I often heard my mother discuss the fact that she felt time was going more quickly as she aged. I often thought it couldn’t go quick enough. But then I was young and rarely reflected on the fact that we are not here on a permanent basis. Lately I find myself connecting to many of my mothers’ statements especially the ones around how life seems to whoosh by with each passing year. It seems that I just had Thanksgiving dinner and now it’s here again. How did that happen? And Christmas is just around the corner. Of course it’s not easy to forget either holiday since the media relentlessly feeds us their ads to buy, buy, buy starting in late August. Christmas decorations are already up and we haven’t even cleared the Thanksgiving dinner. Black Friday is closing in on us, but now there’s some stores that will be open at 9Pm Thanksgiving night in case you have an obsessive need to go to a store and leave your guests in the living room. Forget hanging out and reflecting on the day’s gathering. It’s much better to think about what you’ll be going to purchase while you’re chewing on a drumstick. We have turned life into a constant need to access the future without living in the present. This shift in how our culture lives their lives creates a great deal of stress My mother and her generation seemed to savor each holiday without feeling obligated to discuss the one coming. I have talked to many people about this phenomenon and it may be time to reflect on spending more time honoring the moments we’re in rather than anticipating or dreading the ones that are coming. This is not an easy practice in a society that has come to value “doing” rather than “being”. However, perhaps the gift you may want to access this season is reminding yourself throughout the day to just breathe. When you’re stressed out you breathe more rapidly. The simple act of inhaling and exhaling slowly and purposefully allows you to be aware of the present moment. Every moment that we honor with a deep breath allows us to feel more peaceful by helping to quell the inner critics that never stop reminding us of “what’s next”.Try it when you’re at the Thanksgiving dinner table and Aunt Hattie tells you the turkey is dry, or when you’re lying in bed worried about how you’re going to get all your shopping done, or in dozens of stressful situations that pass and soon become part of the tapestry of life. Just breathe!
How often have you sat down for a few minutes to chill out, when you start hearing those nagging inner voices asking, “Why are you resting, you know you don’t have time for this!” Get up. Don’t just sit there. You have lots to do. Keep going!” I often wonder when we first start accumulating those critics that are always so ready to make us feel that we just haven’t made the grade yet. I know a lot of it starts when we’re young kids. If you watch toddlers you can see they’re not affected yet by those critics. They’re usually running around, going from one thing to another, yelling when they feel like it, giggling, stopping in awe at a bug crawling along the floor that we would probably kill instantly. We are so over being dazzled by a bug. We’re on to Smart Phones and how exciting it is to have them be able to remind us of what we need to do. Kids are so wrapped up in their delightful, adventurous activities, and so totally involved, that it’s no wonder the universal mantra for parents is “Please look at me, I’m talking to you!” We hope that if they look at us, it will break the spell. I realize that all of us need some discipline in our lives and certainly we should become responsible and accountable. Unfortunately some of us have been overburdened with messages that taught us to always be vigilant as to what we need to do. Somewhere along the way we have forgotten how to enjoy life along with being responsible. We have become one with our “to do list”. It has taken me years to allow myself not to be at the mercy of my mothers’ voice. Many of her messages made sense, but her constant need to make sure that tasks had to be completed before you could have fun became one I carried around for years. I remember making sure my room was neat even though I could barely get out of bed due to a high fever and the flu. “What if someone came over with some chicken soup and they saw my bedroom in disarray”? After all there is a bedroom police isn’t there? I finally realized that it doesn’t matter. What’s really important is to realize that the internal critics you’ve inherited can be dismissed. To become your most authentic self you have to find your own voice. In the end you really have the last word.