Do you have a certain idea in your head of how your life is supposed to look or be? I do. I will not pretend to actually have this ideal life simply because of conceived notions of what my life should be because of what I do for a living. Confession time…I drive a regular gas gussling family vehicle, my home would not appear on the cover of house & home (unless they created a new “lived-in” like the rest of us column), I feel lucky if I take time for a few sun salutations a day, everything in my refrigerator is not organic and/or local, I enjoy television shows, coffee and instant mashed potatoes. I get angry, frustrated, nervous, sad and tired…I am human, just like you.
I aspire to do the best I can and consciously work to find balance between the ideal and the real. Ideally, I would be able to afford the electric car, have the efficient green home and never eat boxed food again. In my ideal life I have 1-2 hours a day set aside for prayer and practice, my days go exactly as they are set out in my planner without distraction, I prepare all the family meals from scratch using local organic in-season food, my children always listen and are never ever sick and there are quiet evenings of books, music, wine and romance all the time. I have oodles of money to be endlessly philanthropic while enjoying frequent vacations with my family. Lastly, I move around in this body completely free, always happy and never bothered by suffering resulting from chronic pain or anxiety. Sound familiar?
I believe that true balance between the ideal and the real is a matter of choice. When I choose to be attached to the desire for the perfect lifestyle created in my mind while also choosing to harshly criticize the imperfections of my reality I experience a great imbalance and overwhelming sadness. On the flip-side, when I am able to let go of striving for the perfections of my ideal and accept the imperfections of my real, I feel sweet moments of stillness and peace. I know from experience that when I accept what is and react from that remembered place of still center I am happy. Here are a just few example that prove this theory from my own life:
I know that it feels better to:
- laugh with the 2 year old who refuses to put pants on and just wants to dance naked in the kitchen than it is to freak out and force her to get dressed
- appreciate the coffee ready to go in the morning and quietly wipe the coffee grounds off the cupboard left after the preparation from the night before
- start each day with songs and fresh hearts having let go of the previous days frustrations that come with raising a tenacious 5 year old
- remember the amazing moments that gave me the stretch marks and wrinkled tummy when I catch a glimpse in the mirror (striking a pose in these moments help too!)
- close the bathroom cabinet door for the hundredth time and smile because my husband is alive to leave it open
On Wednesday’s I teach 3 classes and I was pooped this morning at 4:45 am but I got up, put on my clothes ( having remembered to lay them out last night too!). Moved through my physical practice with a fair amount of discomfort but moved to heal and felt better by the end. My eyes kept closing while trying to read so that took a little longer than yesterday. My prayers were short and meditation shorter. That was my reality today. When I laid in the tub I let go of the frustration that I was inevitably feeling and chose to take a moment to reflect on the practice and prompty fell asleep. When my head jerked up the message was clear and so here it is:
I love the perfection of my imperfect life. I don’t always like it but I am working on it….