08/06/2013 03:13 pm ET Updated Oct 06, 2013

Before Sleep

Turn off the lights. Take off your glasses. In reverse order of course.
Take a deep breath in.
Let it out slowly.
Do it again.

And once more.


Close your eyes.
And keep inhaling.
Let your mind go blank.
And breathe until it does.
Listen for the silence.
the good review.

I am grateful for the energy I had today -- to try on those 23 pairs of black slacks and frilly, lacy, colorful long skirts dating from years before at least a dozen years ago. As I suspected and secretly hoped and despaired, most of them don't zip to the top any longer. I still have a hip curve though the waist is expanded beyond redress. Unrelenting honesty told me everything I had to do. I gave the very large full box to my daughter for her upcoming clothing-swap enjoying the thought of making some swappers happy.

I stuck to my new way of eating today and that is good. I refused bread and bacon and whipped cream and the frozen cake I know is in my freezer and the lemon gelato that would even make Italians drool.

I called my friend with whom talking for an hour became a beautiful mixture of truth, pain, wisdom, full expression of self without judgement and questions rather than advice. It is a loving, generous healing friendship which has endured for many decades. She has just finished getting rid of everything she owns but for the clothing she needs. Sold is her home. New homes found for her cats. Her computer is back in its original box. Beyond that she now owns nothing. In mid-August she will begin staying in the spiritual community of which she is a part. Before that she will stay in the house for a few nights, sleeping on the floor because she wishes to experience the home she has lived in, replete now with space and silence. For her, a basic loner, she is joining her community and will sleep in the same room with five other women. I call her brave. She says no. It's just what's happening now. I say I'm moving in the other direction. From being social all my life to being alone sometimes too much. Alone, staying away from community, plowing the energy that takes into myself. It's just what's happening now she says again.

Now, with my eyes closed going to sleep, I breathe my way into wholeness.

I remember the profound moments with friends and patients and breathe and take solace in doing the best I can helping others, becoming a more balanced woman myself.

I can congratulate myself for recognizing when I am empty of energy though I tend to criticize myself for the same. No, honey, it's okay. Perhaps you are recharging for whatever comes next which you have no way of knowing tonight.

Tonight you can revel in the Pacific air you were breathing a few weeks ago, the lake you will be inhaling soon, the process you are in as you write more, the music you played this morning which you read without having seen it before. Imagine doing that! Playing the top line on a Boismortier trio sonata with harpsichord and four other wonderful musicians, never having seen the piece before. Your fingers still work. Your brain still works and loves the exercise.

Remember how you invaded those flowers in the San Juan Islands with your camera and received back the beauty they revealed to you.

Remember that slowly you are bringing order into your life. Remember you got through those cartons in the garage. Remember your integrity.

Remember how fortunate you were to be born into your family, and how you loved watching Leonard Bernstein conduct the Young People's Concerts at Carnegie Hall.

Remember you got to hear Mary Martin do Peter Pan and Sammy Davis Jr. sing in Porgy and Bess and Ethel Merman in Gypsy.

Settle down now with appreciation and breathe in the lovely space you have created around you. Feel the comfort of the bed you chose to sleep in and the old Victorian decorations you found in Vermont moons ago, which you have so lovingly hung on the wall over your bed to create the illusion of a headboard.

Love your freckles and honor your body's endurance.
Smile at that.

Keep breathing,
relax your brow,
see into the darkness
where sleep beckons you
stay a while.

That is really all you need to do just now.

For more by Ruth Neubauer, click here.

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