Saturday, December 22, 2018

A Mindful December: Being Willing To Fail

"Well, I'd rather fail at work than at home."  This was said by a contestant on a baking show who had just made a major mistake on the current challenge.  It was such a random and unexpected place to hear such profound wisdom, but it immediately rang in my ears and for days after. 

Nobody is super okay with failing so the statement above isn't a common thought in our society.  It is obvious to see that so many of us choose work over home simply by looking at all of the failed marriages and disconnected families everywhere.  Even for those of us who are committed to our families, it is so easy to give the best of ourselves to tasks and other people in the name of stress and urgency.  And it's the same whether you are home all day or work long hours away.  By the time we get face to face with our people, aren't we tired and drained from dealing with all the other stuff?  

When we started December, I knew that we needed to be more mindful of each other and of the important things.  I started Mindful December to re-energize us with a purpose.  Mr. Butler had been really feeling stressed, I was getting cranky and the kids were getting stuck in the whirl-wind.  And in the most important way, it was a success!  Mr. Butler and I had a chance to really communicate and invest in each other, things we needed to be better in life.  The kids, of course, follow suit and find their sweet spot as well.  What wasn't a success was my writing about it. There was a lot going on that first week and then we left for a week-long trip. Since we have come home, all the holiday preparations are in full force.  Sometimes there's only so much room in my brain.  So in a small way, I've failed at work in order to succeed at home.

The overarching theme of this blog is balance.  I easily get stuck and need to be balanced all the time.  I don't mean to imply that you have to fail at work in order to succeed at home or even that you can't be successful in both.  I just think we need to be willing to entertain the notion sometimes.  As parents, especially us mothers, we are all really trying to do it all even though we KNOW we can't do it all all the time. I needed to be a gentler kinder person to my husband and he needed more kindness and gentleness in his life.  Without focusing on that for a while, the stabilization of our marriage probably wouldn't have happened and instead our stressed out state could have undermined everything else we are trying to do in our life.

With work usually being such a public thing (business, reputation, etc.), the urgency to succeed can ramp up way higher than family success.  The love of our family by nature seems flexible and constant therefore easily put off until work is settled.  And sometimes it must be so.  But the feeling you get when someone chooses to put your needs above all other demands is incredibly powerful and healing.  Balancing this multi-faceted life is very hard, but genuine security and committed love is worth risking some much less important work here and there.

Monday, December 3, 2018

A Mindful December: Day 3

Tonight Mr. Butler and the kids made snowflakes as a part of our mindfulness activity.  We talked about how unique and special each snowflake is and then used our journals to talk about what makes us special.

There are many occasions when we assume someone knows something (especially about themselves), but never say it out loud or confirm that they know it.  What if people were walking around unaware of their value and importance?  That could certainly change their entire attitude towards life.   The next time someone difficult or strange crosses your path, consider the possibility that they are hurting far more than you realize.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

A Mindful December: Day 2

One of the troubles with trying to carve out new habits is the notorious life that tries to get in the way.  Today was Sunday and full of church-related activities.  This meant that I was preparing food for potluck in between services and it also meant that my kids would likely drag their feet about anything related to getting ready on time.  Rushing around doesn't exactly feel very mindful to me, but I did feel relatively calm despite the hurry-up mode we were in.  

We didn't find the time for our mindfulness activity until after dinner tonight, but it worked well just the same.  Everyone got their journals out and we copied down Philippians 4:6-7.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God,which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

It was a lot of words that they had to double and triple check for spelling help and it ended up taking them a long time.  Honestly, though, I didn't feel bad or mind it taking so long.  For my kids, just taking that time focusing on one thing until it is completed is a mindfulness exercise all by itself.  After it was finished, we talked a little bit about the verse and then about finding ways to calm ourselves when there is life around us is upsetting or overwhelming.  In addition to prayer, we practiced slow breathing and listening to our breathing.  It made me feel better, but I kind of wondered if it made any kind of impression at all on the kids.  

As the kids were getting in bed, miss Z was starting to get really excited about getting to sleep in J's room and without skipping a beat J says, "Remember Zoey, calm down.  Practice your breathing. Like this."  She immediately stops, saying "Oh, yeah!" and proceeds to breathe a few calmer breaths and jump in bed.  It was amazing.  

To be honest sometimes I feel compelled to concoct really big gestures when really small ones might work even better.  Tonight was a great example of that!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

A Mindful December: Day 1

I don't know about you, but the Butlers here lately have had a hard time being joyful about our life.  With so much to be thankful for and blessings we can't deny, bad attitudes and bad habits should not be the theme.  And yet, I feel like we have been fighting off satan right and left.  From anxiety to unhealthy eating and complaining to outbursts, we just need help.  

This week I have started taking a more aggressive approach to my weight-loss (cutting sugar and bread most of the time and increased workouts) and after the first 36 hours or so, I noticed a difference right away.  The momentum I've felt in years past just fell into place.  The wedding cake last night was almost easy to refuse because the clear mind and motivation it brings is just so addicting!  That being said, it is more than just my eating and bodily health that needs reviving.  And I'm not the only one.  The saying, "If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" is true in more ways than one.  If Mom has a bad attitude or is in a constant state of feeling overwhelmed or stress - you better believe it is going to influence everyone around her, from Dad all the way down to the dog.

One of the biggest struggles we are all having is paying attention to the things we are supposed to.  It's not new, but it is still a problem, the distraction of our 'modern' world.  Comparison, avoidance, addiction, apathy, there is just so much that we can get sucked into.  And we have given in to a lot more the past few years largely because the worries and troubles have just been a lot.  A lot more than we were prepared for.  But the big storm has passed and the trauma of it all has faded, so there's really no excuses anymore.  It's time to act and choose purposefully rather than reactionary.  

  1. 1.
    the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
    "their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition"
  2. 2.
    a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

When I am floundering, I just need hope.  And a plan.  A Mindful December is part of that plan.  This month we are taking some time every day to focus on mindfulness. Day 1, we started with a Mindfulness Journal with these cute journals from Sam's that I had bought a while back and the verse below.

Romans 12:2 (ESV)

Do not be conformed to this world,[a] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

The natural question that arose was how do I need to be transformed?  In discussion and in our journals we talked about our weaknesses and how we need to improve.  It was a good thing.  There is still mounds of laundry and a very neglected kitchen floor, but we're setting our gaze in a better spot.  December is one of the best and hardest months depending on the year and who you are.  It is just so full and that fullness - even when it is full of joy - can quickly suck our spirits dry.  I really want my spirit - and my family's spirit - to be full of THE Spirit.  But wanting and accomplishing is not the same and it does not happen over night.  So, one day at a time we're practicing mindfulness in hopes of building our fences in the Spirit.