Lately I’ve had a lot of trouble sleeping.
It’s become a challenge these past few months. My oldest cat has her days and nights mixed up, so I’m often awakened to the sound of books being knocked off the bedside table. Sometimes she stands by the door that leads to the dormer and hollers, “Hell-ooo…hell-ooo”, thinking my significant other, Steve, will magically appear. What used to be my yoga studio has been transformed into his man cave and Jhoti thinks he should instantly appear whenever she calls for him, but more often than not, she’s met with silence...and that’s a very good thing.
Silence has been something hard to come by this year. Since last November I’ve been busier than I’ve been in a decade, teaching yoga and taking care of twin five-year-old boys who at one time were selectively mute. They would speak at home with their parents and older siblings, but would freeze with strangers or in public. At first I tried cajoling them by talking myself or asking questions that always went unanswered. After a couple of days, I decided to just be quiet, to let silence fill the room and see what happened next. It didn’t take long before the floodgates opened and I couldn’t get them to stop talking…not that I wanted to as they are both charming, witty little boys.
So for nearly eight months, when I wasn’t on my mat teaching sun and moon salutations, I was encouraging the boys to speak when I took them to the playground, to order and pay for their own food at Chick –fil-A, to ask for assistance at the library. At first, they were hesitant, but it didn’t take long before the boys became more confident. After a couple of months, I forgot they were selectively mute as I marveled at the way the chatterboxes used their charming wit with cashiers, other children, even the mailman.
Sure, there were days when I longed for five minutes peace (and grew to have more compassion for parents everywhere), but it was a joy to encourage, then stand back and watch the boys as they experienced the freedom of speaking for themselves. Yes, it was demanding and sometimes overwhelming to take care of incredibly active young children, but they started kindergarten this week and I hope that the experiences we had together prepared them for a lifetime of learning.
In early June, my time with twins came to an end…and so did my yoga business. After twenty years, it was time for a change. I thought I’d have a few weeks to rest, but with Steve moving in shortly after, and then starting a new job as a physician’s assistant in July, there wasn’t much time to relax and renew. Summertime has been in full swing with buzzing lawn mowers, humming air conditioners, and outdoor noise galore, so silence has been a hot commodity.
For more than thirty years I lived alone, spending hours on end in a quiet house that I often took for granted. Now that my life has changed forever – and for the better – it's been strange getting used to the sounds of another person walking around or watching TV in the space above me. While I’m no longer startled by Steve’s footfalls on the steps or the clatter of kitchen utensils when he’s cooking later in the evening, I’m often kept awake long after my bedtime. Still, the weekends that were once Productive Saturdays and Silent Sundays have turned into quality time with someone who used to be the boy next door and is now the man of the house.
As summer winds down, I’m establishing a new normal. Steve and I have settled into a comfortable routine. The intensity of diving back into the professional world has transformed into calmness as I find my own confidence in managing an office that was once completely baffling. I take advantage of quiet mornings like this one when I can enjoy a cup of coffee on the back porch or meditate in the garden.
Or make the time to write again.
For nearly three years, that part of my life has been radio silent, as I’ve not had the time, focus, or motivation to put anything on paper. There hasn’t been consistent quiet in which to once more get used to a blank page or screen in front of me and trust that words will come…eventually. In some ways, I've allowed the writer inside to be selectively mute while I dealt with a host of real-life issues, some mundane, some incredibly intense, yet all of it grist for the mill. Now I’m ready for a change of seasons -- both literal and literary. While I have no idea what novel idea will emerge in the days and weeks to come, I’m thankful for the fertile ground of my new foundation that will hold the space until it’s ready to surface.
Sometimes silence is golden, but lately I’ve found that silence feels more like my garden in late summer…in full bloom yet ready for the transition to come.