Some Of Us Think Holding On Makes Us Strong: But Sometimes It is Letting Go

heart balloon

A few weeks ago, I took my children to school in the morning and I thought this will be a quiet day and I can write and really get a lot done. At about 8:50 the nurse from school called . I was in a meeting so I missed the call. I called her back within the hour and it turned out my younger daughter had a stomachache, but she had gone back to class. As the morning moved on and I didn’t hear again from the nurse, I breathed into the moment and thought now I can have some peace today. Then at 11:00am I started getting texts from my older daughter that her head hurt and she was nauseated and dizzy. The texts continued until I met her at school and gave her some food and headache medication. By 1:30 that afternoon I was back home again. My younger daughter had an after-school activity but I needed to check on her because she was not well earlier. Sure enough, when I picked her up her stomach hurt too much to go to the after-school activity. At 4:00pm my older daughter arrived home with more symptoms. That day I had worked less than I had in a really long time.

Years ago I would have agonized so much because of how that day, for which I had so much hope, turned out. I would have told myself the story that “this should not be happening” or whined that “my day was ruined.” I would have continuously tried to get back to the day I had planned. Then one day I read the following quote.


I took a deep breath in and asked myself, what was I achieving by hanging on to plans that had gone awry? It caused me so much pain to resist what was happening. It was like punching a brick wall;  I could never break the brick but I would sure injure myself. Likewise, I cannot change reality by insisting it should be different.

So these days I just try to let go when the unexpected happens. Sometimes I even say to myself “of course, this was always the plan” and smile. I use whatever mantra works in the moment to help me let go of what might have been so I have room to embrace whatever I am experiencing. Sometimes I even say out loud, “my heart is open to this moment.”  It doesn’t change the fact that I am unhappy when my children are suffering, but when I’m not resisting I am not in so much pain. I find I’m also more present for my children and others around me. I accept that there is nowhere else to be but where I am and nothing else to do but care for the ones in front of me. Everything else will have to wait until circumstances are ripe to move forward. I even realize that MAYBE this is what I was meant to do that day. And I feel strong and focused with my realization that being in this moment is my best contribution to the world and to others around me.

So the next time your plans go awry at work or with your children, try the mantra, “of course, this was always the plan” to let go of attachment and expectations with a smile or use the mantra “my heart is open to this moment.” See if letting go gives you strength and direction when you need it most.

And don’t forget the moment always will pass and MAYBE before you know it you’ll have time and space again to get back to your plans!  Just Maybe!

What Are You Missing In Your Life?

“Life is available only in the present moment.”  Thich Nhat Hanh

A few years ago I went in a store, bought a drink, and left. A few minutes later I could not remember where I put the change from buying the drink. In fact, I couldn’t even remember the face of the cashier or any observations about the store. It’s not that I have memory problems; in fact my memory is very strong. So what happened? I realized I had been lost in thought. I was so lost in my own story of everything I needed to do and everywhere I needed to go that I was completely unaware of what I was doing in the moment.

I then started to wonder how many other parts of my life I was missing while lost in my thoughts. Was I really listening to my children, husband and friends? Was I going through the day missing interacting with people, my environment and even opportunities that came my way because I was thinking about my blog, my next meeting or my next meal?

So I did an experiment. I decided to silently recite a mantra all day long while I was moving from place to place so I would not get lost in my thoughts. I also said my mantra before meeting with someone or while engaged in any activity. The mantra I picked that day was “love first.” For me it worked as a constant reminder that my awareness, kindness and actions throughout the day were more important than my thoughts.

At first it was a little awkward. I actually felt “over focused” on everyone I came in contact with and everything I did. And there were also pauses between my words as I saw the color of each person’s eyes. Yet, as I laid my head down to sleep that night, I recalled the waitress at the restaurant who said she was tired because it was Friday, the doorman who told me he was taking care of his sick mother and my daughter who told me she had pasta for lunch. I remembered the breeze on my face as I walked to pick up my daughter from school and how a cup of green tea had tasted. I realized that I had gotten a lot of work done that day, and yet the day was filled with something much more. I had connected with so many people, my environment and I had even been aware of my feelings as I went about my business.

I also felt less burdened by the endless list of everything that I needed to do in the next few days because there was a new awareness of life as it was happening. I realized that there is little peace for me when I am lost in thought because the to-do list always grows and there are always more goals to achieve. Nothing ever feels completely done. Yet the replacement of my random thoughts with an ever-present mantra created a wholeness and completeness that left me satisfied exactly where I was in the moment.

Maybe try a mantra or word of your own that constantly brings you back to where you are and what you are doing. You might find that there is so much more to each moment than there ever was before. The trees have many more beautiful leaves and the sky offers so many glorious moments to pause and admire the awe of it all. We also might find that our sweet children have so much more to say than we’ve been hearing. And yes, ice cream. Eat ice cream while saying your mantra. It will taste like never before!

Just, Maybe!!

