Impromptu

The other night as I was finishing up at work in the late evening after a long day of clients and chart notes, my husband text me to prepare me and let me know my daughter was “wired” and “running laps” around the house. I responded with one of my great ideas and suggested that he take her out on a short bike ride to help get all her wiggles out and then I would be happy to get her to bed after. He countered my proposal with the offer for me to take her out on a brisk bike ride in the cool fall air. I swallowed my own advice and said I’d be home in 15, have her ready for me.

I did a quick clothes change and threw on my running shoes while my daughter snapped on her bike helmet and donned her raincoat, and we were off. The air was crisp and the ground was damp from earlier rain. The sky was a vivid blue with hues of orange and pink beginning to color the earth around us. My daughter rode fast at times making me pick up my pace. At other times I lead the adventure and she followed close in tow. It felt like we were free, unencumbered, no schedule or routine, no agenda.

I was surprised by how such a simple decision to blow off stories and bedtime routine, to instead zip off through the neighborhood and down along the river, just the two of us, made it feel like we were in some kind vortex or universe of our own. I was surprised by how present I felt, how joyful my mood, and how the spontaneity of the evening seemed to set us on a trajectory of exuberance for adventure. My daughter had squeals of delight each time we raced to the next point along the path and she won. Even as the sun slipped below the horizon and darkness slowly descended, it was just the two of us, racing against time, soaking up the final moments of the day. It was bliss.

I vow to make more time for moments just like this. For spontaneity. For saying yes. For adventure and zeal. For laughter and racing. For unscheduled moments of joy. These are the moments that bring the meaning and the memories and balance out of all the other moments where we are scheduled to our max, down to the last minute, racing the clock to be on time in the morning for the start of another day with back to back to dos and places to be.

I need more moments like this. Impromptu, joy filled and unfettered. I think we all do. In a culture where routine and schedules, predictability and protocol drive us into order, we desperately need a counter balance. Otherwise we become rigid, stressed, irritable and tethered robots. And we miss out on the gift that life has to offer. We miss out on joy. The peculiar thing about joy is that it cannot be scheduled or contrived. It really only happens in the midst of fleeting moments, where opportunity and participation meet and the result is a spontaneous combustion. In smiles and laughter and squeals. In silliness. In togetherness. In attuned presence.

Joy

I picked up my daughter this evening after work. I was subtly surprised by her poise and how much sense she was making as she talked about her day and about how she felt. She seemed so grown up all the sudden. She seemed to have independent thoughts and strong emotions that weren’t just temper tantrum driven. She seemed convicted of what she believed and how she felt but not for the purpose as rebellion as it usually seems. She seemed confident. No reason not to be.

When we got home she crafted a plan and invited daddy and I out onto the trampoline. I needed to change my clothes. She said she would wait. She wanted to jump as a family. She wanted to sing. She giggled and grinned. She was in her element. Leading the pack. Orchestrating her symphony. And for once I didn’t feel bossed around or commanded. I felt invited to participate in something of joy. Spontaneous combustion.

I was online later and saw a painted canvas referencing Elizabeth Warren standing up on the senate floor. Persisting. She was warned. Repeatedly. Nevertheless she persisted. And I felt myself swell with pride. And then I thought of all the times I have banged my head against the wall as My daughter pushed back at my ideas, at times ignoring my requests altogether. How she often commands her own agenda and stays her course regardless of the consequences. I thought of how many times I have driven to break that in her, describing her as stubborn and unruly and difficult or impossible.
The irony was not lost on me.

Somehow present in the moment that this evening brought, connections in the car over the day of a 5yr old, followed by squeals of laughter on the trampoline and wrapped up by singing in the dark as she went to sleep “I love you a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck” I found myself caught up in the joy of life. The little moments that make up the big themes. The small lessons that create life’s calling and dreams.

She teaches me more and more each passing day. About adventure and creativity. About persisting. And becoming. About determination. About love and acceptance. About getting wrapped up in joy.

I am inspired to stand beside, encourage and only gently challenge. To not hold her back or stifle her desire to soar. To recommit to being a guide, to accepting her for all that she is in her determination and exuberance for life. To open up to again to spontaneous joy and self expression. To choose grace and gratitude for this journey.

I like me

My daughter has a book about baby bugs and on each page holds some little rhyming phrases about the bug and what it has or what it does and how it perseveres in some way. It’s simple, yet profound on each and every page.

This morning when my precious little one woke up at an ungodly hour in, she wanted me to read her this story while she went potty. We have read this story hundreds of times and I can quote the pages by memory, and today I noticed she was reading along with me by memory as well. The very first page opens up to a baby mantis “I’m a baby mantis, to some I may seem strange, but that’s ok, I like me and that’s not going to change!” As I said earlier, simple yet profound. We moved onto the next few pages.

“I’m a baby ladybug, I like to chew on leaves, and because I am a lady I say thanks and please.”

“I’m a baby bee, some say I shouldn’t fly, I just say the heck with them, you never know if you don’t try.”

“I’m a baby beetle, I’m small and kind of slow but when I’m big these racing stripes will really help me grow.”

“I’m a baby butterfly, I like to spread my wings, I like blue skies and ponds and other pretty things.”

