Saturday, June 25, 2016
Me and Mine
Twelve years ago this summer, I was very sick. Hospital sick. Life was reduced to what is really important: people. Plain and simple. I didn't give a hoot about clothes and makeup and I certainly didn't care what my hair was doing. I only cared about the loved ones who came to be with me and hold my hand.
I knew I was feeling better when a kind young x-ray tech leaned over me one morning and I smelled her perfume. The real world had been so far out there, beyond the brick walls for so long, that just a whiff of her soft fragrance made me remember that I might need a comb. And a lipstick. Soon I longed to be sprung free and felt strong enough to handle life on the outside again. A nutritionist was dispatched to explain my new diet - the one that would help keep me from getting sick again.
But once home, I felt sad and fragile. There were so many medicines to take and follow-up appointments to keep. And so many of my favorite foods were off-limits and I didn't really have the energy to cook the meals I was now supposed to eat. My family had given up their own lives for 6 weeks and I didn't want to bother them after they had just breathed their collective sighs of relief.
One night I sat at the kitchen table contemplating the food choices on the take-away sheets from the hospital. As I was trying to decide what would be easiest to make, I glanced up and saw my daughter's prom dress hanging on the door of the laundry closet. It had been placed there awaiting a good ironing. Instead of cooking dinner, I found myself setting up the ironing board and then lovingly pressing out the wrinkles on the lovely dress. I ironed each pleat from hem to the edge of the waist, twirling the skirt around the ironing board while trying not to re-wrinkle the fabric. Then I worked the bodice, gently stretching the delicate fabric and attaching it to the board with dressmaker pins, until every edge and crevice was smooth and perfect. Next I flattened the dress's straps with the hot iron until crisp and identically even. When I was finished, I hung it back on its silky padded hanger where it now appeared suspended in floating layered pleats of rosy pink organdy.
The simple act of ironing that dress put me right back in the present - just where I needed to be. A sense of peace and calm washed over me as I let go of future concerns and mindfully stayed in the moment. Soon my woe-is-me blues walked out the door and my psyche recovered a sense of order. I felt proud and so glad to at last be doing something for someone else. I was taking care of "me and mine" in the best way I knew how at that moment.
Call it zen, being in the zone or just mindfulness, but it was only when I finished ironing the dress and returned the board and iron back to their rightful places, that I was finally able to make an uncomplicated and healthy meal to begin nourishing myself back to wholeness.