I can do a lot of things at once. Mornings you’ll find me on the floor with a mouthful of toothpaste, brushing my teeth while simultaneously doing leg lifts. (This can be dangerous – once I thought of something vulgar mid-leg-lift, laughed, and the toothpaste shot up into the air and came down splat onto my face. I wish someone had gotten it on film.) I can talk on the phone while simultaneously texting, having lunch, and returning emails.
I think a lot of us do this.
Feeling a little harried after the holidays, I managed to drag myself to a restorative yoga class. This is not something I normally do, so when the teacher said something about moving with “intention” I thought, what the hell is she talking about?
And then I got it.
My life is all about reaction – not intention. With a “ping” on the computer or a buzz of the phone, my attention flits away to whatever calls. My mind races, all day, all the time. Often, I have to force myself to pay attention to what someone is saying to me because I’m already onto the next thing on the list in my head. It ain’t pretty.
The days begin in a frenzied rush. Always running late, breakfast always takes longer than I expect – Drink your milk! Did you brush your teeth? Go brush your teeth! Put on your shoes! Get your jacket – yes, you have to wear it – it’s raining. What do you mean it’s at your dad’s house? Why haven’t you put on your shoes?!
The work day is over before I know it. There’s never enough time to get it all done. And then – surprise! – it’s time to figure out what to make for dinner.
How does dinner always manage to blindside me? It’s not like it’s not something I have to figure out every … fucking … night.
When dinner is done we’re in the home stretch: it’s put on your pajamas, brush your teeth – did you pee? A little snuggling and the day comes to an end.
And so goes day after day of my life. Shit, I realize, I’m not getting these days back! I don’t WANT to live my life rushing to bedtime with the goal of simply getting the day “done.” I want a thoughtful life, in which there is time for fun, and beauty, friendship, and creativity are a priority.
I want to be able to simply sit and look into my child’s eyes when she talks to me. I want to give her the gift of my full attention. I want to give MYSELF the gift of my full attention, and of my intention. I want to be able to breathe in the joy in my life. To savor it. To relish it.
So I’ve started setting the alarm to get up a little earlier. And before I get out of bed, I take 9 deep breaths (just because I like the number 9) and think about what I’d like the day to look like. What tiny bite-sized things would make me happy. A cup of masala chai from the chai cart outside my office to warm my hands. A little knitting on public transit. Throwing food into the slow cooker in the morning so time after work with the kids can be spent with me somewhere other than in the kitchen. Baking chocolate-chip-pecan cookies with my monkeys. Taking on some scary, titillating, brave thing – perhaps an email to a prospective client or identifying and then asking for what I need from a friend or even a stranger.
These are not big things, but they’re making all the difference. Intention. It is my word for the year.