I made a promise yesterday that I would spend some time this week being focused on being more aware of my environment. I made that promise to Lance, our friend who comments here, and who is the author of a wonderful blog called the The Jungle of Life. If you haven’t met Lance or read his blog yet, I would encourage you to stop by and say hello and check it out. His Aug 25th Post What Are We Missing? was very inspiring and provoked me to spend the entire day yesterday as I went about my daily round with my eyes more in tune with my environment and the world around me.
Lance is right. So often I am rushing through the world, list in hand, time clicking by with less time than list available. As I cross things off, I am often aware that what I am mostly missing is more time. More time to get everything done that I want to get done, More time to spend with my kids, more time to spend with my grandchildren , more time to just talk, more time to relax.
Yesterday was my daughter’s last day before the start of a new school year. There was plenty to do. It was also the day of driving her and my grandchildren to their activities. It was also grocery shopping day. One would think I could have picked a more interesting day to accept Lance’s challenge then the humdrum tasks of a housewife’s errand day.
Then I realized it was the perfect day. The type of day that I might just normally exist in because there is nothing extraordinary about it at all. Nothing to look forward to besides an endless task list that will never see the bottom of the page. If I could keep my eyes focused on my surroundings and my environment and the world at large during errand day, I could do it every day.
The challenge was on.
The first observation hit me square between the eyes before I left my living room. In the quiet room where I do my planning, journaling and reading, I sat making out my lists for the days errands. Taking a moment to look, eyes alert and and asking…”What am I missing? ” My eyes settled on to the area on top of our Piano. Over time, it has become a hot spot of homeless Nick knacks and half melted candles that had worn out their welcome in more attractive areas of the home. Rather than the cosy cottage look that the piano once sported it now looked like the last refuge before the dumpster.
Had I not seenthis before? I suppose the gathering had been happening over time, one Nick knack at a time until the accumulation had reached critical mass. I just hadn’t noticed it. Needless to say, the entire mismatched collection has found it’s new home in the dumpster and goodwill pile and there is now one very nice vase gracing the top of the piano.
Had that been the extent of the experiment, I would have considered it a smashing success. I am not a fan of sneaky clutter. It however, is a fan of me and anything that helps me get rid of it is a huge win!
Onward and outward into the day, my daughter and I went about our shopping. I made it a point to be aware of the perfect blue sky, the gentle breeze and temperature that hovered in the mid seventies, crisp and clean. I rolled down the car window and took the time to slow down and really enjoy it. There won’t be very many of those days left before the Midwest winds come rushing through the trees removing the leaves from their branches.
I made it a point to be fully present. To fully listen to my daughter as she talked to me rather than just checking off lists in my mind. We laughed and chatted and had a very nice day and somehow the time, which there never seems to be enough of, felt as if it was slowing down for us to enjoy our last day together. A gift. Same chores, yet done with more awareness, turned into a gift with each other.
Soon it was time to take her and my granddaughter to their class and to pick up my grandson. I watch him on Wednesdays for a few hours. The challenge was to spend that time being fully aware at the grocery store with him.
I realized after a few minutes in the store with him that I had never paid attention to being in the store with him before at all. In the past I had just ran in quickly and ran right back out. He tagged along quietly because he is a well behaved awesome little kid who causes no trouble. It’s easy to ignore a little guy like that. So yesterday I SLOWED DOWN. I strolled. I asked him questions. I asked him what he liked, what his favorite foods were, what he didn’t like, what he was thinking about going to school today, and he told me. We had a chat. A nice long chat. He helped me put some things in the cart, he helped me find a few things I was looking for. We had a good time. As we turned the corner by the check out counter, he said, Oh Grandma Wendi, look at those beautiful red and purple and pink flowers. They would be beautiful in your kitchen.”
I turned and looked at them. He was right. The flowers were stunning and I had walked right past them. I put them in my cart. Flowers for Grandma Wendi from my grandson.
Works for me. They are beautiful in the kitchen. The boy has a good eye.
