Don’t get me wrong - it’s more the exception than the rule. And it’s not emotional ease - I’m not there yet. But in small moments here and there, I find my mind unencumbered and at rest in a new way.
I think what has fallen away is the constant mental acrobatics of coordinating work and home schedules. It’s like a part of my mind is used to working at three days out: who will need to be picked up where, when and by whom, which athletic uniforms need to clean and ready to go, how I can adjust my client calls so that I can attend an upcoming recital or class night.
The multi-tasking is still happening in the moment - checking in on schoolwork progress in between calls, making sure people have remembered to eat lunch as I head out for a daily walk - but the staying three steps ahead of myself hasn’t been necessary.
So, I find myself being present instead of preoccupied when my son wants to bounce the ball back and forth on our walk. I find myself sitting with my daughter, listening to her describe the day’s botany assignment that she found interesting. I find myself pushing the kids on a tire swing (they’d never tried one before!) rather than insisting we get back home so that I can get to x, y and z.
I don’t have that much less to do, but in small moments I find that I have more mental space to be with what needs attending, to be with the experience of the moment.
Of course, at other times, I feel like I’m reeling with the enormity of living in this pandemic. No sense of a finish line, a new normal that feels anything but normal, a lack of clarity about the long term impact. Sometimes, just putting one foot in front of the other, day in and day out feels exhausting, and I feel like I have no mental bandwidth to speak of.
Those are the days that I have learned to drop my expectations to ankle height, to be gentle with myself and if possible get my face out into the sun for extended periods.
And I am hopeful that the presence I am cultivating, even if in small moments, is helping me build the capacity to be with the overwhelming emotions that show up on a regular basis.
If you feel exhausted, raw or like you’ve been run through the emotional mill, be gentle with yourself.
Let today be a “good enough” day. And if not this day, let this hour be a “good enough” hour; and if not this hour, let this moment be a “good enough” moment in which, as Mary Oliver encourages us,
“You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.”
Jessica Curtis is a professional life 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.