Gaining Some Perspective: Life Lessons from a 3-Year-Old
Balance, Perspective, Clarity, Intention, Purpose. These are all things that we want in our lives, right? I know that I do. And at a time when we are raising small kids, it is ever so difficult to maintain any, let alone all, of these things. Over the past two years, I have been on a slow and interrupted journey to learn about and internalize mindfulness with the help of meditation and yoga…and lots of deep breaths…and forgiveness…and fresh starts… And yet I still struggle daily with walking the tightrope that is strung between the platforms of intention and focus and sits high above a thin veil of CONTROL and then you inevitably fall off the wire and right through that silky fabric all the while grasping frantically at anything and everything that you can still maintain control over. Next you land in a pit of frustration where you realize that you are so far off course and now all you can do is climb out of the pit and make your way back up the ladder of forgiveness as you mumble under your breath at every rung and finally reach the platform and give yourself a pep talk about why it is so important that you take a deep breath and walk back out on that tightrope again (and again). I want so badly to just stay balanced on that thin rope where I am living my life with intention – reminding myself constantly why we are raising our children the way we are, why we chose the schools that we did, why we live where we do, why we eat the way we do, why we spend our time the way we do – and maintaining the focus that I need to carry out my daily tasks without losing sight of those intentions and those choices. Why is it so easy for our brains to forget what we just told it yesterday?! And why is it so easy for self-doubt and negativity to creep in and smother those good intentions and run away with our perspective?
I have found that I can at least strengthen and widen that tightrope or perhaps fashion one of those long poles that tightrope walkers use to help balance themselves by giving myself the gift of a few quiet moments of meditation every morning and going to yoga once a week for an hour of moving meditation. But it has taken me so long to make these things a regular part of my routine, maybe because it doesn’t seem possible to my fast-paced, over-worked brain that sitting still and doing NOTHING for 5 minutes a day could possibly make me more centered and more productive for the rest of the day. When given the choice between rolling over and going back to sleep for an extra 10 minutes…or getting some exercise first thing in the morning to boost my mood…or just getting a head start on the day’s to-do list and sitting still for 5 minutes, I kept choosing the sleep or exercise or movement over stillness. Besides, have you ever tried to be still with yourself for 5 minutes? It is hard! And scary. I never know what I will find inside that head of mine and sometimes I would rather keep busy on the outside than look inward and see what lurks in the shadows. But ever since I made this a priority and a regular practice (which was only 4 short weeks ago), I have already seen a difference in the rest of my day. For example, because I have made the choice to make ME a priority through meditation and yoga, it is that much easier to prioritize my own needs throughout the day. This doesn’t mean that I neglect the kids or my husband or the household duties to lie around and eat chocolate and read novels and take naps (although that sounds like a great way to spend the day!). It does mean that I put on my own oxygen mask first, so to speak, and maybe I make myself a quick snack before preparing lunch for the crazy, energetic kids who are screaming and scrambling for food and attention.
I was just rereading my very first blog post from over a year ago, which I have done several times since I first posted it, and looking at my list of ideas for inspiration that came out of my week of soul searching: a cleaning service (best idea ever!), finding “me” time, mindfulness, notes of joy, appreciation, or gratitude, and inspirational reading. For the first time, I can look at that list and not feel as though it was a silly dream of mine that vanished in the face of reality and a life that was already too busy to allow for something new. It took me a full year to line up a weekly cleaning service and until just last month to really get into this mindfulness and meditation stuff. But, looking back (as is usually the case), I can see how these things take time and it is a journey worth taking one step at a time. To wrap up this big long ramble (today’s post started with no clear theme or direction other than a desire to get back into blogging so thanks for sticking with me!), I will leave you with a quote from our wise three-year old. Towards the end of an afternoon that began with big expectations and somehow got away from me, I said to my son, “Where did the day go?” And, without thinking, he immediately responded with, “It is right here!” So very true. And the kid has never attended a single mindfulness workshop! So now I remind myself of his words every time that I feel the day running away from me or my lists weighing heavily on my shoulders. The day is right here. This day. And I am right here.
May you enjoy this day and this Spring!!