Saturday, July 5, 2014

Slow Down, Be Inspired

Go outside each day
Notice everything around.
Slow down, be inspired.

Train your eyes to see
Diverse flowers, trees, and clouds
Slow down, be inspired.

Train your ears to hear
Bird songs, insects, rustling leaves
Slow down, be inspired.

Train your hands to feel
Rough bark, soft fur, dripping rain
Slow down, be inspired.

Train your nose to sense
Fragrant roses, campfire smoke
Slow down, be inspired.

Train your mouth to taste
Berries, veggies, garden fresh
Slow down, be inspired.

When I was a young girl, and even up through my teens, I spent a lot of time outside, whether riding my bike, playing ball with my brothers and neighborhood kids, running with my dog, or just enjoying the freedom that comes from being out in nature.  What I didn't realize then was how much being out there contributed to my health and well being.

Fast forward a bit to me as a young mother. I do remember spending time outdoors with my kids, but as they grew older and more children came along, my time outside grew less and less. There was always too much to do inside - food to cook, dishes to wash, clothes to fold, floors to mop, furniture to dust, and the list could go on endlessly.  Add to that noses to wipe, faces to clean, questions to answer, fights to break up, stories to hear from excited children, and more. Many times I was impatient and frustrated and would resent all the interruptions. I pushed myself trying to do all that I thought I was supposed to do. Many nights I would fall into bed exhausted feeling that my work was never done. I thought I couldn't take time to relax and spend time outside. Maybe I thought it just was a waste of time when there was always so much work waiting for me.

To be sure this is not a complete representation of my life as a young mother with growing children. There were many things we did to enjoy family life like taking hikes, having friends over, playing games, watching movies. Our children were a source of joy and still are. We have many happy memories, some of which include outdoor activities.

Today is Day 6 of 40 Days of Blogging, and the prompt is to "share a piece of wisdom you have learned through life experience. A truth that now informs your daily actions."  We were also asked to think about what advice might we give ourselves if we could go back in time. I pondered that off and on all day today wondering what, if anything, I would change. First I started writing all kinds of things that could be helpful to young mothers, but it was becoming too wordy and maybe even preachy, which is not what I wanted. So I narrowed it down to one change that was small but could make a big difference.

My advice for myself would be to slow down, not worry about all the things needing to be done, and take time to go outside every day that it was possible.  When weather prohibited going out, I would plan ahead to make sure we had something of nature in the house, like flowers, bits of greenery, anything to tickle our senses and help inspire us to go about our daily lives noticing the beauty. I believe if I had taken more time to do this, it would have alleviated a lot of my stress. My children did spend time outside and my oldest daughter, being the nature lover she was, helped the others to discover many wonderful things in nature. I missed out because I kept myself too busy inside.

Now I realize my life is richer when I take the time to go outside, to stare at the clouds, to take pictures of interesting and ordinary things, to eat blueberries right off our bushes. When I walk around barefoot, feeling the grass beneath my toes, even if I only take five minutes, I can feel more relaxed and things don't seem as stressful. Then I am better able to tackle the chores of the day.

40 Days of Blogging is a collective in the online community known as Story Sessions.

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