Practice What You’re Good At . . .

Trust_life_2048x2048I came across this quote earlier this week.  At first I thought it was pretty awesome.  But the more I thought about it, the less awesome it seemed to be be.  Let me explain . . . as I write this post, one kid is watching a show, the other kid is “practicing” guitar (we watched School of Rock as a family today and it seems to have inspired the older one to pick up his guitar and start “rocking”) and the Husband is listening to something sports related on his phone.  Meaning, I, who would live in a library if given a choice, am forced to practice organizing my thoughts amongst the chaos of a noisy but happy family.  When viewed as a form of practice, I am much happier about working through the current chaos.  But, when we are faced with far more troubling circumstances, like a serious illness, it’s pretty hard to frame the situation as the universe’s way of telling us we need “practice” at something.

While I freely admit that I did learn lots from going through the experience of having a brain tumour, I’m not sure I “needed” that particular experience to learn those life lessons.  As I was working my way through some of these thoughts, I came across a very pertinent article in the New York Times yesterday, and in particular, this line:

“There has to be a reason, because without one, we are left as helpless and possibly as unlucky as everyone else”

Later yesterday afternoon, the whole family went to see Kung Fu Panda 3.  While the kids loved it, I think I took away more from it than they did.  Why?  Well, lines like this one:

“Your real strength flows from being the best you you can be.  So what are you good at?”

Which brings me back to the concept of practice.  Sometimes in life we encounter bad luck.  And we will be forced to practice things that we may not be so good at (yes, having a brain tumour has made me practice over and over and over again the concept of patience – a skill I have yet to master).  But in the absence of bad luck, rather than force ourselves to practice things we’re not so good at, maybe we should practice that which we are good at already . . . if we are happy, and in our “element” (like I talked about here), well, that’s where we’ll find our real strength . . . and maybe from there, in a position of strength, we’ll be able to tackle the things we’re not so good at.

Looking for Joy in All the Wrong Places

With one week of February gone, I’ve had ample opportunity to “practice” working with the mantra “What would love do?”, and I had to admit, I’ve had some surprising results.  There have been many instances where I’ve stopped, asked myself what would love do . . . and then not been able to find an answer.  Like this morning – the kids were playing a game with some leftover balloons we had blown up for the Super Bowl last night.  They were shrieking, laughing, having fun, and running ALL OVER the house.  They were having a blast.  I was not.  I was trying to pack lunches, clean up the dishes and get organized for a day that required hockey equipment, ski equipment, uniforms for ballet, tap and jazz, never mind my own gym bag.

I wanted to scream “Stop”.  But I didn’t . . . I paused.  What would love do.

Would love see the joy the kids were having and let them continue on doing what they were doing.  Or would love see my need for some calmness and peace and place a priority on that over the fun the kids were having and calmly request they stop what they were doing?

I suppose what I’m getting at is this: Does love place a priority on others’ needs or on our own, or a mix of both?

This morning, I was able to find a compromise – the kids could play to their hearts’ content . . . as long as they were in the basement; Love, in this instance, could let us all be happy.

As I went about my morning this morning, I thought a lot about this situation . . . as silly as it was.  Not that I want to make myself out to be some kind of martyr, but love to me has always been about showing love to others; not about being lovingly kind to myself.

Now to veer onto a tangent for a minute . . . I listened to an amazing podcast on the weekend – Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness – in which Esther Perel was interviewed.  In the podcast, Esther, who is a “world renowned relationship expert” mentioned that we are most attractive to others when we are in our “element”.  I suppose this shouldn’t come as shocking news – I have been known to plead with my husband to make more time to play guitar because I love nothing more than watching him practice, to see him work in his element.

So if being in our “element” (aka working from a place of joy) makes us more attractive to others, and can in fact improve our relationships with others, shouldn’t we all be doing more to spend time doing those things that bring us joy?

I’m pretty sure that’s what Love would do . . .

And so, the proverbial penny has tumbled . . . rather than look for pockets of joy in my everyday life like I have been doing, I’m going to work hard to focus on what brings me joy, and to foster that which brings joy to my kids, and the Husband.  Don’t get me wrong, I have found so many of these little pockets of joy in the last 5 weeks.  But, I know that there’s more to be found if I dig a little deeper and work a little harder.

I’m not saying this will be easy.  This is “Practice February” after all!  My natural inclination has always been to forfeit my joy for the sake of others (again, not trying to be a martyr, promise).  And so, I will have to work to stand up for myself, if you will, and make sure that I make time for my joy.

Earlier today, I saw a great quote in the One Little Word Facebook community . . . and so I made a little image for myself using the quote to remind me to keep practicing.

Happy practicing!

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What Would Love Do?

So, as part of my One Little Word project this month, I’m to pick something, it could be anything, and practice it once a day for the entire month.  At first, I was disappointed.  I’d just spent the month of January trying to “practice” about a million different things; not drinking; not eating sugar; running at every workout; getting enough sleep; getting enough water . . . you get the idea.  Then, as I saw how excited other people on this journey were about the task, I started to get a bit excited too . . . after all, we were given a checklist and I do love to check things off . . .

So, after MUCH thought, I decided that each day I would practice finishing off my “picture of the day” albums.  You see, I’ve spent the last SEVEN years taking a photo of my kids every day.  The problem is, most of these photos aren’t in albums.  As in the photos stopped getting into albums around the time my daughter was born, which means I’m about five years behind on this project.  Finally seeing at least some of this project completed would bring me a serious amount of JOY.

But then I went to the gym this morning.  At the end of class, the teacher suggested that as we go through our day, before we react, we ask our selves:

“What would love do?”

After getting home and settling down with my lunch in front of the computer to get working on my picture of the day albums, the mail arrived.  The loud thud as it hit the ground meant a package had arrived; and indeed it had.  All the photos I ordered to complete the first of my daughter’s week in the life album had arrived!  (A few months ago, I wrote about how I had a serious amount of guilt about not creating a week in the life album for my daughter like I had for my son, and that maybe I was finally ready to tackle it.  Well, I decided that I would create the album during the course of her 5th year, so every 3 months, I’ll be documenting one week of her/our lives.)

And I was instantly torn.  I WANT to get this week of my daughter’s album done . . . but I have limited time to devote to my “practice”, so I also WANT to dutifully go and work on my photo of the day albums like I promised myself I would.

“What would love do?”

So I sat down, tore open the envelopes of photos and got to work on my daughter’s album.

As much as I want to make progress on my annual albums, that’s not where the love needed to go today.

This doesn’t mean I’m giving up on my Practice February though . . . nope.  It just means that for the rest of the month, when faced with a decision, I’m going to pause and ask myself what love would do.  I’m pretty sure that as long as I stick to it, I’ll find lots of JOY along the way.

On that note, I’ve got some photos to sort through!

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