After a week of grey skies and near-constant drizzle, the first of January is bright and blue, the air so crisp it snaps.
In a little while I’m going downtown to a church, where a handful of us will spend a few hours brining vast amounts of locally-grown garlic in the big kitchen, and bringing home jars of it to grace our pantries and flavor our cooking for the next little while.
Brining is simple and straightforward and inexpensive — salt + water + herbs if you want to get fancy — and the end product looks nice in its mason jar and keeps for months. It’s a nice project for the first day of the new year.
It’s a holiday in these parts, New Year’s Day, and so I get to suspend my job hunt for the next few days, as the holiday and the weekend combine for one last pause before we make our official launch into 2016.
I’ve been looking for work since leaving my ill-fated job at a local Montessori school in November, which doesn’t seem like that long ago, does it, though it feels like a lifetime.
It was a bad fit, that job, and it paid poorly, and made me so terribly sad, all those children trying to get through the day, most of them wanting nothing more than to be reunited with their parents. Three weeks in I came down with some sort of respiratory thing that I suspect was pneumonia, though I was too broke to go to a clinic for a diagnosis. Also too broke to take more than a single sick day, since we weren’t paid for those, and one day’s pay was all I could afford to lose. So I never really got better, just less worse, recouping some of my energy over the weekend only to see it dissipate midway through the following week. Three months of this was all I could take.
It’s scary to leave a job without another job lined up, but I had three part-time gigs to keep me afloat, and once I was no longer spending my days amid the biohazard of preschool culture, my good health returned, along with my energy.
Then one-two-three, the part-time gigs all fell apart.
Right before Christmas, which I don’t really celebrate, but still.
Suffice it to say, it’s been a somewhat anxious stretch.
Which is one reason I found myself this past Monday sitting on a little round zafu in the spare office of a lawyer friend who offers meditation practice three times a week. “Lawyering is such a head game,” he told me, his fingers tapping his temples. “This brings me back down into my heart.”
There were three of us in attendance that day. We sat, we focused on our breath. We called our minds back from their inevitable wandering. Called them back again.
I went into the room preoccupied, and in all honesty I was back to feeling preoccupied within an hour of leaving. But the time in between was a holiday. It wasn’t exactly free from anxiety, but it was a respite.
Holiday. Holy day. Sanctuary.
During our meditation my lawyer friend suggested we count ten breaths, slowly, staying with the breath, staying focused. “If you lose track, just start again,” he said, and I wondered how one could lose track counting from one to ten.
I followed my breath, I counted. And somewhere between six and seven, my mind wandered. I lost track.
I started again.
This week I have an interview with a small local company, doing a job for which I’m well-suited and would probably enjoy quite a lot. Meanwhile there is garlic to brine, and a blue sky above. One day at a time.
Happy new year.