Thursday, February 2, 2012

I'm Going to Be O.K. (Lessons on Finding Contentment in Unlikely Places)

Today I started feeling twinges of discontentment.  I was feeling a general sense of unfocused worry - questioning whether I was creative enough, motivated enough, etc., etc., etc. - you know how it goes.  Or maybe you're blessed with a naturally content disposition, in which case you don't.  Unfortunately, I seem to feel twinges of it off and on occasionally during long winter days.  I shake them usually, but they still crop up every now and again.

So I went searching through favorite blogs and articles for what tips other women have for when they are feeling discontent and recognize they need to take better care of themselves.  I came across suggestions for yoga, going out to eat a nice meal by yourself, taking a class, and many other variations on these themes.  Yoga classes sound like something I could get into, I thought to myself.  So again, I started searching, looking for nearby classes that would fit into my schedule.  Ten minutes later, I sat back, frustrated.  Yoga classes are expensive!  Nothing was even close to fitting into our kind of budget.

So I went for a walk to get some fresh air and to try to inspire new ideas for myself.  My usually overactive mind was uncharacteristically blank of new ideas.  So I kept walking. 

As I strolled around a nearby college campus, I walked past its coffee shop.  Inside was a young woman sitting alone by the windows, singing to herself with headphones in while reading a novel and sipping tea from a paper cup.  Now that I could get into, I thought.  And then I realized, I can do that.  What's keeping me from walking down here and sitting in this coffee shop for a few hours, lost in thought and a hot drink?  Revelation #1.

And then I began to hit stretches of stairs, and the cool air felt so good, that I begin to skip down each one.  And then, I tripped.  And fell - flat on my face- in the middle of a busy college campus, students all around bustling back and forth to class, looking at me horrified, probably imagining I must be an over-exuberant freshman.  But as I got myself up, I started to laugh.  I laughed, imagining how I must have looked to this self-conscious college crowd, and for how good it felt to not care.  As I stood there, laughing, I heard someone else join in.  I looked over and saw an old woman sitting in an Adirondack chair on the campus lawn with a little dog in her lap, laughing with me.  As I looked at her, I started laughing harder - the kind of laugh where you start to feel so giddy that you can't quite remember why you even started.  Soon, a little old Asian man walked by, took one look at us, and began to chuckle too.  We stood there, an unlikely crew, laughing until we cried in the cold winter air.

As I walked back to my apartment, happier, calmer, more at peace, I thought to myself: I don't need yoga, or a massage, or an expensive meal to make me happy. (...Although if someone would offer me one of those things, I might take them up on that!)  For today, cool winter air, laughter, and some unlikely acquaintances were enough.  And I smiled to myself as I realized, I'm going to be okay.


  1. Rachel, I just discovered your blog and was so blessed by this post. You must have a gift for writing. Thank you for sharing.

    -Robin Smalt

    1. Robin, I was just thinking about you today! I was wondering how you are doing and how teaching is going? I would love to catch up sometime. Thanks for saying something!

  2. I've been experiencing that gnawing feeling of discontentment too. This post 1) made me realize I'm not as alone as I often feel and 2) gave me some much needed encouragment. Like you, I look to other blogs or people in my life to try and pull myself out of the doldroms and your post is the third thing in 2 days with the same message. Coincidence? We both know better... :)

    Thanks for being awesome and sharing your thoughts!