Life is an adventure filled with mystery and miracles, highs and lows and an extraordinary range of in-between experiences along the way.
I love the lead up and everything about the events that make up the highlight reel of life. The exciting times like getting married, the births of my sons, embarking on a new career path, celebrating milestones with loved ones and the list goes on. We all have our own highlight reel and while our experiences may be as different as night and day, the emotion that underlies the experiences is very much the same. It is the zest, the zeal, the passion, the 'Wahoo, life is Amazing!' kinds of feelings and encounters that make us feel truly alive.
On the flip side of the highlight real is where the low points in life reside. The heartaches, losses, rock bottoms, goodbyes to loved ones and on goes this list as well. The types of experiences that result in grief and hopelessness often instigate intense emotion that can become all-encompassing. What I have noticed and personally experienced in these stages of life, is that time stands still and the intensity of the hurt can feel as though it will never wane. While it is never desirable to have to travel down these roads, the sensation of the emotions has a strange way of also making us feel very much alive, though not in a 'Wahoo' kind of way by any means.
This leaves the in-between part of the life adventure. The place where life settles into a rhythmic pattern with space between the ebb and flow. Life is neither really high nor really low, and the subsequent feelings of being truly alive through those intense experiences can also begin to fade. This can be an uncomfortable place to sit for many, myself included. It can feel like a waiting game and there can be an impatience about what is next, or a desire to numb the experiences we've just had. During these openings, it is not uncommon to want to busy ourselves. Sometimes we can become so busy and distracted that we no longer recognize the nice calm space that has been placed before us. The period in time where we can just be, where we have an opening to breathe and the time to cultivate a sense of awe for the gift of being alive.
In an effort to truly embrace the "in-between" phases of life, I have made this list of reminders to help us recognize the opportunities before us -- to enjoy peace and savor wherever we are. If they seem like a fit for you, try them out or make your own list of reminders.
• When the dust settles and life is neither high nor low, breathe a sigh of relief! Enjoy this time and do things that nurture your soul.
• Give thanks for regular mundane tasks, chores and routines. The act of doing something that is familiar and straightforward provides an opening to engage our senses like sight, smell, and sound -- helping us to experience the task at hand from a richer perspective. Life can be enjoyed in new and refreshing ways when we approach it with a heightened sense of presence and appreciation for the regular things we get to do.
• Instead of quickly moving to the planning phase for the next dream, goal or task, spend some time celebrating where you are at this very moment. Pat yourself on the back for your wins and give yourself a compassionate hug for the hard places you've been. You don't have to be a warrior and keep trekking through life without resting. Be still and give yourself some love for all the roads you've traveled thus far.
• Open your eyes, breathe deeply, listen to the sounds of the birds and bask in the beauty of your surroundings. The miracles of life are happening at every moment of every day. If you are feeling unsettled and unsure what to do with yourself next, just sit and notice what is around you and then let it in. Taking in the beauty of our surroundings is one of the most powerful gifts we can give to ourselves.
• Find comfort in the calm of the "in-between" stages of life and gratitude for the freedom to explore the different ways you get to experience the world at this moment before you.
The more we enjoy where we are and fully embrace the moments before us, the more natural it will become to welcome the in-between stages of life. With continued practice, the in-between stages no longer feel like dull or uncomfortable places to travel. They become the magical spaces where we get to experience what it feels like to be fully alive in the moment.
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