The subtitle of this blog is "working toward mindfulness." I know that mindfulness is a word that is tossed about rather casually, but for me, it is really a defining element of my life and work.
I am a person who seems to have a million things going on in my mind at all times, and I really struggle with being fully present in the moment. Part of my journey, I know, is learning to be more gentle with myself, knowing that having so much going on in my mind has allowed me to learn new things and pick up new skills that I may not have attempted, or even considered, otherwise. And part of my journey is working toward being fully present more of the time.
I have a favorite quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, which "lives" on my desk where I can be reminded of it throughout the day:
If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not 'washing the dishes to wash the dishes.' What's more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact, we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can't wash the dishes, the chances are we won't be able to drink our tea, either. While thinking of other things, we are barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus, we are sucked away into the future -- and we are incapable of actually living one moment of life!
In my life as a mama, this process is most often expressed as a need for consciousness in my daily choices with my wee ones. Whether it's lighting a candle at bedtime, sitting down to breakfast with Elisabeth instead of just throwing it at her when it's ready, or taking a child into my arms when we're both feeling frustrated and out-of-sorts (rather than walking away or snapping), the day is filled with opportunities to make conscious decisions about my interactions with these incredible souls.
I need to remind myself often that none of this is a formula. Lighting a candle at bedtime does not make me a "good" mother; it does offer the chance to pause and savor a sacred time in a child's life. Because life is a process, not an arrival, right?
And I am very, very blessed to have these wee teachers in my life, because no one is better able to live completely in the moment than a child. As a I see James take complete joy in discovering a cat or watching objects fall as he drops them, or as I observe Elisabeth, engrossed in an art project or important imaginitive play, I am given a fresh opportunity to be reminded (again and again) what it is to be fully present and joyful. Today.