I often pay attention to too many things at once, at the expense of presence and connection.
These tangled branches, growing every which way is how my mind feels, especially this time of year. The different branches all crying out for my attention. I start one project, only to get interrupted by a text. I move on to complete an email and the phone rings. I am listening to my daughter when a new 'to do' pops into my mind. I walk into another room to grab something important, see something else half finished, start on that and end up completely forgetting why I went in there. I am often trying to accomplish more than is possible to get done in a day.
At stake is wanting to be a 'good' mom, spouse, employee, Santa, housekeeper, volunteer, healthy meal provider, friend, homework tutor, and on and on. The crazy part is that I put this on myself; these are my own expectations, my own story. If I'm honest, it is more compulsive than want, I need to be 'good' and that means not dropping any balls and completing my 'To Do List.'
But what I realized as I gazed out at my old apple tree, obviously in need of pruning (I guess I'm able to let go of being a 'good' gardener and isn't that interesting) is what an apt metaphor it is for my mind's attention. I get scattered trying to do it all. Or I'm Tilly-the-Task-Master and get uber focused in 'do-mode.' When Tilly is in charge, I get tons accomplished, but I'm not present; not able to slow down enough to connect with my center, my values, nor my children. I am 'doing' my life and unconscious to most of it. When I pause long enough to consider, this connection is what I yearn for most.
So during this hectic time of year I am trying to remember two things:
1) Prune: let go of some of my expectations, some of the balls I'm juggling. This year I'm delegating 'Elf' status to my older daughters to think of and buy presents for others in the family. This is one less thing on my plate, but it includes letting go of the expectation that it be 'just right' or 'the perfect gift.' The ball I'm putting down is 'having to' make holiday cookies. I love to bake so I may end up doing this if I find the time and energy, but the difference is I won't be doing it from the 'have to' or expectation-tense energy which is tied to 'earning good mother status.' If this feels hard (it often does for me), it usually means I need the E in the CEO of Your Reactions or experience my hard emotions which I'm numbing and avoiding with over-doing.
If you gave yourself permission, what would you prune?
2) Care and Compassion: the C in 'Become the CEO of Your Reactions. I'm going to take 5 minutes a day to care for myself. This could be remembering to put on my favorite song while I make dinner or dance around the house. It may be pausing to do my 5 minute meditation app. It could be staring at our Christmas tree and the photo of my daughters next to it when they were 6 and 8 years old. I stop and sink into the experience of my love for them.
How could you use 5 minutes to care for yourself today?
I am officially moving to 5 Steps to Connect (5StepstoConnect.com) from The Heart Gym. I loved the concept of building a safe, fun, community 'gym' space to work on these concepts several times a week, like going to a gym for the spirit, but the material wants to evolve in this new way.
The main thing I have learned from teaching 100's of parents, teachers, and chid care workers over the past 2 years is that there are 5 keys to connect with the ones you love. I have listed them below. This is a condensed version of what I've lived and learned over the past 15 years of being a parent of challenging girls, and learning from NVC, Brene Brown, Dan Siegle, Michael Singer, and Hand in Hand Parenting among many many others. We parents are the most busy population I know. We need a system that is easy to understand and practice.
I give you the 5 Steps to Connect:
Become the CEO of your Reactions, LLP C ~ Connect, Care, Compassion E ~ Experience Emotions O ~ Own your Story/Thoughts so you can... Listen...without fixing, helping or changing set Limits and experience Presence You will come away knowing The 5 reasons why this is hard & how to overcome + practice the 5 Steps to Connect.
Also exciting is that I'm meeting so many of my gurus by working at 1440 Multiversity (1440.org). There was a Daring Greatly class based on the work of Brene Brown, my all time favorite author and speaker. Harville Hendricks and Hellen Hunt on relationships. Dan Siegel on the brain science of living with teenagers. Liz Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed on writing authentically and bravely. Dr. Shefali of Conscious Parent and Awakened Family is coming in April 2018. And so many more! Check out what you may be interested in: 1440.org