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Recently I had someone say to me that in Living Happier there are days she feels like she has a Ph.D. in Living Happier, and there are days she feels like she is a Kindergartener. Meaning there are days when everything is clicking, Mongers are put in their place, anxiety takes a back seat, and she is in the flow. And then there are days where Mongers seem to live on her shoulder, anxiety is her BFF and life is bumpy and challenging. So very true. There is something both humbling and reassuring for me about that observation.
Last weekend I had a kindergarten experience. I am on vacation this week with my parents. For those of you who don’t know my dad has been living with Parkinson’s with Dementia for the past few years. The disease is slowly taking him down both mentally and physically. My Dad in his heyday was Large and In Charge–a force to be reckoned with. A man who’s dynamic energy emanated from him and whom you respected just because of his mere presence. This disease has taken that from him. Bit by bit he is no longer the Man in Charge but a ‘cute old man’ who gets pitying looks and knowing smiles as he walks by.
As we prepared for the vacation, I was a stress ball. Running from thing to thing and crazed about checking things off my to-do list. My number one sign that I am not Living Happier is the belief that once I get everything cleared off my to-do list I will feel better. Once my to-do list is done THAN I will be able to relax. I misplace my anxiety/stress into other activities. So if you would have asked me last Friday what I was most stressed about I would have said, “my to-do list, or packing for the trip”. In reality and what I was running as fast as possible from was that I was going to spend five days with my Dad. His disease, his decline, the changes in him were going to be in my face all week. There was no not going to be room for denial (one of my favorite coping mechanisms)
Last Friday, I worked until almost 10 pm, and as I was getting ready for bed, I finally took a moment to pause, breathe and be present. And the tears started flowing. I couldn’t run anymore. I looked at myself in the mirror and quietly said “Oh sweet thing, this sucks, you can’t control this.”
And it hit me. No matter how much I planned, no matter how much I checked off my to-do list, no matter how much I took control of the vacation Dad was still sick. This vacation wasn’t going to be relaxing and carefree. This vacation was going to be full of ups and down, harsh realities, frustrating situations, and tender moments. So I cried, I sobbed really, and my nearest and dearest came up and gave me a hug and just silently held the space for me.
I am attempting to experience this vacation with a new presence. A softened presence, a less in-control presence. I am spending my energy trying to embrace ‘what is’ instead of spending my energy railing against the obvious. This week I am actively working this particular Live Happier lesson, and it has involved tears, hugs, laughter, anxiety and long walks. I admit I am struggling with this particular lesson and feel like an Eight Grader learning Advanced Calculus, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. This to me is why I teach Living Happier. It is a process.
I am so honored to have you on the journey with me.
I would love to hear from you in the comments: When have you felt like a Kindergartener with a Living Happier lesson? Do you agree with the analogy of Living Happier above?