Apparently I get more thoughtful in my early morning haze: for as we moved on to reading in her bedroom and then into playing in her playroom the phrases were running around in my head, particularly that of the baby bee. As I sat across from her playing, singing away and talking to her stuffed animals and dollies, me reading my book, I heard her say “that’s ok, I like me and that’s not going to change”, it rolled off her tongue with ease and ownership. The irony is that I paused and thought that it was beautiful that she recalled such a impactful statement, followed by an immediate fear in me that  she would not always believe this about herself.

At some point, (and it’s not that far into life, for even my younger clients of 10 and 12 are struggling with self-worth and self-esteem), we lose our wholehearted belief that we are good enough or likeable and many of us stop liking ourselves.

I have fallen prey to this line of deception many times throughout my life. Believing that I am not educated enough, not thin enough, not organized enough, not disciplined enough, not creative enough…. The list goes on and on. I hold myself to an incredibly high standard and often let myself down, regardless of the opinion of anyone else. I judge myself according to my ability to follow through and to do something well. I compare myself to other moms and am racked with guilt. I sit in trainings with other colleagues and feel small and like I do not measure up. The one thing that is in my favor is that I am a fighter and a doer, and so I push through and I keep on, and I don’t quit.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not judging myself along each step of the way.

Something about my almost 2 year old stating “that’s ok, I like me and that’s not going to change” was a gentle slap in the face this early thursday morning. The daunting reality loomed around me. I am her example of self-acceptance and self-love and self-confidence and self-esteem. She learns by watching me and listening to me, not to the things I want her to hear but to things I actually say to myself, and about myself. She watches my demeanor. She sees me putting on makeup and fixing my hair each day. She sees me get dressed and look in the mirror. She sees me. The raw and vulnerable me.

Brene Brown beautifully and openly discusses shame and vulnerability and the importance of the journey toward self-acceptance “When we’re kind to ourselves, we create a reservoir of compassion that we can extend to others. Our children learn how to be self-compassionate by watching us, and the people around us feel free to be authentic and connected.” A powerful reminder to be kind to ourselves and mindful of our judgement.

Today I am choosing to practice compassion, and to let go of judgement and believe in grace for the gaps.

My inspiring mantra “That’s ok, I like me and that’s not going to change”. (quoted in the voice of an almost 2 year old)

 

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Beautifully determined

I started a notebook of letters to my daughter months before she was ever born. It was important to me that she know that she was on my mind and in my heart long before her arrival.

Tonight as I sat down to write her a note I was struck with the significance of knowing ones value or worth to another… Not that our worth or value comes from another person. But the unexplainable piece of feeling accepted and even known by another person, is powerfully impactful.

Tonight I share a letter to my little one… My hopes, my fears, my vulnerabilities and my prayer.

“My precious bundle of exuberance, you are such a unique soul, filled with zest for life and personality to spread into the world. I feel such a sense of pride and joy in being your mommy. Even though I know that I make mistakes and miss out at times- I am ever so grateful for the opportunity to be your mom.

You have truly come alive over the past few months, personality popping out and shinning through your daily interactions.
You test me daily.
You push the limits.
You explore your world viscerally, head to toes and everything in between. You delight in most everything and are open to try new things and meet new people and you laugh and love just the same. You grow more independent each day, you are strong and determined and beautifully aware of your needs and wants and able to express them without shame.

It is my prayer that you will always know the unique beauty and ability you possess and that you will not shy away from sharing who you are with others. I want to encourage and foster in you, a drive and determination and desire- I want to set an example of balance and poise- and grace for the gaps.
I want to listen more than advise, while simultaneously share with you everything that I know.

You are such a gift and a much wanted addition to our family and I pray you always know that and feel that deep within.

I am sorry for the times that I fail you and for the future times I will do the same… Perhaps when I do more damage than good. For the times I might make you question or doubt your own intuition, forgive me and don’t be afraid to challenge me. I can promise I will do my best and to give you all that I have to give and to own it when I do not.

You are the blueberry in my yogurt and I love you to the moon and back!”

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Butterflies & Tigers

My daughter has a set of garden themed shower stickers. They are thick foam pieces in the shapes of flowers, stems, grass & butterflies. She has had them for months now and plays with them during every bath and shower. This morning, while she was sitting down in the shower playing with these stickers, I looked down and noticed that the little purple butterfly had a separate little piece for its head, with adorable little antenna and eyes… I had never made the connection before that these two pieces belonged together, and as it dawned on me, I found myself realizing just how hurried and busy I typically am as we zip through our daily activities and routine. Then I wondered, what else might I be missing out on as I fly around at the speed of light, always multi-tasking, always thinking about my next step and one after that, never fully present in the moment that I’m in.

Amazing how little ones can teach you so much about life and value and shed so much perspective.

My daughter loves to read books and carries books to me throughout the day and crawls up on my lap for story time. She has a book about tigers that has a little button you can push that makes a “roaring” sound, and she loves to push this button and then try to roar with the tigers on the page. Today as I sat with her on the floor and read about the 5 little tigers playing hide and seek, her pushing the button every 5 seconds, I found myself strangely non-irritated, and instead very lost in the curiosity and fun loving nature of her.

It was then that I recognized that pausing for one moment of being present and still, seemed to naturally lead to another focused and purpose filled moment later on, and then a more contemplative energy as I moved throughout my day. Still points and stop overs and even a complete break from the busy, suddenly seem so much more appealing and acceptable and even anticipated in a way that makes me want to create these moments in my day, so that I can more fully experience life, and the individual moments that make it what it is.

Have you paused today?

Have you experienced your full presence in a moment in a way that made that moment pop?

I hope that you can capture a moment in all its splendor today.