A quiet and gentle place.
Where you can sleep. And read. And quiet your head.
Where you can release anger and frustration.
Where you can regain patience. Where you can create s p a c e for you.
I often choose to stick with it, to stay with them instead of taking a much needed breather these days. Part feeling like I’m going to miss something. Part wanting to be there in case I’m needed. But in reality, when are we not needed?
And how much do we need a safe place?
More often than not we do. As mothers, as parents, as people. A place to retreat and regain strength. I have this vivid memory of the first few days of motherhood when my mom was over and insisting that I sleep while Agatha slept, or that Jeff slept. He somehow managed to sleep a bit, but I could never quiet my head enough to actually allow myself to sleep.
Ear plugs. Eye mask. Something that smells good. A deep breath and knowing that she’s asleep, or with someone I trust and I can fall asleep no problem for the most part. I can offer myself a safe place to collect my thoughts, to sleep, to read, to just be alone. And it’s good. It’s so so good.
More and more I recognize the need for this ( for all of us ). Is it away from your home? Or is it just a tiny corner of your own room – a minuscule space that’s been carved out for you to cozy up with a blanket and just take some time.
I recently felt a calling to watch “Eat Pray Love” after not seeing it for a few years. The line that has stuck with me is from when she is in Italy and she learns what “la dolce far niente” means. The sweetness of doing nothing. Not in a lazy schlepy kind of way but in the most beautiful still kind of way. I (still) find myself busy or moving quickly without reason. Simply for the reason of feeling like I need to move quickly, like there is this silent rush that is swirling around my body at all times. In a book I’m reading right now, the author writes letters of experience to a younger friend who is pregnant with her first baby, she (the author) is the mother to a 3 year old. During a visit from her mother she breaks a ceramic planter by banging it against the faucet when watering it and she calls herself ‘clumsy’. Her mother steps in and says gently, “No Beth Ann, you’re not clumsy, you just move too quickly”.
I love that. It isn’t mean, it isn’t rude, it isn’t condescending, it just states simply that we are all capable of going quickly and in keeping with the balance of life, we are all capable of going s l o w l y. Of mindfully engaging in whatever it is we are doing. Dishes, laundry, breathing, sleeping, taking space, talking on the phone, writing an email, or simply just being – doing nothing in the most generous and luxurious way.
One thing at a time. La dolce far niente.
I promised myself last Monday that I would try to do just that this week. One thing at a time. Less judgement. More awareness of what words are coming out of my mouth. More time for myself. And really following through with the things that feel important and allowing the others to become secondary. So that meant watching Eat Pray Love one night in bed and it felt great. It filled me up the same way say, a bath might have on another night (which it also totally did).
And it’s meant I’ve been able to be more receptive to what Agatha needs. On Thursday after her nap we just lay on the couch under a blanket for an hour watching the sky as it prepared to cover us with snow. Every part of me wanted to get up and go do something but she was so content just sitting there, hugging, talking, not talking, watching, commenting – being. So I honoured that. And it felt like it’s own version of meditation. The first time in a long time I felt like she calmed me down when in reality it was just going slow enough to really hear what we (both) needed.
And now I’m remembering what it feels like to create that space for myself. To allow myself to have that. To carve it out and call it in. What does it look like? A movie night. A hot bath. An alter at home covered in things that make me feel supported and held and just plain good. It’s picking up a book instead of scrolling through a phone. Meal planning so I don’t feel stressed about what to cook. Find what it looks like to you and just commit to doing it. Start with one day. Maybe a week feels good. Whatever it is, don’t put the weight on yourself that it has to be healing or soul searching – it will most likely become that just by nature of what you’re doing.