being in the now

On practising 'presence'...

Most spiritual books and gurus, tell us that we need to focus more on the NOW. To get out of our minds and the potential worries and anxieties it can so easily fabricate about the future (which usually never materialise anyway), and to not spend too long dwelling in the past unless it is "to feel to release" a particular energy that has become stuck in an uncomfortable episode. I have three kids under 6 - all born within three and a half years - so I unwillingly spend a lot of my time in the NOW. Mainly dealing with their requests, hunger, arguments, laundry, spillages, punch-ups, breakages, bum-wiping or generally trying not to lose one whilst out and about. I don't love spending my time doing this. I am not a 'natural' caregiver. Frustration levels start very low at the beginning of the day but quickly mount with each new request as my own needs (mainly just for silence for one minute) get more and more ignored.

I don't intend to bank every frustration and let it all mount until I explode, offloading it disproportionately onto one of them and I definitely try to remember that they are just 'being kids' and to allow them that precious freedom to do 'silly' things even though that might mean a ton more washing / chores for me. Nevertheless it is very hard not to see the day through ever-darkening, brown-tinted glasses, especially during the school holidays, when you are on constant, almost 24 hour call with little to no respite.

So it came as a welcome distraction this morning to read an email from Christine Kane on how to nurture your inner creativity. One of the suggestions was to write a Love List. This resonated with me much more than a Gratitude Journal because it seemed so much more immediate. It is great to tap into your gratitude on a regular basis - and it is something we do as a family from time to time which is very sweet (mostly the kids are grateful for their soft toys) but I usually end up feeling like I need to be grateful for big, general things like my health, a roof over my head, food on the table etc and it doesn't always feel very PERSONAL. In fact, I hate to admit it, but it almost becomes just another 'chore'. A Love List however - now that felt different. A list of all the things that bring you happiness? Yes please! So I immediately tried it out starting with the things that had inspired joy in me that morning. And guess what? There were quite a few. That I had forgotten. Or at least buried under the poor-me-I'm-such-a-victim-for-having-to-deal-with-continuous-crap-stuff. And writing them out made me feel happy, NOW. Rather than frustrated, NOW. It allowed me to switch the brown-tinted glasses for rose-tinted ones even if only just for a moment (kids weren't around : )...)

So today's post is about seeing if you too can switch glasses. If only for today. And see how it makes you feel. And if it feels good, try it again! After all, like so many things that are good for you, it takes practise to implement on a regular basis. But if it helps you stay in the NOW and that NOW becomes HAPPY, then what's not to like?!

Here are my two lists side-by-side....

Former brown-tinted, frustration bank input (before noon): - 2 year old insisting (read 'tantrum') on filling own cereal bowl to the very brim despite warnings that whatever went in would need to be eaten by him. He didn't. I shouted (8.15am?). He did. Under duress. - 2 and 4 year old trying to 'tickle' my feet whilst I attempt to do some pilates exercises - 2, 4 and 6 year old not wearing shoes outside despite previous threats that no-one would ever be allowed out ever again if they come back in with black-soled, mud-encrusted (usually formerly white) socks on that then need hand-, pre-washing and soaking before the laundry - 2 and 4 year old then putting shoes on outside (with new socks) and KEEPING them on inside thereby leaving a sticky, wed, mud trail from the back door all the way to the bathroom on the beige (rented) carpet - being told by watch repairer that my "luxury brand" watch (that 6 year old borrowed and trod on) is not repairable and must be returned to manufacturer (by hand, in London) which will cost at least a couple of hundred of pounds. - 2, 4 and 6 year old covering the trampoline with water from buckets and thereby soaking themselves and their clothes in water and mud - 2 and 4 year old then 'washing' their feet in the bathroom sink whilst covering themselves in thick layers of liquid soap

Current, rose-tinted, Love List input (before noon): - watching 2 and 4 year olds break into spontaneous dancing and laughter to a busker in the middle of the high street - seeing the 2, 4 and 6 year old delight in the selection of library books on a stand near the parking permit queue (7 people long = over half an hour wait) and taking themselves off to read them - observing passerby's faces lighting up with joy as the 2 year old greeted and waved at most of the people he walked past with a huge grin - the children's delight at their 2 minute interaction with the postman and their pride in pointing him out to me as their 'new friend'.

So, the last list wasn't quite as long but the effect it had on me was much longer lasting. I even started to smile as I re-wrote it. So thank you, Christine Kane for the inspiration. I am going to try and do this every evening and maybe get the kids to do it too. A new family ritual : )

ADDENDUM: rose tinted glasses lasted until 7.45. Then fell off spectacularly and smashed on the floor. So I tried. I'm a human mother not a robot one. Tomorrow is another (relentless, no school) day. And I will try to get through with a second page of my Love List....

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