A Contact Lens and True Clarity

Alarm sounding at 4 a.m., I snuggle deeper into my blankets to soak just a few more seconds of comfort and warmth before sending my foot out into the cold, cold world.  On autopilot, I stumble my way to the bathroom where I go though a series of morning routines.  Fortunately for me, my work involves me making my way downstairs to my office, so I can begin my workday in the best outfit ever…my jammies.  However, despite morning commuter freedom, I cannot feel ready to begin my workday without my face on which consists of contacts in, teeth brushed, moisturizer, light dusting of foundation powder, mascara and yes, lipstick.  I come from a long line of properly made up women, and the habit is continued in me.

This morning’s ablutions began like any other without much thought other than looking forward to my morning coffee, when suddenly my contact dropped from my finger.  I went from a woman with sight to a woman with partial sight, and it all happened in a second.  Now with considerably more alertness, I began to search for said contact, and I tell you it is an ironic thing to be looking for your sight when you don’t have it.  Looking with my face about an inch away from whatever surface I was searching and one eye closed, I scoured the sink, the floor, my tee shirt and the counter-top to no avail.  It was clear the contact lens was gone into the same void that single socks from the laundry travel to, but where no toilet roll is every accepted.

If you’ve learned anything from reading my blog, it’s that I can see signs and messages in just about everything.  I believe they’re all just little hints from the Universe to bring us back from the past or the future into the present, and this was no different.  The message…life can change in an instant.

Brain swirling, I was now fully awake and to be honest a little panicky.  This kind of realization never comes with an exciting epiphany of positivity like coming suddenly into money or a surprise party…nope, straight to everything I love and hold dear could disappear in an instant.  To be honest, I was going into a dark place, and from the outside, it was quite ridiculous, but give me the slack that I had just woken up and hadn’t had my coffee yet.  It was like asking a two-year-old in a full-blown temper tantrum to calm down…I just didn’t have those logicking skills at this precise moment.

After what seemed like ages of descending into the pit of dark thoughts (was likely 5 seconds), I eventually pulled myself back together, mourned the loss of my contact lens, popped in a new one (disposable!) and moved forward with my day with a larger than normal cup of coffee, all the while appreciating and celebrating my vision.

The take-away:

Wake up…Pay attention…Appreciate the little things…Don’t focus on the fact that your life could change in an instant but keep that little gem in your subconscious periphery…a little salt adds flavor.

Life lessons from a contact lens…think about what I could glean from an empty toilet roll…ah well, next time.

Photo by Max Muselmann on Unsplash

Extraordinary in the Ordinary

Struggling in the mud trying to keep with my dogs who have navigated the rocky, muddy route with ease and are way ahead of me gives me pause to notice how an ordinary event can be infused with the extraordinary.   Nothing like walking through sticky, slippery mud to make you notice every step…every flipping, precarious step…on a beach littered with dead fish.

Simultaneously cursing my decision to choose this path and stopping to catch my breath, I find myself noticing the many ordinary, yet extraordinary, events taking place around me. These include:

The Mud of Contemplation
  • An 8-foot sturgeon breaching the river…Amazing!
  • Rocks littered with dead salmon, the end of a long journey from the river to the ocean and back again to spawn… Smelly and humbling.
  • A feathered plant I had never noticed before…Delightful curiosity.
  • My awesome new boots…Warm, comfy, dry.
  • Mist settling on the river…Mysterious.
  • Dogs that don’t listen at all running ahead of me with pure joy…Annoying and lovely.
  • How much more nimble a dog with bad hips is over the rocks versus a woman in her 40s…Sad.
Plant I had never noticed before…pretty isn’t it!

By being forced to pause and reflect, I had an opportunity to change my story from getting the dogs out for walk (to-do list item #5 checked) to one of appreciating events weaving to create a magical moment infused with gratitude, awe, humor and delight.

It’s a reminder to get stuck in the mud more often and see beyond the ordinary.  I’m never disappointed when I chose to employ it, and it’s a perspective that always adds quality and value to the moment.

So, on the note of honing my skills, I’m going clothes shopping with my family today, and watch out, I’m bringing extraordinary (if your immediate reaction was pity for my family, you are not alone).   Kind of curious what kind of extraordinary magic can go into a moment that involves convincing my youngest to try on pants, but I’m willing to go there.

