Or ‘In which Taylor Swift unexpectedly overtook Theory of a Deadman in my most played list.’
You know those days where the universe conspires to make sure you learn a lesson. Well Monday, the first day of the second week of my challenge was like that. I needed to learn and I needed to learn fast of end up failing before I started.
Week 2 – Forgive their mistakes – big or small.
In her article ‘7 Things Mindful People Do Differently and How To Get Started’ Elisha Goldstien talks about the challenges in practicing a mindful life and the importance of recognising that we will stumble. The hindrances of life that get in the way of living mindfully can become opportunities to learn. In these times it is important to recognise what you need in the moment and find your fastest route to begin again.
One of the things I struggle with is being hypercritical of myself. If I make a mistake I dwell on it, no matter the size of the mistake. I have conversations in my head about problems that haven’t arisen or judgements that haven’t been made because of my mistake. Like I said last week, I have issues starting things in case they aren’t good enough, I don’t give myself the chance to make mistakes.
In short – very bad with mistakes. Much issues.
I can remember being in therapy one time and mentioning that I felt like I failed at everything I tried. I felt I would never achieve anything or succeed at anything I tried. At the time I was in therapy because I had taken on the small community services organisation I worked for and ended up on work cover having had a break down. Their treatment of me had been nothing short of bullying. I ended up affecting change in their policy but couldn’t face going back in there ever again.
My therapist said to me “Tell me about the things you have failed at.” I couldn’t think of anything. I took the question home to think over more. “What had I actually failed at?” Contemplating this at home made me realise that although I had not failed at anything on a large scale, every set back, every rejection and every small mistake was blown up in my mind to feel like large scale failure.
Telling you about the importance of looking at the beauty in the world instead of the boring train tracks and power lines that seem to clutter everything up last Monday reminded me of a walk I took one lunch time. And in true it-must-be-a-sign-even-though-I-don’t-believe-in-signs-so-it-is-clearly-a-coincidence-I’m-going-to-nod-my-head-and-say-huh-in-an-annoyingly-knowing-way-about kind of way I came across an article on Pinterest about the 7 things that Mindful People Do Differently.
I’m not sure that this story fits neatly into any of those boxes but to me it certainly illustrates how our attitudes change the way we experience life. And it is the beginning of a challenge I am setting for myself, and for you. But more on that in a moment. For now to the story…
It was a sunny day and the route down to the boardwalk I like to use takes me past a vacant lot, lots of trash, a dual lane highway, mosquitoes breeding in stagnant puddles… you get the idea. With my eyes firmly fixed on the green field ahead and my face turned to the sun (in a feel-the-warmth-on-my-face way, not a blinded-because-I’m-an-idiot-who-stared-at-the-big-ball-of-burning-gas kind of way) I felt the stress of work slip away as I walked in the sunshine with Ed Sheeran playing through my headphones.
As I walked through the trees I could easily have focussed on the abandoned shopping trolley, the trash in the water or the muggy mangrove air. Instead I saw blue wrens hopping across the ground, the fluffy seed pods floating through the dappled sunlight and the homeless man sitting on the boardwalk shooting up 20 feet ahead of me.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes work feels never ending. And on just the odd occasion, I feel a little stabby too. One of the good things about my job is that I work alone a lot of the time. One of the bad things is that I work alone a lot of the time. It’s a vicious cycle. The introvert in me loves the solitude, the extrovert misses the company.
I spend hours on end in a windowless office staring at a computer screen coming up with new ways to tell the same story over and over with the end of the day always far too far away. It can make me a little despondent, tired and stir crazy. My hour long lunch break seems especially long on days that I’m working alone. I’d much rather have a shorter break and head home earlier so I can relax.
Not so long ago it occurred to me that I am looking at my break all wrong. I have an hour for lunch. That is inordinately long for a lunch break, especially for me. I’m used to not getting a break at all in my old job. I have a whole hour where there are no demands on my time. No children to look after. No boss to please. No husband to pay attention to. Nothing but my time in the middle of the day. So I started to do things that allowed me to enjoy my break time, instead of using it to mill around eating the minties we put out for clients and wishing I could go home sooner.
Last night was a long night. I won’t horrify bore you with the details of the darkness that kept me awake most of the night, suffice to say that I was almost a zombie when my hubby’s alarm woke me at 6 am. So now it is 6:30 and instead of being irritated that his alarm woke me when I was finally getting some sleep, I am grateful that he cares enough to help me find beauty in the morning.
Awareness of the colour of the light coming through the curtains was gradually penetrating* my foggy exterior but I had yet to rouse myself to look outside. Hubby came in and told me that the sunrise was spectacular and I should have a look at it. He pulled aside the curtains and after seeing the gorgeous golden sun stream through our window I couldn’t resist going outside to soak it in.
The sunrise making everything glow, the cool breeze on my face, the kookaburras heralding the dawn and the dew tickling my toes made me thankful just to be in that moment and chased away the night time terrors.
*still not a good enough reason to use the word penetrate**
**bonus cookie for those who can identify the movie quote