A Brief Timeout…
“The world gives you that once in a while, a brief timeout. The boxing bell rings and you go to your corner where somebody dabs mercy on your beat up life.” – The Secret Life of Bees
I cried for 24 straight hours this weekend and it was everything I didn’t know I needed.
The waterworks began in Paige‘s living room when her best friend Nici was reading through a writing prompt she planned to share at the next day’s Artful Homestead Gathering. She asked us to describe where we feel our heartbeat the most. To see ourselves in the space. To find the tiny places where the gratitude lives.
I wrote about shooting film. Not the act of shooting film, but the practice I find in it. The slowness. The attention to detail. The uncertainty, and thus, the carefulness. The responsibility I feel to the outcome. Each frame is such a conscious choice. A noticed moment. A tangible connection. As I wrote about those feelings, I wondered what it would be like if we all treated our interactions like film photography… Purposeful. Intentional. Precious. I feel my heartbeat the most when I am connected to the work that I’m doing and the people that I love, but lately, life hasn’t been as allowing of that… or perhaps in the spirit of acknowledging my responsibility to outcomes, I challenge my “maximum capacity” threshold an a regular basis, and neglect to hold space to recover.
You know those days, weeks, or sometimes even months when there’s so much bad news coming in that you feel like boycotting your phone as if not answering it means things won’t get worse? There’s been an unusually high concentration of that in my world lately, and it’s mostly been directed at the people I love. If I could choose between suffering and watching the people I love suffer, I would choose suffering eternally. The past several weeks have broken my heart wide open in ways I didn’t know hearts could break. The pendulum is swinging, as it does, but not without having done it’s damage.
I am a serial compartmentalizer who has not yet mastered the art of processing big blows as they’re happening. For better and for worse, I have a “do or do not” personality, and when the going gets tough, I tend to distract myself by being a “do until cannot” kind of person… it is only ever in the aftermath that I find release.
After a month of being in survival mode, I finally hit the “cannot” wall in a big, ugly cry, kind of way… and instead of feeling like I had to hide those emotions, or run from them, or put them on a shelf like I tend to do, I sat in this circle of incredible women who were finding the same safe space to share their hopes, dreams, internal struggles, personal victories and aspirations and let the tears flow freely.
It was such a beautiful day for restoration, and whether it was in writing, or wandering, or creating, or tiptoeing to the edge of our comfort zone, or simply meeting each other at the intersection of wherever we are in our individual journeys and where we hope to go, I think it’s safe to say we found that in our gathering.
I cannot slow the world down, but I am committed to slowing my world down… because it is in the unexpected phone calls, handwritten letters, unplanned road trips, late nights with friends, making eye contact, loving on children, running around barefoot, spontaneous hill hiking, thirty second dance parties, exploring unfamiliar places, writing in a new notebook, home cooked meals, playing with film, and brief timeouts with the women in my corner that my gratitude lives.
The boxing bell rang at exactly the right time, and it was a mercy day for all of us.
I am reminded that it takes a village to do anything well and that it’s okay to lean into it…
And that behind every strong woman are more strong women.