Category Archives: Learning

2014 Reflections…

The end of the year is drawing close. Christmas, with all it’s glitz, lights, parties and shopping seems to be surrounding me – although I feel rather insulated from it all this year, enjoying the simplicity of crafts and stories with my young family this advent season. It is such a delightful way to spend these hot, summer days – sipping iced tea and reading some of our new Christmas books (oh my, there are some beautiful books in our basket this year); drawing, painting and crafting engrossing everyone as gifts are created and quickly squirrelled away before they are seen. Memories are being made in our household on these quiet, homely days and I’m appreciating each and every one of them.

With this background of family and creative mess, I’ve been reflecting the year just past. I realise I’ve not kept up some of my plans with which I began January (consistency here in this space being one of those) but I also realise that this past year has been full of far greater richness than I had written in those well intentioned new year plans. I have delighted in a year of living in a new location, away from the normal, ‘expected’ activities and I’ve been able to chose, very intentionally, just how my children and I will spend our time – lots of time at home with adventures on the days we can go as a full family. The hours spent at home have been filled with heartfelt discussions with my ever growing children; all of us learning (or re-learning) many skills including how to knit, crochet; much sewing; even more conversations; hours spent simply sitting and watching these delightful beings (whom I’m privileged to call my children) play and interact with each other and at times their friends; I’ve stopped and enjoyed so many little moments and it’s these little moments which fill the greatest space in my reflective heart.

I could look around and wonder just what happened to the year as I haven’t recorded it in words or photographs nearly as much as I intended to. But because I have made the conscious effort to be present and appreciate the little moments, I have a wealth of memories and pictures embedded within my heart which I’ll carry with me forever. I may have neglected writing here (sorry, I do apologise) and neglected other writing and photography projects which I know I could have pursued (and will one day) but I really believe I’ve made the right choices for me this year. I look at my children and know that I have invested in their lives at a time when that was needed most.

I know the decisions I’ve made this past year will dictate my future and I’m content with that. I’ve lived intentionally, sometimes I may have been right and sometimes wrong but always with intention, and it feels good right now as I reflect on the year just past.

I’m not one to sit and ponder on the past too much, preferring to dream and plan for the joyous future in my minds eye. So this last week of 2014 I intend to do just that. I’ll reflect on what went well this year and dream of how I can be a better ‘me’ next year. Oh, what an exciting prospect.

Please will you join me this week and reflect on the past with a grateful heart and dream of the future with a joyful imagination but above all appreciate the present moment with the utmost respect, because that is all we ever have in our lives – the present moment.

Be Authentic – Be YOU

A simple little card was causing me a whole lot of grief. I’ve never really had a great need for a business card. Well, other than my children drawing on them, or playing memory or snap or something. They have just never been a necessity in my life. Until, now it would seem. Twice in the past few weeks I’ve been asked for my business card! What? It sound’s all very official really and had quite a nice ring to it. Yes, I think it was time to get myself organised and get myself some business cards.

Sounds easy, right? No. After a week of evenings spent looking at the computer screen, I finally admitted defeat. My strengths quite obviously don’t lie in graphic design. In fact just uploading the photos I wanted to use was a big enough struggle last week.

So I phoned my sister - the one who is blessed with design and style and seems to find this kind of thing quite easy. So I asked her advice, a good thing after such a long time of frustration – yes.

Her response probably wasn’t what I was expecting. I thought she would like what I had finally put together and say, ‘go ahead and get them printed’. But no. She wasn’t all that thrilled with the design aspect. Thought they were ‘nice’ but that’s all. Oh. ‘Nice’. I wanted something more than just ‘nice’.

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Business Cards 8

Then she very diplomatically suggested I should do something that was authentically ‘ME’. Yes, of course. I’m writing about such things all the time. I try to live my life intentionally and with authenticity. Yet here I was trying to create some great, professional looking business cards. Oh it felt important, but really wasn’t authentically me at this point in my life.

