Life for the past few years has kept me in constant motion, through extremes I never would have imagined. With a move back home from the States – jobless, newly single and wiped out emotionally and physically from the strain of trying to make it on my own – I was living with my parents again, literally across the hallway from their bedroom, just in time to celebrate my younger sister’s wedding. This was not how my 30s were supposed to go, but my attempts to fight this fate and look for work elsewhere all met dead ends. After all the resumes and inquiries were sent out, after driving 5000 miles with my car stuffed with my possessions (and a 5-day lay-over to deal with the results of a minor car accident), after considering making my home in a larger centre and starting over yet again, I suddenly found that the place I wanted to go to recover was right where I started, with my family, in my hometown. I had never considered moving there before, and had always said that it was the one place I would never live. Thankfully, I let my spirit speak to me and when it suddenly said “go home” I listened.
The following two years at home were years of recovery and rediscovery of myself. Freelance work was followed by a part-time research assistant job at the university, a good way to pay my expenses and ease back into working life. To reignite a spark of life in myself I started afro-cuban drumming classes with a friend and rediscovered my love of rhythm, jamming and performing with some new friends. I started going to salsa classes and got pulled into the local dance scene, going out several nights a week for salsa, west coast swing, and other fun dancing. An old friend was back in town for several months and I discovered indoor bouldering, one of her passions and another new thrill for me with my monkey tendencies. I travelled, going to a conference in Toronto, to one in San Fran and Ireland where I saw old friends and made new ones. I put into action a research project I’d contemplated for years on Baha’i singles, and presented my findings to many interested people. This led to a rewarding collaboration with old and new friends with a workshop for singles. I met some men too, dated a few, broke my heart over others, and kept moving forward.
Finally I had the chance to confront my professional failure and ultimate source of anxiety when I had the chance to teach a course at the university. Though I thought I would die from the stress, and though every class was a marathon ordeal, it actually went well. Most students liked me; they laughed at my jokes; they rated me fairly well on course evaluations. Resolution and healing, and a chance to move forward.
And things kept moving forward. I reposted my profile on a local dating site, deciding that if I (a wonderful person) lived in this town, some wonderful men must live here too. And I met someone who, at our first meeting, felt like home to me. I was able to talk and be myself. And in spite of the walls I’d built up to avoid getting hurt, essential after years of going in and out of relationships, I was able to let my guard down instantly and be myself. I could trust him. And enjoy his company. And know he felt the same about me. 4 months later he proposed, and 4 months after that we were married. He had bought a house in the interim which he was renovating, and once the basement suite there was completed we moved in. I had a new job at the university, teaching 2 courses a semester, and though it was still hard I was getting in a teaching groove and gaining in confidence. When the job ended, after several months of relaxed unemployment, I was hired for a dream job in the area of human rights at the same university. A year of hard work followed, but at last it was hard work that I was good at. My one year performance review included the word “outstanding” and my position was made permanent. And shortly after that, I went on maternity leave and gave birth to our daughter, an amazing little girl, now just over 9 months old. My year of leave is almost over and I’ll be starting up work again in a few weeks.
Wonderful changes – massive changes. From being wiped out, lonely and poor I regained a sense of myself, found a partner, helped establish a home, found fulfilling work and had a baby.
And yet, I’m still not quite where I want to be. For a while now I’ve been feeling blah. Life with a new baby has been wonderful but overwhelming with the intensity of attention she requires and the daily round of chores. My new-mom body is no longer limber in spite of the huge work of childbirth, and I definitely don’t have the energy I want. My husband is loving and supportive but I need to nurture my friendships much more. I’m barely finding time for creative and joy-filled pursuits. And in general, I am not feeling the joy of life and sense of inner peace I want to experience. And for this I take personal responsibility.
Why a blog? Then I was reading a friend’s blog post about accepting herself as a writer and let myself spin it negatively into my own inability to write or ever be a writer. Later that day, leafing through a book on decluttering, I remembered a 1-thing-a-day plan to be clutter free within a year and thought about how that sounds so great to me, and how that is the stage of personal change I get stuck on so frequently: the material environment. And then I remembered all the “one year of change” books I’ve read recently: The Year of Living Biblically, The Happiness Project, the book by a young women on environmental changes in her life – and suddenly saw my own imagined book of my year-long journey to peace.
And immediately discounted the idea. Been done, redundant, I can’t write.
Then I thought: blog. And I realized that this is something I want to do for me, not for anyone else.
Why peace? I want peace. I want it for myself, to be free of negative, critical and defeating thoughts and to radiate joy, love and encouragement. I want it for my body, to let myself love life through it and to be able to fully engage in life and the world with my daughter and family. I want peace for my relationships, to be a loving and communicative spouse, a nurturing and supportive mom, an encouraging and fun friend and family member. I want peace in our community and peace in the world, with release from the horrifying experiences big and small that so many go through.
I remembered this quote: “We cannot segregate the human heart from the
environment outside us and say that once one of these is
reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with
the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is
itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the
other and every abiding change in the life of man is the
result of these mutual reactions” (on behalf of Shoghi Effendi). I realized that these levels of peace are synergistic. By building peace on one level, I’m influencing what happens everywhere else. And yes, decluttering can be part of peace-building for me, but is not the whole picture, the only means or the goal.
And so we have it: 365 days of implementing at least one conscious step each day towards the goal of peace, starting from my core and radiating out from there. We are working to make more time for me to write even as I prepare for my return to work from mat leave. It’s a busy time, and I’m excited to approach it consciously, actively working to become the person I want to be and reflecting in writing on those steps and changes I hope to go through.