At Sea

I can’t leave my house today because the road is closed. It feels like an at-sea day.  (Non-cruise-loving travelers, allow me to explain.) On cruises, the trip revolves around the places of port – the journey’s milestones where everyone on the boat files off, spends 8 hours stimulating the local economy, then clambers back on board in time to sleep and wake up somewhere else.  I’ve been on two cruises – lesbian cruises (which is a blog post for another day) – and to me the best days were the at-sea days.  The days between ports, when the boat was our unavoidable container and there was nowhere to go. (Would you hate being stuck on a boat with 2,000 lesbians?)

Knowing my options are limited is a great relief to my system. It’s getting the prix fixe dinner vs. the insurmountable 32 page book-of-a-menu at that Chinese place. No angsty deciding. No contending with constant imaginings of all the things I could be doing if I wasn’t here. So I’ve been counting down the hours today, not with “when can I leave?” but with “how many more do I get?”

I wish I could say I was rapidly spiritually evolving with this poignant reminder that accepting limitation is so freeing.  In reality, my distractions today have only downsized to the 10 million things I can/ need to do in my house.  What next?  Work?  Yoga?  Organize the scary cabinet?  Write the next great American novel?  Nap?  Make cookies?   Someone in me is hoping there’s someone else in me who’s in charge of these matters.  It’s a little disappointing then when I get the typical response: “uh….let’s check Facebook while we decide.” Irretrievable hours of my life later, I’m back at the beginning and I’m contemplating how social media has successfully replaced TV as my unconscious time-waster of choice.  (At least it’s interactive and about people I (usually) know and care about.)

What’s true is today has been exactly like most days.  I spend the bulk of it sitting and staring at a lit-up rectangle.  The sun comes and goes, and I’m alternately 1) doing the holy work of housing and feeding myself, 2) avoiding doing the holy work of housing and feeding myself or 3) thinking about the limitless array of things I’d do if only I didn’t have to house and feed myself.

At least I didn’t lose those five minutes toying with the notion of driving down to get my mail and a mocha, which is the other favorite thing I do to keep me from having to sit still.  And I’m seeing a little more clearly how often I scan for that delicious distraction that will keep me from focusing on my heart’s desire  – and ultimately, from the full measure of success and fulfillment that I know is available to me.

It’s November, and I decided at the beginning of the month to again attempt the ridiculous and totally do-able endeavor of writing 50,000 words in 30 days for NaNoWriMo. It’s November 21st, and I’m at 5,348 words.  Another day of another year, and my prize is seeing how relentlessly I avoid doing what I want to do.

My house is littered with messages to remind and encourage me.  I get wonderful pep-talk emails twice a week.  I am haunted by self-help book titles, like Mary Goldenson’s It’s Time: No One is Coming to Save You.  I made a poster and stuck it on the wall by my bed that says in big letters: There Is No Time To Waste.


I have apparently not seen what I do enough yet.  I have not felt unsatisfied enough yet to turn my seeing into change.  Getting to enough is key.  And remembering enough, even more so.  I don’t believe anymore that simple laziness is to blame for keeping our dreams out of reach.  It’s habits, usually super attractive, unconscious habits that strap us in the comfy chair, and desperation that pushes us out.  We only shift when we have to.

Of course, saving ourselves is ultimately up to us. But help is useful. Friends are good. I think we should start a friends-don’t-let-friends-get-complacent campaign.  I think we should make interventions a daily practice and the ultimate sign of friendship. Not interventions of shame but of the ultimate care – the care for our soul’s wellbeing. I think we should make explicit our real goals and ask our friends to help hold us accountable  – to check in on us, call us out and shine light on our excuses, even when we kick and scream (which we will.)

I don’t know how this would work.  Phone check-in’s? A website? Written contracts? Maybe I’m the only one who wants this.  Am I the only one?  Please tell me I’m not the only one.

As of four minutes ago, the road is officially open again, so you can come on over and brainstorm.  Maybe I’ll make cookies.



Filed under invitations, lisa goettel, writing

8 responses to “At Sea

  1. My baby-girl,

    I have to say that I can’t stop thinking about 2000 lesbians on a cruise ship. That many? Really?? the mind absa-f****ing-lootley reels.

    You know, someone wrote a book (maybe Sark?) called, “Change the world without getting out of Bed.” It can be done.

    It’s winter time, we need our hibernation, our quiet moments of doing nothing, of only feeling, certainly not the hard (dare I say impossible?) work of improving ourselves.

    How about we just love ourselves, instead? And let’s practice by loving each other, actively, unconditionally. Fortunately for you (and for me) I find that so very, very easy to do with you.

    Can’t wait for our hike tomorrow morning! We are two amazing lucky lady-bugs (with big feelers.)


  2. This is why I love you Linda. (Among the flock of reasons.) I feel like we help each other widen the lens.

    My first thought after reading your comment was something to the effect of “Oh god – she’s right! I lost sight again. I’m focusing so much on my future betterness that I’m not tending to love and acceptance now.”

    Then I couldn’t remember what I said, so I re-read the post. As I read I started thinking, “wait, Linda you missed me. I’m not saying I’m not fine as I am. I’m not striving, it’s not improvement I want, it’s taking full ownership of what’s already mine. I want to keep releasing what doesn’t serve me. The kindest act of love for myself is stepping into the life I want and being the biggest person I am capable of. I want help with that.”

    The more I read, I felt myself reading it from your place of care and I felt the words differently than when I wrote them though. I could hear how the words are pointy. I felt my own pressure and push in them – like the coach that yells a little too loud. I don’t want that for myself either.

    Thank you for the great gift of balance – for your eyes and offerings and heart. I love, LOVE how we have the same conversation but switch roles. More tomorrow! Should we climb a mountain or cuddle?

  3. ps. I did some homework and found I exaggerate. It was only 1300 lesbians. Way more manageable.

  4. ah hell, let’s cuddle!

  5. aw lawd, I’ll be right over for cookies and commiseration!

  6. Keely

    1300 lesbians on a ship sounds like a Spring Break at Smith College.

    Lisa – everything you accomplish is important, whether it’s the things you do to avoid doing the things on your to-do list, or the things you wrote on your list. Next time you make a to-do list, write, “chat with Keely on thefacebook” or “bake three dozen cookies” and then scratch them off. Energy’s energy, accomplishments are accomplishments. Baking cookies is just as important as cleaning your bathroom, I think. As long as you’re not entirely avoiding work for pay, then I think you’re good. But additionally, you can completely write the 50,000 words. If you’re not done by Dec. 1, remember that that is as arbitrary as the word count.

    You’re pretty alright, you know?

  7. I’m in! You are SO not the only one:) Maybe a Mocha check-in? And way to go on the word count, amiga. Hang in there. It ain’t over until it’s over. And it’s 5K you would have never hatched otherwise!

  8. rob

    I think daily interventions would be awesome

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