So I got to work, dreaming up all the things that I love at the moment – fabric, sewing, bright colours (those five colours of flowers at the top of this page, they seem to follow me everywhere – my bed quilt is stripes of those colours, the children’s school folders, the table cloth I made years ago, a quilt I made about 13 years ago, the 5 coloured glass candle holders etc. All those same colours – Me in a nutshell I suppose).

So I got out my trusty cardboard, cutter, sewing machine and the most gorgeous stash of fabric which has been sitting on my sewing desk for the past few weeks. And created my own fabric ‘business cards’. And I LOVE them. I didn’t find it at all stressful to make them, all the work happened in amongst ‘life’ – while chatting to my husband and watching some tv, while hearing spelling words, while playing cards with my son (yes I can cut fabric and play cards at the same time).

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The lesson I learnt through this process isn’t anything at all about business cards. I really don’t think it matters in the least what my cards look like – the printed ones with photos would have been lovely as well. It isn’t anything to do with whether you like to design on paper, computer and just go for it without a design.

The key is working to your own rhythm, flowing and seeming ‘easy’ rather than just all hard work… It’s all about being authentic to yourself. I was trying to do something for no good reason other than because I thought I should and getting frustrated and stressed in the process. Instead I thought outside the box and made something that may not be totally professional looking but it is a reflection of me, my life and this blog at this point in my life.

So I encourage you to BE AUTHENTIC in your life. Don’t try to impress, don’t do  things just because you think you need to, instead do things which are a reflection of YOU.

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Not keeping busy

It was a few weekends ago now. A quiet day at home, extremely hot and hard to feel motivated about doing much at all. A day that could have easily gone by without much thought or memory of the time. But instead it is etched in my memory box of thought provoking moments. I had seen a TED talk featured on a blog which I respected, so Brad and I sat down to watch. Which led to watching another and another and about 7 in all. Wow… Fancy all that time being challenged by speakers who were passionate about their topic and communicated it in a way which shared that passion with us – in a very thought provoking way.

The topics and challenges have been swirling in my mind ever since. We chose these particular talks because they were thoughts, ideas and topics we were interested in or wrestling with at the time. And this one afternoon of sitting in the cool air-conditioned comfort has definitely changed us and our approach to life in subtle, yet profound, ways. Yes. A good weekend day filled with just what we needed at the time.

But there was one comment that has swirled about my thoughts more than any other – and I don’t even remember who said it:

Life is too short to be busy.

There. A life changing challenge wrapped up so succinctly in seven little words.

At first I thought; ‘Oh yeah, just don’t fill up the diary or over schedule activities. That’s simple for me at the moment. I really don’t have a lot going on in my life outside of my home and family.’

Then my thoughts went to; ‘Life is unavoidably busy when you have little children and then decide to homeschool them. There’s not a lot I can do about that at this stage in my life.’ …. End of thought process.

But there have been many moments over these past couple weeks when those seven little words have crept back into my mind and dictated how I chose to spend that moment. You know the times, when it’s so hard to get motivated so you look on pinterest instead. The computer is a great accomplice at those times. Or when the children are all happily occupied so you busy yourself doing….’stuff’.

Yeah, so confession time. I’ve had a lot of those times lately. And those little words are there to remind me that I’m making myself busy just for the sake of it. Not because I have a lot on my to-do list that day, but simply because I feel better about myself if I’m busy. I can fuss around doing this, that and the other without really accomplishing anything because it feels better to be doing things rather than just enjoying the moment.

