September 30, 2013
Sustain. This word, this idea, has been the single most unifying catch phrase of the past decade. It moved into our homes, our schools, our movies, our vernacular, and begged us to sit up, pay attention, and ACT. And Act we did, and Act we continue to do. Recycling has become the norm for most people; hybrid/electric cars are on the roads all around us; more and more homes in our neighborhoods are sporting Solar panels on their rooftops; a drive through the desert windmills reminds us of the power harnessed from wind. None of these things were visible when I was a child, and it is encouraging to see us humans come together and create such positive and impacting change. But when we think of this word – Sustainability – we tend to organize it and understand it in reference to our natural resources: Ocean, Air, Soil, Food, Earth. But what about your single most important resource: You? What are you doing to sustain You?
This question has been forefront in my mind for some time. I would say it began to knock around inside my head around the time my first child was born. But it didn’t really pick up steam until both of my kids began elementary school. Odd, you say?
…Precisely what I thought as well. Here my kids were in school!, which meant, suddenly I had time, once again, for myself (fyi: I’m a stay-at-home mom, with a husband who works in the film/television industry – he’s not home much). I expected long hours of uninterrupted time for me! Time for me to write, finish my novel and get busy with the next, do more yoga, get back to gainful employment, have uninterrupted reading time, create more art, write more music…instead, I found myself busier than ever, and with even less time available for me. Sigh.
I was able to get back to many of these things, but I was/am always juggling, with multiple balls in the air: morning drop offs and afternoon pick ups, (no such thing as a school bus in our world); homework, grocery shopping, paying bills, taking care of our puppy, managing our money, making breakfast, lunch and dinner, doctor appointments, organizing vacations, cleaning the house, planting and maintaining the garden, volunteering at school, school events, learning a new language (our kids go to a public dual-immersion language school where they learn German…hence, so do I), practice with my band…blah blah blah…you get the picture. This “constant demand” lifestyle is not unique to me by any stretch – every single person I know is just as busy, and time deprived as I am. It seems to be the new “normal.”
Obviously, I wouldn’t have it any other way, right? Because, clearly, I could just say “No” to some of these things. But… all of the things that I take on, I do because I enjoy doing them. Each one of these things feed me…but there is a fine line between being fed, and being engorged! It has taken me a while to understand, or better…to wake up! to the fact that trying to “Do It All” is like the snake eating its own tail. If we don’t stop, and listen, to what our body/mind/spirit/soul is telling us, we will simply eat ourselves whole…and then what? We can’t regenerate…at least not yet. So, we need to learn how to give a boost of Sustaining Power to ourselves!
What do you do to Sustain You? I would love to hear from you. Share your ideas. Our community is only as strong as our individuals, and the stronger, the happier, the more “Sustained” our individuals are, the better off we all will be.
Here are a few things that Sustain me…
(Drawings: “Skater” my son, Orion 9 and “Easter Egg” my daughter Harper, 5)
*WALK At least 3 to 5 times a week, I race-walk (yes, I’m one of those strange, butt-wiggle walkers!), morning or night, along Hill Drive in Eagle Rock. Hill Drive returns me, after a long hectic day, to gratitude – it is beautiful, peaceful, safe, filled with birdsong, and perfectly challenging with hills and a great set of stairs at the intersection of Rockwell and Hill Drive. I work out many of my…”stresses” on that hilly Drive.
*HIKE The walking and hiking thing, is all about being outside. Breathing fresh air, listening to the wind, the sky, the sound of leaves crunching under feet, discovering the animal world, finding bugs, bones, heart-shaped rocks…it’s about space, silence, the removal of walls, and re-connecting to this world that we call home. Nothing smoothes out the wrinkles more for me, than this.
*SIT I am working on this one – to simply sit, perhaps once a day. Sit, and do nothing…look out a window maybe, perhaps even close my eyes. Bliss, yes? Like I said, I am working towards this…I did it once, last week, for a few minutes…the first time in, oh boy, I can’t remember when. It was so strange, and unexpected, I took a picture of my feet perched up on the ottoman and sent it out on Instagram! It relaxed me almost immediately…I aim to do it again this week – no! today!
*MEDITATATE It is the attention to breath. The allowance for silence. The striving toward Single-Pointed-Concentration. “Be Here, Be Now”…it’s like cleaning the slate and filling the coffers, all at once.
…There are, of course, other things that help sustain me, help to keep me afloat while living in this crazy, mad, magic, city of Los Angeles – but these are a few of my favorites. Please do share what Sustains you. By sustaining Self, perhaps we will all be better able, and more likely to… (in the immortal words of Spock)
“Live Long and Prosper!”