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The Place of In-Between Part 2 ~ Tea and Certainty. And Biscuits.

Seems the “in-betweenness” of this time for me continues. As I start to write this it is the first day of spring, according to the astronomical calendar. The spring equinox, as well as the autumnal one, and the winter and summer solstices, is determined by the position of the sun relative to the earth in the astronomical calendar. At the equinoxes the sun passes directly over the equator giving us daylight and darkness of equal length. Can’t be much more in-between than that I suppose.

It also feels in-between because we’ve just had another snowfall, winter not yet releasing its grip. It wasn’t a huge one mind-you, but annoying nevertheless. It brought enough ice and freezing rain to cancel schools and necessitate snow plowing and shovelling once more.

I guess if we worked on the idea of the “meteorological” calendar, where seasons are determined by temperature cycles, we’d have already been into spring for three weeks by now (March, April, and May constituting spring in the northern hemisphere). Maybe that would feel even more confused as we like to equate spring with tulips and daffodils blooming and buds bursting on trees. I suppose in some parts of Canada this happens now (like in Victoria BC), but not on the east coast.

We in Nova Scotia feel like we’re between our idea of winter and spring, and some of us are getting impatient to move fully into the latter. For Edward and me, the idea of moving from winter into spring seems especially metaphorical too, as we have spent the winter preparing for a new beginning.

Too darn tidy to be our kitchen.

As I wrote in my previous post, I have been feeling a little anxious being in my own “place of in-between” with this moving of home that we are engaged in, still living in our house at We Are One Farm, but not feeling like it’s ours anymore as it is decluttered and staged for sale. We can’t relax fully into living here as we always have, fearing we’ll make too much mess to tidy up again for showings. So far we’ve had four potential buyers look at it, and one of those has already come for a second viewing. Plus a couple of agents came by to preview for an out-of-province client.

We keep mopping the floor and shining the windows, and putting every-darn-thing away as soon as we’re done with it (not such a bad thing really), while we ask the Universe to send us the right person at the right price at the right time to come and buy this property. We’re ready to move out of limbo and on to something more …certain.

Although Edward and I know where we want to be living when we sell this place, it could all fall through if the timing’s not right. We can’t control when the right buyer will appear, so it creates uncertainty not only of when we leave here but about whether we will be able to get the new home we currently have in our sights.

I am also feeling a little uncertain these days about what the change will be like for me work-wise. I wonder whether I will still feel the pull to do journey work and soul coaching without the particular environment we have both found and created here in this home. The outdoors is not a necessary part of this, indeed I can work with people over the phone or Skype if need be. But there is something about this place that has created a healing base grounded in the natural beauty and spaciousness. And it is far enough from neighbours that we can beat drums or have ceremonial fires when we want to. So at this point, I am not sure how that will change things for me, even though I know I can create a sense of sacred space wherever I go.

Another change will be not having Edward working from home as he has done for the past six years. Even though his new office will not be far from our desired house, it will feel really strange not to have him around all day, popping in for a cup of coffee or a chat, or attending to some chore around the house when there’s a big gap between clients. Plus he’s my best pal and I simply love his presence, even if we are quietly going about our own business most of the time.

I’m not sure how Alfie Dog is going to take it either, she likes to snooze under his desk for a little while most days. She’s more his dog than mine. Perhaps it will just make our time together that much more special.

A dozen muffins, two stressed people, a dangerous combination.

As this process of deciding to sell and move and declutter has all been happening during the winter months, it has coincided with what I might call “biscuit-making season.” A couple of years ago when the winter snowfall was extreme, I started making baking powder biscuits or scones or muffins as a reward every time Edward came in from plowing our long driveway on the old Massey Ferguson farm tractor. It’s hard, cold work on that old machine with no cab to protect him from the weather. I baked for moral support, because after all, he’d be chilled and hungry when he came in. Nothing like a mug of tea or coffee and a warm, buttered biscuit or muffin after being out in the snow. Plus we both grew up with mothers who showed some of their love and affection by baking treats.

