A dear friend of mine shared this thought with me earlier this week “Be patient with yourself while you relax.” It was almost as though my left-brain did not know what to do with such an instruction. It took some deliberate pausing on my part, to let it sink in. I felt that this recommendation was challenging on multiple fronts. The first being the concept of patience in general, as it would appear to be a long lost skill within our culture at large. The second being the concept of patience with one’s self. Perhaps there are many of you far more developed than I, however in my honest disclosure, patience with myself is a not a strong suit. Lastly, the concept of relaxing is one which awakens my curiosity while simultaneously invoking shock and awe.
I do not relax easily nor do I relax often. Let alone have the ability to be patient with myself while I relax. The concept feels all together foreign that one could be patient while simultaneously experiencing relaxation.
Relaxing is one of those luxuries that I have not been able to afford, or so I have believed for the majority of my life. I am a goal oriented, focus driven, and type A woman. These are some of my greatest strengths and coinciding weakest points of character.
I love to read. I wish that I had more time to read and I guilt myself often. I judge for my lack of discipline in many areas of my life, noting how much time I waste on the internet, browsing articles, facebook, pinterest, craiglist, TED talks, NPR updates and the weather. The irony is that I am always reading something, start a new book multiple times a month and attend professional seminars and lectures and go after certifications quarterly. I am voracious in my search for knowledge. Some have even said that I do not have an off button.
I am a multi-tasker at heart. On a day off I often listen to a podcast while doing the dishes. I start a load of laundry, vacuum my floors, then write a paragraph for a blog post or email, then change the sheets on my daughters bed, then close the windows to avoid afternoon heat. Sometimes I step outside to water a couple plants only to return inside and transfer a load of laundry and start another, then mop my floors and eventually sit down to read half a chapter in a book I’m really interested in. It is very natural for me to be in motion.
If you could watch a video of my buzzing around my house like a bee pollinating all the plants in a yard, you would think “wow, she’s so busy,” and indeed I am. I get a lot done and I am continuously striving for something. Professionally and personally I know how to apply my foot to the gas. The problem is that I struggle with utilizing my brake. It appears that I easily get into my routine and start moving and the momentum carries itself and I simply don’t stop until I collapse at the end of the day, too exhausted to do even one more item on the to do list. Then wake to do it all over again the next day.
“Be patient with yourself while you relax.” It echoes through my mind, it resonates in my soul. What could the practice of patience give me? How could a daily dose of acceptance and practicing patience change my way of living? If I were to make the conscious choice to pause, to insert moments of stillness into my days, into my weeks, into my months, how would it change me? Could I become someone who was patient? Could I become someone content with what is, and what is not? Could I become a softer, more relaxed me, and still maintain the courage and drive and endurance I want? These questions, these ponderings, are what fill my quietest moments.
My moments of quiet are few and far between. I have a 2.3 year old daughter. I am told that she is “busy.” She just started Montessori school this past week and already I am hearing comments of “she’s so well adapted, talkative, engaging and such a busy little girl.” I smile at them. She is my daughter. They may not know me, But I know enough to know that she comes by these traits pretty honestly. Those who know her better and feel comfortable sharing will say “she is very strong willed” or “wow, she has a lot of personality” and “that girl is a force to be reckoned with.” Again, I smile. I nod in agreement. This girl has been blessed and cursed with a passion for living life to its fullest, never missing a beat and going about it with a strong sense of self. I have already begun to prepare myself for pre-teens. Visions of lengthy and emotion filled conversations dance in my head… “a force to be reckoned with…” A beautiful, unique, intelligent, vivacious, full of life vessel, just waiting for guidance and acceptance as she grows.
Words cannot adequately express how imperative it is to me that I discover a way to be patient with myself while I relax. In the rare moments where I am able to be still and sink into my own skin, my own thoughts, and feel a sense of peace about it all, I am awe struck and immediately begin to craft in my mind how to create more of this in my life. This is a gift that I will seek to not only exemplify for my daughter, but also seek to instill as a need and ultimately a survival skill, not a frivolous luxury.
I will seek peace. I will seek stillness. I will create space for relaxing. I will practice patience. I will cultivate this life giving, life sustaining practice. It will be my lifeline. And I will be patient with myself in this process.