Day #31

Tonight, as I walked in place of Mrs. Meander I decided to try to walk without instigating any thoughts, but merely observe the thoughts that my brain produced and let seep into conscious awareness.

I was astounded at the sheer bulk of random thought processes that continually stream forth from the recesses of the sub-conscious. On a dark and relatively stimuli-free walk, my brain produced thought processes including, but not limited to: relationships, travel, marriage, pain, loss, camping, building, racism, Michael Brown, excess, lack, childhood memories, decisions, money, exercise, and politics. And so it went, and so it goes.

As soon as I became aware of a thought process and dismissed it, resolving to walk with nothing but my sensory experience… well, the next thing I knew I had just spent several moments “thinking” about something else completely irrelevant to this present moment.

It caused me to pause and ponder, “How much of what we react to, what we think we really “think” about is actually just us noticing our subconscious processing a mire of previous thoughts and inputs? Are we really thinking original thoughts when we say things like, “Well I think…”? OR are we simply allowing our brains to regurgitate a conglomeration of past outside voices that we mistake for our own?

I have a challenge for myself and for you, wonderful reader: As you go about your day, notice yourself “thinking,” and perhaps ponder the content of those thoughts. Were they relevant to your immediate situation? Did they bring happiness? Did the instigate anxiety?

Could it be that the journey to mindful living is paved with an awareness that our passing “thoughts” are actually making us, and not the other way around? Perhaps catching brains in the act of thinking could be the ticket to a more peaceful existence.

Happy thinking, my fellow travelers…

Day #25

Today was a much needed reprieve… it had been an emotionally stormy week thus far, both internally and externally.

Wednesday brought closure to that. It was a day of conflict avoided. Apologies expressed. Answers given.

It was internal pressure released. Body relaxed. Emotions stabilized.

It was a quiet evening. Games played. Early bedtime.

The only thing that never let up was the rain that fell all day. But even that was a reprieve for me. I did not walk today but I did finally feel stable, mindful, and with purpose again.

An image of a dreamcatcher with a quote about optimism.

Day #11

I love finding grace in unexpected places. Not a self-imposed deity kind of abstract grace; but rather, a tangible human-hand kind of grace.

The sincere “It’s okay, Mama,” when I goof.

The generous back rub after a stressful day.

The enthusiasm over a simple breakfast for supper.

Unshaven legs.

Forgotten appointments.

Mismanaged time.

Pimpled faces.

Extended dead lines.

I saw broken grace from broken humans all around me. The tears of understanding. The statement of forgiveness. The heart that continues to love, despite hurt.

I saw it all today, gentle readers. And now I request your grace… for I did not walk today. I chose instead to advocate for two young clients, to mindfully connect with my Love, to dine with the princess.

An orange sunset set agains the snow-scattered Tetons, overlooking Jackson Lake.It was cold and rainy and dark all day… I’m extending grace to the sky… resting in the beauty of the pause… for tomorrow is a new day.

Day #2

ducksI ponder friendship as I walk.

My friendship skills have seem to decline as the years have passed. It was just so EASY when were younger. Our friends were essentially picked for us; they are our mom’s friend’s kid, or the other girl in the class that likes green instead of pink, or whatever. And time… you have all the time in the world to devote to these beautiful connections. No pesky jobs,  or needy kids, or significant others to prioritize. And although I seem to have outgrown friends, I have not outgrown the need.

Therefore, I bumble through.

I have friends… kind of… I have those that find me when they need to vent or dump. I have those that spend time when time is easy but never when it needs to be made. I have those that surface love me but cannot dig too deep, and finally, I have those that just have too much on their shoulders without adding me. And these lovely souls waft in and out of my life–enriching experiences–but never devoted.

I once asked my husband why he didn’t need friends. He said, “People are just so damn fickle.” And I am inclined to agree. Friends of decades-and-the-most-intimate-moments turned a silent shoulder to me when I made one decision for myself that they could not understand. Friends of deepest-darkest-secrets disappear because another one has stolen their heart. Friends of good-times-and-bad-times lose their way to my door when my door is no longer their need.

And a part of me feels betrayed… angered… shamed… but more of me feels sad.

As I walked today, I became mindful to these things.

And I noticed: leaves whirling in tornadoes together, turtles sunbathing in a pack, geese talking amongst themselves, ducks huddling together to stay warm against the wind, families playing together at the park… and roots.

Everywhere roots!

I once read that dying trees will send energy out through their roots to other trees. There is a massive root system under the ground that connects trees and if we could see the root system we would not be able to distinguish one tree from the next. I feel we, as a human race, are like this; all connected but separate. We look different, we bloom different, we need different but fundamentally we are the same and intertwined. I know this because … empathy.

At times, and especially with those close to me, I cannot always separate their feelings from my own. They weep, their heart is broken, they hurt and my soul carries that burden. They celebrate, enjoy one of life’s gifts, they smile and my soul soars on dancing clouds.

Connective-ness is not always fair or pleasurable–but it is the essence. The thread that interweaves itself through the tapestry of our lives , holding us together and ripping us apart. But it keeps us warm at night… you know?

Day #1

puppies in truck

As we walked with leashes in hand and dogs excitedly sniffing each new trail, I thought about present living. It seems to be everywhere right now for me. I’m reading a book about mindfulness in play therapy. I’ve had friends post about it on their Facebook pages. I keep running across quotes on Pinterest. Articles keep finding there way to me. I was at a conference this week where intentional living was the key note address.

This is a topic that enthralls me because I am by nature a doer. I love the experience, live for the next adventure, and enjoy trying anything new at least once. I’m one of the rare birds who actually enjoys change. I get bored easily and find it difficult to sit still. But in all that living, I often forget to weigh down those moments with my own presence. My brain is often on to the next thing before this experience is completed.

So, as I walked today, I tried to just “be.”

Instead of letting my mind organize the rest of the day or obsess over my 10-year-plan, I looked around and allowed my senses to do my thinking for me. It is late November, so the backdrop of all the world seems brown: dead trees, dead leaves on the ground, mud everywhere due to recent rain. The sky was overcast and the gray hung like a blanket tucking in all the brown. But it’s funny when you look … you notice. The shock of white mushrooms, the delicate purple berries, and the dancing green bushes in the breeze. The weather was mild and humid with just enough breeze to kiss the skin with coolness. The birds singing, my puppies panting, my sweet husband’s voice. All brought peace and joy to my heart.

The earth was grounding under my feet, the pressure of my husband’s hand holding mine was intimate and complete. And when I let my senses do the “thinking,” I let go and, for a while, truly lived.

In the past few past few years of my adult life, I have unlearned so much (another story for another day). At this point, about all I know for certain is that I’ll die one day. I’m not afraid of dying; I’ve made peace with it being inescapable; however, I want to live. Truly live. Every day.

So my challenge to myself is to walk every day for the next 365 days with the intent to be present. My hope is that quiet time with body moving surrounded by nature will produce insightful thoughts that lead to intentional living.

I suppose I will write these down … let’s see gentle reader, where life takes us ….