The biscuit making became a ritual that continued through the next winter into this one, but took on a new twist. There haven’t been so many snow-plowing days this season but my expertise in perfecting a couple of recipes has expanded greatly, along, I think, with my waistline. Instead of just baking on snow days, I have realized I’ve been baking on a LOT of days, particularly days when I’m feeling that sense of uncertainty or anxiousness about our current situation.

I mean, how can anyone resist this? Apple oatmeal muffin with cinnamon streusel topping.

At first I pegged this as just an unhealthy addiction, using carbs to give me a little boost of serotonin, food as drugs, not just for the pleasure of the flavour but actually getting a chemical soothing. In fact, I have given up alcohol (red wine being my usual go-to) until we can celebrate a signed purchase and sale agreement on the house, so I thought maybe I was just substituting one type of carbohydrate for another with the biscuit eating.

And of course there was that psychological early programming equating sweet baked treats with love… even if I was giving it to myself.

But I had an “aha” moment a couple of weeks ago about another way in which my new baking habit was giving me comfort. Once I had perfected a few favourite recipes, a couple versions of scones and one for a muffin, I found myself reclaiming some certainty. They started coming out beautifully, every time. I knew exactly what to do, any variations were within specific parameters (would it be currants and cranberries or blueberries? lemon or orange rind?) Baking a batch of biscuits or muffins gave me something specific and focused to do, and I got predictably great results. And I could make them any time I wanted to! I felt …in control.

Blueberry-lemon buckwheat scones. Moist in the middle with a sugary crust. Perfection.

Realizing that I could control this one small part of my day with total success helped soften the knot in my stomach, (while softening my belly in ways less appreciated…. is it a muffin top now or a biscuit belly? Or maybe it’s biscuit butt?) I have realized I do need to find a healthier means to attain this feeling.

Or, maybe not. I mean, maybe, despite certainty being one of our basic human needs, according to Tony Robbins’ Human Needs Psychology, perhaps I don’t actually need to feel more certain about my life right now. In fact Robbins and others have said that the quality of our lives is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty we can live with.

After reading my previous blog post, my Nia dance teacher Kathleen sent me a link to a piece of writing by Danaan Perry called “The Parable of the Trapeze”, from his book Warriors of the Heart. In it he likens his life to swinging happily along on his trapeze bar until, at some point, he sees another trapeze bar swinging towards him, and he realizes it’s for him. But of course in order for him to grab it, he has to let go of the one he’s hanging onto. And there is where his version of the place of in-between comes. It’s that scary, uncertain, transition zone of “no thing” where you have to let go of control…frightening for sure, but it’s where one feels most alive, and where growth happens.

(You can read the parable at the link above or listen to this great video/audio version Kathleen also sent me.)

So maybe I don’t necessarily need to find a healthier way (or any way) to be “comfortable” with uncertainty. Maybe I need to learn to just surrender and open up to the faith that’s required to get across that gap from one trapeze bar to the next, even as it feels uncomfortable. Maybe I can simply appreciate the stimulation of being a little on edge for a while. Oh yes, I can hear it now….”life begins at the edge of your comfort zone…”  Honestly, I didn’t think my ruminating about biscuits and uncertainty would bring me all the way around to that worn-out aphorism. But it fits.

And like Danaan Perry, I have been here before, many times in fact, often in much more challenging ways than I am now. I’ve wondered whether I’ll catch the new trapeze bar, whether it’s the “right” one, or whether there will even be one to catch if I let go of the old one. And like him, “I have always made it.” And if you happen to find yourself in a similar state of in-betweenness, I’ll make a bet you’ve been there before too, in one way or another. And I expect you’ll make it too.

And because I have no trapeze pictures in my personal collection, we’ll go back to the winter-spring metaphor. Spring always comes around again, eventually, the snow goes, sun shines, plants grow, and all is well again.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. judithcroft #

    So well done, Mary. I am sure you felt much better after writing it. Both parts are excellent. I don’t think my comment on your first part went through properly — not so good on blog stuff — but you took me with you as you described your “journey.” God bless as you continue…. looking forward to part 3.


    March 23, 2017
    • Thanks Judith! Writing always helps me work through things! Part 3 coming up. 🙂

      March 23, 2017

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