This post is by a beautiful soul, Lauren Roberts-Shanks, who I knew back in high school. I haven’t seen her in over 20 years. And yet, we meet here. She is launching her website, www.soulawareness.com, this March.
I recently turned 40. This is a turning point. Although it’s just a number, it has awoken something ferocious inside me – as I search for more clarity and meaning in my life.
My mind chatter screams: Am I living my life to the fullest? Why am I alive? Could my life really be half over? What if I only have 14 years left?
I answer these questions differently each day and, in my heart, I know that it’s the journey that matters. I see this when I observe my children laughing and playing – having no sense of time or the past or future. Just the moment.
I would describe myself as a type A, introverted perfectionist. I analyze my successes and failures daily. In many ways, I am a rigid control freak. Rigid with my diet, my workouts, my self-care; Rigid with my every day analysis of myself as a mother, wife, and friend.
A state of overwhelm is a daily occurrence for me. With three kids and multi-tasking not my forte, I fail consistently.
And my daydreaming doesn’t help. I build castles in the sky regularly. I get excited at the thought of pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I like doing things that give me a surge of adrenaline – even a quick thought into the unknown.
And so, I crave experiences that generate a sense of being in my body, like running in the woods. It forces me away from my distractions and into the present moment.
But I’m learning that I don’t need to run away to find what I’ve been craving. It is actually available to me at every moment of every day. And while I’d like to be in that adventurous mode all day long, there is a balance that needs to happen or else my life feels chaotic.
To manage a family of five, there must be routines and a whole lot of discipline – mostly with myself. I have recently found that in order to seize the moment with my children, systems and organization need to be in place. If my kids lay their clothes out the night before bed and backpacks are ready in advance, for example, the mornings have a whole new possibility where we can sing and dance and play. It’s opened up a new world of magical and goofy moments.
This is the balance I am discovering – between being firm but yielding.
Certain things have to be done everyday for my household to run smoothly, and if these are done without extra thought, the more energy I have to focus on my creativity.
I don’t want to be afraid of waking up at the end of my life with regrets. I don’t want to miss out on the opportunities I have to discover my children – and the people and things that are right in front of me. Yes, sometimes, like many introverts, I’m a little slow at processing and transitioning. Yes, this makes it a challenge when a spontaneous moment presents itself. Sometimes the ship has already sailed by the time I’m ready to jump aboard.
Progress, I tell myself, not perfection.
Today, I am ready to let go of who I was and step into the now. My birthday has brought forth a huge shift in my perception of who I am and what is important. I have started asking myself the right questions. Questions I play over and over like mantras for my soul.
Can I let go of control today and seize the moments?
Can I allow myself to trust that I will be lead in the right direction? Can I transition out of something I’ve planned if it doesn’t feel right in my body?
Can I ride the wave of my day?
Can I get in tune with my childlike sense of wonder and look for magic in the everyday activities?
Can I be grateful for what I have?
Can I focus on the things that make my heart sing and notice the things that are driven by my ego?
Can I stay competitive with myself and let go of my need to share my accomplishments?
YES. Today, I can be free to be me. Nothing more, nothing less.
Every morning, the sun comes up and the sun goes down. Every day, I can start over and get a chance to do it better than the day before. Today, I get to walk into the local coffee shop and leave my phone in the car – and just notice what I notice. When I feel drawn to someone or something, maybe I will stay open to the opportunity that arises.
This is where the magic happens.
Every day, a person or conversation may change the course of my life. Maybe, maybe not. But just being present will change the course of my day.
Today, I am committed to letting go of who I was and trust that I will be led in the right direction, which is now.
In the orient, the balance between structure and function is represented by the bamboo rod strong, firm but yielding.
I am a warrior, strong but able to bend.