Perhaps because I skipped last week while I was away for three days. Perhaps because I have a sick child home from school again. Perhaps because I have been running around, solo-parenting for the past week and haven’t dropped into much self-awareness time.
When I am in this place of busy-ness - chauffeuring kids around, attending sporting events, packing meals to have on the go, moving laundry from washer to dryer at 10pm, responding to emails on my phone while sitting in my parked car - I can feel my feet barely hit the ground. It’s like darting and dodging, sprinting and then finally sprawling at the end of the day.
I got up this morning determined to carve out my writing time even though I have a kid home, dirty dishes in the sink, invoices that need to be sent out and an agenda to write.
As planned, I opened my computer at 8am and checked my Inbox. Caught up on morning emails and then mosied over to some news headlines for a quick look. I suddenly realized it was 8:30am, and I had a meeting on my calendar that had slipped my mind. So, I called into that meeting, and the next thing I knew it was 9am.
I set myself up again at my computer. Then - noticed a couple of texts and ended up back on the phone for an impromptu meeting. How did it get to be 10am already?
I feel my day slipping between my fingers and my anxiety level starts to rise. Not only am I not getting stuff done, I am not conscious of how I am being with my time.
I can hear projects and to-dos calling out to me, and I haven’t even gotten to my writing which I told myself I would do first thing. I am suddenly reminded of those merry-go-rounds at the playground when I was a kid. The circular flat platform with three or four handrails - a few kids would run to get it going while others would simply sit and squeal and enjoy the ride.
In this case, I can feel myself being whirled around at a considerable speed. I am holding onto the handrail and flattening myself to the floor, so that I don’t fall off. Whoever is spinning this thing isn’t tiring out, and I really want to get off.
Maybe it’s the stomach bug making its way through the house, but I actually am starting to feel nauseous. WHO IS SPINNING THIS THING??
Did I mention that I REALLY WANT TO GET OFF??!
Oh crap. It occurs to me - I am spinning this thing.
All that darting, dodging, sprinting and sprawling. That’s me pushing the heck out of that roundabout.
No wonder I am starting to feel sick.
How do I slow this thing down and get my feet safely back on the ground?
The only thing I can think of in my slightly nauseous state is stepping outside.
It’s not exactly a warm spring morning, but the sun is trying to come out. I allow myself to be still in the dewy air. I turn my focus inward toward my breath. Letting it come in and go out just as it wills it.
My mind quiets, and I can feel my feet on the hard wooden boards of the porch. I keep my eyes closed, but let my other senses begin to explore what is here.
I feel the cool air on my skin. I hear the steady hum of cars in the distance, the high-pitched chirping of busy birds. And I smell the sweet scent of lilacs in bloom.
The lilacs trigger in me sensations of safety and contentment. My mom always filled our sunny kitchen with lilacs in the springtime. Life felt simple: should I go play outside or call a friend?
What if life is still that simple? What if I do not have to ride the merry-go-round at top speed? What if I can choose the swings instead or sit and make a dandelion chain?
I still have the same responsibilities and to-do list. Smelling the lilacs and fantasizing about dandelions doesn’t make them go away.
But what if I could approach those things like a dandelion chain instead of a flying merry-go-round?
I will pick one thing at a time and really look at it. I will decide to incorporate it or put it aside. I will treat it gently and notice how it will fit best. I will acknowledge that it doesn’t always come out exactly as I had planned. And I will move on to the next.
All the moving parts in my life, all the to-dos and family responsibilities are not overwhelming when I put my attention on what is in front of me.
Unless what is in front of me is social media - but that's another blog post.
For today, that means one dandelion at a time. One piece of writing, one child home from school, one lunch to prepare. Later on, one pair of sneakers to put on for a walk, one client call, one meeting to attend.
I trust that somehow I’ll know when my dandelion chain is long enough to make it into a crown.
What playground metaphor describes your current state? Are you on the swings? The slide? The climbing structure? What intentional choice do you want to make at the playground today?
Jessica Curtis is a professional coach who helps people cultivate intention and live from a place of meaning and authenticity. If you think you could benefit from working with Jessica or want to invite her to work with your group, reach out to start a conversation.