Winterlude

In the week between Christmas and New Years I rented a little apartment in Ithaca, NY.  I needed a getaway: from Christmas, from busyness, from tired.

I needed a retreat. But instead of booking myself into a fancy place like Kripalu, I tried a “self-guided” retreat this time, in a nearby city where I know a few, but not many people, and where I could be happily alone.

I cooked up a a batch of kitchari in my home kitchen and brought that to eat, along with a few other staples.

Every day I cooked up the kitchari for lunch with greens I bought at Oasis.

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The man at Oasis who checked me out told me this joke one really cold morning:

Q: What do you get when you cross a snowman and a vampire?

A: Frostbite!

I drank a lot of hot water which I heated up an electric kettle I found in the apartment kitchen. But the mugs there didn’t fit my hands so I wandered into Handwork and bought a beautiful handmade mug for my hot water.

The one I bought was made by hands, for hands.  It is beautiful and I treasure it. It is currently sitting on the the table beside me. It will forever remind me of this time of great regeneration.

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I sat on a small brown couch all day and edited my manuscript.

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I slept like shit. (The bed was very mushy.)

Most nights I stayed up very late. (For me.)

I sat on the windowseat and looked out.

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I finished The Distraction Addiction.

I started Daring Greatly.

I went to yoga every day.

When you teach yoga every day like I do, it is such a thrill, such an utter indulgence to be led. I got to follow someone’s else’s path every day and it was lovely.

I went to Starbucks. (Not every day, but almost.)

I cruised through the bookstore a few times. I ran into people I know, and like, from home. I ran into people I know, and like, from Ithaca.

I sat and meditated with my dear friend Zee, and her friends, on New Year’s Day, and then had Indian food with them afterwards at Diamonds.

All day I worked.

I noticed the way I worked. I noticed that I like alternating between digital and analog; between computer and fountain pen. When I started to stagnate on the computer, I’d pick up the pen and a fresh world would appear. When I felt that world begin to fade, a return to the keypad ignited me again.

And in this way, back and forth, digital to analog, hour after hour, day after day, with breaks only for fresh hot water and to pee, I spent my interlude.

I worked on my manuscript, but I wrote other things, too.

I wrote deep reflections on all the yoga classes I took, for example, pondering what it really means to be a yoga teacher, and how I might become a more effective one.

I wrote my “manifesto” which was deeply inspired by the two books I was reading. My manifesto lists the qualities that I hope to cultivate and manifest in myself and my life from this time going forward. I love this list and feel so happy to have finally articulated it.

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I wrote in OmWriter, which is a new writing platform for me. I was inspired to try it from the writer of Distraction Addiction. I really like it a lot. I found it allowed me to go deeper into reflective space than I have ever gone before, and stay in that depth longer.

I severely limited my connections to other people, and to distractions like email and internet. I only went online twice a day: morning and night, and would not have gone on at all if I didn’t have a business.

I thought about installing Freedom but my self-discipline was strong enough and I really didn’t need it. Still, I like knowing that it exists, because I can foresee a time in the future when I will need to utilize it.

I loved living in this small, walkable city. Everything I needed and wanted was less than a 5 minute walk away: yoga, health food store, bookstore, Starbucks, even an indie movie theater. I could walk to Indian food and Thai food, as well as Tapas and Mexican and vegetarian.

On my last day, G came and we went to see the movie Wild. For my final dinner, we chose the tapas restaurant right below my apartment. We drove home in two cars, following each other.

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(my apartment was on the 2nd floor, the 2 windows on the left with the white blinds.)

As I drove home I thought about the Prius, and how the battery of that car recharges every time you apply the brakes.

It recharges when it brakes.

What do you know? Me, too.

Go figure.

A Box of Time

So, it’s over. (Xmas, that is.)  It was sweet –and certainly buttery!

I got some techy gifts (a new internet router and a new version of Wanda, my GPS) some clothes and of course, books.

But what I really wanted was not under the tree.

What I really wanted, and ask for every year and never get, was a big Box of Time.

I wish Amazon sold gift cards for the time it takes to read all the books they sell.  Wouldn’t that be amazing?  I think they need to get on that.  Seriously.

I did get a book entitled, The Time Paradox by Philip Zimbardo, which says it will help me “Reclaim Yesterday, Enjoy Today, and Master Tomorrow.”

I really doubt it, but who knows?  It could happen.

But that’s not what I really want to do: I don’t want to reclaim yesterday or master tomorrow, I just want to feel like a day is a really long amount of time.

The last time I felt time slow down to the point where everything took it’s fair share and not more, or less, was when I was on retreat at Springwater.

When you go on retreat, you put your life on “hold” for awhile.  You get off the gerbil wheel.  Everything stops moving.

At first it’s unnerving and you hate it and try to make believe you’re still  very busy and everything is critically important. You try to make the retreat into a job and you try to do everything perfectly and efficiently and ahead of schedule.

And then you realize that a day is already perfect in design and proportion and you just have to insert yourself into it.

On retreat I would spend  whole afternoons, and I mean from 1PM to 4 PM, just lying on my back on the lawn, looking at clouds.

And at night, I’d sit out and look at stars.

It took an eternity to eat a bowl of oatmeal.

The day started before dawn and ended after dark.  A day there was actually 24 hours long.  An hour there took a whole hour and not it’s usual 15 minutes.

(I once worked for a woman who used to describe being “over-booked” as trying to “stuff 10 pounds of baloney into a 5 pound bag.”  That’s a good image. I like the word “baloney” too.  It resonates.)

I know it’s silly of me to want a Box of Time.  Every day is already an empty box filled to the brim with time.  The “art” of living a conscious, productive, amazing life, is to fill the box neatly and carefully.

It helps to imagine that all your activities are eggs.  Each one needs its own spot.  You can’t jam too many in, or they’ll all break and you’ll have a colossal mess on your hands.  Only so many eggs can fit in a box and there has to be a little bit of space, a little bit of padding, between each one.

Part of my hope for this New Year is to pack the eggs better.  I want to fill my basket with lots of eggs and have no broken ones at the end of the day because I will have calculated properly the length, breadth and depth of a single day.