Of all the topics on my list of 33 things, writing about the future was by far the toughest. Unlike the past, it did not involve rote transcription of memories from the past year. Unlike the present, it did not involve gazing inward at my current self. Writing about the future involved Decisions with a capital D. Decisions that would affect not just me, but also the life of my son. And Decisions are tough.
I slowly knocked them down one by one, pausing to take swimming breaks and to go to my three yoga classes that day.
1) Do more yoga (is this too obvious of a resolution to write while at a yoga retreat...?)
2) Read more books (give me your recommendations!)
3) Read more books with D'Assise (chapter books, here we come!)
4) Cook more small group dinners and host more parties at my house this year.
5) Listen more, talk less.
6) Smile politely when (mostly single, mostly childless, mostly well-meaning) people give me unsolicited parenting advice. Two small public service announcements: a) when I want advice on how to raise my kid, I'll ask for it and b) The only people I take unsolicited parenting advice from are my own parents, since they raised me and lived to tell the tale, and my two grandmas, who raised 7 and 8 kids before microwaves and disposable diapers were a thing.
7) Cultivate gratitude more. Make sure to tell all the amazing people in my life how much I love + appreciate them often.
8) Give zero fucks when someone doesn't want to date me because I have a kid, and never let myself feel guilty, inferior, frustrated, or disappointed, even for the briefest of micro-seconds. Dating for the first time as a single Mama last year was sort of a rude awakening for me. In the car ride on the way to our adoption hearing, one of my lawyer's questions to me was, "You are now single. What if you get married and your husband does not accept D'Assise?" I literally laughed out loud it was such a ridiculous question. It was completely unfathomable to me that having an (awesome, energetic, hilarious) kid who is literally the biggest joy in my life and the best thing that ever happened to me would ever be a reason someone wouldn't want to date me, but I quickly realized how naive I was last year. No matter how it started, as soon as I would reveal that I'm a parent, things quickly came to an end. In 2018, I'm just not going to care. I have everything that I could have ever asked for or wanted in life by getting the chance to be D'Assise's Mom.
9) Do the things I'm afraid to do.
* * *
|View from my porch!|
This is mostly because I have a huge fear of sharks, which I blame on having been shown Jaws at far too tender an age; that opening scene pretty much ruined me for ever considering the idea of swimming at night.
Nonetheless, I found myself slipping into my swimsuit and slipping out of my room, walking down the path lined with palm trees towards the hidden beach. I took off my sandals on the shore and felt the cool sand underneath my feet. The moonlight lit up the shoreline and the stars gleamed bright above. As a little girl, my Dad would always point out the constellations he knew at night, making us find the North Star and the Big and Little Dippers and even Orion. Orion was always my favorite to locate. Orion's belt is made up of three stars called the Three Sisters, and being one of three sisters myself, I always imagined myself as that middle star in his belt, millions of miles away.
I kept inching into the lightly lapping waves, and my mind grew ever more desperate to prevent me from going further. "If you get stung by a jellyfish there will be no one to pee on you!!!!!!" it finally pleaded exasperatedly, and I laughed out loud at my mind's ridiculous last-ditch effort.
I located the Three Sisters in the sky above me, and plunged into the dark water. It was a pure and utter rush, feeling the cool saltwater surround me and being guided only by the moonlight. I didn't stay in long or swim very far from the beach, but my heart was still racing when I got back to shore.
Resolution #9: Check.
* * *
The next morning, I woke up early for my final two hour class, a bit bedraggled from my night swimming adventures of the night before. I knew that in just a few more hours, my silence would come to an end and I'd be free. But as I packed up my little room after the challenging morning class, it felt like leaving both paradise and prison. Part of me wanted to run as fast as I could to the exit and yell at the top of my lungs, and part of me wanted to linger, unsure of what to do now that the prison door was open.
|The cute cafe where I'd have breakfast and just one cup of coffee :)|
I ended up breaking silence three times during the week. Two were intentional (mass and talking to D'Assise halfway through to make sure he was doing okay), and once was unintentional. On the third day, my sunscreen supplies had run out, and I was in desperate need of a re-stock. I headed to the mini-mart across the street from the yoga retreat center and braced myself for the exorbitant price of sunscreen. I walked the aisles and found a tiny bottle of sunscreen, about the size of my palm, with no price on it. Even though I had mentally prepared myself and my wallet to get price gouged, when the lady rang up the price and the screen flashed "570 baht" (about $18) I was so shocked I cursed out loud before I could stop myself, and then swore again when I realized that I'd just broken my vow of silence unintentionally over overpriced sunscreen. You win some, you lose some.
All in all, I felt pretty proud of myself with sticking through the silence nearly the whole time. Not being able to listen to music was a huge challenge. I realized how much of my normal everyday life is spent listening to music. In the mornings, I wake D'Assise up with either "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles, "Send Me on My Way" by Rusted Root, or "Take Care" by Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie xx. We play a Beatles mix as I get his breakfast ready and he brushes his teeth, and then I put my playlists on random as we bike to school while blaring our bluetooth speaker (partially to actually listen to the music and partially as a makeshift bike bell to let people know we're coming through). I listen to music as I work, and then I turn on a nighttime mix with Bon Iver and The XX and Belle & Sebastian on it when D'Assise and I play a quick card game before going to bed. All in all, I'm probably listening to music for 80% of my waking hours, and the musical deprivation I felt during the yoga retreat was intense.
I ate my last breakfast at the retreat center and jumped into the waiting taxi to head to the airport. I was free at last. I asked the taxi driver if I could plug my phone into his stereo, and he agreed. I blasted Lizzo's "Water Me" as loud as he let me, sang along to the lyrics at the top of my lungs, and stuck my head out the window to dance at passerby like a total crazy person. "I am free, yeah, yeah, come water me...," I sang along to the main verse, the wind whipping my hair as we drove through the island's villages, until we reached the airport and the driver politely asked me if he could turn down the music to go through security and if I would mind coming back inside the car and rolling up the window.
So was the silent yoga retreat "worth it?" Hell yeah.
Did I have some huge revelations and make some tough decisions? Yep.
Was it one of the hardest things I've ever done? Also yes.
I'm starting 2018 relaxed and refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to take on the world.