Being Centered

After Jeff died, I feared I would stagnate, so I tried to get into the habit of saying “yes” to invitations and to following people’s suggestions about things to do. This led me to many interesting activities, including a short road trip along Route 66, learning to shoot various guns, and many meals with friends. (Going against people’s suggestions also netted me interesting activities, such as my cross-country road trip. Many people warned me of the dangers and said I couldn’t go alone, but I could and I did.)

More recently, ever since I heeded the suggestion to buy a house in southeastern Colorado, I’ve again been saying a lot of yesses. These yesses, too, have let me to interesting activities, including a train ride through the Royal Gorge, artistic endeavors such as painting gourds and making wreaths, and many, many meals with friends.

During the ten days after Christmas, there were no activities, so I spent the time by myself. It felt good. Centered. As if I were pulling my life back into my life.

It felt especially good to be able to structure my days. A bit of writing in the morning, walking around noon when the sun had taken the chill off the winter air, making raw vegetable salads and other healthy things in the afternoon. And reading in the evening.

I am so often torn — being disciplined or treating myself; being alone or visiting with friends; being structured or acting spontaneously. Being centered helps to mend the tear, to find a balance between what I want to do and . . . well, what I want to do. I want to do all of it, because obviously, if I didn’t want to be disciplined, I wouldn’t even try. If I didn’t want to treat myself, I wouldn’t give in. If I didn’t want to be alone, I would add to my activities, if I didn’t want to be with people, I’d say “no” more often.

Daily blogging began the process of centering me. It’s both a discipline and a treat, a way of being alone and visiting, a way of being structured and spontaneous. Writing has always been important to me, and it’s good to have an excuse to indulge myself (though truly, one needs no excuse to write).

A center needs to be held loosely — if you hold on too tightly, the pressure can blow it apart. If you hold on too loosely, it turns in “a widening gyre” and the center cannot hold. Still, without doing any harm, I can certainly be more careful what I say yes to. I’ve backed away from one of the clubs I joined, will back away from some shared meals, and am backing into a healthier regime.

Oddly, I no longer fear I will stagnate. Perhaps what I called stagnation was simply being centered.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Twisting Time is Here: The Power of Saying Yes

A few years ago I developed a new philosophy: say yes. When people ask me to do something or invite me somewhere or suggest a course of action that I would not normally have considered, I try to say yes instead of immediately dismissing the idea as I once would have done. I’d hoped that by opening myself to diverse activities, I would spark new interests, maybe even twist off my usual path onto a new path of living. So, far, that hasn’t happened. I still don’t have much life in my life or spring in my step, though I don’t know whether these are lingering effects of grief or simply a sign that I haven’t yet found something to be passionate about.

One of my most recent yeses lead to yoga classes, something I had absolutely no interest in, especially since I had no interest in twisting myself into uncomfortable positions. The point of these particular classes is to open oneself up, to breathe, to be, which falls right in line with my latest outlook, which I found interesting. I’ve been pausing in my desert walks to do a few of the breathing exercises (the standing ones), opening myself to the universe, and then saying my affirmation: “I am happy. I am being me. I am where I am supposed to be.” And for a while, I am happy, or at least at peace.

Another yes landed me at twist party for Chubby Checker’s 71st birthday. It was actually a concert, but everyone danced in the aisles, and a couple of times Chubby Checker came down off the stage and joined us. We also sang happy birthday to him, and I found singing to a singer corny enough to be amusing. (Amazing — 71 and still able to perform for 75 minutes and more.)

Other recent yeses took me to see the top-rated Elvis tribute artist in the world and a war dance demonstration.

None of these yeses twisted my life around, changed my thinking, or added anything besides an hour or so of diversion, but still, I’ll keep saying yes. Anything can happen, and perhaps that possibility is the real value of saying yes.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the conspiracy novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”