Saturday, February 20, 2010

Living a Mindful Life Lesson 14: Acid Washed Jeans & High-tops

Being mindful of others' likes & dislikes is a challenging mindful tool to learn...especially with my children. I always want to instill my opinions and thoughts about everything. That's fine when it is about morals or drugs or religion and stuff that I feel really matters in their development. BUT should I really try to control every bit, especially the little parts that make up who they want to be at that moment?
When I was young, (well, not kid young but tween/teen young) I more often than not wore clothes that my mom didn't like. She would buy me matchy-matchy outfits and then look at me in dismay when I wanted to return them or if I would mix them up in different ways. It was my goal never to wear the same complete outfit twice and I was quite successful.
Side bar: This notion is so funny to me today because now I will wear the same outfit several times in a row--basically whatever happens to be on the floor by the toilet when I wake up. (Note to my Mother: I do; however, put on clean underwear.)
Any way, so Mom eventually started letting me pick out my own clothes...or at least some of them. I had these paint splatter capri pants and several pairs of acid washed jeans that I would either peg leg with my handy sewing machine or would simply do the fold and roll. If you grew up in the 80s, you know exactly what I'm talking about. In college, I moved onto an even more disturbing look for my Mom: short, short hair, no make up, white v-neck t-shirts, pegged jeans and pink high-tops that I had decorated with a Sharpie marker (both the jeans and shoes) and written my boyfriend's name on. I thought I was sooooooooo artsy and cool.
So the other day, my husband took my son (almost 11) to buy new every day sneakers. I finally started getting him just one pair because his feet grow so fast, it is just a waste for him to have more than one. Up until that day, I had just bought shoes for him while I was out shopping. They were typically white, regular sneakers and the brand depended on what was on sale at the time. For some reason, I actually thought that he would come back with a similar type shoe and it never occurred to me to give my husband any directions or shopping boundaries.
My son is wearing his new shoes when he comes in and I looked at them and had the fastest mindful moment I think I have ever had. There he stood in these black leather high-top sneakers...the kind all the "thugs & druggies" wore at my high school. After over 20 years, they still make these awful shoes?? My initial reaction was to tell him to get those ugly things off his feet & return them immediately. But my mindful little voice quickly chimed in, "Don't react, don't say anything negative. You told him to pick out his own shoes. And he did." He said with a grin: "Dad said you probably wouldn't like these, but I really do, Mom." My response (with a smile, I might add) was: "Honey, I told you to pick them out. If they make you happy then they are perfectly fine." Then I thought, "Thank goodness his feet grow fast. Besides that, at least he isn't wearing them with acid washed jeans."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Living a Mindful Life Lesson 13: The Storm Before the Calm

We all have those moments when everything seems to be going wrong—one thing after the next. Sometimes those moments turn into days, weeks, if you are really unlucky, years. Life is truly unpredictable no matter how well you plan and prepare.

One of my struggles is to maintain a calm spirit in the middle of an upheaval of my life plan. I imagine a little devil with a pitchfork digging up my well attended and groomed lawn of life. I feel immediately threatened when anything goes against my expectations. Unfortunately, I tend to “catastrophize”—to make things worse than they really are. Then, to make things even worse, I project the stress I am experiencing at the moment into the future and it almost feels like whatever is happening will be happening for eternity. In the past, and even in the last few months, I’ve been called a drama queen and even worn the badge proudly on occasion. But lately I’ve realized that the catastrophizing only leads to more stress than the original incident deserves and I’ve been trying to maintain calm within a storm.

Today I am flying home from Minneapolis. I was there with my husband’s family to celebrate the life and morn the death of his beloved grandmother. My husband was up and at ‘em this morning because he had at 7:30 a.m. business meeting. Alone, I wallowed in my bliss: watched a movie, ate breakfast in bed and caught up on some computer work. As usual, I started to pack and reorganize my things. I found all my socks and folded all my t-shirts. Put away my makeup and hair products. Tried to insure that my bag weighed less than 50 pounds (42 at the airport!). But……I couldn’t find my driver’s license and I didn’t have any other form of picture I.D. As you know, in the age of terrorist, you can pretty much plan on being grounded without a form of identification.

Typically this occurrence would send me into complete panic mode with wringing of hands and lots of tears—maybe even a few well chosen swear words. Once I searched everywhere and realized that it was, indeed, lost, I had a mindful moment: a reality check. “What if,” I thought,” I just take a moment and collect my nerves. There has to be a solution to this. It is early enough for me to find out. There is no reason to lose it.” If you know me well, you would be surprised at this thought process. Typically my panic leads to ill thought out behaviors like frantically trying to track down my husband by calling and leaving a million messages (there I go being a drama queen again). In trying to live a mindful life, I am trying to be aware of those times when I can use my mindfulness to a great advantage.

Sure, there are things in life that deserve an all out panic and I pray nothing ever happens to me that justifies such madness. Losing my license did not qualify as a disaster. Well, in a nutshell, I called my airline and did exactly what they told me to do and in the end, here I sit on the airplane home typing on my husband’s laptop. My theory is that if I can master the big stuff, the small stuff won’t seem so enormous.