How Can A Parent Find Hope When Their Child Is Suffering?

baby and mother arms with smoke hearts

Like most people, the key to my emotional suffering is my attachment to what I desire for my life.  In the past, if the outcome to a situation wasn’t clear I became negative and worried that the worst case scenario was on its way. As many of you know, I finally found relief from much of my pain by embracing the Philosophy of Maybe.  Like a burst of sunlight, I realized that life could unfold many ways and Maybe whatever I desired would come to fruition, Maybe something else good would happen or Maybe I would be okay no matter what.  This turn of thought brought me ease and enabled me to live in the present moment.  I was able to let go of my attachment to things happening one way and I found myself open up to the entire playing field of life.  However, I still struggled and suffered with uncertainty in one area of life: PARENTING.

I am attached to my children.  My desire for my children to be well, happy and peaceful will not waiver.  I felt the strength of this commitment especially seven weeks ago, when my oldest daughter sustained a head injury. I couldn’t stand her pain and suffering and would have gladly taken it from her and upon myself, but of course I couldn’t.  My desire for her to recover was so deep it predominated over all other thought.  As her healing required rest,  I felt her disappointment at having to quit her summer job.  My heart sank as she worried whether her memory would fully return and as she struggled to read because her eyes would not stay on the page.  There was no detachment for my heart and every minute she suffered, I suffered too.

I remember thinking to myself, “Where is Maybe now when I’m so entrenched in pain and worry?”  Then a quote that I read a few weeks earlier came to mind.  It was, “Uncertainty is the refuge of hope.” (Henri Frederic Amiel).  And in that moment some of my pain went away.  I felt some space in my breath and remembered the unknown is my friend.  I always believed that my daughter would heal but my worry was so dense at times that I couldn’t feel hope.  This quote and the connection between Maybe and uncertainty fed my spirit with more space for all of the possibilities.  Maybe her healing would take some time and that was okay, Maybe she would need therapy to heal, and Maybe we would spend more time together as a family during her recovery.  I found the courage to find the hope in the uncertainty that had proved so hard for me to handle.  With Maybe I was able to hold my attachment to the future less tightly and with more ease and grace.  I was able to accept where my daughter was in the healing process and saw that over time life would change and there was hope for new beginnings and new opportunities for her.

Now seven weeks after her injury, my daughter started her first day of high school.  Some symptoms remain but she is expected to make a full recovery.  I feel so grateful and blessed in this moment and hopeful for her future.  I realize that my emotional hook to my children’s well-being is a tricky place in my search for joy and peace in life. Yet at least with Maybe, I can hold it in a wider place where there is more room for change, hope and possibility, through the daily challenges of parenting.

We all have tough moments in parenting.  Every parent would take all the pain and disappointment from their children in a minute as their own. Unfortunately, as much as we feel their pain with them, we can’t take it from them.  But when we realize that most of these painful moments still offer each of us the hope that Maybe everything will be okay, our suffering lessens.  With Maybe, more air enters into the room to help us breathe and get through the challenging times.   It gives a more grounded perspective for us and our children for moving forward.

My heart opens to every parent trying to do the best today for their child.  I hope Maybe can ease your pain and help you remember that life will keep changing and so much is possible for each of our children.

A True Gift For Our Children – Our Presence

I am sure that every person reading this post loves their children.  But if we asked our children if they truly feel loved by us, what would they say? There is a decent chance some would say, “Sure she (he) loves me but ….” and then add some qualifier that indicates they are not fully satisfied. Now we can get our backs up and start listing all the things that we do, buy, and arrange for our children every day to show our love . . . or we can stop, take a step back and ask, “Can we be more caring, present and loving?”

The truth is that our children may not feel fully satisfied with our love because we are not totally present for them. We may feel that we do everything for our children but, in truth, our minds can be elsewhere at times. Maybe we are regretting the past or worried about the future or just consumed with everything that needs to get done today. Yes, we are there physically, but our minds can be everywhere else. If our minds are not present, our children might not always feel the depth of our love. They might not feel understood and our love may not be filling them with joy.

The good news is that there is an easy way to begin to be more present for our children. We can become more mindful of the present by following our breath for a few minutes several times each day. Before you judge this and think I am not going to do this it is silly, please give it a try.

When your child is asking you a question and you have things to get done or you are distracted by a problem or thought, just stop for a moment. Breathe in and think “I am breathing in” and breathe out and think “I am breathing out.”  Breath in and think “I am here in this moment” and breath out and think “there is only this moment.”  Your mind will return to your body and you will really see your child in front of you and truly comprehend what they need in that moment.  You might even want to look in their eyes and tell them “I am here for you” and you will see their faces light up.

It is with our presence that we can give our children more understanding.  When we are there to be attentive and look deeply into who our children are and what they have to say, we give our children joyful love and often alleviate some of their emotional pain.

With your presence you can impart the strength needed for your children to go out into the world and pursue their dreams. Why?  Because your children will feel deeply loved – by you.