Sometimes I need a list

  1. I’m still waking early, as if needing to go to work. I look at the clock. Tell myself to relax back to sleep but it doesn’t work. I get up into the darkness and the cold. Coffee made and poured, cat fed, laptop at hand, I settle on the couch and watch the sky lighten up.
  2. Maybe I should switch my routine, sit in the comfy chair rather than the couch, face the other direction on the couch so I’m looking out the back window, sit at the dining table like I used to do when I only had a few minutes to sip and stare before shower, dress, breakfast, leave for work.
  3. Sleepiness lingers. I see neighbors walking by with determined pace, early morning exercise walkers. Maybe I should join them—but I quickly push that idea away. I prefer lounging in my pjs as coffee slowly wakes up my cells.
  4. What shape will my life take now that I’m not heading out to a job each day? I try to see that as an exciting invitation but anxiety and restlessness creep in. My house seems small. By mid-day I’m pacing, trying to think of someplace to go but all venues, except the library, involve spending money, which I’m trying not to do. I tell myself that one cup of coffee or tea at a local cafe won’t break the budget.
  5. My world is opening up, expanding beyond the confines of a job. I feel a clench of anxiety as I write that. As soon as the letters hit the screen, I counter the thought. What if I get sick? What if I (fill in the blank with any catastrophe)? I begin to delete the words then stop myself. 
  6. “My world is opening up” is not a conditional statement.
  7. I have lists of things to accomplish—calls to make; business cards to create; a website to set up; emails or letters to send to potential freelance customers; workshops to plan, advertise, organize. I have friends to check in with, a piano that hasn’t been played in a long time, leaves to rake, woodsy paths to walk, knitting projects that have lingered in a bag for years, a stack of books to read, stories to tell, words and more words to write.
  8. I’ve been playing a lot of online Spider Solitaire. A small internal voice chides me—you’re wasting time. But there’s something soothing about moving those cards around and satisfying when I win.
  9. I’ve been interested to see how my approach to the game has evolved with time and circumstances. When I was in England last week, wearing the stress and sadness of my sister’s situation, I couldn’t play—I’d try and then give up after a few moves. Now, I’m more patient. I still hit “new game” if the initial card layout doesn’t yield many moves but once I get going, I persist, undoing and trying new moves as needed until I hit the right sequence and the cards fall into place. And there’s a lesson there about play and practice and experimentation and finding my way through—and about knowing when to stop, bail out, start over with a new game.
  10. Bit by bit, may I open to my life, right now, in its messiness, starts and stops and do-overs, its pain, joy, excitement, sadness, anxiety, loss, contentment.