At night before bed, John and I took a glass of wine out to the jacuzzi and sat outside and enjoyed the last official night of summer before the kids go back to school. The last night before school routines and homework and early bedtimes. I leaned my head back, took a deep breath and breathed in the cool night air. I thought about the day and all I had noticed and how just the simple fact of being more aware had slowed down time and made the day more enjoyable and made the interactions with family more fun. I looked up at the sky and found it filled with bright shining stars.
I sat for awhile and just watched them as if I had all the time in the world. Peaceful and relaxed. I made a mental note to tell Lance thank you for a really great day.
Thanks Lance. You made a difference.
So now I am passing on Lance’s challenge to all of you. Take the time to go out and be fully aware. Fully focused. See what you have been missing. If you feel like it, let us know what it was like. Tell us here or write about it!
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Mistress O says
What a beautiful blessing to find this evening. Especially loved, the section regarding the top of the piano. Also, the lines of “unspoken” of love between you and that grand-son! Wow! Volumes of beatitudes, Wendi!
Thanks for sending a special “gift”. One which arrives in my home ,crossing the midwest miles separating us.
Thanks for sending hope, hugs and honesty.
Thank you for always being around when I need you.
And even when I don’t.
Thank you for sharing the good times and
times of sadness.
Thanks for being a major cheerleader in all
our lives, who read Life’s Little Inspirations.
I am moved, Wendi, by the thoughtfulness with which you took this challenge. What a wonderful recounting of your days activities and what you noticed because you took the time to.
They are all excellent examples of what we can see if we just look for them. What I liked, especially, was that you noticed both physical and mental “things”. Noticing the physical “things” is easier for me (even though I miss alot), so reading about how you were fully present with your daughter, and with your grandson – those are the things that inspire me to be more aware. What a great way to strengthen those relationships.
So, your welcome, Wendi. I’m glad I spurred you on to do this. But, I think the thanks should go to you. See, with this post, you’ve helped me to realize fully what we are capable of if we just become more aware of our surroundings and those we are with. So, Thank you!!
Lance’s last blog post..What Are We Missing?
Ah…Ms O, you are going to make me cry! LLI is a symbiotic relationship, all of us cheering each other and inspiring each other. Believe me, you all HAVE NO IDEA how much you do for me by being a part of this community.
Hugs my friend. 🙂
Lance thank you! and you are welcome. I think we can be capable of amazing things just by being fully present. And I have to say that everytime I walk past the flowers in the kitchen today it is a new reminder to take another look around.
This was a great exercise and one I really want to hang on to and make part of my daily walk. I’ll have to come up with some good trigger reminders!
Janice Cartier says
Carl Sandberg said something like this: if we have but a dollar, spend half on bread, and the other half on hyacinths.
Beautiful post, beautiful follow through on a challenge. Mindfulness in our life, that awareness…treasures there..giggles, a chat, a quiet calm before the onslaught of back to school. A lovely day you had. Thanks for sharing it with us. I am raising my glass to you and sipping a fresh Pinot Grigio.
Lovely textures in your day. 😉
Janice Cartier’s last blog post..Purest of Paper, The Color of Night
I raise my glass back to you. Thank you. Your post today was very beautiful, very provocative. Are you still moving to a new site or did that go on the back burner?
Janice Cartier says
I am waiting on Pen Men. Thought we would already be underway…
thanks for the praise…I love your new site. I must go get some sleep. 😉
Janice Cartier’s last blog post..Purest of Paper, The Color of Night
Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome says
What a beautiful day! I have a hard time living in the moment as well. I’m going to give it a try today, even though it’s “just” a day on the computer.
Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome’s last blog post..Are you a Pooh-Bear?
Joanna Young says
Wendi, this is a beautiful piece of writing, thank you. I could feel myself slowing down and breathing out as I was reading it.
I loved the ending – looking up and seeing the stars. Sends shivers down my spine. How often do we forget to do this? How miraculous is it – always – when we remember to stop and look?
Melissa Donovan says
I think a lot of people are waiting for an amazing day to land in their laps and what they don’t realize is that you have to make days like this for yourself. It’s all about attitude! Your enjoyable day proves that sometimes slowing down is the best way to make more time. And you truly stopped and smelled the flowers 😉 thanks to your grandson. That’s a precious gift.
