It’s been years now since I officially retired from my first career as a teacher. During most of these 25 years all the roles of life converged: Teacher (over 150 teens a day), Mother, Daughter and Sister in a family continually in crisis. Toward the end I also wore the hats of Author and Speaker, with a new book out (and that “baby” to raise).
I know. Cray cray. You can look it up in your urban dictionary. It’s a word for that means taking crazy to a whole new level. Times two.
Somehow, I did it all.
I laughingly called myself a Type E woman (“E” for “Everything,” which takes Type A to a whole new level.
I operated from an exhilarating infusion of adrenaline and caffeine.
And then there was the infusion of Responsibility, not so exhilarating but nevertheless a big motivator to Keep Doing.
Maybe you’re thinking you know the next sentence:
But that wouldn’t be true. I just kept doing, and I was lucky (and cray cray enough) that I could. Until I couldn’t. Unlike many friends, I haven’t been caught up short with an auto-immune disorder or the big C.
But my superpowers have left me. Very humbling.
And that is the good news. Because of this:
My body seems to have its own rhythm now, which gives me the opportunity to “unbecome who I thought I was,” to quote Byron Katie, a teacher of mine.
When I look at it in hindsight, I see this:
Who I thought I was just moved around in space, writing to-do lists and feeling best when everything was crossed out. She was over-scheduled and she liked it.
She held her breath a lot.
Because she was wedded to the rush of it.
Oh, the sense of Self Importance!
Her time was valuable. So if she could fit in one more thing, she did. Her life had a purpose.
Except when it didn’t. When nobody needed to be rescued, helped, aided and abetted, who did she think she was?Although the actual reasons for rushing have dissolved, I notice that this body still has a habit, as if it’s current reality.
My recovery has been slow. I still sometimes love to be efficient with my time, but this can mean that the busy-ness habit has taken over.
I allow a little less time between items in my calendar or I bring out my overfilled to-do list.
What to do? How to “unbecome” the busy person I thought I was?
The early warning signal is as close as my breath. When I hold it, I’m there, in the narrow world of rushing. When I breathe in, there’s space.
I start to believe I’m no longer That Person Who Is Busy. I’m simply breathing, driving, writing, answering the phone.
In that moment, I’m not the rushee. I’m simple presence.
Not a bad trade for the old identity.
Photo by Michael Himbeault