I think it’s a cultural thing as well, we tend to value being busy. We talk about it, moan and complain about how busy we are, yet continue to fill up our days with busyness. We reply to so many conversations with the response, “busy”. Why? Does it give us status? We must be more important if we are ‘busy’. Is it an avoidance tactic? We don’t have to face other (probably more important) issues if we remain ‘busy’. We don’t have to talk to that person or make that decision if we are ‘busy’. Is it a form of laziness? It’s easier to be ‘busy’ that to use the mental fortitude required for other tasks (such as writing or thinking). Is it because we lack self confidence? It’s easier to by ‘busy’ than put our dreams on the line and open to critique as we work on bringing them into reality. I don’t know, and I suppose the answer is different for everyone and each situation.

In response to those words and the tumultuous thought process inside my head lately, I’m determining, once again, to remember what really matters. In the big scheme of life what is it that is most important – not urgent, but important? I need to keep my focus on the life I wish to lead, the example I want to be, the person I need to become to achieve my goals and the person I choose to show up as each and every day.

My resolve:

:: Place a higher value on sitting still and just enjoying where I am at the moment.

:: Remember that relationships matter most of all. People are more important than things or achievements.

:: Write a note, make a phone call, send an email, connect in some way.

:: Write a to-do list each day/week to keep me focused and allow me to enjoy the time after those things are finished.

:: Stop more often to watch my children play, explore and learn.

:: Pick up a needle and thread more often. {This makes me stop and enjoy the moment and everything that is happening around me. It is relaxing and allows me to focus again. It gives my thoughts clarity, as a friend said this morning, ‘It’s so much easier to think with a needle and thread in hand. The thoughts are deeper and with more clarity then.’}

:: Write a journal daily.

:: Remember these quiet days which fill my calendar are a privilege – don’t busy myself just for the sake of being busy.

:: And Remember Always…

Life is too short to be busy.

 

What I’m Learning – Busyness does not equal Importance

It’s a common misconception to think that busyness equals importance. Somehow it gets into our heads that one equates to the other. Although I make a very conscious effort to live my life simply and purposefully take time each day to simply enjoy my life and the people I share it with, I still find myself with the mindset that I must rush onto the next thing – whatever that may be.

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I was reminded of this today. Here I was gifted with a whole day before me. No plans, no agenda, only two children and myself in the house. What should I do? Where should I start? Brad left to go hiking with two of our boys and as they drove off I found my mind in a spin. I had ideas aplenty. Plans continuously circling round my headspace just waiting for the peaceful moments to be brought forth into reality. So here I found myself, not sure where to start. A whole day to make the most of, I felt the pressure. This was such an unusual occurrence for me. Time. Space. Quiet. I needed to make it productive and worthwhile. Or so I thought…

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I quickly set the two children up with some painting and I hid myself in my studio. The sewing table was strewn with a project in process. Beauty spilled forth from the fabrics – floral, pink, aqua, fine chord = yes please. But I looked around and didn’t know where to start or what to do. I was floundering with too many plans and ideas. Too much to do. I opened my computer and checked the mail, browsed a few blogs, looked at some photos of a friends wedding yesterday…. wasted a bit more time…. then realised I had two beautiful children singing as they painted some cardboard, medieval castles. They seemed so happy, peaceful and simply enjoying this day and the company of each other. So I dropped my grand plans and went to join them. I decided that these two children are so precious and I wanted to share in their contentment with life at the moment and simply enjoy their company.

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My day had begun with a whirl of busyness inside me. I had this false idea that for this day to be meaningful it had to be productive. And to be productive meant being busy. But with gratitude I now look back and realise I approached this past day with ‘SLOW’ as my motto. Enjoy the little moments, sit with these children, enjoy the stages they are at, shower love upon them and allow them to shine today.

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While I feel refreshed, rested and as though I have really connected with these two delightful beings which I’m honoured to call my children, I have also accomplished so much. I haven’t been busy in mind or hand, yet the product of the day has equated to several things ticked of the to-do list. What a delightful way to meander through this life of ours. With a stillness of spirit and a determination to go slow and enjoy the moments along the way.

