Keep On Keeping On

Me at the "Run or Dye" 5K (like the tutu?)
Me at the “Run or Dye” 5K (like the tutu?)

A million and nine thoughts bombard my mind any given day, any given moment. As one of those quiet introverts, I admit I spend a lot of time in my head. In fact, it can be maddening at times. I can spend hours daydreaming, pondering some question or trying to glean some sort of insight and meaning into it all (and rather unsuccessfully so). From the little questions like “What should I make for dinner tomorrow?” to the medium ones like “When will I finally be debt free?” to the really big ones like “Who made God?” I have a hard time just clearing my mind of all the clutter and just living in the moment.

This summer I’ve been working on a practice I’ve been reading about called “mindfulness.” The concept is simple in that you try to focus on your breathing or a word for a period of time and as stray thoughts come across your mind, you dismiss them without judgement and get back to your focus. My daughter’s therapist read us a story about a monkey and a panda. The panda was peaceful and happy because “when he was walking, he thought about walking; when he was working, he thought about working and when he was playing he thought about playing.” Sounds good. Right. I certainly can use more happiness and peacefulness in my life!

Along with mindfulness, my summer has also been about running. I started the couch to 5K program back in April and am proud to say I’ve participated in six 5K races. I finished all six and actually ran without walking in three of them. My goal of having a stronger and healthier body is coming along. Which brings me to my next goal of having a healthier mind and a happier outlook, which brings me back to mindfulness. Thus, I brought the two ideas together and I am practicing mindfulness when I’m running/walking. I make myself focus only on my footfall or my posture as I run. If I start thinking about the errands I need to run later or the laundry I need to move to the dryer, I stop myself when I realize my mind is drifting and bring it back around to the feel of my body as I run, the way the wind feels against my hot skin or on pulling air into my lungs and exhaling.

This exercise helps me focus on being a better runner (note I didn’t say faster!). I’m hoping eventually I’ll be able to use mindfulness to  free myself of distractions in other areas of my life and focus on what I’m doing at the given moment. I don’t need to worry about tomorrow’s dinner, until tomorrow, right?  On the other hand, I do need to have the right ingredients on hand, so I guess there is something to say about planning. So how do I reconcile the two ideas of living in the moment versus planning ahead? Well, my plan is to set aside time to plan ahead (when I’m planning, I’ll think about planning, right!)

I once read if you keep on doing the same thing, you’ll keep getting the same result. Thus, I’m all for changing it up and plugging away at being more mindful.

Has anyone else tried to practice mindfulness? Any tips or ideas you can share?

 

Time Musings

Missing Tooth

As I walked along our deserted country road this warm summer evening, holding my five-year-old’s hand, my mind wandered back through time. Last week she lost her first tooth. This afternoon she told me how she got to cross the road all by herself to get the mail, looking both ways to make sure no cars were coming of course. And in less than two weeks, she’ll start kindergarten. My eyes water already at just the thought of watching her climb aboard the big yellow bus and disappear out of sight.

I only have to close my eyes and I feel her tiny fingers wrapped around one of mine, her soft cheek pressed against my breast. I can hear the little sighs and gurgles she made as slept in my arms. I can smell the sweet pea shampoo in her freshly washed hair. I can see her little legs carry her across the living room, one shaking step at a time to reach my outstretched arms.

I try to wrap my mind around that elusive concept of time. Some days the seconds drag by in excruciating slowness. Yet in this moment it feels as if the years raced past me. Some days I wish I could pull a brake and slow time down and other days I want that fast forward button to take me some unknown place in the future that has to be better than the now. Some days I greedily wish for more time and other days  I wish it away.

Time…60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in day, 7 days in a week, 356 days in a year…The math adds up the same every time, yet in my mind I still struggle and wonder how that can be.

I try to live in the present. Not think too much about the past or skip too far to the future. I know I only really have this moment and then its gone. The moments turn into memories and if I contemplate too long I’ll miss it and the next time I look at my daughter, she’ll be leaving for college…