There’s this little voice that keeps peeking its’ head from around the corner at me. “Hellooooo...” Oh boy. I don’t always like this little voice because it usually means some form of pain, discomfort, or maybe clinging that I need to let go of. But this work of progress (me) always wants to grow, learn, and get a little freer of the things that keep my mind in a tunnel. So okay. “Hello”, I reply. “What now???”
I was headed to my childhood friend’s house to housesit and care for their dogs for a few days. The drive was 5 hours, but I never mind driving. Actually, I love, love, love road trips. When I drive it’s a time that my mind is free. I don’t have to be looking at a computer and thinking about my job in compliance. I’m looking out past what would normally be a screen 12 inches from my face and usually have big views. I am so connected to nature that being able to see out over the ocean, or drive through the woods, is incredibly rejuvenating for me. My mind rests when I drive. My monkey mind is free. I can listen to the silence which is true peace for me, or catch up on favorite podcasts, audio books or enjoy music. It’s one of the best parts - the journey of the road trip.
I would be working remotely the first day I was there (a job that requires about 8 hours of typing M-F), so I had packed up a load of ergo items I needed since I’ve had tendinitis in my dominant wrist. I unplugged everything and grabbed my docking station. I had planned ahead by packing my cordless keyboard, ergonomic mouse (a wide, flat tray that fits under the keyboard) and stand for my laptop, so I also would have the screen elevated at the right level for my neck. Check, check, check, check. This will help.
I arrived at my friends in time to go to dinner with them. We shared tapas at a delicious Spanish restaurant, a local favorite of theirs. They didn’t know I had just booked my trip to Spain to walk a pilgrimage, but connection always revels itself this way, if we pay attention. It was so fun to get to catch up with them. I have known this girlfriend since 8th grade and am so thankful for this lifelong friendship. I met three sets of friends of theirs by the time we sat down at the restaurant. It was such a lovely foreshadowing of tapas and time I will spend chatting with new friends I will meet along the way in Spain hiking the Camino de Santiago.
The next morning, I pulled out the duffle bag, ready to get started on a very busy day of work. Having my keyboard and ergonomic mouse would be so great for being able to work fast. I got out the keyboard and wide ergo mouse and the little stand to elevate the laptop. I set the docking station next to my mobile office set up and then it hit me. I left the USB for the cordless keyboard sitting on my office desk at home. None of these large gadgets to help my wrist and neck would work now all because a tiny essential piece less than an inch in length was missing. And I was going to be slowed down significantly. Anyone that knows how fast I work, knows that this is not easy for me, especially with the daily workload and compliance responsibilities. I had to fight the feelings of frustration, and even upset, starting to rise in me. “Hello”, the little voice said. I don’t look at the voice, but I’m listening. Okay. Breathe. Flex. There’s absolutely nothing I could do about it now, so I need to figure out how to move through this and be successful for the day. Successful in my mind and my work. I want to feel joy working in this beautiful space I'm in.
I set up a standing station that helped my wrist a bit, but it still hurt significantly by the end of the day. And my neck hurt from looking down the whole time, however, I made it work, and… my friend has a glorious soaking tub which completing alleviated the neck pain at the end of the day. It felt so good, and I wouldn’t have to thought to go soak in that glorious tub had this not taken place with my neck hurting.
I’m working a lot of hours right now between my day job and building my real estate business, so I always make a point of practicing what I preach in finding balance in my days with things that bring me peace along with time spent with friends and family, eating well, and getting outdoors. Bringing joy to others fills my bucket, so when I can involve an art project that brings a smile to someone’s face as part of my self-care routine, that feels great to me.
I have been painting small rocks with words of encouragement on them (mandala-style) and leaving them on beach trails and paths for people to find. I decided one of the things I was going to do to relax was paint 9 of these while I was housesitting. I brought my entire bin of acrylic paints and the rocks I was working on. Another big, not-traveling-light, item for my long weekend away. I was quite proud of myself for thinking ahead.
After work on Friday night, I grabbed the bin out of my car and got set up to begin painting; such a relaxing, slow process. I created a working space, pulled the lid off, chose my colors and arranged the rocks based on size and what word would fit on them. Then it hit me! I left the paintbrushes at home! Are you kidding me??? The voice again, “Hey… how ya doing?” I didn’t really want another conversation with the voice in the same day! Another tiny and essential item, compared to the entirety of the project, was missing. I had thought I had so carefully planned both things, and yet here I was again.
My mind gets so full, I swear some of the bits of things fall out my ears. Do you ever feel like that? So much to remember, running on the treadmill all the time and never slowing down, overwhelm, and too many responsibilities, worry, concerns, planning for your future? Sometimes the number of things needed to remember just don’t fit in there. Needless to say, I’m starting to make more lists.
I respond to the voice, “This is not going to beat me or ruin my day. I can figure this out”. Flex. Breathe. Pivot on the shift. I’ll just do a different type of decoration on the rocks. There was a long handle with a point at the end of one of the paint tubes I had that I brought that I used to dip in the paint and create little dots for flowers. These rocks don’t have to have an elaborate piece of artwork on them. Just a word, and a flower. And there you have it. The nine steps to the beach will each have a rock soon, looking up and saying “Hello. How ya doing?” in each of their unique ways…. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control. It's always fun to walk to the steps, or down the trail the next and find them missing.
The voice reminded me that the pressure I’ve been feeling can get the better of me and how a tiny thing gone wrong can tempt me to allow a bad mood or frustration settle on me or even ruin my day entirely. It reminded me that if I just look at it as a tiny pivot that it can turn things in a big way. The work got done and the blessing rocks got painted. It just looked different than how I thought it was going to.
I'm challenged to look forward as much as I can at my goals and plans without determined expectation. The more I can pivot, flex, change, and be open to the unexpected, the freer I am. Maybe my response to the little voice will be kinder next time. Maybe even a little more welcoming, “Nice to see you, Voice. I’m doing pretty good! Where do you want to go today? My bags are packed for the new route.”