The next house I buy will have a fireplace. I’ve been without one for almost 20 years. I’d even be happy with a non-working one that I can fill with candles and pretend it’s a fire. I just want that warmth of light and heat on cold winter days and emotionally chilly nights. I’m enjoying the one in the lobby of the hotel as I write this. Sipping a cappuccino in front of a fire with my dog comforts me and makes me happy.
When Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day came out in 1993 I remember thinking how interesting it might be to run the same day over and over again until I learn all the lessons and finally get it right. While it was funny and felt like torture to his character I thought there must be a silver lining to that experience. What a gift it would be to stop the next day from coming and just stop for a damn minute.
My “retirement” has been such a gift to me this year. While those back at the office are trying to get through the colossal amount of work left behind by those of us who left, I’ve been ground hogging it on my own. I peek my nose out every now and again, but I just go back inside because there’s really nothing new pushing me into the future. If I get tired I take a nap. If I’m hungry, I cook. If I’m stir crazy, I take a little trip. If I’m lonely, I call a friend. It’s been a luxurious simplification of my life.
My future is unknown. I know I’ll go back to work one day. But I don’t yet know what to worry about in that new job. I don’t know what co-worker is driving me crazy enough to disrupt my sleep. I don’t even have to worry about whether I’m gaining weight and have to buy new clothes. I have nothing planned beyond today and could very easily just decide to stay another night in Chicago if I want to. In fact, I can do whatever I want until my money runs out. Nobody cares where I am or what I’m doing. My focus is singularly on my immediate needs and trying to stay sane in this odd suspended state of being.
I’ve had times in my life where I’ve made enormous changes. When I got divorced in 2008, my life changed completely. But it was done in the midst of working 8 hours a day with the help of a counselor and numerous support groups. It was a push, and it was really hard. The changes I’m making in my life this time are just as profound but it’s happening so gently.
The ability to stay in one place and just deal has taught me how to take care of myself in the most fundamental of ways. I’ve learned to listen to what I need to be happy and comfortable instead of what I need to do to succeed. I’ve been participating in a weekly Soul Care group my coach offers, and I’ve realized what a gift it is to be supported regularly by the same group of women. We don’t DO a lot but what we do is very connecting and supportive. Each week I’m gently pushed to care for myself and listen to my own needs in a way I never could when there was so much noise. We listen to songs, dance, journal and share. All of us are experiencing different things right now, but fundamentally we are all the same. We all need rest, kindness, empathy and love.
As I come out of this Groundhog Day experience, I want to focus on these foundational needs as the world gets louder. I’ve learned I need comfort in my day to be happy. It’s made me rethink my living room furniture, my lack of a fireplace, and my choice of careers. I don’t have to be comfortable all day long but at some point I need to be able to breathe. I need to relax. I need sleep. I need to be able to let go of the future and settle into what is. I’ll keep the Soul Care group as part of my weekly routine as a reminder of this time. Maybe in a few months I can chat with my group in front of my lovely fireplace. And, yes, in April or May a fire will still be appropriate in Michigan. Some things truly never change.