One thing I learned while traveling was to really hone in to the thing that essentially makes me me— my inner truth. It was this truth that first launched me out into the world, that guided me as I navigated a new reality as a traveler and held in its hand like a warm beating heart the hope of my book and my dream as a writer. It was this truth that led me to become a mother and this truth that pointed me home again. In the future it will nudge me somewhere new and when it does I’ll follow. I’ve trusted my life to this truth and in return it has led me safely across the maddening street every single time.
My challenge now, though, is to hold on to my truth connection in the busy, beautiful, bountiful everyday. While traveling it was easy to check in with myself because I had uninterrupted time to think and daydream and explore new ideas. But communing with my inner voice from my urban rental while the baby is crying, the dryer is buzzing and a deadline is looming? That’s harder.
Maybe you’ve found the same thing to be true in your own life lately? If so, I want to share the tools I’ve found that help me stay connected and inspired and grateful for these busy times.
When I feel overwhelmed or tired, or in those moments when I just want to sit down for a moment but can’t, I take a deep breath and count my blessings. Almost always, I find that the things that keep me so busy (baby, work, social commitments) are also the things that I am most grateful for. In the same vein, I have this quote by Paulo Coelho tacked to the board above my desk and read it every morning:
“Reprogram yourself every minute of each day with thoughts that make you grow. When you’re feeling irritated or confused try to laugh at yourself. When you’re washing up, pray. Be thankful that there are plates to be washed; that you cooked and laid the table. Imagine the millions of people at this moment who have absolutely nothing to wash up and no one for whom to lay the table.”
Over the past few years I’ve had periods when I was committed to meditation and others when it fell to the wayside. But I’ve found that when I meditate just 10 minutes a day I’m more grounded and peaceful and less anxious than I am otherwise. Recently, I discovered the Headspace app which has made it easy for me to rededicate myself to the practice.
For me, meditation is about clearing the mind and visualization is about focusing it. When I was writing my book proposal I spent 10 minutes each morning visualizing my book on the shelves of my favorite bookstore. I focused my energy so hard I swear I practically willed that book into existence. Back when I was a serious runner, I’d visualize my upcoming races and the feeling of being fast and light on my feet. Visualization is about giving focused attention to your goals and dreams and I am a diehard believer in its power.
Finding an hour each day to exercise is essential to my mental wellbeing. I try to exercise alone- without music- because otherwise I’m distracted from my thoughts. But when that’s not possible I’ll put the baby in her stroller, pop my headphones in and go. On those days I’ll listen to podcasts that jog my creativity. I like Strangers and The Moth for the storytelling, On Being for the subject matter and The School of Greatness with Louis Howes (his guests are hit and miss with me but his interviews with Elizabeth Gilbert and Lisa Nichols in particular were amazing).
On my best days I find twenty minutes (or more!) to devote to my journal. Other days, I spend a minute or two just making a quick list of funny conversations I’ve had, places I want to travel or, more recently, what my kid is up to (Climbing stairs! New teeth!). Taking time to pause and sit with my journal slows me down and helps me focus on the most important things.
So, those are the tools that help me stay grounded when life is so full that it splashes past the brim and spills over (that’s a blessing, sometimes I just need a reminder). What helps you? I’d love to hear in the comments below.