I thought I would update you all on my challenge last week to practice mindfulness every day. I am notorious for starting things and not finishing them…jewelry making, crocheting, working out, dieting, giving myself a budget (well staying on one at least) – you get the point. But practicing mindfulness was surprisingly easy. It had nothing to do with the fact that we were in gorgeous Bonita Springs, either by a pool or by the ocean every day – wait…yes, it did – it had everything to do with that. It was EASY to stop for 5 minutes and think of nothing but what I heard (waves or birds), what I felt (the sunshine or water), smelled (usually something delicious my in-laws were cooking) – you see where I’m going with this. I only practiced during the serene, relaxing times, so I can’t really give myself credit.
The above picture of Greyson just soaking in the sun on the beach perfectly sums up how I felt when I was ‘practicing’ mindfulness in Florida. But I want to be able to feel that relaxation and happiness in the middle of an anxiety attack or while I lay in bed at night – my mind running over a zillion things that could go wrong, and a million hypothetical questions. I worry about Every. Thing. Possible.
I should have practiced when Greyson decided to have a meltdown (but instead I took a selfie to document it):
And I should have practiced when I was thinking about having to fly back to Nebraska even though it was days away. Just the thought of going to the airport or sitting down to buckle my seatbelt on the plane gives me that oh so familiar tightening in my stomach. During those times when my mind can’t stop racing, being quiet and aware of my surroundings is the last thing I want to do.
My first job out of college was as an Administrative Assistant for a commercial lending company in downtown Seattle. When the housing market took a crash in 2008, I was laid off. It was a small company and I wasn’t expecting it at all. I didn’t know what to do with myself – I felt like a failure and didn’t know what I was going to do with an English Lit degree and 2 years of basically sitting at a front desk and keeping up on my celebrity gossip. I was making just enough money to rent a studio apartment on lower Queen Anne with a view of Puget Sound and I had just bought myself a brand new car. Needless to say, I was terrified. So I did the only thing that made sense to me – I moved to Texas.
Lubbock, Texas to be exact. I started seeing a therapist while I was there because I just wasn’t dealing with things very well and he gave me a super simple but powerful dose of reality. He asked me why I had moved. What I thought I would find there in West Texas that I didn’t have in Washington and then pointed out that everything I had been running away from in Washington was just an excuse.
‘Did you think you could run away from yourself?’ he asked one day. I shook my head no and he replied, ‘because here you are.’ That statement ‘here you are’ was sort of a mantra I took with me from those sessions. I focus on those three simple words often, so in a way I guess that was my first experience with mindfulness. When I start getting too worried and bogged down with anxiety sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that in that moment, I just am.
Sometimes I wish I could imprint this phrase into my brain, face the sunshine like my son and just soak up all the good and happiness in the world.