Twenty-four Brand New Hours

I woke up this morning overwhelmed.  I hate when I start a day like that.   I slept in until 8:45 and then felt like I had very little time to accomplish what I need to accomplish today.  Need to accomplish.  That is a cloud of smoke.  I suppose I don’t need to accomplish anything.

But, here comes the overwhelm.  I do.  I do.  I do.

When I was in the midst of my struggle with postpartum illness, I used to have to make lists at the end of every day.  I had to list everything that I had done that day so that I wouldn’t feel utterly useless.  I would often cry, the crying spilling over into panic, that I was a woman unable of truly accomplishing anything.  The irony was that I was manic.  Not only was I taking care of an infant, and doing it well, I was cleaning, gardening, hiking, working on my Master’s Degree, reading and writing all of the time.  I was involved in programs and was socializing and cooking and cooking.  But, if I hadn’t matched up the socks that day, all hell broke loose.  I would often find myself sweeping well into the wee hours of morning.

I long for that energy again.  I just don’t long for the pain that came with it.

Still, today.  Right now.

I have found myself this year to be highly unmotivated.  Falling asleep at 8:30.  Not wanting to read or clean or write.  I was absolutely horrible at grading papers.  I’ve been eating because of stress.  Or, so I say that is the reason.  I haven’t been exercising.  I haven’t felt creative.  I have been the opposite of my manic self.  Is it the meds?

I was recently out with a group of wonderful women, wonderful mothers.  One remarked that during that period after Silas was born, that period that I was in manic hysteria, that she was in awe of me.  Of course, she didn’t know what was going on in my mind at that time.  When she said that I just started crying.  I am not the person I want to be, I uttered.

Still, in an earlier post I wrote that the prime goal of these ten days was to discover that, regardless of obstacles, I am always the master of my universe.

I am in complete control of my overwhelm.  I can accomplish what I need to accomplish.  At least I think I can.  I think I can.  I think I can.

To counteract my beleaguered state, I pulled from my shelf The Thich Nhat Hahn collection with Peace is Every Step.  (As a side note, the family member who gave me the collection is the least peaceful, most pained person I know.)  Thich Nhat Hahn, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, reminds us that every new day is a gift.  That washing dishes should be a meditation.  That each time we wake, we have “Twenty-four Brand-New Hours”.

I should begin this day with gratitude not overwhelm.  I should remind myself of the Kerouac quote that I mentioned in an earlier post: “… and the world opened up to me because I had no dreams.”  I should smile because smiling is infectious and it calms the nerves and it means that I am in control of my emotional state.

I am smiling.  I really am.  You should see me.

I might conquer the laundry, might visit my grandparents, might weed the garden, might write some more after I finish this, might read a little, might take a walk, might go on a date tonight.

I don’t have to do any of those things.  This is my day.  My twenty-four brand new hours.  Let’s just see what it brings.



  1. Andrea Dennis said,

    June 12, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    I hope you enjoy just being in the moment today and don’t worry about what you do or don’t accomplish!

  2. slysummaries said,

    June 13, 2011 at 1:13 am

    i wish i could always see dishes and laundry as a meditation. i just had a pang of humiliating self-righteousness. i am lucky to have clothes to wash, dishes to do, a lovely home to shelter these activities. then it brought to mind a line from the rilke book — since you’re reading it, look it up, i think it’s letter 8 or so, near the end: maybe all our dragons are only princesses waiting for us to act — just once — with beauty and courage.

    • ecoolbeth said,

      June 13, 2011 at 2:09 am

      Yes. I was whining one night and Paul set me straight. We are very lucky. Sometimes, that doesn’t seem to make it any better though. Which may be very, very sick of us. Thanks for helping put me in perspective. Now, to check out your blog… LOVE that you used “Sly”.

      • slysummaries said,

        June 13, 2011 at 10:15 am

        Well, it doesn’t say anything. But it will soon, I promise!!!

  3. slysummaries said,

    June 13, 2011 at 1:14 am

    by the way, that’s my temporary blog name, in case you couldn’t figure out that was me.

  4. melisa said,

    June 16, 2011 at 1:02 am

    I know, it’s relative, right? A fine line between allowing myself to feel what my reality is right now and spilling over into over-privledge. I still don’t think I can see dishes as meditation. Necessary evils, maybe. Like selling a kidney or getting a boob job.

  5. melisa said,

    June 16, 2011 at 11:55 am

    and selling a kidney is?

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