A couple of years ago, my life took a dramatic turn.
My marriage of nearly 20 years ended; I became a single parent to my children; and I was writing my master’s thesis.
As a methodical, introverted person, I was used to planning everything strategically: researching, refining, and honing every decision to yield the best outcome possible. A friend calls it analysis paralysis. But the truth is, life doesn’t always work out the way we plan. Sometimes, the universe knows better what we need than we do, and all that’s required is to exist in the present.
It’s not uncommon for mothers to put themselves last, but some of the things that had gotten away from me were pretty basic, like getting enough sleep, not missing meals, or practicing mindfulness in times of stress or anxiety. I was only reminded of this self-care when I began to talk to a counselor. I took up yoga on the days I was not swimming. I extended my walks during which I listened to nature and remembered to breathe, face the sky, and contemplate. I became more attuned to the animals in my area—the Canadian prairies are rich with small bunnies, hares, pheasants, porcupines, ducks, and deer. One day, I even spotted three snowy owls with brilliant golden eyes.
As a result of simply being still, I have invited a beautiful peace into my life. My frustrations have waned considerably, and situations that used to cause me great anxiety now come and go as I actively choose not to allow outside drama or contention to permeate my life.
Earlier this week, I picked up Quiet from the library. I was surprised at the breadth of information the book covered. But more importantly, it could not have been more timely for me.
I became aware that for the majority of my existence, I’ve been battling outside pressures of extroversion “to showcase who I am, to put myself out there, to stop playing small.” As I read, I realized I am not playing anything. This is who I am, and the author is validating that which I once knew but had forgotten. It’s not only acceptable to fuel myself through music, reading, nature, and meditation—it is necessary.
From now on, gone are the days of apologizing for tearing up when my son plays Bach or my university-age daughter shares her struggles. Moments of quiet with my 12- and 14-year-old when we read in bed each night are precious and revitalizing in a soft-power way. Energy and love are shared in these tranquil moments.
As I have stepped away from a prescribed life that desperately begged for change into an open-sky life that reminds me that the focus of importance is each new day (and not a hurtful past or an unplanned future), my vision has broadened to include gentle truths available to all of us, if we are still enough to listen. Sometimes I will puzzle over something only to hear the lyrics of a song or a line in a book, even a kind word from a friend, that provides an answer I would have otherwise missed. And it is a beautiful thing. That is the power of learning (or re-learning) to be still.
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