back at home, I knew reality was boiling over. Looking out over the piles of mail, emails, bills, receipts, deadlines, unpacked boxes, gobs of overdue thank you notes, overflowing desk and inboxes of my life… I felt totally overwhelmed. You know that space where you wander from spot to spot, unsure even where to begin to unravel the mess, figure out the priorities, and get work and life back on some controlled and organized track. Where was I before this hurricane hit? Where was my checkbook? My to-do list? That book of stamps? Where was I headed back then? Where was I with article and handout deadlines? What bills have been paid? Where’s the marriage license? Where is a pair of socks that actually match? Where is… Me?

Turns out the thing that I most needed was to simply stop. Stop spinning, stop thinking, stop asking, stop talking, and stop trying to control every little detail. Just stop. Up here in the cool, quiet of the mountains, I come immediately face-to-face with the fact that I’m really, really good at keeping the hurricane winds blowing wildly but really, really bad at slowing them down or halting them altogether. Up here I’m reminded that all it takes to stop the madness in my mind is to simply be quiet for a while. To breathe deeply, relax my body, still my busy, busy mind, and allow myself to reconnect with my core strength, my wisdom, and my peace. Up here when I’m finally ready to open my eyes and brain once again, it is generally to a much more steady and positive outlook, rekindled sense of humor, and an improved clarity and decision-making capability. I begin to believe once again that all is well, things will sort themselves out in due time, and I have everything I need. I’ve lost nothing, only gained a few new experiences and perspectives. Turns out that reality is not back at home in the chaos but rather right here in the quiet. This is where the real me resides and where, when I find her, I can see that the chaos working in the mountainswaiting for me back home which looked like a big scary monster is really just a naughty, misbehaving child throwing a tantrum for attention. When I bring my calm, assertive, strength to bear on it… they settle right down and behave with more appropriate requests for my time and attention.

I had intended to continue this week with my system of improving our Emotional Intelligence by tackling step #2: How well you communicate… but my heart did exactly what it wanted with me today and … well… this is what you got. Hope you liked it and that it helps you slow down the spin in your life as well. Either way it will all work out.

We’ll pick up step #2 next week when I’m back home sorting through all the papers and the mess, but it will be with the remnants of a little pine sap still sticking to the bottom of my shoes, the leftover smell of a campfire on my clothes, and a greatly relaxed smile on my sun-kissed face.

Thank you, Silver Firs Cabin, for a big dose of heaven-sent reality.

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“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
~~Steve Jobs

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