happiness

Opportunities for mindfulness

This week I am co-leading a group on mindfulness for my master’s program. Although the intention of mindfulness is to bring peace to your soul, I have been so stressed about leading this group!!!

My partner lives in China which is a challenge because of the 13 hour time difference, and so far I’ve been pretty much flying solo (although we did most of the prep work together).

Here’s what I’m discovering. The last 10 years of working on myself, including developing a (fairly inconsistent lately) meditation practice are really helping me. I know a lot more about mindfulness than I give myself credit for.

Also, I’m much more comfortable in the role of leader than I thought I would be. My years as a substitute teacher help me to be able to change lesson plans on the fly to meet the needs of the participants.

While preparing for these sessions, I’ve recommitted to my meditation practice and I’m noticing a huge decrease in stress over the last couple of weeks.

I feel that meditation and mindfulness helps me kind of reset my soul, which is a game changer when the anxiety or whirling thoughts kicks in.

I do a good job of talking to God, but not so much of listening. Meditation is my time to listen.

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happiness

Step into mindfulness

I’m co-facilitating a mindfulness group this week for one of my classes. I’m feeling thankful it’s on mindfulness as the closer we get to the start date the more anxious I get.

This preparation work has helped me appreciate how far I’ve come since the first time I attempted meditation about 9 years ago. I was so anxious, so stressed, and trying to calm my nervous system actually made more anxious. It was something I really struggled with for a long time, and still do in many ways. It’s so easy to fall out of the habit of practicing, when it really is essential for me to meditate every single day.

I can feel the benefits, it starts to create more space in my head, and in that space, there’s less room for anxious thoughts to roam. Learning to train my brain has been probably the most challenging task I’ve ever attempted, but the rewards in even doing it imperfectly are worth it.

For me, the number one tool in my mindfulness kit is my meditation practice. I know there are countless other methods to mindfulness, and I fully embrace many of them. But I need the moments of meditation to bring me to a quiet place so I can hear God talk. I do a really good job of telling God how I want things to be, but not such a great one of listening (mostly because I have an idea of how I want the answer to come and it very rarely shows up exactly how I want).

I’m both excited and nervous for this upcoming week. I’ve learned so much in the last year and a half and come so far – I had no idea how much this process would change me and I am incredibly grateful that I’ve had this opportunity to get to understand how my brain works a bit better.

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happiness

Transition and change

I had lunch today with a dear friend of mine – I’ve known her since the beginning of my time and my childhood memories are filled with visions of us tearing things up here at the ranch. We come together as often as we can now to break bread, share laughter, and hold space for each other.

There is something special about these lifelong friends – even more so is the fact that she is family – so we have shared experience, but also were raised with values and share a core understanding of who we are as part of this family. There is little background we ever have to explain to each other when we tell a story. This is a treasure and I am grateful all the time that God blessed me with this tribe.

Later today she texted me a quote that I have been pondering and feel is quite a profound way of describing the changes and transitions I have been going through over the last few years:

Without a transition, a change is just a rearrangement of the furniture. A change might be switching from one brand of detergent to the other. or it could be a shift in daily habits, such as going out to exercise first thing in the morning instead of waiting until the workday is finished. A transition, on the other hand, is more far-reaching. It involves an inner reorientation, a shift of focus that often requires a new understanding of self. A brand-new identity emerges..”

I had been telling her how I felt so strongly that if I walked away from the transition period I am in now I will forever lose all that I have gained. It is so important that I finish this journey to healing – so I can be better and so that the kids will as well. Every step I take they are right along with me – and sometimes they take the step and I follow. But, we MUST complete this journey.

My time today with her was more than happiness. It is pure and true – to the core of my soul happiness – that lasts the test of time.

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happiness

In this exact moment 

It was a beautiful morning and I grabbed a quiet moment to take Drishti for a ride. I am happy to report he was much easier to catch than he was the other day. As I was walking him back to the barn, I had to stop at the top of the hill and look west at Moose Mountain which was absolutely brilliant, then I looked back at Drishti behind me and I thought this is why it’s so important to live in the moment. I have prayed for years for this exact moment to arrive. I am standing in the place I love most in the world with the horse that is absolutely perfect for me. If I was worrying or focusing on anything else but right now, I would miss this exact moment.

The mounted version of that moment came a bit later and looks like this:

It’s breathtaking, it’s humbling, it makes me know that God is here and with me, it’s peaceful, it’s loving, it’s a happiness moment. Both times I stood (sat) in gratitude and thanked Him for all my blessings. I remembered I am living the life I have prayed for.

When I was finished riding, my cousin grabbed me and asked if I would like to help her pair out cows and calves. I was all over that. I haven’t “helped” (and I use that term loosely) move cows in two years, and I had no idea how Drishti would handle it, but yes please I am so willing to do that.

 

He’s a pretty level headed guy, my horse, and he was just fine out there. We saw Derek the orphan calf from last year who didn’t seem to care that I existed at all, and lots of really cute newborns with their mamas.

The fact that this is something I can walk out my back door and do is such a huge gift from God. It is so good for my soul, it puts me back in touch with nature, I love spending time with my cousin and she’s a wealth of information so I learned a lot while I was at it.

I am grateful for every second of this life.

I am home

I am safe

I am happy

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You need to slow down for a minute there…

I didn’t get out for my morning walk until 4:20 this afternoon. When I did finally get there I had a lot of anxious thoughts swirling around in my brain and a lot of nervous energy I wanted to walk off. I got onto the path and Dottie immediately ran off to do her first of what would likely be 10,000 piddles. I let the flexi-lead stretch out and walked slowly past where she was doing her business.

An older gentleman approached me on the path and stopped and said “You need to slow down for a minute there.” I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant, so I asked him, he said “well, your dog wants you to stop so she can do her thing.” I laughed and said that she would be doing her thing every 10 feet down the path, but that yes – he was right. I should slow down.

I actually outright stopped for a minute and let Dottie sniff around while I looked at the river and took a few deep breaths. Wasn’t the reason I was here to slow myself down and reground my self and relax? So, why was I rushing?

When Jenna was little I used to take her in her stroller along on my walks with Dottie. Jenna would make me stop at every garden and smell all the flowers. Sometimes it would drive me nuts because I just wanted to walk and have quiet and think. But part of me knew she was spot on – that we needed to slow down and smell all the flowers that we passed.

This man pointed the same thing out to me again today. Slow down, don’t rush things, let them unfold.

I decided to spend the rest of my walk listing all the things I am thankful for. I let that dog sniff and smell and poke around and I counted blessings. My heart felt so much lighter and happier when I was done.

In my list of gratitude was the good fortune of running into that man on the path who helped focus me on the reason why I was there.

I needed to slow down for a minute….

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