life lessons

Humble Lesson

Hi my friend,

What’s happening in your world? Are you as amazed as I that an entire day can pass and when I do a mental inventory, I’ve got little to show for the spent hours and minutes? And yet, the days go by – a walk here, a load of laundry there…

…oh, and a little free-floating anxiety for good measure.

Have you heard the fantastic story of the gentleman in the U.K. who celebrated his 100th birthday by walking back and forth in his garden, hoping to get some support for the NHS? As a result he has inspired the public’s emotional and financial enthusiasm – he has become a joyous, endearing icon (he’s got the greatest smile) and over $100M in donations have been made in his name.

What a difference a day can make, huh?

The owner of the studio where I go to do my lame-but-earnest attempt at exercise (when not on lockdown), travels from pillar to post, offering socially distant cardio and dance classes – one of which occurs on my driveway Thursday mornings. Four women, one incredible instructor and some good music. What she provides to those who can’t come to her these days is immeasurable. We laugh, we talk, we breathe, we dance. We are the better for her.

And she does this everyday.

So this is what I was thinking about while I was standing in line at the supermarket (mask, check; acceptable distancing, check). What the hell have I done that even comes close to paying a bit of rent for the gift of being here? I was at my self-flagellating best – I need to do more, be better, think more creatively, come on Mim, if not now…

I check FB, and see a note from a woman who was one of my campers (back in the day, obviously). I made a difference to her. Whatever I did, and Lord knows I can’t remember what – it mattered to her. Fret not, this isn’t a pity post – really. I’m a decent mom, an even better Gigi; I’ve accomplished a lot; impacted some, enraged others, and occasionally even lit a spark. I think I finally figured out this whole marriage thing, after a couple of false starts. I try. All in all, I’m ok. That said, nothing really measures up to the contributions of many – let alone the contributions of doctors, nurses, first responders, etc. On balance, is it enough to be nice…can I really be satisfied with the logic of the butterfly effect? I’m not sure – my hands are empty, no matter how full my heart may be.

This is at worst a lesson in humility – there are people doing extraordinary things to remind us of our better selves. There are people who challenge us to try a bit harder to step outside of our own story. And if that’s the worst, that ain’t bad. At best, this is a love note to Jayne Ritter, who gave me far more this morning, than I might have offered all those years ago.

life lessons

Muscle Memory

Hi my friend,

How are you?  How are your spirits?  Do you feel it as bizarre as  I do to find my days devoid of certain hallmarks that chronicle the passage of time?  I thought today was Thursday, and arguably no 24 hour period is far different from another right now – morning walk, evening walk, FaceTime with my kids and kidlets, reading, cooking, knitting and trying to teach myself how to needle felt (and failing miserably).  As I write, it sounds like I’m doing this sheltering in place pretty damn well – and I am, but for the spectre of my devoted doctor reminding me on a videocall about my high risk status – blah, blah, blah…I hear it, I can’t fully absorb it or I wouldn’t be able to move.

Which brings me to why I’m writing.  When we speak of muscle memory, we typically think of our bodies – using our muscles with regularity so that they know what to do and become better with use.  Good thing too.  Get out there people, if you can – the birds are desperate to be heard.

What about the muscle memory of connection?  We learn how to interact with each other, we develop our communication skills with practice (admittedly some more than others),  we learn to listen and respond (again, some more than others).  When I was in grad school, active listening was a year long course – and frankly, it was exhausting.  That said, it’s a muscle I use and use and use.  And when there’s no one around, I listen to the subtlety of sounds I typically pay no attention to.

How are you doing with the muscle memory of your heart?  Of the thoughts you are giving free rein in your gorgeous head?  Are you exercising your power to choose?  And can you choose hope in the face of so much fear and sorrow?  Can you choose to see some beauty despite this frightening reality that unfolds with increasing despair each hour?  I cop to being a Pollyana, though even I struggle at the moment.  So, I return to muscle memory.   I am pretty limber with hope, I am incredibly flexible when it comes to love – in fact, I wish my physical muscle memory was as toned.

Krista Tippett wrote – “Hope, like every virtue, is a choice that becomes a habit that becomes spiritual muscle memory.  It’s a renewable resource for moving through life as it is, not as we wish it to be.”  I hope you are well,  I hope you are exercising your mind and your body.  I hope.