Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Fog and the Cliff

I'm not talking about the fiscal cliff. This is about the edges we walk in life and how we wander around in a fog sometimes, with no idea where we've put our feet, which direction we're going, or where the edge is. 

Life is filled with peaks and valleys. Hard work and focus bring us to the top, where we can fill ourselves with the beauty of what's possible after an accomplishment. The valleys are the starting places where we choose our path to the next peak. And though life may feel as if it's a series of stops and starts, it really is all one flow as our journeys up and down create the landscape of our life.

And then there's the fog.

I'm very familiar with the fog in the valleys...the confusion that reigns when we're at the bottom and need to decide where to go next or how to get out of a bad situation we've gotten ourselves into. The fog can leave us running into things we can't see, tripping and finding sharp edges, or off in a direction we never intended. 

What always catches me off guard is the fog that occurs at the peaks. We work hard to get through that last little stretch and reach the top. We pause to breathe, appreciate our efforts, and see the vastness of all that is possible because of this new perspective. It's lovely at the top, and we feel alive with so many possibilities.

And then the view can become dizzying and overwhelming. We can become confused about which way to go down the mountain when there are so many different paths. Some paths lead to dead ends, others to treacherous outcrops, and a few are smooth and easy.

The fog closes in when we run circles in our heads and fail to choose our next step. We can get numb and lost, and start wandering around aimlessly. The hike down from the top can be just as difficult to start as the one up from the valley.  

If we allow ourselves to stay in the fog, we'll fall off the cliff. That can be a painful lesson, as we find ourselves tumbling down with no direction, grabbing onto whatever we can to stabilize ourselves, which means we're grabbing onto what's there instead of choosing to reach out for what's best for us. 

I don't like the fog. I've tripped in the valley and I've fallen off the cliff a number of times. 

When I start to feel out of sorts, I need to have a way to pull myself back together and figure out what's going on so I can step back from the edge. I finally learned that the trick is to have some practice of regular self-care that helps me recognize when I'm in a fog so I can stand still for a moment and consciously choose where to go next.

For me, this has been meditation. My regular practice allows me to keep in flow with the valleys and peaks and be aware of when I'm in a fog. If I don't take time to care for myself on a regular basis and get a feel for who I am and what is "normal", how will I know when I'm out of whack? It's a lot easier to prevent a rock from rolling down a hill when it's at the top than once it's started moving.

I've spent years of putting many other things ahead of my own self-care and well-being. I've held the titles of Queen of Excuses, Procrastinator Extraordinaire, Perfectionist Princess, and Fearful Philanthropist. I've agreed to projects that didn't fit me to make someone else happy, I've done volunteer work that ate me whole, and worked at jobs that stripped me of who I was. This was the price of floating in the fog and not choosing from my heart and taking care of myself.

There will be more fog. I've just worked through a little patch, but I was able to catch myself from falling off the cliff this time because I knew I felt "off" and returned to the meditation routine that I had carelessly abandoned during the holidays. It took me a few days to sort things out, with some restless sleep and strange dreams, but I peered into my heart to see what was causing the fog.

I'm a hard-headed case, as I've often abandoned routines because I get bored with them. But I have come to learn that meditation is the one routine in my life that I need to keep. It's the one thing that always brings me back to my center, reminds me of who I am, and brings me peace of mind and heart even in the wildest storm. It helps me clear the fog so I can see my choices again. (Sorting through the choices is a whole other conundrum in and of itself, but one I won't deal with here). 

My point is that we need to have something in our lives every day that feeds our bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits. We need things that support and nourish us in every way...we need that anchor so we can handle the fog and the occasional storms. There are so many things to be distracted by that can lead us astray. We need to have a self-care tool that will bring us back home, whether it be meditation, running, writing, or a favorite hobby.

Here's hoping this year will be filled with many peaks and that we all have the tools needed to weather the fog and storms that may arise.

Love & Light,
Sue

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