Saturday, August 28, 2010

Staying Calm

The trick to juggling is determining
which balls are made of rubber and
which ones are made of glass.
This is my day today:
8-10 am.....Walk with Stella, have breakfast. Read, talk with JB.


12 ....Lunch

1-2 ....Write/Blog

2-4 .....Beach

6:30 pm ....Dinner at Northern Italian/Seafood favorite

8:00 ....Stop my friend’s gallery, hug, talk up a storm

10:00.....Walk Stella

10:30 pm.....Here I am
I will have one more today tomorrow, but it will be colored by having to clean and pack and head home. And heading home has me thinking.
I am pretty relaxed. I have been able to handle what comes my way here without worry. Is it solely because I have such a lovely leisurely schedule? And what is it about my non-vacation, regular day-to-day life that leaves me less relaxed, less patient, more worried, more of the time?
I have paid a bill or two here. I have had a document notarized, returned clothes that didn’t fit, worked with the realtor who is renting my Mother’s house. I’ve bought groceries, mailed letters, washed clothes, cooked (alittle), cared for my family, picked up and swept clean. With one big difference: I’ve done a lot of these things on my own time, by my own clock.
Is that it? Am I calm and content just because I can move more at my leisure? I look at my current life and I don’t think so. At home I work three days a week at a job I like alot. I write, I visit and care for my Mother, someone else cleans my house twice a month. Most nights I have time after dinner to cool down and most often I have enough time or money to take little trips, to see a play, to buy a new pillow for the couch.

So why would I be rightly anticipating that I will not be able to hold on to the calm I’ve accumulated here in Ptown, here on vacation, when I head back to my home and routine?
What’s the problem?
And what’s the answer?

I have a few thoughts:
1. Simplicity: there is not clutter here. I have brought with me only what I either need or enjoy. I have my wallet, my books, my colored pencils, my iphone, my laptop, my candles, my camera, my flip flops, my sneakers and my bike. I don’t have to keep track of a lot more than that. Why can’t I carry this simplicity home with me? No good answer why not.
2. Nourishment: I’ve taken care of myself the last few weeks. I’ve walked, I’ve bought myself little presents, I’ve let the sun warm my face, I’ve eaten my favorite foods, I’ve giggled in the shivering Atlantic Ocean. Why can’t I nourish myself like this at home? No good answer here either. Maybe of course I can’t devote as much time to nourishment as I have here, but some of the basics: feeling the sun on my face, for example, surely I can remember how good that feels, how good I feel because of it. Why can’t I nourish myself more? No good answer why not.
3. I’m Right Here: When I refer to this cozy red couch where I write it's because I am clearly HERE, on it this minute, not even thinking about evaluating the past or planning the future. I am just here. Even paying the bills, I am here. Walking down Commercial Street: I am there. Not working, not worrying, just walking. So why can't I be more aware of where I am, more of the time? No good answer why not.
4. Connections: People smile at one another here. In restaurants and on the trails and at the beach, people chat with one another, laugh together. This is what happens in vacation mode: it’s easier to be light and friendly, to drop your guard and have fun with others. So why can’t I live like this at home? It’s a worthy question. Why not? I will tell you honestly that I smile at a lot of people in the course of my days, even in neighborhoods where I am cautious, and most people smile back. It’s a good thing. Same with chatting, sometimes even touching a shoulder. Why can't I do this the way it is done here? No good answer why not.


I am going to be a walking waking laboratory. I am going home tomorrow and I am going to do my damnest to take my time, to simplify, to take care of myself, to stay present, to connect. I'll let you know. Or, you could be a walking waking laboratory with me....




  1. Kj, I do understand. I know, for me, when I work a lot and play less I am more stressed. I really think the key is to take our mindfulness with us into our busy days, I am not always able to manage it, but I keep trying. Good luck. Have a blessed last day in P town. xoxo
    My Ver. word is Nowless...