Dogs having fun and thinking about rolling on dead fish

Sunflowers and Noticing

Inadvertently this spring, I threw a seed mix into my garden just to use it up.  Nothing much came of the seed mix until we noticed one distinct weed was growing above the rest (weeding is taking a back seat to bramble fun).  Last week, it flowered and revealed a lovely, bright yellow sunflower.  Every day, the kids and I peek at our beautiful flower and admire…a bit of sunshine amongst the green weeds and bramble.

It’s continually fascinating to me how the Universe continually hammers a message at you until you finally reach a point of listening and understanding.  Sometimes, your subconscious already has picked up on the hints and is busy setting up hints for my slow processing speed.  My requests for books from our local library usually mirror whatever angst is going on in my soul, so after a period of feeling intensely busy all the time, I went to the library, and there on the order shelf was a plethora of books on calm, slowing down, slow living and mindfulness (tax time usually involves a selection of books on off the grid living).

Whining and lamenting my frustration at never having any breathing time or the opportunity to do what I wanted to do, I started my trek through these books…jotting down quotes of inspiration while taking short breaks from working, ferrying people around and errands of life, but still not connecting the dots.  Thankfully, the Universe never gives up that easily.

My constant mental complaining and whining only led to out loud whining and complaining…poor me…so busy…never any time for me. 

A few days ago staring through the window admiring the sunflower with my teens while making dinner, one commented to the other “It’s so cool the way it follows the sun.”  “Yah!” said the other “You can always tell what time a day it is by looking at where the head is.”

Record screeching halt to dinner preparation.  “What?!  It follows the sun?!” 

“Of course, Mom!  Didn’t you notice?!” 

Weakly answering, I said “No, I just thought it was a pretty flower.”

I received some deserved disdainful looks from my teens at this point. 

The next couple of days, I stopped and noticed our sunflower following the sun; it faced east in the morning and by the evening it was facing west.  Because sunflowers do not swivel 360, I noticed how it moved its face to follow the sunlight. 

And you know what, it didn’t stop there.  I started stopping and noticing the way my impatient mind would carry itself off when I was working or doing housework, and I started bringing it back to focus on the task at hand.  I started stopping more to stare out the window for a few seconds and notice what the bird was doing on the lawn or the dog digging a new hole in the lawn.  I dug into my book selections with a new mind of actually paying attention to what I was reading.  I started recognizing that feeling of over committing to something where it would manifest as quantity over quality and turned down some invites, rescheduling them in a more qualitative way.  I started noticing that anxiety rumble and started breathing.  I started noticing my bad attitude and changed my attitude or changed the plan. 

My life quality is going back up again.  I can almost feel myself welling a bit when I say this.  Anxiety and mindlessness are soul-sucking places to live. 

All this due to a sunflower (and teenagers).  Thank you, teachers.  I’m paying attention now and following the sun.

Our Pretty Flower

Himalayan Mindfulness

Picture a backyard on a steep slope covered with blackberry bushes as far as the eye can see, throw in three grumpy teenagers and their mother, you have our backyard.

Seizing up on the realization that I have a very limited time frame with free labor in the house, my summer project is for once and for all deal with our yard full of blackberry bushes (my daughter says I say this every year).  While ideally I’d love to have the importer of said Himalayan blackberry bushes over to clean up our yard, the next best thing is family.

Yes, there are easier ways to remove bramble, but hiring help would involve money (currently earmarked for removing DS’ wisdom teeth).  Chemicals are not an option as we have a small pond, and my first priority is to protect any life that exists in it…even if the dogs may have already eaten said life as they seem to have their heads in the pond every day. 

Photo by Molly Frances on Unsplash

So here we are, clippers and compost bags in hand (why Himalayan blackberries are compostable is a mystery to me…we are the reason I never accept our hometown’s yearly offering of free dirt from our city’s compost…do I really want to import all those blackberries back?!).

That aside, there is something therapeutic about tackling blackberries with hand clippers.   It has the same effect on me as hanging laundry or doing dishes…takes me to a place of mindfulness which I find soothing in a twisted way.  Relegating the whining to the background, I notice and rescue all the little creatures that show up in our efforts especially ladybugs.  Blackberry is quick to remind when you are not mindful as evidenced by the many scratches on my arms and pricks to my well-gloved bands, and as we climb higher up our hill, the view is just amazing putting me more into a state of Zen.

So if you’re in need of some therapeutic activity, I’m going to trademark a new mindfulness routine called Himalayan mindfulness…gardening in a mindful way.  You achieve Zen…I get my backyard back.  Win-win.