It is funny that in our fast paced life while we are rushing from commitment to commitment and striving to fill all the needs, it takes something completely out of proportion to stop us in our tracks and grab our attention. We are amazed by names etched on grains of rice and dogs bred to retain the miniature cuteness of puppyhood, tea cup kittens, Smart cars, and hamburgers the size of Ritz crackers. We pull over to the side of the road to have our picture taken with statues of ginormous buffalos, giant hockey sticks and cowboy boots the size of Mac trucks. People will stare mesmerized for a very long time at a dollhouse where everything is a miniature recreation of its life sized counterpart. They marvel at tiny spoons and plates, tiny portraits that hang on papered walls, they remark at the stitching of teeny little quilts that cover teeny little beds and nuzzle teeny little sleeping figurines.
This happened to me in my absence from life over the past year. As Mike and I worked through the challenges of rescuing our family from a life that had strayed from its heading, my focus needed to be small and narrow. I did not have the time or energy to both regroup and touch many if any of the things outside of our immediate life that I once believed the world needed from me. To commit to our vision I had to retreat from everything beyond fulfilling the basic needs of our family and that made my world incredibly small. We changed the proportions and I stopped in my tracks and was suddenly seeing my life, our life, for the first time from a new perspective. I was mesmerized by its details.
I hadn’t really given it much thought, how much we have actually accomplished in the past year. We just go about living and enjoying the days as they unfold. Then this quote crossed my desk this morning
"A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live” ~Bertrand Russell
This sums up this past year for me beautifully.
When life got small, life got quiet.
It was already happy but as Russell suggests, when it got quiet I found joy. Partially because I removed all of the distractions, partially because I allowed myself to concentrate fully on the blessings in my life rather than just caring for them. I began reading and studying and learning how to support myself, my life, my husband, my children better. I got quiet and focused and meditative and looked for answers to questions I never wanted to hear the answers to before. I’ve become a student of living, real heart open ‘all in’ living.
This year of honest living has been a tremendous teacher and to be fair, I’ve practiced hard.
I’ve learned so much.
I’ve learned a lot about letting go, I’ve learned a lot about letting people discover their own paths, I’ve learned a lot about trusting that everyone gets to their ‘place’ in their own time and a lot about holding the light rather than cutting the path for them.
I’ve come to understand that my happiness, my children’s happiness, my husband’s has nothing to do with the dishes on the counter or the age of the car we drive or the length of my hair or the colour of its roots. I’ve learned to admit that these things really don’t matter to me and that I won’t be kicked out of the human race for saying so. I’ve learned that their true happiness depends on how they are honoured, loved, respected, listened to, and cherished, and the time I can devote to celebrating them and supporting their dreams is what is needed.
I’ve learned that loving people doesn’t mean fixing them, it means loving them broken. I’ve learned that I am not always good at doing this.
I’ve learned to be fearless by releasing a need to judge. It’s a backwards strategy but it has taught me not to worry what other people think of me, or my views or my possessions. That people will love me or hate me no matter how I try to please them or fit in and that’s okay because there are people I don’t appreciate very much either. I’ve learned that having an opinion does not change who they are or what they love or how they behave. I am learning to find myself in other people instead of measuring the ways they are different.
I have learned that our stories are courage for other people. I’m learning that compassion and understanding take work.
I’ve learned that the smile I can put on someone’s face is more important than the food I can put in their stomachs or the gift I can place in their hands.
I have learned that every good memory depends on how I behave in this very moment.
I am learning to have patience with the way people treat me, that their behaviour has less to do with who I am and our situation than it does with who they are and the past they come from.
I am learning to get quiet when things get crazy, that there is joy to be found in every single tragedy, setback, disappointment and frustration. I am learning that sometimes you just have to look a little harder for it. I’m learning that it’s important to live in a way that makes it easier for other people to find their joys, to be a light not a shadow.
I’m learning that I don’t want to be a good person, I want to be a better person than I was last year, 10 years ago and yesterday.
I've learned that just how much joy hides in a small quiet life.