Melissa Donovan’s last blog post..How to Master the Writing Process
Writer Dad says
What you said about listening to your daughter is really sweet. Not just the sentiment, but the very act of saying it. Not many would admit that they do that when speaking to their children, yet we all have at some point of another.
I hope you will come back and share with us the results of your challenge to live fully present and in the moment today. Or post about it. Good luck with it. It is amazing how easy it is to go on auto pilot when we are in the midst of routine days!
Joanna! Yeah! I am so happy to have you come to visit the new site! Welcome!
Thank you for such a nice compliment. It is always such an amazing thing to just suddenly look up and be able to take the time to enjoy a spectacular warm summer starry night. It has the power to make time stand still for a little while. I highly reccomend it!
Yes, that was truely the lesson for the day for me, to remember to slow down. Not easy for me to remember when I tend to move at warp speed all the time. Even when I’m sitting my mind is moving fast.
My little grandson is one of those special observant types. I can learn a lot from him. HE is a true gift.
I am so glad to have you here! A big welcome and please come often and join our community. We are so happy to have you join in the conversation.
I have been a parent for 31 years.My children’s ages range from 31 to 11. Sometimes I’ve been a better parent than other times. My kids have been the best teachers in my life. Any parent that tells you they are always listening to their children isn’t always honest. Or…isn’t aware that their mind wanders…or their children are too small to talk yet… 🙂
I try to do my best…that’s the best I can do. For sure, I am not a perfect parent and after 31 years, I am still in the trenches learning my craft as a mother.
Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome says
Well the connected part worked well – I really paid attention to the blogs I was commenting on – until an email from my mother informed me that a three-days-away-from-92-year-old cousin has rampant cancer and likely won’t last the weekend. She’s always been like an extra aunt (like a much older sister to my mother) so I disconnected more than a little (my reaction to stress – I go into AlexWorld) and retreated to the new Sherri S. Tepper novel The Margarets.
And then I almost set the house on fire by leaving the cord against the indoor grill when I turned it on. Fortunately Raul was home and caught it.
Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome’s last blog post..Are You a Pooh-Bear? Full Text Answers
I am so sorry to hear about your cousin. 🙁 I am glad that Raul is able to be home with you and that you aren’t alone with that sad news.
I send you a hug and lots of care. I will be thinking of you.
I read your post on Wednesday, however it has taken me this long to appropriately respond. How awesome it is that Lance’s post had such a profound impact on you, in turn your post has had a profound impact on me. Unfortunately I have had trouble actually taking the time to notice things as much as I should. I was driving to an appt on Wednesday after reading this and really tried to be aware of where I was driving and looking at all that was around me. It kind of worked, but kind of didn’t. I never realized how much work it takes to really be in the moment in real life. Over the summer I learned how to be in the moment in acting, but never thought to apply it to real life. You have truly inspired me to try to, basically, stop and smell the roses!
Thank you to you and Lance as well. I must go now and read his post!
Jenny’s last blog post..Holy Macaroni!
Jenny, it IS hard! It takes energy! I have been trying to continue to do it the rest of the week and I have kept a little notebook next to me to jott down my observations. That has been helpful, it reminds me to stay in the moment. But…honestly, You can’t IMAGINE how many times you just slip off to LALA LAND…like there is a plane taking off every few minutes……zoom….there I go again……
Evelyn Lim says
I came over from Lance’s site and am glad to find out that you’ve been inspired by one of his post to live life!
Life sure appears different when we decide to travel at less of a break neck speed. There can be much joy in being fully present in every moment. I also find out that I tend to appreciate the beauty around much better when I walk with every awareness in my surroundings.
Evelyn Lim’s last blog post..68 Seconds Of Pure Thought: Visualize In 4 Creative Ways
Hi Evelyn! I was just at your site a little while ago! How funny!
Yes, focus is a very powerful tool. When my son was studying Karate it was amazing to see how it affected his ADHD personality. Most people wouldn’t have guessed he had it. When he applies the tools to his life even now it changes his demeaner quite a bit. It doesn’t cure him, but gives him tools to work with it.