  2. Well of course you are more relaxed with a leisurely schedule. No pressures, no time constraints. It's blissful.

  3. annie, i agree totally. but the thing with me is i really enjoy my work, so at least for me that can't be all of it. ♥

    cs, yeah, true, but often even at home i forego leisurely when it doesn't have to be that way...xo

  4. Kj-yes, you enjoy your work, I sometimes enjoy mine too, but your job is stressful because of the issues you deal with and how much you care. I just read about the Giggling Guru, he says laughing reduces stress. I have been stressed because of sick kitties and mom, "the process" helps a lot, but I am thinking that laughing may in fact help too. Let's laugh more. xoxo

  5. annie, hhahahahaheeheehahaha!

    yes, let's!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. what a great post... both because i was reading about you... and because i was reading about us...

    how beautifully and analytically you digged deep down (y)our souls...

    you are absolutely right! the more distance we feel between ourselves and our true self, the less content we will be...

    this beautiful place lets you connect with you...

    love to you

  7. When you know how to do all of that you wouldn't need a holiday ;)

    (just kidding dear..)

    yeah I always have those thoughts as well.
    And then I have the best of intentions, it is good to have them and try to make them work.

    KJ hold on to that holiday feeling as long as you can!


  8. You and me both my friend, you and me both *kisses*

  9. i think the underlying reason (for me anyway) is the feeling of being 'on the edge of one's seat' waitng for problems to arise in one's every day life, and worrying how one would cope given all the other things that are around. Whereas, when on holiday -or living away from 'home', one knows that whatever comes ones way, there is nothing but freedom and time to deal with it. Long and rambling, but I know what I mean lol.
    wordveri:lizerd (you have been a bit like a lizard lazing in the sun)

  10. Everyone is right but my theory is that it's the proximity of the ocean. Being near the ocean does something primal to me, and calms me like nothing else.

    Bring a bottle of seawater home with you.

  11. Being in a small cottage for three weeks on my vacation certainly simplified life. no clutter as you say and the focus, i could see had i stayed for maybe a number of months, would be on the most important things: creativity, friends, the beauty of nature.

    I kind of agree w/Annie in that stress is self caused reaction to what happens in life. most of our stress comes from our thoughts about things, people etc.

    this is a meditative approach. Byron Katie is a very good tough love sort of "teacher" of seeing how we create our own stress via our thoughts.

    that said, there are more exterior stressors bombarding one in "real life."

    Anyway, glad you had this less stress time in P''town and felt a sense of community and friendliness there.

  12. hb, can you see me jumping up and down to hear from you?! and yes, you and i create us. and the closer we are to ourselves: isn;t that so darn simple.... ♥

    marianne, if i hold on to this easy peasy feeling for three weeks, i will give myself an award! you and lo and felix have been such a HUGE part of a great vacation. i'm holding on to you too, for alot longer than three weeks! ♥

    vicki, yup, yes, yay,tsup!

  13. joss, i do the same thing. i anticipate problems and i plan solutions. but i've come to know that i'm alot better when i keep my feet on actual ground and deal with things WHEN they come up. ♥

    mim, i think you might be 100% right. i am more relaxed here whatever the circumstance. i lived here fot two years and i was more relaxed. someone said to me 'it's the ocean! where else can you go! there are limited choices here and that makes it easier.' i think that's true. ♥

    suki, for some reason i am rebelling against this 'change your thoughts' theory and approach. the last two years have been a different road for me and as i get some distance, i don't think it was at all about changing my thoughts. hmmmm........makes me want to do some research.i know that cottage was good for yoiu and i am root toot tooting for more of that for you in daily life! ♥

  14. i am looking forward to one day having my nights free again. I dream of eating dinner and doing the dishes and then having the whole evening free to relax, even put my feet up and absolutely to go to bed early and not at 1 or 2 in the morning.
    I cant change that right now.
    I havent been on holiday for over a decade, Im not joking. But that, I am trying very hard, to rectify. As soon as I can, I will have a holiday.
    But, I do stay in the present moment and my home is very relaxing and welcoming.
    Im so glad you enjoy your time in P-town kj, it makes you very happy.

  15. Sweet, sweet girl....

    I have two things to say to you.

    I love you.

    I love and treasure the poem.

    I am going to write to you on my blog and will let you know when it's ready.

    For this post only I just have this to say.
    I think you are overthinking.

    Why is it that you can relax and fall asleep on a couch in front of the TV when you can't do that in bed?
    You don't expect to. :)

    To kj's readers:
    I do "get" her. But not because I have some insight no one else has. It's because I've read every word this woman has written - from her first blog post forward. I think about her words and what is between the words.

    kj is easy to know - she is right there is front of everyone. Brave and trusting and resilient and compassionate. Loving, silly happy, crying sad. Sharing, teaching, creating and most of all PRESENT.

    She is so worth knowing - but all of you know that.

  16. A lot depends on one's particular life's circumstances too... when there are health issues, career issues, financial issues - all these things can add to the daily pressure of trying to live happily....

