Yesterday while visiting with my son, Isaac, seemingly out of the blue he stated, “You’ve lost your center”. It surprised me because I knew how I felt but didn’t realize it was so visible to others. He asked if I knew why. And, in a way I do know why. But, I gave the standard answer “I’ve just got a lot going on”. Which is truthful but isn’t accurate.
Even as I responded he was smiling. “It isn’t important what knocked you off your center; what’s important is getting back to it.”
Before going any further, let me clarify that when I write “my center” I’m referring to that happy, calm, content, amazing feeling you get when you are where you are supposed to be in your head, when your way of thinking is conducive to living a pleasing life.
Finding that calm isn’t always so easy. Over the past handful of years I can remember only a few periods of time that I captured it and actually held onto it for a substantial period of time. My son and I discussed this as well. And he then asked me the guiding questions I’ve always directed at him and his sister, “What did you do to get there?” The question was followed by a gentle nudge. “Do those things again. You’ve stopped doing them; your head is in the wrong place,” he reminded me.
We all know this: Unless you are a Buddhist monk living apart from the world, you’ve got to be able to accept that you’re going to lose focus in the day-to-day -especially if you are surrounded by others. But what if it is also that you’re spending the majority of your time alone? And I realized as we sat and talked that although I work hard at maintaining that sense of peace while I am working throughout my teaching year, I am not giving it the attention it needs when I am off. I had mistakenly thought that it required no work, because after all, I am alone. And shouldn’t it just come naturally then?
I’ve this thing I do called Day One. I use it any time I need to work on some personal goal. When I understand there is something within myself that I need to work on, I contemplate what changes need to be made. Then I make a list that includes what I’m doing wrong and what I can do to improve. Once I’ve identified my weaknesses and outlined my plan, I begin working toward it. That is Day One. The first year I did this was when I learned to be kind to myself. I kept beating myself up every time I found myself sliding backward or just not making any gains at all. That’s when I created the “you can have as many Day Ones as you need without feeling guilty” rule.
So, I sit here making my list of the things I’m usually doing when I’ve captured my calm. They are so simple that one would think they are unimportant. Funny thing is that once I’ve gained that feeling of bliss, I start dropping these little things. We all do. We begin actively seeking out what we need to better our lives and then when life levels out, we feel better and jump back into the same hectic, full-speed-ahead lifestyle and Leave Those Things Behind.
Things I Will Do Today (or How I will Begin My Days)–based on the guiding question posed by my son, “What did you do to get there?”
- Go for a long walk. And try not to daydream or make lists of what I will do when I am through walking. Being present and looking about; noticing nature.
- Come home and be still for a little while before jumping into a home improvement project. Read a book for spiritual growth for thirty minutes and then something that is just for pleasure thirty minutes.
- Eat a meal while doing nothing else.
- Write something, anything. Just journal –but not notes on the phone it is cheating.
- Give thanks for all I’ve been blessed with. You know –pray.
- Eat a Snickers.
Wish me luck!
We Share the Same Sky, a memoir
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