Today was gorgeous. I mean really beautiful. It was not only sunny, but warm. The kind of day that makes it impossible to stay inside.The kind of day that makes the doctor’s request that you take vitamin D a little harder to brush off.
I live in the Northwest, so believe me when I say that I would never take a day like this, especially in March, for granted. But I lit up on the inside, too, and I can’t help feeling that my reaction to this day isn’t just a reaction to a sunny day. It’s actually been building over the last couple of weeks, and today is just the moment the switch finally flipped.
Making notes for this post, it occurred to me that I’ve been holding things in. Not avoiding, exactly – at least not consciously. Just not reaching out. Not doing morning pages. Barely posting on my Writer’s Retreat journal, even though in the past I’ve been on there every couple of days. I see friends and family regularly, but when I’ve talked about my life it was books I read or movies I saw, not what jobs I applied for and how my interviews went. In fact, when the job search did come up the other day, my family was genuinely surprised to find out I was stressed out about it. I’m not one who really hesitates to say what’s going on with me, so the idea that they really hadn’t been aware was eye-opening for me.
So I wrote in my Writer’s Retreat journal this week. A friend who usually calls so we can talk about her actually called to see what was happening with me, and I told her. I wrote in my journal again. I took advantage of a business meeting to have an artist’s date, as well. I actually had a story idea. I sang out loud in the shower. I marked my blog deadlines on the March calendar. I put my storage stuff back up on the shelf in the laundry room instead of leaving it on the couch a few more days. I beat down the Critic and applied for a job I really wanted instead of putting it off another day. Things that seemed little enough at the time, but that built momentum as the week went along.
Last night I hit the point where I had to turn the TV off because no matter how much I turned the volume down it was just too much noise. There is no denying that part of me is concerned about being in that place when I don’t have active stress in my life, but for the most part I’m actually relieved. It feels like I am really hearing myself, like I’m totally present in the moment in way I didn’t realize I’d lost.
So I left the TV off today, too. I walked to the store for shampoo instead of driving. I bought sparkly pink polish so I can have pretty hands at the new job on Tuesday. I walked to Starbucks and sat in a comfy chair and drank coffee and read Z. A. Maxfield’s The Long Way Home. I still wasn’t quite ready to be inside when I got home, so I grabbed a lounge chair by the pool and read some more. I played cards with my brother in the garden of one of our favorite restaurants until the sun went down. I wanted as much sunshine as I could get, and I wallowed in it.
Obviously the nice weather helped make today pretty fantastic, but what really made this a beautiful day was feeling the door open inside me, being able to take things in rather than being caught entirely in my own head.
I have a whole new appreciation today for how important it is to keep ourselves open. When the door is shut, two things happen. First our brains have no outlet for all the noise our daily lives build up and we start focusing on just managing the volume instead of listening to what we’re actually hearing. Second, we have no way to let new things in. It’s like driving on the freeway at seventy miles an hour. Everything that happens becomes a flash across the windshield, there one second and gone the next, rather than sticking with us, making an impact.
I don’t mean to say that I plan on spilling my guts to everyone I meet. But I do think that communicating and opening myself up is something I have to be consciously aware of. Simply trusting myself to do it naturally is apparently not enough. I’ve learned this week that my Critic is very good at making isolating myself seem like a perfectly rational thing to do, and I know it isn’t.
Sharing and keeping the lines of communication open doesn’t just give us a chance to blow off steam. It lets us share our joy, too, and allows us to take things in from the world around us. I opened myself up and had a really beautiful day today. I hope you have a beautiful day, too.