It's been an exhausting week for more than a week. To be sure, I haven't had consecutive nights of full sleep, and I've been a little busier than usual, but my tiredness seems to go beyond those details. This is the kind of exhaustion that wrings a body out.
The past few days have been like this:
Morning: I pack a bag with my running and swimming clothes, and head to work.
Lunchtime: Meetings. I skip the run.
Afternoon: I contemplate, "Shall I go swimming after work as planned?"
Evening: Errands. I skip the swim.
But let me make this clear, it's been more or less my choice to skip the workouts this week. I could have managed to squeeze them in if I really wanted. Generally I'm a gal of adventure, and usually the pool or a run helps me to clear my mind. For vacations, I'm the type who chooses a hike or exploration over a cruise. However this week I find myself fantasizing about a remote island, the sound of the tide, a hammock strung up between two shady palms, and a blissful breeze rocking me to sleep. I want to pass out for days without end.
So, last night I did not go to the pool. Instead I went to the library, got myself a long delayed card, and took out a few books. I laid them on the nightstand on my side of the bed, and then headed to the kitchen to do some chores before I could finally collapse. Usually it's accidental, but last night I fully intended to fall asleep reading.
The truth is, on top of being tired, I was heartachy. On Sunday morning I went to the memorial service for a friend's mother. It was a beautiful, touching service. The stories that my friend and his siblings shared were charming, and although I never met their mother, I understood how extraordinary she was. She was a woman full of appreciation for life and gratitude for the people she was blessed to share her life with. I didn't know her, but I am dear friends with one of her sons, and through the memorial service stories I finally came to understand a little better where my friend learned his own deep gratitude and love for the people in his life. I left the service feeling blessed to have gotten even that little glimpse into his mother's life.
But later that day I drove my sweet man to the airport. He had to be in Texas for a few days to take care of his mother's estate. Dropping him off at the plane just a few hours after the memorial filled me with a sense of loss. It's morbid, but every time my sweet man goes away I feel it is a mini rehearsal for a deeper grief later in life. It was only a few days, but by last night my heart was aching for him.
And I was grumpy. The sink was piled with mixing bowls and cake pans from days of baking. The bed sheets were in the laundry, so I couldn't lay down in comfort until they were done. I had been up since six in the morning, my eyes were glazed with sleepiness. The last things I wanted to do were chores. An inner rebel in me screamed at the very prospect. But even more than not wanting to do them, I wanted my man to return from his trip without piles of undone chores laying around the house.
So, standing over the washing machine, I poured the detergent over the clothes and turned on the water. And I began counting my blessings. The washing machine. The clothes. The water. The water heater.
I started with the solid things before me, and then moved on to appreciation that I was even capable of doing these tasks. Of standing. Of working. Of baking. Of teaching. Grateful for my jobs. For the skills. For the physical ability to do them. For financial security that gave me shelter, food, comfort.
Then I moved on to the things I usually think of first when I count my blessings: my man, his daughters. But more than just gratitude for them in my life, I thought of how grateful I am for their health. For their happinesses. For their security. For their love. For their incredibleness. Appreciation for them even if I never knew they, just because they are magnificent beings.
And then I circled out: to my friends. My immediate and extended family. For all their healths, happinesses, securities, loves.
By the time the chores were done and I crawled into bed on newly laundered sheets, I found that I was grateful even for the very chores, for they had given me the opportunity to rise above my exhaustion and realize how wonderful and blessed my life is.
It's easy to get caught up in things. Last night I remembered that *that* is a good time to think, "I am grateful for...".
Last night my blessings carried me all the way to sleep.