A Letter to My Mailing List:
I wanted to tell you a little story about this email I am sending right now. All week, well actually starting a few weeks ago, I started to prepare for its creation. I was meeting with Miguel, a teacher at Anahata about the cleanse that he’s doing in November, and I thought enough to tell him when I would need all of the details by so that I could put it everywhere it needs to go and then include it in my November email. I slowly started to put the pieces together of the events happening in November, added a few very last minute events because they came up and seemed like great ideas – yep, sometimes that’s all it takes – and planned to work all day Thursday (yesterday or October 31st) to work on it.
Then…my computer died Wednesday evening. I thought, is this the Universe telling me that I should stop trying to shove all this work in to each day? To stop working from 6 or 7 am until 9 or 10 at night? I had actually closed the door on my phone last weekend and thought, “It’s a sign, the Universe wants me to stop being on my phone so much!” I panicked thinking it’s probably dead and nothing’s been backed up for months while at the same time breathing a sigh of relief that I no longer had to be responsive to all the incoming traffic. Luckily, the phone was just bent, visibly, as in people ask me if my phone is bent upon seeing it, but it works perfectly fine. Yay, lucky me. Must not have been a sign from the Universe. But two devices in one week? This second one must definitely be a sign.
No, I reasoned, the computer failure was due to the tea that I spilled on my computer while trying to get my radio show online and into the podcast systems on Wednesday afternoon. The whole experience felt like something very unlike me, as though my hand was momentarily possessed and purposefully knocked over my matcha, my precious matcha. Fortunately I caught it before it was too bad, cleaned it up and the computer seemed unharmed so I continued on with my work. It wasn’t until later after taking a short break and changing work locations that I realized something was wrong. The computer turned on and tried to load my 30 plus browser tabs but then seemed to stall. I rebooted it and then that was it. Never did it fully turn back on again.
I kept trying it over and over, watching the little status bar slowly progressing passed the Apple image and then gone, black screen and no life. I went home, found the tiny screwdriver and removed the bottom of the computer afraid to see the damage that awaited me. Nothing. No sign of liquid anywhere. Unplugged the battery. Plugged the power into the wall, pressing the restart button, over and over and over again. Nothing. Around 11 pm I conceded defeat for now. Put the computer aside and went to bed hoping, maybe it just needs some time to rest. I do. So I’ll revisit in the morning.
Morning came, and I tried it again. It was actually worse. No gently hmmm of the battery, no screen life, no status bar, no Apple. It was totally dead, as in beyond the veil gone. A slight panic settled in thinking about the email I needed to get out. How was I going to make it happen? I Googled Tech Smiths in Kingston. Their website said they would open again on Friday morning. My heart sank. There wasn’t going to be an easy way to get this email done today. I started to think again about this being a sign. I started to feel ok about possibly not doing the email. It wasn’t my fault. I’d done the best I could. It was definitely a sign that I wasn’t supposed to stress about the email today.
I filled out the little form on Tech Smith’s website with my name, email and a short explanation about what I needed help with. I contemplated pulling out my little PC to try and work on it, but it has none of my files and no stored passwords for the various programs I need to update everything. It felt like a lot of work. I really needed to just heed the sign to not worry about the email today. I was beginning to enjoy the thought of having a day off when I got a text from my pal Brian who runs Tech Smiths, “Bring it in to the shop ASAP. We want to save the system from potential damage from tea.” That was all it took. I nearly grabbed my bags and jumped in the car, but then reasoned that I could at least take a shower and eat some breakfast. So much for my sign.
I walked into Tech Smiths and was greeted by Matt who was wearing an emptied out old tv-like computer monitor as a helmet of sorts. “What can I do for you? Oh wait, let me take this thing off.” He lifts his computer helmet off, and I proceed to tell him the story. He very skillfully examines the computer, makes several potential diagnoses with quotes for the costs of investigation and repair. Which then leads to a conversation about whether it makes better sense just buying a new or new-to-me used computer. I decide that’s the way to go. He still continues to poke around with my computer. Perturbed and tech-guy curious about why he can’t get it to turn on by any of his usual tricks. No signs of any liquid damage, just a poor, old, overworked harddrive that had seemingly reached its limit. I could relate.
With the new computer set to arrive next week, I was faced with yet another option. Was it a sign or not? I don’t know what had changed, maybe it has something to do with sunk cost which is never actually a good thing to use as justification to continue something, but I’d already spent until noon trying to revive my computer, I might as well just use the PC to get this darn email out. Tomorrow was a new month with new events. There were events happening on Sunday and Monday that I should make sure to tell people about, again. And I’d asked the teachers to get me their information. I didn’t want to disappoint them or have their efforts be for naught.
