You know how when you’re getting ready to leave something or someone and everything suddenly starts to look good? That job, that boy, that town unexpectedly doesn’t seem so bad. If anything there seems to be a kind of shine and sparkle to sitting down at your own desk, the morning commute feels charming and fresh – and him, well, there was a reason you fell for him in the first place.
That’s how life is feeling these days, but I’m not leaving. In fact, I’m not going anywhere (that I’m aware of), quite the opposite.
It turns out accepting things as they are has been a huge wakeup moment for me. Nothing has changed externally, but internally, I feel more relaxed and contented about my current expat life. Traffic is still insane (insane I tell you!). It’s getting really f’n hot (it’s the hot season!). And noise recedes and returns with irregular frequency.
So, what’s changed?
/1/ I think meditation is starting to pay off. Maybe I’m wrong, but I have to wonder how much of my improved mood has to do with this. I can’t completely discount this daily practice which I’ve been keeping up since the end of last year no matter how poorly I think I’m doing it. Maybe there is something about showing up and just trying.
And maybe I’ve reached that point (I’m well beyond the habit sticking phase of 21 days – 66 days) where I’m on autopilot and the benefits are kicking in.
/2/ Something else I’ve tried to work on is to stop fretting over the future. As my bf can easily attest to, I’m great at spinning out possible scenarios and planning for things that never happen mainly because I’ll end up changing my mind. Tomorrow is just chock full of ‘what ifs’ and what I’ve realized is that I’m much saner if I just let that shit go.
Of course, I get myself going sometimes. I love to get ahead of myself and plan, plan, plan. (I’m a planner.) But what I’ve been doing is writing down my plans and goals, both daily and long range. This is harmonious with my personality, and allows me to not hang on to X, Y or Z because, you see, I’ve written it down.
/3/ Lately, I’ve been writing down stuff I don’t want to forget the night before. I figure any way I can get stuff out of my head and on to paper is a grand thing indeed. I don’t have to waste energy thinking of what I need to do over and over again in fear that I’ll forget it.
/4/ And since I’m not filling my brain up with all this nervous energy of ‘Where do I want to move to next?’ I’ve been realizing that I’m in a pretty good place in just about all aspects of my life. It’s that crazy moment of waking up to see how blessed you are. It’s still having big dreams, but savoring the everyday.
/5/ I’ve bought a couch and have been making small home improvements around the apartment. I’ve been sitting on that couch in the mornings curled up with my journal and enjoying the space. I’m appreciating our plants. (Don’t laugh, but changing the orientation of the couch made a significant difference in making our living room feel more enclosed and cozy. We discovered this by accident when we were moving the old one out of the way.)
/6/ I’m loving the fact that micro-adjustments have led to generous changes. We’re eating salads with crusty baguettes with cheese for dinner. Sometimes we have wine. It’s such a simple meal, but it tastes healthy and delicious. (The French sure know what they are doing!) The bf prepares the food while I take an after-work shower.
We’ve made our health a priority, but without joining the gym (too expensive right now) and without feeling like we’re making some sort of sacrifice (we still eat chocolate chip cookies). Basically, without feeling like we’re pushing this agenda.
/7/ Reading has always been my go-to sanity saver. Even when I was working what felt like the shittiest schedule in the world (it was), I always made time to read. How could I not? It seemed like the only way to end the day. And I distinctly remember the times when I’ve felt sorry for myself and how a good book (fiction or non) was able to snap that sap right out of me lickity split.
I’ve started one of those “What I read in 2017” lists at the beginning of my journal. I can see why folks do it because it feels like a list of accomplishments. I wish I had always done this. I can only imagine what my list of read books would look like. Ah, well, me poor memory will have to serve. Or maybe one day I’ll try to remember all that I have read and write it down.
/8/ I still think that having things to look forward to is important to happiness though. This seems ironic to mindfulness, meditation and being in the moment, but I think you can be practical and idealistic. Extremes no matter how justified and tantalizing are still extremes. Like, I don’t understand people who get wasted drunk one day and go running the next. I think being balanced is best. It’s hard, of course, but I want to do it. I believe I can.
I’m looking forward to here and there.