The American Way??

5 Mar

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I don’t know if it is a uniquely American trait, but I’ve noticed lately that when I ask someone how they are, they tell me everything that they have to do or have done. I’ve also noticed that I often answer with “keeping busy” or “chasing these kids around”. Somehow in our society, we’ve decided that busy equals value. We over schedule ourselves and our kids and fall into bed every night physically exhausted and mentally spent. Spirituality and quiet are overpowered by TV and to-do lists. We lament that we don’t have enough hours in the day as we scurry from activity to activity with barely enough time to take a breath. We have become human doings instead of human beings, always needing to do something instead of just being in the moment. In rare cases, we can do both, but so often the doing overshadows the being.

At the beginning of this school year, which was August of 2011, I decided to try something different in my life. I decided to deliberately put some quiet time in my day. From 7:45am until about 10am, I spend as much time as I can being quiet and taking time for myself. I spend time writing, meditating and doing yoga. Sometimes I do a bit of cleaning and/or de-cluttering. I usually listen to instrumental music that is peaceful and calm. I rarely talk on the phone and I’ve stopped going to most morning activities outside my home. The result is that I’ve lost weight. My house is cleaner. I started writing this blog, and my life is my life, not a series of events that leave me bedraggled and bewildered.

It has so revolutionized my day that I also declared electronic disconnect time in our home every evening. We eat dinner at 5:00 in our home. After dinner and clean up, we have at least an hour that we stay away from computers and TVs. Kindle reading is allowed, and so are games like Scrabble that enhance your mental capacity, but games like Angry Birds are not allowed. At first, my kids were at a loss for what to do on nights that we didn’t have a flurry of activities to get to after dinner. They like to read, but they rarely do it for more than fifteen minutes at a time. We were amazed at how much we watched TV and depended on electronic stimulation, especially since we’re the family with the cable plan below basic cable that doesn’t allow the kids to play Wii or Playstation during the week.

But something wonderful is beginning to happen. We’re beginning to find other ways to be. We are all reading more. The kids are playing outside more; even the high school aged ones. We’re talking more, and I’m getting more done in the evenings than ever before, not in a running around way, but in a de-cluttering and beautifying my home kind of way.

The last three days, I’ve had to deviate from my usual routines because of several factors, including tornado warnings, band concerts, family birthdays, and my husband working over 24 hours of overtime. I began to feel the old craziness creeping back in. I missed the moments to just be, and I missed feeling in control of my life. Today, as life returns to our version of normal, I see the blessings in the past few days. Don’t you just love 20-20 hindsight? I see how having such craziness makes me appreciate the calm I’ve created most days in my life. I realize how much I love having my husband around and how much he really does help me when he’s here. I know, now, that my writing and quiet time and yoga nourish my mind, body and spirit more than I could imagine, and most importantly, I know that the choices I have made for my life really are taking me to the next level as a human being.

So now I’m about to go plan my day. Yes, there will be a to-do list and yes we have some evening activities, but for at least some part of the day, and hopefully as I go through my to-do list, I will remember to be present, to be in the moment and to be me. Thanks for being you and have a great day!

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