There is another way of being that I discovered in San Diego. The six months prior to our time this summer were incredibly stressful. I realize that now. It's amazing how helpful it is to have a disruption in your standard way of life to gain perspective.
A large part of that stress was created by me - I realize that. Much of the stress was not created by me but I allowed it to register with me. There was, most certainly, stress that was unavoidable, undeserved, and demanding. Still, that stress, if recognized and its costs counted, could be balanced with self-care.
Of course not working made it extremely easy to live without stress. My only responsibility was to cook dinner and be home in time to pull it together for my hard-working husband. I did also complete an online course on School Finance and Budgets which required about a day per week of work in July and early August. I found the time I never seem to have to work out at the gym or take part in a regular yoga practice. I read novels and non-fiction. I did a lot of sudoku. A lot. "This is my wife Lisa and she loves sudoku," is the refrain the Mr (literally) sings.
And I was able to smile freely and with good will. I had time to talk to shop clerks and my yoga teacher and other folks I would encounter in a leisurely day. And my muscles were not tensed. My heart did not race. I gave up coffee and did not miss it. Did not NEED it as I have felt that I do in the past.
I want to hold on to this calm, this mellow feeling - this peace! I have long felt that the Lord was telling me to find His peace and live in it. That the lifestyle I had been leading - constantly booked up with appointments, full of anxiety about job expectations, rushing around late for everything - this was no life. This allowed no time for the casual encounters with folks in my life, opportunities for grace and love. This had me on edge and distanced me from Him. My health was suffering and I could not seem to figure out why.
Late in the summer I had a conversation with a friend and colleague from school. As we talked about all the issues of working in an urban school and what the coming year would bring I felt a familiar feeling arise. I was feeling anxiety. My heart beat was louder and adrenaline began to course through my veins. I was getting excited with stress. I could recognize it because of the weeks where this once-familiar feeling had been absent.
I know that working in such a tough environment and living in the city will bring stresses. I hope that I can continue to recognize it when it encroaches because I maintain a lifestyle where such feelings are foreign and not the norm. So that I can take steps to relax when the stress arrives and take steps to return to a place of peace.
Our condo is only 2 miles from school. In one of the late summer days before school opening I walked there and it took about 45 minutes. I felt the familiar peace from the summer in San Diego. I was able to smile at the folks working on some road construction project (and if I had been driving I probably would have been late and irritated at the disruption in traffic flow). I took long notice of the ocean at Carson Beach as I walked along the bay (and when driving it is a quick nod of appreciation to the God of creation). I could think about what needed to be done or just meditate on the sounds around me. It felt great when I finally arrived at school.
It will remain to be seen if I can forgo my comfortable sleep habits to accommodate walking to school in the mornings - I would need to leave the house by 6:15 at the latest. Perhaps I will take the train in and walk home? Most importantly, I hope that I am able to maintain the importance of this level of peace in my life. How it opens my heart to others and makes time in my life to love and listen and live deeply.
So ends Mrs. California Housewife. I am so truly thankful for the gift of perspective that this summer of love and leisure has given me. The adventures of a working wife/daughter/sister/aunt and teacher and disciple in Boston continue...