Charlie is very wise for a soon-to-be 20 year old. He already understands mindfulness!
What a perfect thing for me to hear. I needed that reminder that when you’re down and life is not all you are wanting at the moment, you need to change the way you think. And then this morning I heard the unthinkable, the saddest possible news… a senior at Oliver’s high school committed suicide yesterday. The gift of an ordinary day suddenly seemed even more precious.
How do you find joy in the mundane? So many of us are overwhelmed by all we have to do. Housework and chores can make us very irritable. We’re driving kids everywhere. Going to work early and coming home late. How do you slow down to smell the flowers and let go of being bored with the “dailiness” of life.
How about changing the way you think to “I get to” rather than “I have to.” It’s a privilege to wake up every day, be alive and breathe.
Then I thought about the wonderful book I read 15 years ago that really made me stop and start to cherish each day with my children. It’s called Mitten Strings for God. (Not a religious book by the way.) This book helps parents to stop speeding through life. It’s a classic for hurried mothers and their children. Each chapter helps us to be more present in our children’s life and make the ordinary sacred. After I read it I went out and bought one for my sister, my sisters in laws and my closest friends.
In one of the very first chapters, Katrina Kenison talks about an author for whom she was an editor. Her first best seller book she edited was by Olive Ann Burns. The book was Cold Sassy Tree. (such an incredible read by the way!) Olive Ann was battling cancer and ultimately did not survive. As she went through her cancer experience she wrote about what she would miss about life. She’d miss the dailiness of things. One of the things she mentioned was dishes. She wrote of the special things she’d miss seeing out the window as she did the dishes.
“I have learned to quit speeding through life, always trying to do too many things too quickly, without taking the time to enjoy each day’s doings. I think I always thought of real living as being high. I don’t mean on drugs – I mean real living was falling in love, or when I got my first job, or when I was able to help somebody, . . . In between the highs I was impatient – you know how it is – life seemed so Daily. Now I love the dailiness. I enjoy washing dishes, I enjoy cooking, I see my father’s roses out the kitchen window. I like picking beans. I notice everything – birdsongs, the clouds, the sound of wind, the glory of sunshine after two weeks of rain.”
~ Olive Ann Burns
Well, from that moment on I decided to love doing the dishes. I didn’t want to wait for a tragedy, like cancer, for me to appreciate the dailiness of life. I now look out the window and notice my vegetable garden, the rabbits and the changes in the color of the sky. The laundry took me a little longer to love. But now, as I fold my children’s clothes or my husband’s or that of the many boys end up in our house, I feel a part of their lives and what they love and realize how much I would miss them if and when they are gone. Or how much I would miss the simple things in life if I were about to go.
Doing mundane things may seem like a chore but think of it in a different way. Wouldn’t you miss it if you were told you didn’t have long to live. What if something happened to a member of your family? Wouldn’t you wish for that perfect ordinary day again?
What a privilege is to live on this Earth, to have a home and clothes that get dirty and beautiful dishes that need washing. Vacuuming and floor washing can become a meditation with the right attitude. Cooking can be your creative masterpiece. What a privilege to have a family to care for, not to hurry along and miss the dailiness. Have gratitude today for all those little chores that might drive you crazy any other day. Cherish this ordinary day.
I highly recommend Mitten Strings For God by Katrina Kenison and Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns. Both are so good!
Like what you’ve read and want the newest posts from The Zen Mama’s Blog sent directly to your email? Just enter your email address below. I promise it won’t be shared: