ONE STEP AT A TIME: LIVING MINDFULLY

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”

-somebody somewhere who um, passed it to his students

Well, let’s see student- check. Ready- hell yes. Teachers- check, check, checkity check.  Between yoga, the kinds of friends I have, the kind of work I do and the things I read, watch and listen to, the subject of mindfulness comes up a lot, a whole lot. Yes, Universe. I hear you. Thank you for reflecting back to me what I am projecting, way to hold it down.
These lessons have been amazing. Life changing, and I’ve spent the last year or so really working hard at applying them, daily, to my life. Learning to be in the moment and appreciate what is right in front of me without constantly scanning the horizon for the next great thing. It is something that was weighing on my heart as both a mother and an individual for some time before I finally opened myself to accepting where I was at, what that meant, and where I could go with the tools that presented themselves to me. Then, I thought about how to teach that to my kids, so they wouldn’t spend so much of their lives caught up doing the very thing I am working so hard not to do.

In the day to day business of life, I can easily get so caught up in preparations for our future, in planning for the next 100 steps, that I overlook the one in which I’m currently mid-stride. My concern there is that I am modeling for my kids, albeit unintentionally, an attitude or thought process is that what’s next is more important than what’s happening now, and quite frankly, it’s not. I want my children to learn and grow and live a life filled with purpose and success, but not at the expense of missing today’s happiness.

Now I don’t mean to throw caution to the wind in living so much in the moment today that you completely neglect your future; that’s an equally big recipe for disaster. I absolutely and wholeheartedly believe in teaching and practicing setting goals, having vision, setting expectations for yourself and being organized and purposeful about what you do and how you do it. Especially because assuredly, the things you do today have a direct effect on what opportunities are available in the future.
However, creating a color coded flowchart for your life is becomes a regular train wreck when things start to move around, when other people’s flowcharts bump into yours, when other priorities and opportunities show up. Those tidy little boxes are not impermeable to change. Not only may the contents of the boxes shift, their order of appearance is dependent upon a considerable range of elements, mainly that of surprise. The part you do get to control, however, is what you do with that.
I admit I’m still slightly addicted to google calendar, but we have a special kind of relationship, it’s really quite colorful and I just.can’t.stop.  I use list apps and I make five year plans. My kids are on their best behavior when the events of our week or month are communicated to them so they know what to expect. There is comfort in routine and reassurance in knowing at least some of what is to come next – to a point.
However, I am being mindful of my own thoughts and patterns about this; I am watching them closely to see that my planning habits don’t take a ride on the crazy train again, ain’t nobody got time for that. This is such an interesting dichotomy of course, because while I want to stay in the moment, I also don’t want to create bigger problems for later. I want to see the puzzle and the pieces, and while I worry about making mistakes, I also know that a scarcity mentality gets me nowhere. That whole balance thing. Want some more metaphors? No? How about some practical applications? You can share this journey with me as I learn how to fail, get back up again, and fail some more. Remember, fall seven times, stand up eight. Oops, I promised no more metaphors. My bad.
At a school I worked at we had a saying and shared agreement- “I will be flexible when things don’t go my way.” It was actually part of our school pledge, and while we laughed at it and found entertaining ways to sarcastically drop the line during staff meetings and district trainings, it also served as a some pretty solid advice. Even though I’m no longer at the school, I regularly say this to myself and to my kids when things aren’t, well, “going my way.”
Simply taking some time to be mindful of my own thoughts and reactions is sincere progress. For example, I catch myself in the over planning safety net quite often. Things start to get uncomfortable and I go into default mode “I don’t like this, I will make a plan to fix it. FIX IT!” This planning response mode can be effective, if it’s done well. It is useless, however, if I maintain a rigid contractual agreement between what I want to happen and what is actually happening. Instead, I will do my very best to be flexible when things don’t go my way. I will not panic and plan my way out of every situation but instead, acknowledge the feelings that arise and consider the moment, for a moment. As I adjust my plans, I will keep making room for life to happen.
So for now, as I continue this journey, I know that my first step is recognizing where I’m at, right now, what is going on, right now, and what makes the most sense to do, right now. Step 1, not step 100. I’ll still get to step 100, but after I get through steps 1-99, whatever those end up being.
Thank you universe, thank you God, this whole life changing perspective thing- it’s pretty good stuff. Keep it coming.

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