Monday, February 16, 2009
I've been thinking a lot about living life in a mindful fashion these days. Maybe it is my growing awareness that the time has been passing as I acknowledge my children aren't babies anymore or maybe it is the thought I've been putting into my own life as I talk with others about their lives, but whatever its source, the word that I keep coming back to is : Mindful.
Quite simply, being mindful means being deliberate and conscious of our actions and choices and owning those actions and choices, even when the results aren't ideal. Whether we're talking about spending money, caring for our physical bodies, caring for our spiritual selves, finding balance in our home lives, keeping the house, raising children, working, or whatever, I think we must be mindful of our actions.
To me, living in a mindful way means taking the time to think about what I am doing and why I am doing it and what I hope to accomplish from doing whatever it is I choose to do. Being mindful means I can't do things just because I've always done them that way. Being mindful means I must do status checks on the various aspects of my life to make sure that I am on the track to accomplish my goals. Being mindful means I take the time to balance out conflicting wants and needs and come to some compromise deliberately, having taken into account as many factors as I can. Finally, being mindful means that I recognize "stress" is simply an indication that change is required somewhere.
Momstheword posted today about balancing work/chore/family needs and how everyone comes up with a different balance. While her post was directed more towards parenting goals, the idea of balance is universally applicable. To me, the best balance is the one that you've come by mindfully, deliberately, where you've acknowledged that you can't do everything you'd like and you prioritize the things you want and need to do and cobble them together to make a life that works for you. It is when we feel overwhelmed by demands that we know we're out of balance and not being mindful and we need to revisit the way we do things to regain that balance.
Being mindful allows us to translate stress into change and, ultimately, peace and balance.
Stress is just an indicaton that something needs to change. Being mindful means I don't just throw my hands up in despair and let things remain stressful. If something has become a source of stress, then I need to be mindful to determine how my life has gotten out of balance and make changes to address that change.
There is no one-size-fits-all lifestyle or formula. We all have different needs and wants that must mesh with the other members of our lives. It is only by honest assessment that we can keep things in balance.
One bloggy friend admits that she's going to cut back (by one day) the number of days a week she works because she's discovered adding that one day this year threw everything out of balance. Yes, I'm certain the extra money was good, but the price has been too high for her and her family.
Another friend is changing the way she manages her household because the stay-at-home patterns don't work for a now-working-out-of-the-home mom. Maybe she'll have to compromise on cleaning standards or maybe she'll need to cook a little less from scratch. All these areas will need to be tweaked until she gets it right.
On the flip side, my sister is still defining her goals as a stay-at-home because she's never had the luxury to be home before. She doesn't actually have a fully-formed picture of her well-cared-for home because she's almost always put her compromises in the home category. Last year, however, it all became too out of balance for her to live with and home needed to be tended to and work had to move to the back burner. While I have no idea what her well-cared-for-home looks like, I am certain that before she's done, she'll try and discard many combinations of priorities before she settles on the one that brings balance to her and her family.
As for me, when I decided to homeschool my children, our homelife was turned upside down and every single thing I did had to be reconsidered. I was never alone...it was like having toddlers again. Suddenly, instead of a few solitary hours every day to get the house clean and the chores and errands done, I had to schedule it around the homeschooling. Exercising? I had to do it when the kids are doing their computer work. Errands? Done after the kids were done with their work. Like shaking a sand sculpture, its taken adjustment to get it just right and even "just right" only lasts for a little while and a new pattern emerges. There is no perfect pattern...there is only what works. Now that Valiant (oops, I mean the Red Fox) exercises with me, I have to make certain the time we spend exercising doesn't interfere with his schooling. As their interests change and the demands on our time changes, I am constantly making adjustments.
The one thing these women (and I) all have in common is that they are being mindful of their lives, aware of the influences at work, and figuring out how to balance everything in a world where nothing stays the same.
Are you mindful? How do you decide how things get done? or NOT done?