I’m still adjusting to not having a corporate job after all these decades of working. I thought it would be easier to semi-retire. But it seems I still have a lot of energy for work. I know I need to/want to do something else, but I’m having a hard time assimilating my past experience with my current wants and needs. I’m spending a lot of time trying to digest what is happening to this world and with me.
I’m in Knoxville this morning. I have a week’s vacation in the mountains which should be a great palate cleanser for me. Last night I had a fabulous time reconnecting with an old friend from work. We spent three hours at dinner last night, and I was like a camel thirsting for water after a long dry spell of long conversations, silliness and laughter. We literally closed the place down, and if I hadn’t felt bad for the workers trying to close, we might still be there. I even downloaded a Magic 8-Ball app, and we had a great time asking it about our lives and what’s next for us. It seems everybody is in some sort of transition, and it’s an uneasy time to be transitioning. It’s a lot to digest.
I packed most of my meals for my travels, but I did stop a couple of times for coffee and snacks. Panera Bread’s dine-in service was closed permanently in the one town where I stopped. I tried to grab a Starbucks in Shelbyville IN, and a sign on the door said they were drive-thru only due to staffing issues. Homeless people have increased on the streets in the area I’m staying, and on a Saturday night after a UT football game, the restaurant where we ate had a lot of empty tables. I remember Knoxville for its Kingston Pike traffic snarls, and I saw very little traffic on my way to dinner. There’s a lot “off”, and with local newspapers dying, I’m afraid there are a lot of things that are not being surfaced about what’s currently happening.
In the meantime, Ashok and I are going hiking. She was going downhill with her arthritis a couple of years ago, and I thought that might be the end of our hiking days. But with acupuncture and food therapy, she’s coming back to life and things she couldn’t do before, she’s doing again. We won’t be doing 8-milers, but we’ll be fine for 3-4 milers with lots of stops to take in the fresh air. She’ll help me slow down a bit, too. I think it will be great for both of our spirits – and our digestion.
In Chinese medicine, digestion is a term that refers to everything we take in. It’s not just about what we put in our stomachs. We have to digest our feelings, our circumstances, environmental toxins, our losses and traumas. We have to digest our past and our fears for the future. We even have to digest the state of our health. All of that has to move through us and out of us in a healthy, meaningful way to keep us balanced. And, hopefully, some of it will nourish us with lessons learned and unexpected gifts.
I’m finding myself craving light and comforting foods. I’m completely off caffeine and am eating very limited sugar. I’m prioritizing my mental health and my sleep. There is so much to digest in the world and in my head that my stomach is resisting anything heavy or that is not nourishing. I’ve stopped eating meat almost entirely because it tastes too heavy and slimy. I have too much to digest at the moment to think about our meat processing system and all it entails. Beans feel so much better going down. I’m not a big fan of salads, but I found myself ordering a huge salad of spinach, broccoli, carrots and tofu last night. I couldn’t stop eating it. My body craved it like it was candy.
For the next week or so, I want to feel the fresh air and hug a few trees. I’m looking forward to hiking and spending some time with my dog doing what we love most. After my experience on the way down, I’m a little worried about what I’ll find in these small mountain towns, but I’m going to play it minute-by-minute. It feels like a time to be mindful and to stay in the present. They say it’s super helpful to be mindful when you are eating. It aids digestion. It helps you hear your body’s signal for fullness. If that’s true for food digestion, I’m sure it’s true for everything else on my plate. This week I’ll try to have more stillness and spend more time listening to the wind through the trees. I think it will help my digestion.
Pictures from the Road………