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PS. As part of my determination to go slow and leave the pressure of achievement behind today, I determined to leave my camera packed snugly away in it’s case as well. So I’m sharing some of natures spring beauty with you today. I took the photos last weekend as we meandered around some stunning gardens.

What I’m Learning – Being Present

Stitching It was plainly obvious that something was not working in my daily rhythm. The afternoons from when my littlest woke from his sleep till he went to bed at night – sometimes far later than he needed – were not pleasant. My littlest was displaying plain naughty characteristics and I was becoming a more cranky Mummy by the minute. Each afternoon was turning into a battle. I would dread it. The older children were missing out on my focused attention and any response I gave was certainly not in a loving tone of voice. The littlest, well, he just got into anything and everything he knew he wasn’t allowed. And my husband would arrive home every day to a very frazzled family and a wife ready to explode.

Not a good way to live. And if this was only an odd day here or there, I’d just let it pass. But it was becoming a daily occurrence. Now, I’ve learnt a thing or two about this parenting lark. Until this point I had been battling a strong-willed 2 year old and ‘locking horns’ with him. And as you wiser Mums out there know, this is a rather unproductive way of approaching a situation such as this. So I got to thinking, the problem wasn’t really his behaviour. Because that was just the outward action, it wasn’t the cause of the problem. What was the cause? What was it that this littlest one of mine needed? Why did he seem so angry at the world? What was going on inside him for this to be the outworking?

I decided to give one day to observing him and giving him lots and lots and lots of focused attention, in an effort to break the cycle of our rather unpleasant afternoons. That’s when I discovered the answer. I was getting distracted each afternoon. Not completing enough in his sleep time and feeling short-changed. Then I would spend the afternoons in a distracted state. Maybe reading some blogs or checking facebook or googling something or…….. but I was feeling unfulfilled myself and was giving my attention to a screen rather than my family. (Humbling moment, I realise the cause is more about me than the little one.)

Now that I realised the my littlest one was really just needing a Mummy to be present and not distracted in the world of www’s and smart phones. What a relief. So I’ve set up a new afternoon rhythm around here. And it’s working wonders. The entire family is more content, less arguments, Mummy is happier which seems to trickle through to the whole family. I tend to greet my husband with a smile instead of a ‘I can’t take this any longer’ type of desperation. Just changing my afternoon to become present with my children for an hour or so has made a massive difference. And we all like it.

And, well, I almost feel a bit embarrassed telling you the simplicity of it all. What do I actually do? Well, I turn off all screens after the children’s rest time. Unless I need to make a phone call or something, well that’s fine, but not to have them around to waste my time and take my attention. And I, wait for it, this is the big, big, big change. I make a deliciously, hot, freshly ground, coffee. Take some embroidery and sit on our back deck. Yup. That’s it. Basically I take an hour out of my ‘feeling bored’ ‘wasting time’ afternoon and do what I would chose to do if I ‘had more time’ (win, win all around). The little one plays happily in the sandpit or back yard with minimal attention from me. But he knows I’m there to help him or watch him or give him attention if he needs it. The older children come and go. Different every day. Sometimes they join in the play outside, sometimes one will sit and chat with me (which I enjoy immensely), sometimes they might pick up a project and stitch alongside me, sometimes they might be busy inside. But everyone is productively enjoying the time.

Needless to say, I’m now LOVING my afternoons instead of dreading them. And our family is a much more content entity as a result of me taking an hour or two each afternoon to enjoy the outdoors with a coffee and embroidery in hand. What a delightful answer to a problem.

What I’m Learning – Gratitude

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It was a book from the library which instigated the search. A trip back through the memory lane found within my photos. I read the last pages while snuggling my littlest to sleep yesterday, tears streaming down my cheeks and a lump in my heart. The story was titled ‘The Quilt’ and the making of such was the theme found from the beginning until it ended with a funeral. The funeral of the elderly lady of whom the story was written. It was fiction and my logical mind was telling me that it’s all just a story. But the words really hit a chord within. I think these past few months have drawn up a lot of my emotional reserves and it was the beauty of this story which overwhelmed me with raw emotion and gratitude.

