The kids are asleep, the dishwasher is humming along. My feet are throbbing a little and I don’t remember when I sat down last. A few moments ago I looked up at our sky full of stars, so vibrant in this beautiful Texas Hill country, and I felt grateful. The enormity of the night sky will often make me feel insignificant, afraid, too small. Bit tonight I find myself giddy with gratitude, humbled by the sheer miracle, the blind luck that put me, little me, here. Able to stand on my two legs in my weed strewn driveway, and drink up this beautiful experience.
As I ran around this weekend preparing meals for the week I found myself overwhelmed by work. I made a point to shift my thinking and allowed myself to feel grateful for the experience of cooking for my family. There was Halloween pasta with bat and pumpkin shaped pieces, carrot and coriander soup made from Mum’s tried and true recipe, slow cooker chili and hot apple cider. I breathed in the smells. I savored the little hands, eager to help, the pasta pieces falling to the floor, their curiosity, and finally their pride at the finished meal.
I had to make a last minute run to one of those awful halloween superstores. Once we had purchased our gross, but totally cool zombie makeup I made a wrong turn and wound up out by the airport. What began as a twenty minute drive had turned into forty. We had pumpkins to carve and I had dinner to serve, school snacks to assemble. Yep, I like to sign up for snack duty on special days like Halloween and Valentines Day. It never fails to make me feel simultaneously overwhelmed and like a superhero. On our longer than necessary drive home I played my favorite music, rolled down the windows and enjoyed the ride. Then at midnight I enjoyed putting little celery stems into clementine pumpkins despite the late hour.
Once this week, while washing dishes, my little pirate friend passed through the kitchen and asked, “do we have any string? I need it to build my ship.” There was an actual homemade pumpkin pie in the oven and I believed in that moment that I may in fact be the happiest person alive.
I wondered aloud to Andy recently that there are occasions in life where you notice that the quality of the moment is somehow different, something akin to a childhood memory, but not. What I am coming to understand is that this is what it feels like to be present in the moment. This is mindfulness. Putting mindfulness into practice is simple, but it is work. I have a long way to go and more to learn. I still fall asleep when I attempt to meditate for more that thirty seconds, but I am working on bringing myself back into the present whenever I notice my mind wandering into that unknown future that I fear so much. I am beginning to realize how very much I have missed these past fourteen years. I will never be reimbursed the time spent worried and stressed about futures that ultimately never came to pass. I know that now, and practicing mindfulness is a not so small part of my whole plan to overcome my anxiety. And guys I have to tell you, I have not had a single panic attack since Andy left three weeks ago. It’s a major victory.