I look for signs.
It's funny how it works....there are so many things that could be potential signs based on what we are going through at any given moment. Not everything stands out that way to us but it seems when we really need a message we know it is meant for us.
We see the right billboard, we buy the paper (even though we never buy the paper) and we read the perfect article that helps us make a decision we have been pondering, we bump into just the right person.....it's amazing really. I have had this happen countless times and I feel it has something to do with listening to the whispers of our hearts. I have often wished that God spoke to me with some fireworks and a marching band but I have found the opposite to be true. I have to get very, very quiet to hear these whispers.
Through walking in the woods, praying, meditating, journaling, reading.
If I don't spend this quiet time each day then I get caught up in the needs of the moment and quickly lose sight of my goals for the day/week/month/ year.....which means I lose sight of my dreams which means my days become an endless series of tasks and household chores.
I have a husband, four children, 3 dogs, 4 cats and one sweet gray bunny
named Prince Hairy Harry (will explain in another post).
All of these beings need love and attention. On top of that they want to eat and have clean laundry. The nerve, right?
Well, anyway...the point is that I often get caught up in these needs and daily tasks and let them run my life. I sometimes feel like I am a firefighter.....the biggest fire at the moment is where my attention goes.....the dog needs a flea bath, the dryer is buzzing, the bunny needs water, the phone is ringing, the porch needs sweeping, dinner needs preparing and before I know it I have met the needs of any given moment and the day is over.
Please don't get me wrong.
I really love being a mother and a wife. Family life is where it's at for me. I love sharing day to day life with other people. But each little fire that gets put out sometimes means the fire in me does not get tended to. By this I mean my own personal fire....my passion....the things that make me ME. I notice when I practice what I refer to as my non-negotiables (exercise, prayer, meditation, showering, journaling my goals and making a daily list) AND I complete them before 8am (preferably 7am...but 8 works fine) it changes my day. This time spent tending to my mind, body and spirit makes all the difference in my own life and of those that live with me. I have been diligent with this practice for quite some time until about a month ago. Who knows why we stop doing the things that are so good for us but the other day I remembered that I had coined these rituals as my 'non-negotiables' which indeed makes them NON-NEGOTIABLE. Which means I HAVE to do them, which means rainy weather, tiredness, grumpiness, too many phone calls, general malaise........NONE of those are reasons to negotiate myself out of doing what is best for me. What about that second pot of tea on a rainy day and warm biscuits in the oven......all that sounds delightful.....AFTER I take care of me. These things may sound simple and many of you may already take exquiste care of yourself but I have a feeling that I am in good company. I am sure by the look I see on the mother's faces at the grocery store that they forgot to do anything for themselves that morning, they have no idea what their dreams are and they can't remember the last time they took 1 hour just for themselves.
Let me break it down into the nitty gritty details of how I accomplish these Non-Negotiables
Here is what I do:
I wake up before every other person in my house.
I put on my sneakers and yoga/hiking pants and a t-shirt.
I brush my teeth and have a few sips of water.
I put the non-elderly dog on his leash and head out.
I walk 2 miles in the woods alone with my dog.
No matter what my state of mind is when I leave the house
I am amazed at the natural beauty
I marvel at how every part of nature is just going along without input from me or anyone. No matter the season the trees stand witness without judgement or complaint. The birds sing their songs and the wildflowers burst into bloom or the snow weighs heavy on the branches.
There is no good or bad or right or wrong .......
there just is what is.
I come back home renewed, a little sweaty, a cleared mind, a more grateful heart.
I take my sneakers off and grab my ice water and my meditation CD.
Sadly, I do not have an ipod so I am forced to live in the dark ages with an old fashioned portable CD player. Mine is special though because my daughter Lilly has plastered the entire thing
with Dora stickers. It makes me feel loved.
So then I meditate with a guided meditation by Esther and Gerry Hicks who I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. It takes 15 minutes and then I spend about 5ish minutes sitting in silence.
Then I take a shower and get ready for the day. Alot of thoughts will come to me when water is running so I prefer to do my journaling after my shower. Sometimes I am writing about ideas that I have, places I want to go or feelings I am struggling with.
I just write.
Natalie Goldberg would be so proud.
I then read something uplifting/inspirational/spiritual for about 15 minutes.
If I fix a cup of tea the 15 minutes becomes an hour.
So, there you have it.
After I have done these things I feel ready to meet the needs of my home and family. I actually want to do these things but I remember a time where I felt resentful over the very same chores. I do not want to feel thay way. I like tidying up the kitchen and knowing this is where my family is nourished. I like washing and putting away the laundry (well....I like the washing part....the putting away...not so much) but I do like thinking about how this is the cloth that rests against the precious skin of people that I love dearly. I like making the living room welcoming so that we can relax together at the end of the day. I like to know beds are made so that when we are tired we have a
clean, cozy place to rest our weary bodies and renew our minds.
I have discovered that it is not easy to take such good care of me and of my family. In some ways it is easier to just take care of them. It takes dedication and commitment to love myself this way.
And in the end I think that is what all of this boils down to.....
do I love myself enough to take care of myself?
Stay tuned for how I plan to apply this non-negotiable idea to my creativity and the mark I dream of leaving on this world. It's gonna be good. I heard Tony Robbins say that we are defined by our rituals and I truly believe that so I wrote it down on an index card and taped it to my nightstand. It is the first thing that I see when I roll over and open my eyes each morning. It really helps.
What rituals are you defined by?
Do you think you could benefit from creating some non-negotiables in your own life?
Please tell me about your plans to love yourself.