In May, my goal was to slow down and enjoy all the endings and beginnings. A friend asked what I meant by that, and I explained that our May is always full of end-of-school activties (recitals, awards ceremonies, parties) and beginning of summer events (Memorial Day, swim team, school registration, and class selections).
I usually just hold on and skate through May without stopping to truly celebrate all these milestones and really feel the excitement of a new adventure on the horizon. It seems like a simple thing, but the shift was truly magical for me. I enjoyed May so much more than I EVER have. And I think my family did as well.
That May shift, toward enjoying the moment, led me to the realization that a lot of my time and focus is spent on planning and prepping for the future.
In my quest to keep all the balls beautifully suspended in the air, I often miss what's right in front of me- like the realization that my daughter is opening up to me and wants to connect, or that my friend is here and I am lucky to have her and I should put down my phone.
Though many people look at me and tell me they envy my organizational prowess and my checking off of all the boxes, this need to control and foresee any possible problem is often my achilles heel. My unhealthy fear of any surprise or upset in plans robs me of countless moments of joy and connection.
Though I come by my Enneagram 8 personality honestly, and with a fair amount of well-earned baggage, I have realized it is time to relax and trust. It's time to lean-in, be present, let some stuff hit the fan if necessary.
It will be OK- even if the idea of something hitting the fan makes my stomach clench. I know that's just my Amygdala responding as if I am in physical danger and, in noting that clench, I am able to choose differently.
It amazes me how easy it is to shift that mindest when I'm being mindful. It seems too easy, so I resisted it for a long time. Before I learned how effective it is to just notice my thoughts and choose something higher, I would just panic and do anything to avoid that stomach clench.
So if I dreamed about relaxing and connecting instead of producing, but my stomach clenched up in fear, I would immediately retreat back to my well dusted and tidy corner and decide that I had been terribly wrong to think that I could safely relax and enjoy the moment.
But now I know that I can just notice the clench, label the feeling (fear of not being good enough), find the attached thought (If you relax, you will forget something you were supposed to do and the world will END!), and choose something better (I am not a little girl in a scary situation anymore. I am safe. I am here on this Earth to experience love and joy. THIS is my job. THIS is my challenge.)
I am giddy each time I remember to do this and realize that it is SO SIMPLE and REALLY WORKS.
So. I decided to challenge myself to give up future planning for the month of June. All of it.
Full disclosure- I grandfathered in the planning of the 4th of July, because I have a committee of fellow volunteers counting on me to help pull off a fantastic city-wide event. But other than the 4th of July, I am committed to ONLY entertaining thoughts of June this month.
When I catch myself becoming preoccupied with the rest of the summer, or the fall, or Thanksgiving...I stop myself and remind myself it's just June!
It's June 3rd, and I have had to redirect myself one million times already.
But. Also. It's June 3rd, and I've spent an entire day hanging out with my family and doing NOTHING productive.
I've written this email, and I love writing, but sometimes it feels like a frivolous use of my time. It's not, I know!
And I've chatted via text with a friend and we made some really great connections today using our 2019 technology. We both felt all the feels, even through the phone.
So I feel like Just June is already a success. I'm loving each time I catch myself in the act of daydreaming about the future, instead of leaning in to the present. Just like meditating, catching myself in the act is the point. And each time I catch my thoughts, and choose to be present instead, I smile and congratulate myself.
So, sweet friends who are so accustomed to the planner in me, try not to be alarmed when I politely refuse to entertain what I'm going to do in the fall with two girls in schools in different cities, or what dates I'm going to choose to tube the Guadlupe this summer. I've got my answer ready, and I'll repeat it as many times as necessary: It's just June. Ask me in July.
If you are like me, and live more in the future than the present, I encourage you to try relaxing into the moment more.
If you're the opposite and tend to find yourself putting out fires and unable to take a moment to plan ahead, I encourage you to allow yourself to dream a bit about the future and how you might better prepare for upcoming events.
But most of all, I encourage you to congratulate yourself each time you catch yourself with a thought that is not serving you, and you choose something different instead. Every single time you do that, you are practicing mindfulness. AND, you're building stronger neural pathways and training your brain to pay attention to your thoughts. You're basically becoming a mindfulness guru- one stray thought at a time!