i’ve been having these long discussions lately with a good friend, about how we both feel this compulsion to DEVOUR all aspects of life.

we want to be engaged every moment that we’re awake – eat sumptuous meals three times a day, have interesting conversations about music and books, and paint on huge canvases. we want to fulfill our dreams of graduating school but still have time and space for that essential inner life.

if we did everything we wanted to, we would have very little time for sleep. (which i also love to do, voraciously.)

then yesterday i was in the shower, (which is, if i may admit, where a lot of my ‘eureka’ moments come to me) and it dawned on me, again, why i can feel that way – because sometimes it’s a wonderful thing, to feel passion for every small thing, and to want to fill up the day with activity, and other times it can be stressful, and exhausting. right before my ‘eureka’ moment in the shower yesterday, i had asked myself the question, so why, again, are you doing five courses and working 20 hours a week?

to answer that i have to give a bit of family herstory. i have one of those histories that literally make hospitals want to do case studies on me. my mother, as i’ve mentioned before, died of breast cancer at the age of 51 in 1999; she was sick for 3 years. but that’s not all.

my aunt died of breast cancer that had metastasized to her lungs at the age of 56 in 2001. she had been sick for only a few months, but she had had cancer once before in the mid 1970’s.

my other aunt died of breast cancer at the age of 31 in 1974.

my grandmother died of breast cancer at the age of 44 in 1956.

my great-grandmother died of breast cancer in her mid-forties’ somewhere in the 1930’s.

and, i believe, my great great grandmother as well, but the dates are REALLY vague once you go that far back.

these women are all on my mother’s side, and of course, i’ve known about this as part of my herstory since i was born. but i won’t lie – once the numbers started adding up, and i figured out the ages of the women (see how no-one made 60?) i kind of got scared.

add that to a severe bout of depression that in essence, immobilized me for a lot of my mid-twenties’ (dropped out of school, never left the hometown, stopped writing, etc.) that sort of put me on a negative thinking track for a while that what life i did have i was squandering.

so once i vaulted myself out of my depression enough to get to montreal and enroll in school – i think i subconsciously was thinking i had to make up for lost time. i should have graduated by now! my friends are all doing their masters’! this girl i knew in high school just got a book of poems published – where’s my manuscript? why aren’t i married with kids? etc., etc. so that explains the workload that i voluntarily take on that threatens to crush me by the second month.

another good friend i have has been coming to terms with his own depression, and he confided in me that he didn’t know how to love himself. i gave him some advice that i swear, i cribbed from deepak chopra: let your heart make your decisions, from what time you get up in the morning, to what kind of coffee you order at starbucks, to what you write in your journal. not forever, but just long enough to let the sprouts of love and self-knowledge bloom.

your heart, i told him, will squiggle a little if you make a decision that feels uncomfortable.

that is, i think, what i’ve been doing these past few weeks – trying to give myself room to grow, to make decisions that will make me feel good, that will speed along my healing process so that i am once again able to love and cherish the people in my life the way i want to.

there are things i’d love to do right now, to feed my inner life, that i just don’t have time for – at the moment. but i’m keeping track of them, so i can get started on them in a few weeks. these include: emails to a few people who i’ve been sorely neglecting, some snail mail, beading a necklace, a gigantic painting, and the longest poem i have ever attempted writing. i feel all this creative energy bubbling up, this creative energy that i in part want to use to honour the people i love in my life, and it’s sort of killing me that it has to be subverted into essay-writing and shakespeare reading. but there you have it – a long-term goal of my soul that i committed to achieving a long time ago.

what i am doing, which i think is creating that inner life, is slowing down. taking time, each day, just for me, and realizing my actual potential – whether it’s meditating for five minutes, watching half an hour of a movie while i eat leftover soup, or going to yoga. or reading eat pray love while i should be reading my coursework instead. once i gave myself that little bit of extra room, it allowed my heart to grow a little bit – and i am able to see what i can and cannot do without jeopardizing my health.

because, you know, i am going to die, someday. there is nothing in life that’s certain except for death and taxes, after all. but rather than dwell on it, or have my actions be propelled into hyper-speed by some unconscious motivation to pack it all in before some mysterious number shows up – i’d rather just stop. look around. eat a strawberry. breathe, take it all in, and savour my life. every moment of it – whether peaceful, passionate, sad, or thoughtful – because each moment is unique and will only happen once.

just like the way it’s happening now.

these are the signs of my sumptuous slow-living life that are making me smile:

  • pomegranate stains on my keyboard from when i was typing all juicy yesterday.
  • words for dr y by anne sexton (for the looooong poem).
  • a postcard that i got in the mail from this sumptuous goddess today (thank you, susannah!!).
  • mango nectar.
  • the last 1/2 hour of the pledge. quite honestly, i’ve never understood the de niro thing, but i’ve ALWAYS understood the jack thing.
  • hugs.
  • starting to find christmas presents in the unlikeliest places.
  • planning two.trips. for the new year!! (one just for me, and one for met and i…) thank god i travel cheap.

i am aware of the blessings in my life, that come to me in sweet, small packages and that are wrapped up in the hearts of dear people. i want to thank and honour each one of you for being one of them.

thank you for spending a moment with me.

the image of the painting i borrowed from here.