How could I let a moment such as this pass? I had to do something, so I went browsing my old memories. Reflecting on the good times I’ve been privileged to share with some very special people in my life. Remembering why we have chosen to live our lives this way. Seeing anew the amazing blessing this family of mine, immediate and extended, is. And generally just viewing the whole world through renewed eyes as my heart overflowed with gratefulness.

It’s really the only way to live, this life of thanksgiving. It brings the whole world into focus and places the important things in front of those which are least important (to-do lists have a habit of doing the opposite). It makes me realise the value of spending an hour sitting outside, watching my children play and chatting with my oldest son. That’s the important stuff which doesn’t achieve any task crossed off the list. But of the highest value in the big scheme of life.

A simple fictional story which my littlest son pulled off the library shelf last week and I decided to leave it in the book basket and bring it home. It seems like a random coincidence, but I wonder. It’s touched me deeply and given me new perspective. And for that I am grateful.

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Watermarks on the Art Book

“Come and look Mum!”

Brush still in hand and paint dripping down to his elbow, he gazes longingly through the kitchen window.

“Mum, come now, please. Come and see what I’ve painted.”

The littlest one rattles at the door desperate to go outside and join the big brother. He sees freedom and fun. I simply see the mess that would ensue.

“Just wait a while. I’ll come out soon, by myself.” My reply floats between open kitchen window and craft table outside.

The words seem stuck in mid-air. Just wait. . . . Wait-a-minute. . . . I’ll be there soon. . . . . These statements come far to often from my lips. So I bundle up courage and open the door allowing littlest one to slip out with lightening quick movement before the door gets closed again.

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This day began with the littlest one climbing out of his cot, a new-found skill which he is rather proud to show off, at a way-too-early hour. Grumpiness, tiredness and a general attitude which I’ve translated as ‘I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-myself’ make the next few hours a challenge to keep up with this boy.

Milk tipped over the bench, laundry powder sprinkled through the dryer and two rooms, bookshelves emptied and their contents strewn across the floor, computer turned off while it was being used by big sister. . . . . This boy had it all happening this morning. Thus I was more than a little reluctant to let him anywhere near paint at this point in time.

Unmasked joy and pride was on full display as the big brother showed his artwork, explaining it all in the greatest detail. An artbook lay open beside him to provide inspiration and his tool of choice was a cotton wool bud. The result was remarkably similar to the Aboriginal art print which provided the guide.

I glance away for a mere second to observe the coming rain clouds.

A mere second glancing at the rain clouds proved far too long to leave this littlest one from direct view. Our beautiful artbook now has a murky, black-brown watermark flowing through almost every page. And two outfits permanantly stained with black not-able-to-wash-out paint.

But…. the joy evident in the eyes of the big brother make it all worthwhile. He showed off his artwork with deserving pride. How often is he the one who patiently waits while I am busy with the daily duties. He waits, but often I don’t make it to look. Today I did. An art book may now have murky, water stains adorning it’s pages. But that’s ok. It’s only a book, a book with a memory etched forever on it’s pages.

And sometimes, just sometimes, being a Mummy is all about this sort of thing. Giving the deserved attention to the little ones who need it. Then continue on to clean up the messes that are sure to happen. Delighting in the way that these children are growing, every single day.

 

Saying Goodbye

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It’s a view which fills my heart with gratitude. It uplifts my soul and encapsulates an essence which says, ‘you are special, amazing, loved and the whole world is a beautiful place and everything is possible.’ A place which causes me to stop and has taught me to simply ‘be’. As a student of this place, I initially resisted it’s urge to teach me this lesson. I held onto my own strength and tried to ‘achieve’ as has been my natural inclination. Slowly I succumbed to the restful quality and quiet stillness which is found here. I’ve come to realise deep within the power of allowing life to flow in it’s natural rhythm without me trying to force it my way. I’ve discovered the power in the statement, “Let Go and Let God.” Big lesson there. I’ve discovered how to connect with my inner self and live in a state of connection rather than discord. And it’s been an absolute pleasure spending the past year in this classroom which I’ve called home.

