Thoughts have been swirling in my mind lately. Well, all the time really. Such is life. There is always this picture. I wonder how many of us have it. It is a picture of how I want things to be. It is an ideal. It is wonderful. In this picture children sit and eat meals like little angels, my home is clean and clutter-free, I take perfect care of my physical body and move it everyday, I eat healthy and mindfully, we homeschool in a peaceful, undistracted atmosphere, nobody ever complains about anything and everybody is perfectly attentive and peaceful. It is a wonderful picture and each day I strive to manifest it. It is an ideal. It is a goal. And yet, in reality our meals at times are completely chaotic, the house looks very… well… lived-in, my exercise is fitted in when it can be, between trying to balance everything else, we do eat healthy foods, but I often am eating in a hurry as in between bites I am getting up to get something or making the kids their meals, we homeschool in bed or on the couch a lot of the time with books all around and papers getting a bit crumpled, toddlers are often distracting, there is a healthy dose of complaining and I wonder how attentive the kids (and myself) are some days.
I had a wonderful chat with a friend that I made through my blog yesterday afternoon and we talked about so many things, this included. How we have ideals about life and what “normal” is or should be. Each of us has this picture. There is a life that we want that is not the life that we have. It is apart of our nature to have ideals and goals and something to strive for. To gradually perfect ourselves and strive toward a more peaceful life. The funny thing is though, that there really is no “normal.” If we are attentive enough in life, we can see that often (very often in my case) the ideals never really do turn to reality, especially when we strive for them and constantly try to make our mental picture a reality. Life doesn’t work that way.
But, lo and behold, when you let that go and instead just embrace the “abnormal” reality before you, how much more beautiful is it than the picture that we hold! That picture can never hold a candle to what is, even if what is, is a sink full of dishes, messy bed heads worn into town because there was no time to brush everyone’s hair, or you simply just didn’t want to have to put up a fight with your child in the morning (anyone else?). What is, is often special meals made for picky eaters just to get them to eat and not put up a fight, a pile of laundry that has needed to be folded for days and crumbs on the floor. Always crumbs on the floor. What is, is homeschooling in bed because you are so tired you just want to relax and be comfortable and make the learning experience fun and not all orderly and school-like. What is, is wearing pajamas around the house all day and keeping your hair in a not-so-stylish up-do, snacking on boxed crackers and grapes or eating cereal as a meal because it is food and you are hungry and grateful to just have a meal that everyone can sit and eat in peace. That is what is. That is life. That is reality. At least around here anyway.
My friend and I talked about how our children are our greatest teachers who really have an amazing ability to awaken us to what is truly important in life. They are constantly teaching us to let go of that mental picture. To redefine “normal” and to embrace what is. To see life as perfectly imperfect. Both my friend and I believe that our children were sent down to us for a reason and if we are awake to learning what they have to teach us, peace naturally flows. It is letting go of the ego and the mind that grasps after the pictures and ideals and constant judgement and intellectualizing that we have about how things “should” be based on what we have been conditioned to have our lives be like.
But what if there was no way things should be, other than the way they are right now? Why do we get so defeated and hard on ourselves when things don’t meet our ideals or that picture? What if we could just let go and see what is in front of our very eyes?
My kids surprise me time and time again. I am constantly learning that the way to get any of my ideals to become a reality is to let go and forget about trying to make anything happen. Kesa is the most stubborn of all of my kids. And really she just reflects myself back to me all the time (which is a real ego-killer, let me tell you). She will not do anything that I want her to do. Ever. Even if I try and subtly trick her or clothe my wants in songs or stories, it just ain’t going to happen. For example, we bought these granola bars that I often offer her for a snack and she refuses to eat them, even though she hasn’t even tried them. I have offered them to her many times and every time she refuses. Yesterday I come downstairs and what do I see her doing? She is eating a granola bar. Am I seeing things? I say “Oh, you are eating the granola bars that I told you to try.” Kesa says that they are actually really good and that she especially loves the kind that I told her that she would like. Autumn even mentions to me “That is her second one.” WHAT?!
Time and time again I see how when I let go mentally of things and do not let myself get upset over when things don’t go how I want them to, everything seems to fall into place. Children are so especially good at teaching us this valuable lesson in life. My girls are always helping me to see that what I want is not as important as what is. To stop living in that ideal reality and to enjoy the reality that is and to just let go.
When I shut my head up long enough and actually open my eyes and see what is happening in front of me, I feel that peace. I think a helpful thing to do is also to turn our thoughts around and change our perspective of things. It is such a good practice. Instead of thinking of that ideal and how bad we want it (and it is totally OK to want for things and have goals), is to just see how things are and how different they are from what they were, yesterday, a week or a month ago. Things are actually changing all the time, the change is just often so slow (or slower than we wish it to be) that we don’t even notice. Our kids are constantly growing and changing and overcoming little things that we think they will never outgrow. And I bet if you stepped back and took a real good look at your life, you would see that countless things you used to worry about have actually passed by quite peacefully. And chances are also good that it had nothing to do with you trying to make anything happen or get anyone to do anything. It doubtlessly happened when you completely forgot about wanting it to happen.
People often ask me how I wrote a book or how I could homeschool or be a stay-at-home mom and when I think about it, really, I have no clue how we do things! I always say “I don’t know how I do it, but I know that when you want something bad enough you can do it.” My only honest answer has to be that it wasn’t even me doing anything. I know that when I worry and try and make things happen, life just stops flowing in that peaceful direction. My eyes close to what is and all the wonderful things that are going for me in life. When that picture and ideal becomes the only thing that I dwell upon and that I think will give me peace and happiness, I lose any peace and happiness that I do have in the moment. But when I forget about making that picture my reality and instead embrace now and what is and focus on all of the things that bring us joy, all that I have to be grateful for and how much love there is in our home, even though we are not at all “normal” and things are never done “perfectly,” “on schedule,” or “according to plan,” I see that there is really nothing more that I could want except to always live in that peaceful surrender.
It does not mean being lazy and never doing anything to make our ideals reality, but it is a metal letting go of trying to make anything happen and instead trusting in something greater to help make our goals and ideals manifest. If we have a picture of what we want and we leave it alone, often I find that those things I had wanted to come to pass do so on their own accord and at their own pace, not mine. This silent surrender is the key to manifesting our goals and ideals. Relaxing in gratitude for what is and not worrying about what you want to come. Living in anxiety or fear of what could happen in the future, steals all joy, peace and gratitude away. Believe me, I have learned this lesson many, many times.
I had more to write this morning on this train of thought when Serafina woke up and I took that as a lesson to leave this as is and go ahead and post it without thinking too much more about it or changing anything that I originally typed out. I am going to reflect on this theme throughout my day and I hope that it inspires someone who reads it today. 🙂
Love & Light,