Peace in Chaos / by Michelle Cowan

Chaos. Christmas = chaos. But for the moment, the chaos is outside of me and does not invade my personal space of peace. Last night, however, I felt chaotic inside.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about chaos. Daily, I’m assaulted by thoughts – tons, sometimes repetitive. Many would suggest that this condition could be remedied with medication. In fact, I am finally to the point where I am considering it. I have done so much self-exploration and practice many techniques, but the sheet number and repetitive/distracting nature of the thoughts is bothersome beyond compare.

Christmas festivities in my family typically usher in a reign of chaos. One of my primary objectives during the holidays is to maintain a state of peace within, even though I am usually surrounded by a flurry of activity and distraction. This year, the holidays truly reflect what I have been feeling inside.

I'm longing for a place to relax and settle, to give my full attention to the things I’m interested in. I have so many thoughts, so many creative ideas, but I seem to lack the ability to focus enough to turn those thoughts into anything fruitful. This is the current challenge.

I want to live in the moment, but it’s tiring to be dragged from one thought to the next. I want to grip one idea long enough to follow it through.

For now, though, my main objective is to nurture the peace inside myself. Lots of activity, lots of holiday love, but it can leave me lost. I have to take breaks to stand outside, get some quiet, tap into what I want, and assert my wants and needs. I cannot be embarrassed to do what is right for me, even if it is not like what everyone else is doing. If I need alone time, I need to take it. If I need to exercise, I can. If I need to sit still and rest, I can. I can sleep as late as I need, stay home if I need to skip out on a group activity, or work on things that are important to me even if I think people will call me strange. Usually, no one cares, and everyone is following their own yens, too. It’s up to me to keep the peace inside.

Even here, with my family, without a proper bedroom, on a weekend when I might rather be home, I am doing well. I have been listening to the truths I know and allowing my own leanings today. Yesterday was a different story. I felt trapped and unsure. Events triggered memories of holidays past and brought up anger and anxiety that I didn’t even recognize. Instead of listening to myself and seeing what was happening, I ate to get through the evening. I used food as a distraction and a crutch to make my way through Christmas Eve activities.

Today, I got up and made a new choice. I took time to check in with myself last night and woke up this morning more centered and aware of what I want. I can appreciate the love and enjoy myself without automatically linking celebration to getting what I want food-wise. I have to consciously make the effort.

Today, because I’m more aware of what I want and have taken steps to get it, I can embrace the love around me so much more. I am much more present and able to focus in the midst of the craziness that is my family holiday.

I’m enjoying Christmas now, and I’m also practicing the focused attention I’ve been longing for. Despite rapid-fire thoughts and constant activity around me, I am writing this blog. That’s a feat in itself.

And as an apology for not having posted in many weeks, I’m including a recent recording. Chris Longwood and I were in the studio at Sugar Hill last weekend, where I did several piano recordings along with some more on the guitar. I’m continuing to tweak and am glad to finally share my songs with a larger audience. More gigs to come! And more peace…

Here I Am