Tag Archives: Mindfulness

Day 2: One Foot in Front of the Other

This may be the least profound and the most important tool I have in fighting off life’s monsters.

Breathe in. Breath out. Focus on the moment I am in right now. Do the next thing. Put one foot in front of the other. Keep going.

There are times when the next five minutes are all I can handle. Keeping life as small and manageable as possible. There is no shame in this. It is amazingly adaptable. I let go of the past, because I can’t change it. I trust my future to God’s hands, because I can’t do anything about it either. I keep my sights on the moment. And I do the best I can right now.

When it comes to fighting the Big Bads in life, we need to keep it basic.

I’ve always been a planner. Lists of goals. Detailed schedules. Purposeful routines.

The first time reality overwhelmed my need to organize the world was the death of my son Noah. Not only was I reeling from his loss, from the trauma of delivering my silent, perfect little baby, but the doctors had removed my kidney the week before. I was recovering both body and soul.

All I wanted to do was nothing. Lie down. Listen to the same sad song over and over again. Stare into space. At nights I wandered the house and surfed the internet.

It was harder and harder to get out of bed at all. And that scared me. I asked my mom “what if?” What if I crawl into bed and never crawl out? What if I can’t do this? What if I’m not strong enough? What if I get stuck?

She told me that she and my husband would pull me out if needs be. That if it got that bad, there would be medication and therapy and they would carry me through. And it would get better. She would know… my brother Bradley was stillborn too.

So I started a strange little ritual. For the first time in my life I started wearing make-up every day. I was less likely to climb back into bed once I had lipstick and eyeliner on. Even if I did nothing else all day, this was the start. It wasn’t a big thing, but it got me out of my bed, down the stairs and eventually back into life.

When B was in the hospital week after week, I leaned on this ritual again. Especially when she was in isolation, so very sick and sleeping all day long. There was little to set the days apart from the nights. Some of the rooms we stayed in were closet sized, others had no windows at all. Daily make-up became a sign of strength for me; very little to do with vanity, much to do with intentional living.

It doesn’t always feel like strength. Some days it’s hard to do even this. But I do it anyway then. Especially then.

Everyone has their own rituals, daily steps forward, simple everyday signs of life. Ones that may seem miniscule and silly to others, but are statements to ourselves: that I am not beaten, that I can do this one thing, that I am still me…

For me it’s make-up, writing, laundry on Mondays, prayer at dinnertime and goodnight hugs. How ’bout you?

When life spins out of control. The monsters at my door are despair, discouragement, and depression. Do what you have to do to get through. Remember that the best you can do, is all that you need to do.

Keep it small.

Keep it manageable.

Keep moving.

 

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Standing up to December

December is the giant of the calendar year. It bullies all the other months with it’s frantic, festive persona. Both the fun-loving life of the party and the obnoxious character who sucks all the attention in the room. She’s busier and happier and larger than life.

But she’s also lonelier and sadder and phonier.

December bullies people too. She’s a hard task master. More than any other time of the year we want to do it all, and be it all, and get it all right. Or at least look the part in the family photo.

santa

Not to worry. This isn’t a nihilistic, anti-Christmas post. It’s not another ’embrace the true reason for the season’ sermon. This is just me, trying to make peace with December, the month I anticipate and dread in equal measure.

I love the trimmings and trappings of the holidays. I relish the music and the decorations and the warm, spicy smells. I’m deeply touched by Nativity, and the connotations of Immanuel: ‘God With Us’. I even enjoy rushing around to create those special seasonal moments.

Except when I don’t.

In December, there’s a fine line between ‘have-to’ and ‘want-to.’ Traditions can either comfort or consume, enhance or ensnare, delight or dilute. The question we have to ask ourselves is this: do our rituals serve us, or do we serve them?

Advent is meant to be a time of reflection, of mindfulness, of living with intention. This is both a spiritual discipline and a practical skill, and it doesn’t just happen, no matter how many garlands we hang.

So here’s me, making it clear from the get-go: December is not the boss of me!


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