Live Inspired: the hard days

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Some mornings it’s hard to get up.

Sunday morning was one of them. Well, I’ll be honest, Monday and Tuesday, too. I stared at the ceiling for a while, and finally rolled off the bed onto the hard floor in the dark.

Oh, you might be thinking — if you’re new to this column — I thought this series was supposed to be about inspiration.

Well, yes. It is. But inspiration doesn’t come easy, doesn’t drop into your lap. Getting to the inspiration part is often messy, often frustrating, and real as hell. Those transitions are just as truly parts of inspiration as are the finales.

I realize from afar, travels like these can seem like they are nothing but rainforests and empanadas. But in reality, this journey has been a great melting pot of things. In the last four months, I have experienced some of the most memorable moments of my life. I have met so many people. I have seen such beauty that it affects my heart rate. I’ve cried, more than I thought possible, from awe, from beauty, from gratitude, from kindness received.

And yet I also go through low stretches.

Sometimes an event sets it off. Sometimes it simply creeps in on its own.

In those times, I remember that I am far away. I feel the weight of what I’ve left behind more distinctly. Then, the big, cozy security blanket — my yearning for which is always simmering beneath the surface — feels so distant.

I miss my people at home, deeply. I miss the comforts that were normal for me — hot water, soft beds, clean showers, clean water. I miss foods so much — fresh, crisp vegetables, diverse cuisines. I miss the familiar. I miss the ease of everything. I miss walking into my kitchen and making a sandwich or slowly, casually, preparing soup on the weekends. I miss the fall colors, the warmth of a hearth fire, the thrill of Halloween. I miss speaking a language in which I can be truly understood, a language in which I have a personality. I miss my network of women to lean on. I grow exhausted by having to go out and find every meal of every day. I grow weary of looking at the same eight shirts, putting on the same hole-filled shoes. The pain of my fibromyalgia has returned, exacerbating the stiff beds, the cold showers, the lack of chiropractors and masseuses. All of this at once can feel like a lot; doing it while attempting to jumpstart a business can feel utterly overwhelming.

So sometimes, like in the past couple of days, I simply collapse — retreating to my room to hide from the world for a while.

It guess it’s partly a sulking moment — which I feel guilt about because I do realize that I’m still quite privileged and I’m on this journey because I want to be, not because I have to be  — and partly pure exhaustion. Sometimes I simply need to hang around my casa for a few days, to read and rest and refuel. Of course, I always had those times at home, I think most of us do — where we sort of hibernate for a couple days and take it easy. While traveling, such periods are almost entirely gone from my routine, and it wears on me. 

During moments like these, I try to remind myself that it is OK to stop moving, seeing, exploring for a bit. I try to remember that not every step of the journey will feel like the destination; that inspiration and change doesn’t always happen in direct progression. Perhaps such tension is normal during a major life adjustment.

Over time, these dips have become shorter and not quite so deep, and I have hope in time that they will fade. Maybe I’ll learn to know myself better in order to prevent them by giving myself the downtime I need before a collapse. I hope I will find balance.

In the meantime, I press on because I believe finding and experiencing the best things in life — the most eye-opening, the most fulfilling, the most teaching, the most inspiring moments — usually involve some sort of struggle and that the struggle often teaches us the most.

I’ll breathe. I’ll count my blessings.

Right now, as I sit in the cafe attached to my casa in Cobán, Guatemala, the sun, hiding for 36 hours, is peaking through billowy clouds into blue sky. The birds, perhaps anticipating its return, are chirping joyously.

My coffee cup is refilled. My clothes are warm and dry. I’m safe. I’m healthy. I’m fed. I’m loved. I’m accepted — at home in the U.S. and here in a foreign land. I have money in my bank account. I have legs to walk. I have eyes to see. I have the privilege to continue.

The sun’s rays are stretching full into the sky now, and I’m feeling better already.

8 thoughts on “Live Inspired: the hard days

  1. I had not anticipated that much of the really interesting and enlightening things you would be writing about on your journey would have less to do with where you are and more to do with how you are feeling. As usual, this was great stuff.

  2. We all have days when we find it hard to get out of bed. But you — it’s no wonder you have these wide-ranging feelings, from elation to self-doubt. I thought about you yesterday, while taking a long, hot shower and shaving my legs. I wondered what if I could give up these everyday conveniences, as you do. I think not.

  3. Years ago, when in my 30’s I had a sales job traveling by car to a lot of very boring places. I was on straight commission, which one would think would be plenty of motivation when I was out on the road to get my butt out of bed all sassy and ready to make something happen. Wrong! It was very hard a lot of the time, and as I look back on the experience I think there were times when I intentionally got lost on the way to a call just so that I wouldn’t have to sit across the desk from someone who wasn’t interested in what I had say, and try to be upbeat. My only solution at the time was to put one shiny dress shoe in front of the other and carry on. Then came Inspiration right out of the blue when someone was kind to me or I saw long stretches of farm land in the setting sun. I learned that reality sometimes got in the way of inspiration, but inspiration always came out on top if I kept pushing to move forward. Your latest blog perfectly captured how most people probably feel about life and therefore your piece was completely inspirational. Thank you so much, and by the way, most days I wear Red Wing boots.

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