Friday, March 17, 2017

I'm All In!

The older I get, the more I seem to slow down.

I don’t mean the slowdown that comes with age. I mean the leisureliness that allows me to evaluate my life.

In my younger years, I rushed through everything, moving mostly on auto-pilot. While at home, I worried about work and at work, I worried about home. I was anxious about my kids all the time and about my ability, or rather inability, to be a decent mother. My children are grown and happy, my granddaughter is approaching her teens, and I’m not moving at such a hectic pace. I work part time and have my afternoons free to complete tasks or to just sit and think about important issues or useless junk.

I have many conversations with myself – not the crazy kind where I verbally ask and answer my own questions (cue Sally Field in Sybil). I have these internal dialogues going on that I don’t remember having up until about a year ago. I’m a widow and there’s no one at home to listen to me verbalize thoughts, but I also think I’m able to focus more because I have decelerated.

One internal conversation that plays is the “what if” one. What if I don’t lose weight? What if I run out of money? What if my kids don’t succeed? This little two-word phrase can drive a person nuts! Now when I’m having the “what ifs,” I intentionally change my thoughts. Instead, I focus on what I’m getting out of or learning from the experience or the thought. By doing this, I believe I’m becoming a more positive person. I’m not tiptoeing through the tulips, but I’m not drowning in worry or negativity either. Maybe I’ve achieved a small balance in life.

I tend to be more grateful, too, and I divide this gratitude into smaller increments. I focus on today and how my life is at this moment. Mindfulness – being present in the moment – is a big buzz word in psychology now. I know this as a fact because Pinterest has all kinds of boards on how to do it. The key to mindfulness is that your thoughts should not dwell on past mistakes or on worry about the future. All these Pinterest people should realize that mindfulness isn’t a new thing: the Bible has instructed people to do this for centuries.

Frequently throughout the day, I stop to consider how the day is going and how those around me are faring. I say a prayer of gratitude for my blessings because I truly am thankful for all I have right now. Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced a lot of bad events that I’m now very grateful for small, happy moments. If I don’t consciously consider these events, I might jinx the flow of goodness. 

Even with my trying to live in the moment, I still get impatient. I’ve figured out that the impatience comes from this little control problem I have. My chosen career is to blame for a big part of this problem; I must be in control in the classroom or anarchy happens. Often, I want things to happen right now, and I want them to happen my way. This is especially true when I see events happen to my children which make them unhappy or knock them down a notch in their life’s plan. I used to be a huge enabler and fix problems so that my kids didn’t have to do it. Enabling is one of my biggest mistakes in parenting because I didn’t let my kids suffer the consequences of their choices. Now instead of rushing in to fix things, I help them focus on their choices and on what they can learn from the experiences. It’s hard for me to admit, but they are actually doing ok without my attempts at control.

So, cheers to life right now! I can’t change the zillions of bad decisions in my past, bring back people I’d love to have around me or direct the course of the future. I can, however, focus on this moment, and I’m all in.