Céad míle fáilte

Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day!

In real life, it looks like the Irish flag, but the green and orange chalk didn’t show up well in the photo.

I have no good excuse for not getting this posted in a timely manner; I took the picture, I wrote the title, I got ready to write the post, and then . . . nothing. Oh, well! You guys probably needed a break from me, anyway

But I digress!

For those of you who do not know any Irish words, the title of this post is “A hundred thousand welcomes.” (I don’t think Irish people actually say this, but you read it everywhere when you are there. In fact, the Irish Tourist Board used to be called “Bord Fáilte” – the Board of Welcome.)

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about being welcoming. I struggle with this. Not because I don’t love people. Not because I don’t want to spend time with them. I do, on both counts! I want to open my house to people, invite them in, cook for them, laugh with them. Welcome them!

So, what’s my deal? I think it’s multi-faceted. There was a long time that I felt my house was too out of control to have people over. For years, I felt self-conscious about the fact that I didn’t really know how to cook. More recently, I’ve been afraid to make plans because my health was so unpredictable. I didn’t want to end up being flaky and canceling at the last minute.

This may be why I don’t stress about having the fry over. They don’t care if my house is a mess; they’ll eat whatever I put in front of them; if I don’t feel well, they’ll actually come up to my room and hang out on the bed with me and the dog. Even if I’m a mess, they don’t care.

I think with adults I feel more intimidated. I want to . . . not impress, actually, but just appear like a competent adult. Don’t worry: I know that’s silly. I know that the people who love me will love me regardless. It is kind of ridiculous, too, because my “issues” really aren’t even issues anymore! My house is basically company-ready most of the time (or 15-minutes-from-ready). Thanks to Blue Apron (my personal cooking school), I now know how to cook all kinds of tasty things. And, knowing my wonderful friends, even if I were truly feeling horrible, they would either a) understand, or b) be willing to come over and hang out with me anyway!

This is the point at which I want to make a pledge, start a new scheme, say I will have x number of people over in the next x number of weeks. But I’m not going to. I have been thinking that scheme-making is just setting myself up for failure. (I know, I know; you all realized this long ago.) But I am going to try to reach out more. The people in my life are so much more important to me than anything else, and I want to start living my life in a way that makes that real.

Breathe. Release. Repeat.

My massage therapist, Charles, is a master of Better Living through Torture.  When he works on my leg, he finds the most dastardly place he can identify and proceeds to attack it with glee.  I am directed to breathe through the pain… to let it go… to stop making that face… to breathe… release… breathe…

Blow by Dehivi Garcia Cordero

While I am in the moment, the last thing I want to do is breathe and release.  I want to scrunch up my face and hold my breath, because it hurts and I am afraid of the pain.  I don’t want to go through the pain;  I want to dodge it and run screaming away.  Most of all, I want that mean pain-making man to stop making me hurt.  He is nothing if not tenacious, though, and since I know he has no intention of stopping, I try to breathe and release.

He’s right, darn it.  The breathing works.  The releasing works.  I manage to allow him to loosen that particularly stubborn place and find the next one, and the cycle repeats.  When Charles is finished with me, my leg feels lighter and more flexible.  (My psyche, on the other hand, wants a do-over massage with essential oils and a fluffy robe and soft music.)

It occurred to me on the table this week that I am trying to dodge pain in more than just this one area of my life.  I have decided to make it my mission to breathe and release everything that has been holding me down:  Clutter.  Stress.  Perfectionism.  Worry about my health.  Excess body fat.  Unrealistic expectations.  It’s time to let it all go.

Breathe.  Release.  Repeat.

Blow” by Dehivi Garcia Cordero / CC BY