I’ve been trying very hard lately to stop and smell the roses. I know, it’s one of the most trite clichés ever, but it’s true: If your brain is always racing, worrying about the future and regretting the past, you’re not appreciating what is right in front of you, be it roses, or a hockey game, or a great book, or a sunset, or a new signature scent (YES!! I bought the Penhaligon’s Empressa eau de toilette – happy birthday to me! It smells so damn good! Even the box is luxe!) – whatever it might be that gives you, if only for a little while, a moment of peace and inner happiness, when the world stops whirling on its axis for few seconds and you can just take it all in.
In general, these efforts have resulted in me feeling a lot calmer lately. There’s so much less rushing around, fewer stress-inducing chicken-without-a-head situations. Even on a day like yesterday, which was mildly chaotic, chock full of unplanned-for occurrences, I just worked through them, dealing quickly and efficiently with the inconveniences (multiple pet “accidents”, for example) and enjoying the pleasantries. A friend I hadn’t spoken to in a while stopped by for a welcome visit, and my ex also came over to choose a hotel for our daughter’s graduation ceremony in December and also to beef about the New York Giants’ considerable lack of offense in another poor outing. (Ian is one of the reasons I don’t really like football anymore. See “Am I Ready for Some Football?”, 9/2/15). In between were a quickie conversation with my sister and a call from a potential adopter for Polly Wobbles (who was wildly unsuitable as Polly’s future mom and clearly did not read her online bio). At some point I realized that I hadn’t eaten all day, so I grabbed a yummy frozen dinner (a new discovery: Devour™ meals, very tasty, especially the bacon-topped meatloaf with garlic mac and cheese; product’s genius tag line – “Food You Want to Fork”). Sandwiched amid all the activity was the return of New York Rangers hockey, the team’s first 2017-18 pre-season game – hooray! By this time, it was only nine o’clock but to me it felt like midnight.
It had been a long but satisfying day. I went into the city to do my “9/11 day of service” (something my firm does to honor a fallen partner, also a volunteer firefighter, who ran toward the World Trade Center on that fateful day rather than away like everyone else) at God’s Love We Deliver, a non-profit organization that cooks and home-delivers nutritious, customized meals to people in the New York City metropolitan area living with severe illnesses. I really enjoy doing that, even though I ended up with a blister on my knuckle from repeatedly handling a giant soup ladle. There’s something about the assembly-line work and following explicit instructions (for example, swirl the soup in the plastic container before you put the lid on so it creates a bubble, and then the next guy on the line has to squeeze out the bubble so the contents are essentially vacuum packed and can be more effectively frozen) that I really enjoy and actually find rather calming. It’s mindless work and yet I still feel like I’m doing something good, and I always leave there feeling a little better about the state of the human race.
Before leaving for the city on the 11:09 train, I had sent my secretary a few items I needed taken care of while I was away from my computer for most of the day. I had evidently forgotten that she was going to be out of the office, so upon emerging from the God’s Love We Deliver kitchen at 4 p.m. after our food prep shift , I realized that NOTHING HAD BEEN DONE. I had a brief panic attack, but fortunately, my friend and back-up secretary was able to do the work and soothed the temporarily rough waters of an otherwise smooth-sailing day.
Even just a few months ago, a day like yesterday would have brought on a tension headache and a bout of mental self-flagellation. Not the new-and-improved Nan, who takes a few deep breaths and “makes it work,” in the immortal words of Project Runway’s Tim Gunn – who, by the way, was great on Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday and kind of put Bill in his place when Bill brought up the obesity epidemic in a way that made it seem like it was all the fat people’s fault, and letting the fat people have fashionable clothes is just giving them carte blanche to stay fat. I find Bill Maher amusing and intelligent but he can also be a bit of a pig. [An aside: I am loving this season of Project Runway for a couple of reasons: one, they’re using models of all shapes and sizes, which the designers find challenging but good for Heidi Klum and Tim that they’re addressing the body image issue, if even just superficially. And second, one of the designers is just the cutest little Zen master fellow named Brandon who wears (and designs) baggy but intriguing tunics and shower shoes with socks. All the models and designers have a little crush on him, so I’m just one among many (my sister likes him, too). There’s something so sweet and gentle about him, with his an angelic face and round blue eyes, but he’s also really soothing in his manner, calm and patient, unlike some of the other contestants, two of whom – twins, remarkably – are so phony and affected that they kind of make you want to punch them in the face.]
I still write in my “joy book” every night about all those things that made me happy during the day, but my new focus is to feel the happiness as it happens, too. I read a quote today attributed to Guillaume Apollinaire in my “Seeds 4 Life” daily affirmation blog that perfectly captures this new attitude: “Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.” Take a bike ride, chat with a friend, walk the dog (or dogs, as the case may be – by the way, we have YET ANOTHER foster living with us, but she won’t be here for long because she’s an adorable year-old shih tzu who will get adopted as soon as her skin condition clears up and she gets spayed, probably next week), bake some cookies and make the whole house smell delicious. Whatever you choose to do, just take that moment to appreciate what makes you content for as long as it lasts. There’s just too much ugliness in the world, especially these days, to not enjoy a much-needed counterbalance.