It seems like just about every conversation I start with friends, family, coworkers and clients as of late begins the same way, “I am just so busy (or stressed or swamped)!” I am 100% a contributor to the vocalized stress conversations. But it seems like everyone I know is stuck in this rut of running faster than our feet can keep up with or are pushing ourselves to be more and to do more.
I took a vacation day last Friday where my goal was to reconnect with the girls and truly spend time devoted to them. That meant no checking email/no computer. Sure, I carried my phone with me in case of emergency, but for the most part, I kept away from it.
It was during my time with them that I really opened my eyes to how sad my view of life has been. I’m surrounded by things that should make me happy, but instead, I choose to put the stressors at the front of my brain.
During a long walk (up a very big hill, I might add) with the girls, Evvie stopped a few times to point out the yellow dandelions growing in a yard near our home. “Look at the flower! That flower is yellow––Nanie’s favorite color!” I felt the words coming up but stopped myself before I could let them out. I was about to correct her and say, “No, that’s not a flower. That’s a weed, hun.”
And at that moment, it dawned on me that at some point in my life I had stopped looking at the dandelions as bright, yellow blooms––something of joy––and instead as weeds––something dirty and undesirable. When did this happen? Why did this happen?
I started thinking about how as children we were so fascinated by everything around us. We were excited to see the beauty. We wanted to be outside and in the sun and fresh air. Sure, our responsibilities were much more limited, but even then we made the most out of our experiences.
Well now we’re grown, with greater potential due to our own abilities, strengths and even acknowledged weaknesses and what do we have to show for it? Stress (about work, time, sleep)? Worry (about money, family, work)? Frustration (about where we are in life, what our significant others are doing, how our kids are behaving)?
What about happiness (with our family, with what we have, with who we’ve surrounded ourselves by)? What about freedom (we can do anything, be anything, try anything we set our minds to)?
As parents, we teach our kids about everything we can just to make them happy, to see them smile and eventually set them up for success. I love pointing things out to Evvie just to hear her say, “Flowers make you happy, Mommy! I like flowers, too. They make me happy!” Or, “Look at that puppy! He’s so cuuuute! I love puppies!” My girls’ happiness is my happiness. So why can’t that be my default emotion or outlook on life, too?
It’s time to stop looking at the “weeds” in my life and start reconsidering them as “flowers”––my challenge for myself is how I can turn around those stressors, frustrations and worries and turn them into goals, successes and victories? I’m only 31 and not ready to feel like I’m 80 and run down, which is what is going to happen if I keep weighing myself down with grey skies.
So I invite you to join me. Let’s stop discounting the beauty in our lives and start celebrating it. The stressors aren’t going to stop coming, but I’ll be darned if I’m going to let them cast a shadow over the joy in my life anymore.