Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Three Epiphanies

Even though I went to Catholic school for seven years, I'm not really sure what Epiphany is all about (other than the Three Kings--or Befana, the Italian witch--leaving treats in your shoes. I never did pay much attention to those lesser holidays that just involved yet one more trip to church that week!). But I do see the wisdom in the New Year being a time of receptivity to personal revelations of sorts. This past weekend, as I faced the prospect of too much to do and too little time, I had three such moments of insight :

Epiphany #1--Take care of myself
Friday evening, while playing with the kids in the pool at the YMCA, I was moving my right shoulder --which is always sore--around in its full range of motion, trying to work the kinks out. I had been planning on getting up early Saturday morning to work on the computer, but it occurred to me that most of the things I enjoy doing--writing, knitting, needle-felting, sewing, drawing--as well as what I do for a living and basic housework and childcare, require fine motor movements in my right shoulder. Without a healthy and pain-free shoulder, I could lose the ability to do, or at least the enjoyment of, most of my favorite activities.

I know the problem is not intractable--after a fantastic yoga session on Mt. Desert Island over Thanksgiving weekend, it felt great--and even though it may at some point require some kind of therapy, I'm a DIY kinda gal, so I decided to commit myself to healing it. So Saturday morning, I got up early and did a good hour of yoga--rather than my usual ten minutes--trying to follow as much as I could remember from that great yoga session (I was smart enough to write it all down after we got home. Unfortunately, I was not smart enough to put it where I could find it later). Sunday I ended up sleeping in, but put on my Om Yoga CD later in the morning and again did an hour-long session (this time with kids crawling around and under me).

I don't have time to do an hour of yoga during the week, but I'm trying to bring by awareness into my body, pay attention to how I'm using my right arm, and shift some of that work over to the left. So far? I feel much better than usual. Now we'll see if I can keep it up!

Epiphany #2--Let the hubby know what's on my mind
I learned Saturday that when I'm feeling grumpy and resentful at my husband for some perceived imbalance in work load, if, instead of taking it out on my children, I vent at him, even though he gets defensive and makes me sound irrational and I lose the argument, I feel better immediately. And, he will disappear for a while on an errand and return all contrite and extra-helpful around the house (got a clean toilet out of that one!).

Epiphany #3--Be mindful
Now that we're through the holidays and various illnesses, I've decided I need to develop schedules and strategies for making this full-time work gig run as smoothly as possible. To that effect, Thursday evening I made a list of everything I need to do on the weekends to recover from the previous week and prepare for the following week, in addition to things I want to do with the kids for fun and by myself for mental health. I then listed all the things I needed to do specific to that particular weekend. It was a long list and there was grave danger that I would become overwhelmed by the whole thing, and just spin my wheels, accomplishing nothing at all (which is how I spent New Year's weekend).

Then it occurred to me, out of nowhere, to just be mindful of whatever task I am doing, not thinking about the list or the next thing that needs to be done, not trying to do six things at once. Guess what? It worked! I got way more done than I could have hoped--I managed to crawl out from under Christmas (does it take everyone a full half-day to take the ornaments off their trees?), cleaned the first floor of our house, planned meals for the following week, made a lasagna and burritos, patched a pair of M's jeans, did yoga, got our Christmas thank-you's about 75% done, and even got outside to play both days. I didn't get much creative time in, other than knitting a bit during our Saturday evening British comedies, and the kids' room still looks like the Blitzkrieg, but, when I couldn't find a needle for patching M's jeans Sunday night, I ended up cleaning up my own room, where the magic happens (that would be the sewing), getting the remains of Christmas crafting mostly sorted out and almost put away. I did try multitasking at one point--I was clearing off the table while making a grilled cheese, and, predictably, burned the sandwich.

So maybe rather than epiphanies, I should label these "well duh" moments, because it's probably obvious to everyone but me that one should take care of oneself, vent to one's spouse when necessary, and keep one's mind, attention and intention on one task at a time instead of trying to do everything at once.


  1. It took me three days to get the Christmas decorations put away;)

    I loved your epiphanies...I need to make a similar list and read them everyday because even though I get to points when they become well duhs challenges will shift things and fog my view from time to time. Always good to be able to refer back to moments of clarity.

  2. It may be obvious, but I still work hard on these exact thing, including reminding myself that it is obvious. Hope it's going well..


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