Monday, February 16, 2009

Being Mindful...

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 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?


momstheword said...

What a beautiful post! Keeping your priorities and your focus is alot easier when you have goals for your marriage, for your family.

You are right, we are always flexing and adjusting. It can be especially difficult when you are pulled with the needs of others (for example, my mom being in the hospital all week).

We not only have to be mindful, we have to be willing to change. We can't measure the success of our day by our to-do list. We can't measure it by our thinking that we got everything done that we wanted or needed to do.

We can only look back on our day as it unfolded and know that sometimes things get thrown in our way that we have no control over. The success is in the change and not being broken.

The success it that sometimes we have to bend and mold and shape our way around the path God is taking us on as we move into the next season of life.

loveaphid said...

Being Mindful is a goal of mine, personal responsibility is a life lesson that seems to have gone missing in this society. Mindfulness takes diligence and work. It also requires a skill that I lack, the ability to forgive oneself. Sometimes I can paralyze myself with possibilities of outcomes, what I learning now is to live in the moment, be mindful of the moment, but understand if it doesn't work out today, you always have tomorrow. But don't worry about tomorrow until then.

Erin said...

I would disagree that forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness implies you did something wrong. If you do the best you can with the information you have at the time, you cannot ask more than that of yourself, so there is nothing to forgive.

Anonymous said...

I don't know. God and I had a long discussion (mostly me) about next school year. This year I worked four days a week and I have felt overwhelmed a lot. We don't need the money, but with one in college, it would be helpful. So I am waiting to hear what He has to say, and I think your post was very timely, since I asked for blatant and OBVIOUS answers to what choice I needed to make and here you are talking about women cutting back to make time for their homes, the very thing I was telling Him I was wanting to do. I want to make good choices in life so that I can honor God with those choices, but I am not sure this year I have done that.
Not sure my boss will like me cutting my hours, or maybe she's praying I will. LOL Oh well, I will keep waiting to see if those obvious answers come, but for now, I am going with my gut and that says three days a week next year. I'll keep you posted.

Clark said...

Great post! I am still sitting here trying to take it all in. I agree with you assertion that forgiveness is not necessary. We are all trying to do our best everyday. Sometimes things workout great and others not so great. It doesn't change the fact that we did the best with the information we had. I have a big problem with trying to do too much with too little time. Some things would be so much better if I just let some things slide to the side....

Erin said...

Generations, I would not flatter myself to think that my post was being directed to you by divine intervention, but...just in case, I am hoping I was blatant and obvious enough to make my opinion clear!

Erin said...

Moms, I was late on responding because I was thinking HARD about your post and your last sentence says it all: "The success it that sometimes we have to bend and mold and shape our way around the path God is taking us on as we move into the next season of life." The best periods of my life have always, always been preceded by difficult changes being required of me.

n3isme said...

*glows with pride*

SEE!?!? SEE!!??! I TOLD you that you were good at this stuff!! You have such good things to say and you always put them in a way to help other people!

oh, btw - i got your blog rebookmarked so I'll be visiting regularly again