Spring is finally on its way, baby! The weather this week was finally more inviting here in the Northeast, and I found my mood initially rising with the surging outdoor temperature. There is something about leaving the winter coats behind as we swing out the front door in the mornings that's an immediate morale-booster.
Returning home, however, quickly plunged me into the overwhelming morass of tasks yet to be done. As I took in our kitchen sink overflowing with dishes, the tangles of dirty laundry awaiting, and a massive pile of unpaid bills -- all of it demanding attention in the midst of the childrens' needs -- it plagued my sense of peace. Suddenly, there's that internal tug to do "more-more-more", to attempt to triage the multitude of responsibilities that all seem to descend on my already cluttered mind at once, jockeying for priority.
Suffice to say, the school day passed by quickly. It was an exceptionally busy day. I spent the majority of it sifting through health insurance paperwork, struggling to devise a comprehensive family budget, and nursing the silent anxiety that these tasks generally produce for those living paycheck to paycheck.
The closest I came to enjoying the balmy spring air was when sighed as I jammed my unplanted pansies into their new window box homes, rushing through the task because it was one in a string of many. Even in a moment that should have been one of calm -- one of appreciation for the warmth of a beautiful day- I wouldn't allow myself to receive it. Even as my hands sifted through the soil, my mind was a million miles away, fretting over our latest financial stress and what tasks the day ahead still required.
As a result, I was generally oblivious to the beautiful weather, lost in my own worries. Until, that is, I witnessed a short but glorious illustration of just how wonderful spring can be for the spirit.
I was parked outside of the elementary school, waiting for one of my daughters to emerge from her Girl Scout meeting. The late afternoon sunshine was streaming through my car windshield, but I was fixated on my internal concerns, and didn't notice.
But then my daughter emerged out of the school's front door, flanked by her fellow Girl Scouts. Once the girls spot their parents' cars, they are free to leave. Some walk, some amble, some run.
My daughter broke into a trot. As she crossed the school's front yard, the trot morphed into a skip. The skip was then transformed into a giddy jump-kick into the air, with a fist raised and a raucous, "whoo!" blurted into the air.
I burst out laughing, because I LOVED IT. And I knew exactly what it represented. My daughter was fully IN the moment; the sun was shining, it was warm, it was that perfect time of day and she felt it. She was overjoyed and went with it. The feeling inside over something so simple was just too good for her to contain, and she could care less who witnessed it.
As she tumbled into the car, I kissed her through my tears of laughter, and told her how much I loved what I had seen. She turned to me with a impish grin and said, "I knew you would, because you get it -- you're just like me!"
And she's right.
In the midst of my very adult problems and tasks to manage and complete, there is that very same part of me that still has childish joy. There is the part of me that knows the incalculable value of being in the moment, and appreciates the simple, perfect beauty of lovely spring day.
There is the part of me that often lies dormant as of late- the silly, impulsive and fun side that immediately understood my daughter's joy and probably would have done the very same thing. I was able to clear my own mental clutter long enough to laugh with my daughter, and to appreciate the little gift I'd been given through watching the innocent, infectious joy of a child.
Did I figure out our budget that evening? Not entirely. Did the laundry all get washed and folded? Unfortunately, no; some stacks still remained. But instead of consuming me with gloom and worry, I was able to peel my mind away from the oppressive hold those tasks had on me for a time, and to enjoy the moment with my girl. Those tasks will still get done, of course, but the gift was in giving myself permission to enjoy the moment instead of wasting it with false guilt about not doing "enough". Like a child, it was thrilling to spend time enjoying the moment without feeling self-conscious or guilty- mindfulness at it's best.
And on our way in front door, I paused for a brief moment, and sniffed the earthy, sweet smell of my newly planted flowers and their surrounding damp soil. It was refreshing to take time to "stop and smell the roses" (or in our case, pansies).