I started thinking about this post as a way to keep my family and friends in the loop as to what exactly we’ve been doing here since January, at my mom’s, in this huge life transition for our whole family. I was going to title it “What We Do When We Do” and started going through all the photos I’ve accumulated since moving back to RI. It got me thinking about what my approach has been to all of these great moments we’ve shared with the kids and cousins and grandparents since we’ve moved.
One of our first outings was to this yogurt place with my sister and her family. In our first month, we stayed in a hotel. (yup… tell me about it!) It was tight quarters and winter, so we were stuck indoors most of the time. It helped relieve the cabin fever if we planned at least one trip to something fun every day.
Plenty of hanging out with the cousins. Doesn’t Preston make the cutest Elsa? (Josh was not happy about that costume but Preston had so much fun!)
We had my birthday at Grandma’s house. And time spent with my brother and sister!
The kids had so much fun in more snow than they’ve ever seen in their life! Jaxon especially; I had to force him to stop playing in it and come inside because he was turning into a popsicle! Lose a finger?! Who cares… it was too much fun! I see snowboarding in his future!
All of these amazing life moments stacked one on top of another! It took me by surprise going back through all these photos, realizing that many of these amazing moments now frozen in time, were overshadowed by my pre-occupation with “the next step”. Josh talks a lot about being present; experiencing the moment for the beauty it holds… if you’re willing to let go of all the stuff that usually clouds our minds. (He’s a big fan of Eckhart Tolle.) The stuff that clouds my mind is worry and anxiety about what comes next and how to get there. What do I have to do to make that next step happen? In this state of consistent worry, I miss all the greatness in the actual place in time I’m in… right now. I spend an embarrassing amount of mental space and energy, wishing away the present moment, just to reach the next one. I rationalize this by saying to myself, “surely for every lost moment in the past brings us closer to the future… to that new place, event, or step I’m obsessing over”. It’s this mythical place I convince myself will be better than the current one. A place of more reward, more gratefulness, more satisfaction. It’s a lie I believe all too often. I think we all do this to some degree and by doing this we are telling ourselves that this day is expendable, insignificant to the greater good of our family goal… of our own satisfied goal. I am cheating myself of true joy. I’m cheating myself from the benefit of feeling that this is enough. I’m cheating myself from the pure bliss that is projected in these photos… clear as day. There was joy. There was satisfaction. There was gratefulness. I just didn’t allow myself to acknowledge it when it was happening right in front of me! Not all the time. But too many times. I think Josh is right… it is so impactful to intentionally slow it down, mentally, and look around. Really take in the joy and beauty right in front of you, right around you, right inside you. It is very possible you might be unintentionally depriving yourself of some amazing gifts and irreplaceable moments in your life, this life… the only one we get!
The goal right now? Getting the red house renovated and our family moved in. My goal almost a year ago? Getting Josh a job in RI and then through an agonizing interviewing process for his current job. Then it was getting our NC house ready to sell and sold. That’s the problem, you see? One goal achieved provides no sense of accomplishment… its’ just quickly pushed aside and replaced with a new one. The instant I “get there”, I instantly know the goal I was struggling toward didn’t come through with its promise of reward, gratefulness, and satisfaction. But surely, this new goal will… this new place. I was just under shooting the honey spot! (Ya, right)
It’s funny. I was just talking to a woman at our gym who runs the little coffee shop in the lobby about this. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now that I’m spilling my guts, the connection is obvious. We were talking about life as an adult and how we aren’t really warned for the reality of it… or maybe we were and just chose to ignore it for the idyllic purpose it held in our imagination. I told her that in college I remember thinking (and I remember thinking this for most of my 20’s) that if God, could just show me in a dream or some glimpse of the future that I would meet a man, get married, and have wonderful children together, then I could relax. I could sit back and enjoy the ride a little more and stop obsessing every day about still being single; or if I wasn’t single, if this was the man I would marry, happily, forever and ever in that fairytale marriage devoid of struggle, conflict, or dilemma… like Cinderella. (wink, wink) 😉 I really want to go back and slap that girl in the face! I want to say, “JUST CHILL!” Enjoy being young with a wide open future. Be grateful for your friends and family and for today. God has a plan and He didn’t forget about you… regardless of what the future holds. “JUST CHILL”. I still need a slap in the face! (Please no volunteers!) Apparently I’ve always approached life in this way. If I can just get there, if I can just reach that, everything will be fine and I’ll feel content. I need a daily reminder that God made me a promise. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
So, while I’ve been approaching each day as a problem to solve in wasting time, or keeping busy until we can really start to live… that’s just what we’ve been doing, living, whether I was a joyful participant or not. That’s my plan from today, forward; to be a joyful participant in every day with this beautiful, imperfect family of mine. And I give you all explicit permission to tell me to JUST CHILL!
Til’ next time, be blessed!