Betwixt & Between

Ramble Alert: This one has been kicking around in my head all week and I’m hitting publish on a very rough first draft.  Hopefully I’ll come back to edit it, but I didn’t want to miss the moment. Good luck!

And then suddenly, a weird and sort of wonderful calm came over the process.

After nearly a year of pushing, thinking, pondering, considering, planning which started last January and picked up speed in April; after a Summer of imagining and envisioning; and then a super intense Fall dedicated to purging, fixing, painting and coordinating followed by an equally demanding season of communicating and, suddenly, negotiating.  And just like that we’ve woken up to the middle of January and found that there’s nothing more we can do, but wait and be.  It’s officially the season of Betwixt & Between – and it’s really strange, mostly pleasant, but nevertheless a little disorienting after all the frenzied, intentional, anti-inertia energy we’ve been investing in this journey for the past 12 months.

This pause in the action poses it’s own challenges.  There’s a great deal of relief in no longer being so very, somewhat terribly, “in charge” of this whole endeavor.  It’s also undeniably a gift of time, which I’m determined to make the most of, before the countdown clock begins again “for reels”. When it does, there will be no turning back. The clock will be ticking toward the end of a chapter that we have loved as we start one that we hope will be even better, but is rife with unknowns (both scary and exciting).  It’s very easy to complain about this strange interlude in the action, because it is such a time of waiting – and we tend to be impatient, us humans.  We like to complain about all that we must do, and then just as quickly we find ourselves tempted to (and falling to temptation) complain when there’s nothing we can do. Funny, eh?

Above all, I think this in between time is something very special and rare, which we must try very, very hard to savor… even if it’s hard to really, truly, totally enjoy.  When I think about all the months, years and countless hours I spent contemplating how to move on to the next chapter and I remember how hard it was to get things rolling… I am really grateful for the fact that we’re now definitely on the “other side” where the train has absolutely left the station and is rolling along on it’s own, at it’s own pace, and we’re now just passengers looking out the window – wondering when we’ll get there, but with no influence whatsoever on the engine or the timetable.

One of our favorite quotes here at Maven & Magpie comes from a chief that Bobby knew in his Navy days… this guy made such an impression on Bobby that I feel like I was there for the lecture (even though it happened years before we met).  The message of this Chief was one single truth: You Always Have  Choice.   I absolutely love this phrase and it is a truth I rely upon often in situations big and small.  Today, it’s particularly true, as we have a choice about how we handle this sure-to-be-brief time when there’s nothing required of us and there’s nothing we can do to change the timing of our process.  We can choose to wring our hands and be anxious or we can choose to simply BE.   Be present. Be appreciative. Be grateful. Be patient. Be certain. Be hopeful. Be peaceful. Be aware. Be mindful. Be open.  I suppose these are all things we can always be… but it’s suddenly much easier when there’s not some all-consuming other project to hide in (well, of course there ARE projects, but not as compelling as the imminent moving project).

It’s time to enjoy all the little things – not knowing quite when they will all end, but knowing they won’t be ours to enjoy forever.  I am trying to very intentionally choose to focus on being “in” this time of in-between (in fact that was my intention at yoga tonight).. but I have to admit that’s easier said than done.  I know for certain that I’ll look back and this “half-in, half-out” time will be teeny tiny blip on the timeline of our journey. Much like a first day at a new job, it’s a fragile, brief, mildly uncomfortable and uniquely weird time…. for me this time is bittersweet but also sort of dream-like and hazy.  I’m doing my best to cherish it and to explore how much of it we can rekindle when we’re on the other side of this transition, as a talisman to protect us from the always compelling and often all consuming pull of forward motion… which will have us back in the conductors seat in no time.

366 hours – and so begins the list.

Good morning! It’s a sunny, wintery Saturday here in Old Town – I think the car told me it was 12 degrees on the way over today.  I’m settling in to one of my favorite spots to tackle a myriad of “to dos” in a precious and purposeful 4 hour stint at my computer while logging another shift as a volunteer at the Front Desk of the Carpenter’s Shelter.

On my way here, I stopped for a latte at Misha’s and just had to take a photo – as I so often do – of the beautiful foam on this morning treat.  I always appreciate the beauty of the barista-artistry at Misha’s, and it’s really all the more amazing to me in light of the pace and vibe of this bustling local haunt.  It’s always busy, the baristas are working nonstop in a seamless herbie-free system of one server per customer and it’s a work of operational perfection (not a Herbie in sight)… and as fast as they push us through the process, they more often than not do so with a dollop of beauty. It’s such a gift.  As I took my photo, I commented to my neighbor as he chuckled at me, that I just wanted to take a moment to appreciate this pretty little thing. He nodded and said “so few people do that nowadays”.  I agreed. We all know that the hustle-bustle usually makes such a moment of gratitude seem like a luxury or a novelty we can certainly do without…. but at what cost?

The good news is that whatever the cost of not appreciating the little things, it’s a cost I’m planning to actively and intentionally avoid this month and for the next few months (and perhaps I’ll make it such a habit that I never stop!). The thing is, it struck me today, that we’ve now begun the “season of goodbyes”…. as the reality of our move is growing more certain by the day. With a contract on 123 Madison and hopes for an offer on 301 S. Henry within the next few weeks, the wheels are now very much in motion toward the end of one chapter – and the beginning of the next.

I’ve already started The List – of all the little (and big) things that I will miss when we’re gone.  Perhaps I’ll just start a new post of that list just to keep an inventory.  Meanwhile, I’m going to try to very hard manage what I know will be a rather teary and bittersweet process by focusing on saying “thank you” to each of these little things, and hoping that might lessen the “farewell” part of each thing I see, do, eat, drink or cherish for the last time over the coming weeks.  I’m absolutely determined that there will be no real “goodbyes” to the people I love so much here in Old Town – while I know that visits will be rarer, they will simply be more special and less taken for granted.  Yes, of course, there will be many great folks I’ve known and worked with for years and years, who I won’t necessarily see again at a networking event, but I know without a doubt that distance is a tremendous filter – I’ll surely see some folks often, and others will remain on FB and LinkedIn, and that’s really going to be OK. And, even the moments I’m tempted to think will be my last, are not gone forever… those that matter most will still be here to be enjoyed again when we come back – including the lattes at Misha’s.

So, what’s the deal with 366?   Well, the awesome folks at Carpenter’s have been using a volunteer tracking system for as long as I’ve been spending time here.  As of this AM I’ve logged 366 hours of service (400 as of today!), which looks to be just over 2 weeks of my life watching the ebb and flow of so many lives who have spent time within the Carpenter’s community.  I’m not sure how many more shifts I’ll take before we head north…. but rather than get teary, at least for now, I’m just going to settle in and make the most of my time here today – and saying Thank You.

The bustle and vibe at Misha’s
A thing of beauty – the lovely latte!
366 hours and counting – a window on the world of Carpenter’s.