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It’s a season of lasts for us here. It’s time to say goodbye to this community which has welcomed us with wide open arms. It’s been an absolute privilege to have lived here for this season of our life. The freedom which this place has given our children has been enjoyed by all. The friendships which have been formed will be taken with us and memories kept forever.

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Weekending 1

Saying goodbye to this place ushers in the opportunity to embrace a new season of life within our family. A new location to call home. A new part of the country to explore. A new community to embrace and find our fit within. A new rhythm of family life to carve out and create. A lot of new on the horizon. The unknowns may be a little unsettling. The goodbyes a little melancholy. But the horizon of our family life is glittering with new opportunities which I’m embracing with a sense of expectation.

 

The Butterfly Effect

Butterflies have been quite a recurring theme around our place in recent days. Their beauty has melded into our lives in a variety of different forms.

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This Beauty came to visit our front yard a few days ago. Much to the delight and amazement of us all. It was as if it had come to visit purely for our enjoyment, fluttering around us and resting on the bush right beside where we were eating our snack. Quite coincidently I had my camera in hand and the butterfly remained still just long enough to snap these photos. (I’m extremely inexperienced at such wildlife photography.)

The Wonderland of Nature by Nuri Mass has been our morning tea reading most of this year. We have all loved this book especially as it describes Australian insects, animals and plants and we have referred back to it on many occasions after discovering an insect or plant which we had previously read about. Our readings for these past couple weeks have described in detail various caterpillars and their transformation into butterflies and moths. Almost as if on cue, the butterfly above fitted into my nicely organised homeschool lessons more perfectly than I could have planned – the beauty of learning as we live our lives together.

We have recently read (and on several previous occasions, I might add) The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrew.  A delightful picture book which outlines the lives of a few people over a few generations. The influence each person has on the next is seen quite clearly and ‘The Butterfly Effect’ demonstrated so beautifully.

But it was a television show which sparked the discussion. A short, clever, funny show which has the ability to bring children and adults alike running as soon as the theme music begins – it doesn’t matter if the 5 year old is half way brushing his teeth or the two year old has been snuggled into bed after stories and cuddles, they all come running, then disappear just as quickly afterwards. Miniscule has become a family favourite to snuggle on the couch together for a giggle and laugh before bedtime reading.

The title of the show last night was ‘The Butterfly Effect’. This prompted quite an in-depth discussion between Brad and I regarding the subtleties between the words ‘effect’ and ‘affect’ resulting in a dictionary and thesaurus being referenced. Then as the show ended the children were intrigued as to what ‘The Butterfly Effect’ actually was. And was it real? I mean could a simple flapping of a butterflies wings really produce a profound effect somewhere else in the world? If that was so, then us running, blowing, sneezing……. would all have a similar reaction, wouldn’t it?

Hmmm….. how to answer. Well I didn’t have any scientific explanation and I had to agree that the concept was rather hard to comprehend. The Boy Who Changed The World describes it well even if a little abstractly;

Every time something happens, something else happens. That’s called the butterfly effect. When a butterfly flaps its wings, it moves tiny pieces of air … that move other tiny pieces of air … that move other tiny pieces of air. In fact, on the other side of the world, they might be feeling a big whoosh of wind – all because a butterfly flapped its wings here just a few minutes ago!

So I brought it back to something we could all see and renamed it ‘The Ripple Effect’. We collected a little pebble and threw it into the still water. This produced ripples which grew in size and intensity and continued growing and flowing until they reached the shore. Good, a concrete example we could all observe and relate to (and nothing to do with butterflies which seemed too gentle and beautiful to be involved in such an analogy according to my daughter).

