Maybe it isn't the Hokey Pokey?
Today marks my official initiation into the world of blogging. Welcome to my first post.
Yesterday I spent the day with my BFF at Cannon Beach at the Oregon Coast. Our birthdays are just a few days apart and we always try to celebrate our days by doing some momentous activity together. I gave up years ago trying to outdo the previous year's activity when we went skydiving...
And don't ask about the year we "ran" the Portland Marathon together.
Again, her idea.
Perhaps our choice to relax and lounge together at the coast for the day is indicative of our age and "maturity." As we do every year, we exchange gifts. I gave her a copy of the brilliantly hilarious Hyperbole and a Half and she gave me a "pause" bracelet. When I first opened my gift and my BFF began
explaining it to me, I got excited. "What a thoughtful gift! How exciting to have a new gadget!" [because she KNOWS how much I adore gadgets!]. That excitement quickly waned about three hours after I first put it on when I realized that what she had given me was not just a new fun toy/gadget, but rather her birthday gift to me was an AFGO. I was not overjoyed by this realization because this meant more work, introspection and honesty. She's good at invoking that... she's good at slipping it in when I need it the most (which is usually when I resist it the most) and she's good at supporting me in loving ways through my resistance, pissyness and bitchyness about the journey. That's why she is my BFF.
Allow me to explain what a "pause" bracelet is. It is a beaded bracelet with a small oval device attached to it that gives a gentle vibration every 60 to 90 minutes that is to serve as a reminder to "pause" in the midst of your day. During such "pause" you are supposed to acknowledge gratitude, do something kind for yourself or someone else or anything at all as long as it is done with mindfulness and intention. With each bracelet comes a large laminated card with ideas of how to utilize these pauses. Of course, my BFF and I made fun of the card, saying things such as "they think we aren't smart enough to come up with our own ideas."
From the website are some examples:
• Perform a random act of kindness
• Give thanks for anything around you, your health, your job, your family, your friends
• Pray – 5 seconds – 5 minutes – 30 minutes!
• Positive affirmation: Say something nice to YOURSELF
• Take a few deep cleansing breaths
• Eat something healthy
• Forgive yourself for not being perfect or forgive someone else
• Decide what you can do without and give it to someone in need
• Reflect on the abundance in your life
• Push out negative thoughts and replace them with a positive thought
• Remind yourself of your goals for the day
• Self check – are you being the best person you can be?
By the time I received my third buzz, I noticed that I began resenting this new piece of jewelry. I felt interrupted. My day felt disrupted. I got annoyed. And I also ran out of ideas. Wow. I surprised myself with how little tolerance I have and how un-imaginative and not mindful I can be.
What I realized by this response is that I am all about being just as mindful as the next guy when it serves me, when it is convenient for me, when it looks go
One moment please. I just got "buzzed" (and no, I am not drinking or smoking anything). Please allow me a few moments to PAUSE and grudgingly refer to the above list to decide what to do in this moment.
"Forgive yourself for not being perfect or forgive someone else" seems appropriate.
So, I will publically forgive myself for not being perfectly mindful with this whole bracelet idea and I forgive my BFF for challenging me with this gift.
Now, back to what I was saying...
...when it looks good, and when I feel like it. I don't like being told when I have to be mindful nor do I like being told how to be mindful (even though my own ideas on the spot are quite limited). What I found myself doing throughout the remainder of the day yesterday, when I wasn't resenting my vibrating bracelet, was ignoring the buzz all together because I couldn't be bothered or because what I was doing in the moment was more interesting or important.
The very word "interrupted" points my brain to parenting and how often a parent is interrupted by their child: to help wipe a nose, find a potty, to "Ooooh and Ahhhh" over the latest work of art, to answer the neverending question of "why?" As a parent of three small kiddos, I will admit that I have either delivered a canned response of "that's great, Honey" or a flat "wow" to my kids when they interrupted me more times than I care to admit and I don't even want to admit how many times I have flat out ignored their interruption. Now, I am not a parent who believes that we should drop everything each time a kid opens their mouth or asks for something (that would turn them all into entitled little brats), but a simple and appropriate acknowledgement of their earnest attempt to connect with me, their mom, IS important to me to engage with.
I cannot help but I ask myself: what exactly is it that I am doing that is so important that cannot be interrupted for 20 seconds to tell my child I am proud of them or for 5 seconds to say something nice to myself (not in a Stuart Smalley sort of way though) or look around at my surroundings and notice one thing that is beautiful / funny / amazing / curious / interesting, or to seek out an opportunity for an act of kindness?
This new vibrating bracelet way of practicing mindfulness is going to take some work. It is going to take some patience. As I wear the bracelet for the second day, I try to shift that resentment of those interrupting string of beads to seeing them as my new challenge. This is one of my edges that I am truly bumping up against right now in a big way. I am pretty sure I even have some bruises to show for it. This doesn't feel good. It sucks. I don't like admitting that I am not as mindful as I pretend to everyone (particularly myself) to be. I hate making change just as much as the next guy. Yet, I am beginning to wonder if perhaps those small acts that happen during each pause is what life really is all about - and NOT the Hokey Pokey after all.
Stay tuned for my own progress notes on this one...
By the way, I've returned to fully loving my BFF and loving her gentle and sometimes not-so-gentle-but-always-loving ways of pushing me (or shoving me, if I need it) towards growth.