    And, KJ, we haven't even mentioned emotional issues...

    I think you are a much stronger woman these few months since we "met".... I see it in your words, both on your posts and in your new book chapters, I see it in your photos...

    And, at least for me, (even when my life was good), parting from a place where I have been happy was always filled with bittersweetness...(is that a word?), it is only natural to regret leaving and JB filled those weeks with love and life and sun and sand....good food, good company...

    Mim is also right....being close to the Sea is also a huge relaxant.... and Annie too....laughing DOES help!

    I think you may surprise yourself when you open the door to #9.... a lot of your holiday joy and magic will be coming inside with you!


    ♥ Robin ♥

  17. this is a super post, kj. I think for me being right by the Ocean would relax me completely. It always does. There is something about the lapping waves on shore that recede and take all my troubles with it that calms my mind, keeping me present.

    Here, where there is no Ocean, I will visit either the Fraser River or a lake...sometimes, any body of water will do.And I throw my baggage of garbage into the water, letting them cleanse and evaporate.

    It's something I do on a regular basis. Sometimes, after a client has died, a body of water is the only place I can find peace.

    When a vacation is finished, I tend to feel sad for a bit, until the anticipation of going home and taking up the reins of my life take over again. Welcome home, kj!

  18. I'm hoping with you dearest Twinkles, that you can hold onto the comfort and calm you found in Ptown. I've heard before about laughter as therapy, and I like the idea. It's hard to be all in knots when you're laughing.
    May you slide gently back into your everyday life.

  19. I've never slept better, felt so free, or been more relaxed than when at the ocean. Not even at the lake.
    I think sea water should be bottled, yesireee!

    You'll do fine,,,I mean, don't you always?

  20. Hello Ms. Walking Laboratory! Well, I don't have any answers for you, except I think it might have something to do with not being 'on call'. When you are away, really away, you know you can't do a single thing about anything happening on the home front. If the kid you hired to water your lawn got the mumps, oh well, eh. The grass will die, you'll deal with it when you get home. It's off your clock. When you are on vacation, I think it is much like hanging your cares and woes on a hook as you exit home base. It's easier to be carefree and in the moment, because you've checked your baggage into a locker called "NOT FREEKIN' NOW!" lol!! I'm with you, I need to be more in vacay mood all the time, too. xox Pam

    PS Smiling is good. :)

  21. I did a painting once with the words "to be free I need the sea."

    And I do. It restores me. It bouys me up. It frightens me when I need it to. It cleanses me. It never, ever lets me down no matter what the weather is. I need the ocean near me like I need air to breathe. Maybe that's why I'm struggling a bit in my new home.
    (Even though the sea is not far from me.)

    I think you were able to 'turn off' the every day demands this time KJ. You really set your boundaries from the jump and I'm proud of you!

    You'll be fine and #9 ;)

    As Robin said, bring the magic inside!!
    And as we've discussed...try the saging ceremony. Blankety-blank be GONE!!!

    And hey, I'll be seeing you here and there at #9. That has to count for something ;)

    love you!

    Lo ♥

  22. yep holidays are fun and that's why we have them ;)


    being home can be fun too x

  23. Hi Kj I can't comment on everything but simplicity rings true for me!

    I think of you everyday....

    You are my kinda a woman!

    I hope you keep well ~
    Much love ~Pattee

  24. my sweetsweetsweetest mango, i read your new post a bit ago, so i understand how full your heart and arms are. i wish you and the kids could take a little holiday. i wish you could take a little holiday. i know i am lucky to have kid-life behind me. i think of you with great love, michelle.

    aw, linda... you are the president of the fan club i don't deserve! but thank you so sincerely for your loyalty and love. it means alot to me, and please know likewise and ditto ♥

    dear wrobin, i'm home now. i am ready to be amazed when i see my garden. (i hope) :) you are right about situational circumstances, of course. our hearts have their own stories. thank you for saying i am stronger. i am. there will remain a sad corner i will always wish turned out otherwise, but i know it's up to me to LIVE WELL and i want to do that!! you too!

    marion, the more i think about it, i think it IS about water and the ocean. it calms me too. plus i have fallen asleep for the last three plus weeks to these lovely breezes. thanks for the welcome home. i'm here! xoxo

  25. You know that would be an awesome experiment. It's funny how a change of location, even when the same stresses are present, can have a more relaxing effect. I'll be watching your progress. Well, for a week anyway. Then I'm off on my own vacation. . so excited!