The discussions continued all day as each brought a new perspective on ‘The Ripple Effect’. How much we influence those about us, even without knowing, just by the little things we do, has fascinated these children of mine. The three older ones have all made definitive plans about just how they are going to make the world a better place when they are older and are 100% convinced that what they are learning about and doing now is in fact making the future world a better place to live in. The conversations I overheard among themselves showed me just how seriously they were taking this concept. Every action they take, so it seems, has been analysed (by themselves) to make sure the ‘ripple effect’ they are creating is a good one – they certainly don’t want to create a devastating tsunami ripple.

Once again I’m astounded by the understanding and child-like acceptance of these children of mine. They teach me daily, and once again I become the student. My influence is far greater than I can imagine. It flows from the conversations I have, they way I live my life, the little things which I am consistent within the four walls of my home and the person I decide to turn up as each and every day. Just by living my life and being the best me I can be at this moment is creating a ripple of influence. Wow, what a responsibility. I’m determined to once again raise my standards and expectations of myself. To take a good, long, honest look at myself and decided what I need to continue or change. It’s a good reminder and I’m once again grateful for the lesson I’ve learnt from these amazing children.

 

 

Linking up with:

Smile

I have been rather silent here lately. It’s times like this when ‘life’ seems to take over and I’ve commented on several occasions lately that, ‘it takes all day to get through the day.’ Nothing extraordinary happening – but lots of little things added into my days which make up a very full life – delightful, enjoyable, beautiful… but full. So today I’m sharing some words of wisdom from a person who has inspired me over the years. While I may not agree with his entire philosophy of life or everything he writes, he has inspired me to live my life with a purpose, to be more connected, to live in the present moment and appreciate each day for the beauty found within it and possible most importantly he has inspired me to write – really write, and this blog is one small part of that.

 

Smile in Each Moment

By Leo Babauta

There’s a tendency to get caught up in the tasks of our day, the urgency of what’s coming up, the distractions of being online.

And we forget to smile.

In the rush of the day, the stress of wanting things to happen a certain way, we lose the enjoyment of each moment.

In every moment, there’s the capacity for happiness. It’s not that we need to be ecstatic, full of pleasure, excited or even joyous each and every second of the day. Who needs that kind of pressure? And it’s not that we can never feel sadness or anger or stress. It’s that we can feel happiness, in some form, any moment we like, even in the midst of stress or sadness.

And it’s exceedingly simple. We just need to remember to smile.

You can smile in each and every moment.

OK, maybe you don’t need a smile on your face all day long — your cheeks will feel tired. But we can smile more, and in between physical smiles, we can have an internal smile.

Try an internal smile now: have a calm, unsmiling face, but think of the miracle of this moment, and find a thought to smile about. Feel the smiling feeling inside. Isn’t that amazing?

What do you have to smile about in this moment?

Some ideas:

  • You have someone in your life who cares about you.
  • There is beauty all around you, in many forms.
  • You are generous, compassionate, and good-hearted.
  • You have someone you can help.
  • You have eaten today.
  • You can move.
  • You can see the sun shining.
  • You can appreciate the leaves of a tree, rain falling, wind blowing.
  • You can taste chocolate.
  • You get to spend time with someone you love.
  • You have music in your life.
  • You get to create something.

And so on. You probably don’t have all of these, but you might have one or two, and if so, that’s a more than good enough cause to smile.

You’ll forget to smile in some moments, because your mind gets caught up in stories about the past, stresses about what might happen in the future. None of this is happening right now — it’s just movies playing in our heads.

Instead, remind yourself of what’s happening right now, and see the beauty in it, see the reason to smile. And then smile, externally and internally.

This changes your day, because now instead of being caught up in stress and stories, we are present, and happy. We can be content with every moment.

It changes your life, because too often we miss the smile-ability of life when we are not paying attention.