It is a new decade. I appreciate the feeling of starting anew. Last year held a lot of changes for me and my family. I married Mark and his two sons moved in with me and my children. I officially went back to my maiden name (Knowles). We endured health scares, major home repairs and the perils of blending families.
There are no plans for any big changes this year. I turn 50 in March, a milestone that encourages reflection. I like seeing the horizon empty and open to possibilities. I want to rest and enjoy life more.
And yet, I find myself with feelings of intensity and irritation. I’ve written about my highly primed nervous system. Always on the lookout for threats, it is not easy to rest. Last year’s big decisions, financial stress and upheaval re-ignited my fight or flight responses.
I am going to blame some of the recent and current agitation on hormones too.
I’d like to be neutral
I do not want to be so tightly wound. I want to go lightly. As Aldous Huxley says in his book, Island, “Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig.” That’s me, a humorless little prig. Except I don’t believe I am morally superior, just occasionally humorless and highly aware of stress potential.
To combat some of this surliness mixed with sensitivity, meditate every morning. It is my prayer, my reflection and my centering time. Insight Timer (meditation app) instructor Andy Hobson, used the phrase neutral amused awareness when describing how to look at the world.
That is my dream, to look at the world with awareness and a hint of amusement. It echoes the go lightly aspiration. When my husband tells me his son is moving back in with us, after only a month out of the house, I aspire to react neutrally. When my job makes me feel scrutinized and pulled in 51 directions, my wish is to walk around with a wistful smile on my face, shaking my head. When my son asks for big dollars for a rowing event, I strive to maintain a sense of humor.
But 2020 is my year. I practice my neutrally amused look in the mirror and with unsuspecting friends and family.
Resist the urge to resist
Another Insight Timer regular, Sarah Blondin says we cannot see the gift in what we resist. Resisting is my natural state. It is a leftover from growing up in a divorced family. I resist change. I want everything to stay the same. Along with my highly sensitive nervous system, I also have insecurities about people not being there consistently.
If I could step back and let the path unfold, it is possible I see the gifts. But I want to control the outcomes. Remaining neutral is dispassionate, yes? No, not really. It is balanced. Add amusement and awareness to neutrality and now we’re talking.
Fingers crossed 2020 gives me the space and the wherewithal to let go of resistance. Priggish and humorless are so 2019.
Where could you use an update or expansion? What thoughts or behaviors are your achilles heels? Where are you uptight and humorless?