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  27. I always like the way you put together problems in a simple language. It seems you are an extraordinary simple human being :-D

    I like your possessions especially color pencils..

    It's a lucid post and somehow inspiring. Thank you.

  28. Just thought I would tell you that I took your advice and I have just had a bath.
    Feels good.
    Thank you.
    Im worn out, going to bed very early tonight.

  29. angela, there is a woman in my writing group who does laughter therapy. she was showing us how she laughs and all five of us couldn't stop from laughing with her. deep laughing. i am home now and i am even trying to laugh at the bulldozer making a racket on the street outside. (♥ angela)

    babs, yes, the ocean calms every sense. and thanks for saying i'll do fine but you made me laugh. i've been a bit pathetic for the past couple of years. but i admit i'm starting to understand why, and that helps. i trusted and it was misplaced. i had a part in it, of course, but i chose the wrong person to love and trust. i'm in recovery, babs!

    so true, pam. and your example is a riot, because okay, my friend n. did NOT water my yard when he was supposed to and okay, some of my ferns died, but did i think about that in provincetown? just long enough for a quick funeral! i am home now and i'm laughing (so far) about all the 'stuff' that came home with us, all piled in the kitchen, a mess, not simple. but i'm laughing. i'm still in lab mode, pam. :)

    lo, all i can think is isn't it great that we live close enough to one another? i love that. we're both new england girls and the sea is in our blood. ♥

    robyn, i will be interested to see how i'm doing by the end of the week. i came home calm as a cucumber!

    aw, pattee, thank you. i am your gypsy sister. we are together strong. we share a senior angel who takes care of us. some days it's as easy as we are lucky ducks ♥

  30. baino, i am so fucking genuinely excited for you. i am so excited i used the 'f' word for emphasis. please tell me exactly when you will land in paris so i can think about you. xoxo

    shubhajit, i like my colored pencils too! i use them with my micron black pen (it doesn't run no matter what you put on it). i want to draw more. thank you for saying nice things about me. i WISH i were as simple as i may write! my mind gives me a hard time especially in matters of the heart. but no complaints today. i am too mellow. ps love hearing from you, always. ♥

    sweetsweet(one extra sweet) mango, i am glad. good. more often please. important. love love kj

  31. Ah Linda, she's a wise owl. She both loves and knows you. She knows what I only suspect ... no, that's not true .. I know too. You are a one off KJ. You are worth knowing ... and loving. Love Jos xoxo

  32. I really relate to this kj. I was noticing this morning that life now as a fulltime vacation from work, I have this expectation of being more productive on the things I love to do. Since yesterday and reading another post, I realize that like my former worklife, I have to put together a schedule. Yes, I'm reinventing but your list, early on in the post, underscored the big message I got yesterday - Make a roadmap of daily life; create time slots for activities; add side roads for spontanaity. Your question is a good one and requires real effort to make such ease and calm actually happen. I think I would call it being mindful of each day, each part of a day, each moment.

  33. Oh there is some deep deep wisdom in these words. I love this post and I ask my self
    "WHY NOT??"
    This is brilliant my friend, thank you!

  34. Oh, life is work but so worth it when it all falls into place, even in dribs and drabs.

    Staying calm...I had my first relaxation therapy visit with my therapist and wow, I am kinda pretty excited about the though of being able to calm myself whenever I need it...kind of like a pain pump in the hospital...

    She had me do this thing with my tongue and well, it works for me. You probably already know of this, but when we are tense and stressed, our tongues push on the roof of our mouth and against our upper teeth.

    She had me 'rest' my tongue on my lower teeth (to me feeling a little like a lily pad floating on water)...and I relaxed.

    I could get 'addicted' to this and always have a 'zen-like' stare on my face...

  35. I love this kj. I love how thoughtfully you've put into words what most of us have certainly felt at times in our lives.

    I live at the sea, I have all my life, so i'm not sure if i'm a good person to say wheather or not it's the ocean that keeps me calm or that surviving the raising of 5 children (mostly alone)is the cause.

    But i do think that nature, the sea, mountains, forests, the great outdoors is the key to deepest contentment. Maybe on holiday we do that more, take it outside, and do that connection or reconnection with nature.

    I've always loved travel for the reason you gave in #1. Traveling light with only the essentials, its so freeing. I can't do that at home either, but it's still something i strive for.

    One things for sure, you've changed a bit in p-town and things will be different when you are back home. Everytime away does that.

    love always,