A "Morning After" Story . . .
THANK YOU to everyone who attended the Spring Mini-Retreat yesterday! I have NEVER had every single person show up for an event. I usually have a 25 to 50 percent "no show" rate. (Actually, there was ONE person who couldn't make it because COVID vaccine side-effects knocked her down). I attribute it to my friend's wonderful movement guidance (and the snacks, mocktails & wine)! And perhaps some COVID fatigue and desire for community. And the incredible love and support of all of YOU. I hope that none of you felt uncomfortable with the size of the "crowd." There will be many workshops and retreats to come, of all shapes and sizes.
I wanted to share a story about my morning with you, in hopes that it will further illustrate some of what we were discussing about "perfect" mindfulness and also inviting beauty and creativity into your life.
As you know, I am a recovering lawyer. I'm also a recovering perfectionist. Life, marriage, children and health hiccups all work to cure us of perfectionism. It's a PROCESS I am trying to honor. After the retreat, my husband Tim and I dragged the most critical items in from the backyard and left everything else out there. While Tim grilled burgers, I made myself a dinner of the leftover snacks, poured a glass of wine, and rehashed . . . in my mind and out loud to my poor husband. "I hope everyone took SOMETHING away from the retreat. I should have budgeted more time to talk about XYZ. I wonder if anyone had a burning question they were afraid to ask. I hope no one was spooked by the fact that there were 24 of us out there." Etc. etc. I'm a bit of a ruminator and analyzer. I eventually settled down and climbed onto the couch to watch an episode of HANNA (total escapist fun, by the way).
This morning I woke up earlier than everyone else. It was wet and gray. I thanked God for saving the wet and gray until after the retreat. I made my coffee. Looked grumpily at the fish sticks and chocolate milk my teenagers left out in the middle of the night, mixed in with the party leftovers. I started that dialogue in my head, "It's messy. I can't relax until it's cleaned up. But I need to meditate. I have to walk the walk. I'm anxious. I need to practice what I preach. I shouldn't have had that mini Mr. Goodbar before I made my lemon water . . . ."
At some point, I poured my coffee and put on my rubber boots and headed out into my muddy overgrown backyard to drag chairs back to that funny little deck in the woods. Back in the day, I would have NEVER had anyone to my house without making sure everything was perfectly clean and the grass was cut. I gave myself a little mental high-five for letting go of that "rule" for having folks over. I started dragging chairs across the yard one at a time, sipping my coffee, slipping around a little in the mud. Finally I petered out. I sat down. And it hit me. I'm not going to move this chair. I'm going to leave flowers in a bottle, on a stump, in the backyard . . . even though that makes NO sense. ("There are already flowers out here. The tulips should be inside.") It was SUPER noisy where I was sitting because the bleeding hearts (which I just learned about) were FULL of bees, frantically working. The sun came out and was warm on my face. And then it was like a voice: THIS is where you pay attention, Nicole. I was present. I left something beautiful somewhere JUST because. And I paid attention. And just sat there and felt newly awake and present.
THAT is what I want for you. Drink your water. Breathe between bites. Have an evening routine that doesn't include your phone, so you'll sleep better. And yes, eat your veggies. BUT, also be opportunistic with your mindfulness. Allow yourself to see what's good. Pay attention. And shamelessly allow beauty and creativity into your life, whether it's a painting or a stump with a flower or a rearranged room or a flawless Powerpoint presentation. There are no rules or boundaries to a good life.