So onward I proceeded. I grabbed my old laptop that is only used for when I need to do PC type things and begin figuring out all the passwords to the accounts I needed in order to get this email underway. I was humming along, adding the events to the Google Calendar, the website, Facebook and Square when I find out that Square upgraded and migrated their system to something new, that was still very buggy. I migrated everything over and then learned that the new system was more complicated and would take more time to get up the new events for the month. That coupled with me having a hard time gauging how long it takes to do everything, what I hoped would take me a 4-5 hours was now looking like it would take 10-12.
I could feel myself getting cranky around 4:00 knowing how much more lay ahead of me. I wondered what it was all about. Some part of my thinking went back to my morning passing thought that my computer dying was telling me to just take a break. Why didn’t I just listen to the sign? I was definitely too far into it now to turn back. But did I REALLY need to get this email out by Friday morning? There was still some time left in the day to enjoy it. It was rainy and gross, but I could go to the gym for a walk and a podcast. That might make me feel better. OK, just a little bit longer and then I’d take a break.
Around 5:30 pm my cranky dialed up a notch. I’d received a text from my husband that he was going to play tennis. Usually I would be just fine with that. I enjoy quiet nights at home alone, but this was not one of those days. I knew something was off, but I couldn’t shake it. I decided it was really time for a break. I reasoned that I could go to the gym, be asleep by 9 and get up early to finish it all before my 10am class.
If you thought that was going to be the end of my story, I am sorry. But I promise, we’re close.
I woke up around 6 am ready to get this email out only to find out that we’d lost power. Ha, I got you now Universe! This is definitely a sign. I am not going to work on the email. But then it happened again. I caught myself trying to convince me that Hash, a localish café with internet, opened up at 7 am so I could be there working on things or better yet, go to the studio where there’s a shower and internet. I began nudging myself, it wasn’t really a sign, it was just a coincidence that it followed all these other attempts by the Universe to give me a sign. No this was just the reality of living in the woods in the Hudson Valley after a bad wind storm. I decided to meditate.
After meditating I began to think about why I needed to get it out by November 1st. It’s symbolic, the first day of the month, and it’s good to be on a schedule. I told Miguel and Eduardo that I needed information by a certain day and time so that I could include it in the email. Did I just cause them undo stress for nothing? I need to get it out to remind people about the events that are happening on Sunday and Monday. There were many reasons that I’d given myself for having a November 1st deadline so I really start to examine each one of them.
Of the 1/3 of my 800 subscribers, were any of them going to notice when I sent my email? Were any of them going to care? Do any of them actually read it? Was this pushing myself to the limits really worth the very unlikely chance that someone was actually pining for my email? No. Yes, it’s good to have a schedule, but being locked in the rigidity of one means that I am not connected to the flow of life. Which is where, I have learned over the years, the magic happens.
Is there a real need to have a structure for this email and stay locked into a schedule? Structure is good and necessary in certain situations. In other words, was I delivering a transplant organ to an awaiting surgery team and its recipient? No. Yes, perhaps I did put pressure on others to get me information by a certain date and time, but did causing myself stress alleviate them from whatever they experienced. It’s that do two wrongs make a right kind of logic, plus I was making a big assumption about any pressure or discomfort I may have caused them. Ok, that one was out too.
Would I miss a day of notice to anyone perhaps interested in the two nearing events? Yes, it would be good to remind people of the events, but with the statistics of the aforementioned mailing list, 30 percent of 800 opening and an unknown number reading through the entirety of its contents, perhaps the cost benefit analysis of me forcing myself to try and find internet at 6 am versus just sending the email on a Saturday definitely leaned in the direction of Saturday. One day was likely not going to make a difference. And couldn’t I put my own needs first?
Ah ha! Now that’s the real question. As someone who’s able to push through high hurdles and complicated challenges my whole life, I know I can do it. I’m learning to appreciate that as a redeeming quality in myself and not loathe the responsibility of it all, but as Corinne Wolcott, a fabulous acupuncturist and friend once said to me: Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have to. I am that A student, overachiever, who wants to be helpful to everyone, will work until it’s done kind of person so when I find myself looking for “a sign,” what I am really looking for is permission.
Permission from my analytical mind, and some deep social conditioning, to follow the desires of my heart really, but it’s more complicated than that. For now what I am most noticing and wanting to share with you dear readers is that if you are looking for a sign to give you permission but you’re someone who tends to rationalize that it’s just a coincidence, I am here to say, “No it is not!” Ok, so maybe it’s not a sign “from the Universe” about what you should be doing, but it’s a sign from deep within yourself seeking permission to do something you are not allowing yourself to do. We need to start listening to ourselves. I mean, I need to start listening to myself. Happy Saturday!