Life is like a jeweled necklace. There are different sizes and types of jewels that are strung together to make a necklace. Each gem representing different moments of time and the string representing our lifeline.
Each moment, each experience we have offers us the opportunity to either grow or stay the same. The choice is ours.
Sometimes, we go through life either unaware of the moments fleeting by. Or we get stuck in a particular moment thinking that it will never end. But just like the gem, there’s always a beginning and end to the experience.
My family has experienced so many losses in the last few years. I lost a cousin, a few months later my dad, a couple months later my grandmother and more recently a favorite uncle. When I lost them, I couldn’t help but look back at all the moments that I had with them. Thinking about the last time I saw them, only not realizing that it was going to be the last time. That’s the way moments work. We’re immersed in them not realizing that it’s actually a moment until it becomes a memory.
There’s something about death and grief that makes someone reflective. During this time, it’s easy to let my brain go straight to the regrets. Stuck in the words left unsaid and the plans that got left to “next time”. My brain defaults to “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” so easily sometimes. Far from popular belief, being an educated and trained therapist doesn’t make one immune to these thinking traps.
Here are three skills that have helped me. They helped me to see the value of the moment. And helped to free myself from the trap of thinking that the way I’m feeling now will never end.
- Practice Mindfulness- Mindfulness is about being in the present moment. It’s about not getting lost in the distractions. It’s about not letting ourselves get super focused on the anxiety of the future. Mindfulness is not getting stuck in the fear of the other shoe dropping. It’s about realizing that this moment is just that, it’s a moment and it will end. If I’m feeling overwhelmed I wait for it to pass. If I’m feeling joy, mindfulness is about cherishing that feeling. It’s about immersing ourselves in the moment in whatever activity we may be doing.
Focusing our thoughts and energy into the moment we’re in now.
If we are playing with our kids, it’s about playing with them without distractions. It’s about setting the phone down and getting on the floor with them. It’s telling yourself the dishes will get done, the emails will get answered, and knowing that the Facebook post will still be there when you’re done.
If we are having dinner with our friends or our spouse, mindfulness is about listening to them tell their story. It’s getting the dessert and savoring its flavor. It’s about connecting without distraction.
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be this magical woo-woo hour long experience. It can be everyday activities and it can be as short or as long as you want. When you’re washing the dishes, it’s about focusing on the smell of the dish soap, the feel of the water, the action of washing and rinsing. It’s about letting go of the checklist of responsibilities in our head and focusing on the task in front of you. If we’re in the shower, it’s focusing on the bubbles, the smell of the soap, the pressure of the loofah on our skin. It’s feeling the hot water rush over our body and noticing the shower doors fog up from the steam.
Mindfulness is the daily practice of letting go of the unending to-do list in our heads and giving ourselves permission, even if it’s 5 minutes, to be in this moment and only in this moment.
- Stop Comparing – Social media is a double edge sword. It helps us connect to people we would’ve never met before or reconnect with loved ones that live far away. It helps us learn new things and see new perspectives. But it’s also a powerful source that feeds the “never good enough” monster in our heads. Social media is crafted in a way that shows everyone in their best light. We see the perfectly made organic lunches in our friend’s kids lunch boxes. We see the hair that is stunningly colored and curled. We see the beautiful family and home that is gorgeously styled.
And here I am… packing another slapped together PB&J for the 3rd week in a row because it’s quick and I know the kids will eat it, hair covered in dry shampoo piled in a messy bun on top of my head, and a laundry pile in the corner of the room that never seems to end. I swear we have invisible trolls living in our home, how can a family of four have that much laundry ALL the time?
The thing is with Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest we only see what others allow us to see. We don’t see behind the cropped and filtered pictures. Being a perfect, put together mom who has it all figured out and under control is an impossibility. We all have messy parts in our lives- because we’re human. We make mistakes, we fail, we forget to call back sometimes and guess what we’re allowed to.
Embrace the mess and know that we’re all just doing the best we can. At the end of the day, if we kept our kids alive, loved on our families and managed to be decent to others that is more than enough. Everything else is icing on the cake.
- Stop Procrastinating- Oh the lies we tell ourselves when we say “I’ll get to that later” or “I’ll do it when I have time”. Life is a constant move forward and time doesn’t wait for anyone. There will never be a perfect time for anything. There will always be distractions and surprises that come along the way. That’s life. If we keep telling ourselves “next time” there may not be a next time. The death of family member is a powerful reminder of this… we do not have an infinite amount of “tomorrows”.
So, chase that dream, tell people you love them, and keep your commitments, especially the ones you make to yourself.
Dr. Seuss once said “Sometimes you will never know the value of the moment, until it becomes a memory”. Don’t wait until it’s too late, each moment is a jewel in your necklace that can either help you grow of keep you stuck.