I've been returning to my, what I like to call, Life Reminders lately. If I were into kitschy list-type posters, they might be amalgamated and titled, "Sarah's 39579 tips to a happy life," and printed out over a faded image of a dolphin leaping out of the sea against a sunset. But I'm not into that. So, instead, I have a folder where I collect some of my favourite readings, quotes, and teachings that strike a chord with me. They are collected bits of wisdom that I have returned to before, pull quotes popping up in my head to guide me along the way.
Sometimes I need written motivation to return to my yoga practice after a long, exhausting day shepherding my
feral cats children.
Sometimes I need to be reminded that staying home with the girls is a fleeting stage, a blessing to be honoured, and not my fast-track ticket to the mental health hospital residential program.
Sometimes, I need to return to a place where a nice list of simple, common ingredients in motherhood's stew is enough to get me to slow down, look around and smile at it all (instead of crumpling into a pile of sorrow at the prospect of having to break up another fight over the stupid Ikea pillow).
I learned a few years ago, when I was in the saddest stage of my life, that happiness is a choice. Joy, warmth, satisfaction and excitement are feelings, but happiness? That requires careful cultivation. I will always be a student, learning new approaches and techniques that become applicable in my evolving life. This week, I am finding myself returning to the fundamentals: good food, time spent outside, music, non-verbal communication, family, friends. Those places where I have created and discovered happiness. Not because I am struggling with happiness or its nemesis depression, but because days at home with four little girls zoom by. Blink and I miss it. Go forward without intention and I find myself reacting out of anger, inconvenience, annoyance. Because yeah, little girls can be really annoying.
Of course, they are learning. Testing me (why don't they ever stop testing me?). They are curious and not very good at self-preservation, and opinionated, and strong-willed, and selfish and tiring. Naturally. Thankfully, they are also packaged quite adorably with round cherub cheeks, silky fine hair, angelic blue eyes and cute little bums. I am reminded almost as quickly as I become irritated, of their endearing qualities. One grasp of my hand, one call of my name, one spontaneous hug and I am restored.
And in those moments when I am not restored, during those long days and difficult mornings, I can reference my folder. I can read a quick blurb about why this is all so worth it. Perspective grants me the ability to get my ego out of the way, even for a brief moment, and see what is in front of me.