Monthly Archives: August 2015

Sitting Still.

I feel guilty when I sit still. I feel like I have to be reading, writing, grading, learning, viewing, . . . picking my nails, anything. I envy Tim’s ability to relax. He and Watson are peas in a pod after I get back from a run with that dog. They can both just sit – Tim reads and Watson pants. Meanwhile, I putz. I’m sure my intermittent commentary drives Tim crazy, but he tolerates it calmly. He stays in his groove while I ruminate and roam.  In the June edition of Mindful magazine, Christine Carter’s article “Relax into your Sweet Spot” exposes the dangers of this mindless busyness. Carter argues that finding a balance is more than coordinating your calendar. It’s about taking joy in doing nothing, in resting, in imagining.


As a compulsive doer, the concept of just sitting is hard for me to grasp – unless I’m on the beach with friends, but there I visit, story tell, and laugh.  At home, I feel guilty if I’m not cleaning, organizing, eliminating, and donating. I actually daydream about getting rid of stuff. At work, programs, meetings, class preparation, student interaction, policy review, grading, networking, advocating, and scheduling consume my day, not to mention using technology tools and trying desperately keep up with them.

Carter argues that we need to be content with stillness. Believe me, I love a good shavasana in yoga, but that’s only because an instructor has relentlessly stretched every guitar string, I mean hamstring in my legs. Ping! Breathing is supposed to help, but I find I’m too busy marveling at the detox sweat pouring down my legs.


So why the constant need to do something, to accomplish, to produce, to satisfy, to tick an item of a list? I wonder if it’s because I fear the stillness of not moving. The rhythm of movement in a run or in the lap pool gives me a sense of peace.

Yesterday at mass, I sat across from a boy who had been in a tragic bike accident while at Purdue. He sat serenely in his wheelchair, and I noticed that he can now move his head from left to right, a seemingly impossible feat six months ago. I prayed for a miracle for him to be able to move his legs. And I also thanked God for the still moment that enabled me to feel intense compassion and love for this young man and his parents.

I’m going to try to take Carter’s advice in finding my sweet spot. I’m going to sit outside and watch the breeze. But first I have to finish this post and switch a load of laundry.

“Why are you so stupid?”

This is a true story. I swear on the Bible.  As we start to think about a new school year, I feel the need to share something that happened last September when I opted to take on Cross Fit as a new form of exercise. These were my thoughts and actions on packed a work day last fall.

That’s it. I can’t take the constant rushing and trying to balance everything. Today, I am going to tell Father Kevin that I can’t lector at 8:00AM mass on Thursdays anymore. I got up at 4:30AM, greeted Tim, checked e-mail, read texts, loaded the dishwasher, and headed out the door at 5:20AM to meet Maggie and Teresa at the Y for our Thursday morning run. We had a great visit as we did our regular five-mile clockwork loop through Valparaiso, and our run ended with a spectacular sunrise. We paused to chat in the Y parking lot, and when I looked at my watch, I said, “I have to get going. I have mass this morning.”

Already feeling behind in my day at 6:45am, I jogged home, kissed Kevin hello, thanked him for the coffee, and raced up the stairs to shower. Everything was timed: five minute shower, re-brush teeth, dry hair, get dressed, zip downstairs, gather books and student essays, load car, and drive to church. I was all set . . .  unless I got stopped by the train at Beef Mart.  Knock, knock, knock. Oh no! “Hi Nancy, is Watson ready?” Jess of Reeves Royal Acres usually picks up Watson for pet camp – yes, it sound ridiculous – after I’ve left the house on Thursdays, our day of refuge from Watson’s boundless energy. . “Come on, Watson, time to go,” I try to calm Watson as he skyrockets to the ceiling with joy and whirring Reeves Day tail. Easy going Jess coos to Watson and snuggles him close to her body. Meanwhile, I silently rant, “I have to get going. Someone else is going to have to read for me at mass.” Jess says Watson’s treat stash at Reeves is low, and I shove the box of biscuits at her. I lock the door, sprint to the garage, make every light on Calumet Avenue and see the flashing yellow in front of the middle school. I brake to a crawling 20mph because of a previous traffic stop, look at the clock blinking 8:00AM and decide to tell Father Kevin that I can’t lector at mass anymore on Thursdays. With running long on Thursdays and teaching morning classes at VU, it’s just too stressful. I can’t make it on time. Besides, if I don’t read at mass, I can probably squeeze in a Cross Fit workout on Thursdays.

I slide into my chair at St. T’s, late as usual, but still in time to lector. I approach the lectern completely unprepared for the following scripture scolding: “A Reading from the Book of Galatians. . . Why are you so stupid? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?”

I felt like God had hit me on the head with a frying pan. I quit Cross Fit, and I still read at 8:00am mass on Thursdays – when I don’t get stopped by the train.