Right now

Well hello again! In case it wasn’t clear from my previous sporadic posts, I’m having a hard time doing anything on a regular basis. Except procrastinating. I’m pretty regular with that. Why do today what you can put off til tomorrow, amiright? Except that’s not right. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring or if it will come at all. We have right now and that’s really all we have. (Stick with me. It’s not all gloom and doom…)

On the one hand, that seems super depressing to me. I could die at any time. Anyone could. Ugh. Not really a cheerful thought. But it’s one that really hit me all at once when Daddy died. He kept thinking he would do more things once he retired. He was so close. Months from retirement. Once he found out about the cancer, he died within a week.

But on the other hand, it reminds me that we are here. Right now. And each moment is its own. It’s just there, perfectly being that moment. This is a really hard lesson that the universe is trying really hard to teach me. I’ve been trying to learn for a long time, and it is sloooooooowly, so slowly sinking in. (A lot like me when I’m supposed to swim laps but the water is just so damn cold and I just can’t quite deal with it reaching above my thighs. *shudder*)

Some examples of this simple, difficult lesson.

I went to another Michael Franti concert, this time with the loves of my life. (As far as Michael Franti, I just love him. Just really have always loved his music since high school. Which is TWENTY YEARS. Even though that’s impossible because surely it wasn’t 20 years ago that I was in high school. More like 5, right?) So, I was reminded once again, that THIS moment is the only moment. It’s the most important moment. I was so happy. I felt like I was floating. And smiling. I couldn’t help but smile and wipe happy tears out of my eyes. Music lifts me up and gives me this feeling of an eternal moment. An eternity in one moment. Obviously, it’s something I can’t even describe. I mean, read the previous sentences. Do they even make sense?!

But then it was time to go back to work and bills and messy house and drama from difficult people and the injustices of the world and a 24 hour news cycle and…

Back to worrying and not living up to my expectations and putting things off until a better time.

Then, something else happened. An amazing person who had fought cancer like a champ while being amazing (as only an amazing person can do), found out that the nasty cells weren’t gone. They were elsewhere. She’s going to fight again and this time, she’s going to put her foot down and tell cancer to “fuck off for good, you bastard.” But she’s going to do it every day, in each moment. And just like that, the lesson is slammed in your face. THIS moment. This is the most important moment ever. Because this moment is the only one you have. This lesson wasn’t as gentle as the lesson the concert taught. But it is the same lesson.

And just when I think I’ve learned the lesson, because my life is relatively simple with the not having cancer and not starving to death and not worrying that I might be shot down in the streets, I slip right back into worrying about everything else and putting off living and doing the things I love to do. Until one Thursday.

I decided to give a yoga class a try. I used to do yoga before school in high school. I followed my VHS yoga tape through poses and I loved it. I had never been to a class with real people I didn’t know.

A little insight into my psyche (because it is TOTALLY not obvious from my posts… <– sarcasm font): I am always comparing myself to others, or at least to my perception of others. And I am always falling short. I am constantly telling myself how badly I am failing compared to others. Then I tell myself that the only person I am trying to be better than is the person I was yesterday, which sounds like a totally legit and empowering thing to tell myself. Except it kind of isn’t.

So, I went to this class. By myself. Without knowing anything about yoga or yoga classes. I was completely prepared to be the least knowledgeable and least thin, lithe, yoga-body owning person in the room. But this class, you guys. It blew my mind. The instructor is amazing. She just embodies being positive. You can’t help but feel at peace and happy around her. The other ladies there were all unique. They all had different sizes and shapes and experience and backgrounds and reasons for being there. I was reminded, over and over, that this practice was my practice for my body on this day. It might be different than any other day and I might have a different intention for this practice than others.

Here’s the kicker: AND IT’S TOTALLY FINE.

What? No, no. I am supposed to try harder to be better than yesterday. That’s what I do. I’m a doctor and an Ironman and a perfectionist and that’s what we do. We strive to be better every day.

No, this class said. You don’t. That’s not something you have to do. You just have to be. Right here. Right now. Just be. That’s enough. You’re enough.

You guys, I almost happy cried at least 3 times during that class. I felt like I was floating again.

I’d like to say that I am now enlightened and I am above all the bullshit, but nah. I had a frustrating day today. I am exhausted. I am stressed out. I have bills and drama and unmet expectations.

But every now and then, I remember. I am enough. It is enough to just BE right here, right now. I am enough; and so are you. Just you. Not tomorrow you or 10 pounds lighter you or out of debt you. Just you. That’s enough.

Let’s enjoy this eternal moment. Because it’s all we’ve got and it turns out, it’s all we need.

 

 

The beauty of effort (What a grand title?! Right? Lofty aspirations)

I was part of something amazing and beautiful and moving today.  I couldn’t help but smile through it all, even the difficult parts.  It was so beautiful I cried a little bit.  My daughter liked it, even though some parts were “a little weird”.  My husband enjoyed it.  Everyone who participated was moved in some way, I think.

I am honored to be part of a semi-professional choir called Choral Arts of Chattanooga.  They are all amazing.  I feel like the weakest link, just stumbling behind, trying really hard to sing at their level.  Today we performed the Missa Gaia by Paul Winter — with additional music by Paul Halley, under the direction of our wonderful director, Keith Reas.  (Sadly, this was our last concert under his direction, as he is leaving to devote more time to his other musical talents.  He is a wonderful person and I have so enjoyed his musical direction and selection, even if they are sometimes… unusual.)

Today we performed the Earth Mass.  It included recordings of wolves, whales, harp seals, and birds.  (I know what you’re thinking, but this was really well done and not corny in the least.)  Jazz pianist and professor, Dave Walters, played with us.  We had incredible percussion and soprano sax.  As usual, David Friberg accompanied us on the organ.  I was surrounded by beautiful voices and was able to stand next to a (super fun) second soprano whose voice blended really well with mine.  Each member of the choir sang the notes we had learned individually — and together we created such beautiful and incredible music.  I am always amazed at how I feel up on stage, singing, sharing emotions and music at the same time.  It is obviously indescribable.

Things that I love and that bring joy and a sense of wonder have some things in common for me. (I noticed this today during an epiphany/performance high.)

They are individual accomplishments and group efforts at the same time.  They involve a sense of stepping outside my comfort zone (I also like to call it my tiny little safety bubble.)  They require a lot of hard work and time and effort and showing up when I don’t really feel like it.

You might have noticed that I like to sing.  I also love the feeling of successfully treating a patient with surgery or medicine.  I love seeing my daughter say or do something that makes her happy or proud.  And there are few feelings like that of crossing a finish line.

Some of these come naturally, some don’t.  But it doesn’t mean that some are harder than others.  Achieving a goal is just hard.  That’s why it means something.

Some of the music I have learned is hard.  It is really challenging.  But beautiful.

Some cases require a lot of work and second-guessing and waking up worried in the middle of the night and research and communication.  But they are rewarding and help me learn.

Being a good example for my daughter and having to tell her no or see her cry sometimes is really hard and often heartbreaking.  But it is worth it to see her grow as a little human being.

Training for an Ironman (and finally finishing one) is going to be tough.  Some days I will smile all the way through training, and some days I will cry.  Some days I will cry a lot. Those days are not pretty.  But I will show up and I will put in the effort.

Because I am finally learning from all the beautiful things I have experienced!  (And I will probably have to learn it again and again.  I’m slow like that.)  I’ve learned that in the end, it’s worth all the difficulty just to be a part of those precious moments when my heart completely overflows.

(You think a runner’s high is great?!  You should try a performance high.  Nothing.  Like.  It.)