I’m a big cheerleader for noticing what some might call “the little things” in life.
I think the cumulative observation, consumption, staring-in-the-eyes-of and basking in the nuances of our daily lives draws us nearer to the hearth of what’s sacred in life. That’s what I think we see when we’re magnetically drawn to another person who is imbued with wisdom, sparkle, openness, and gratitude. The kind of gal that you just want to hang out with and get some of what she’s got, as intangible as it may be.
I don’t come from a place of rah-rahing this stuff just because it’s coach-y or a “technique” to use when you think life’s kind of meh … or that everything’s gone to shit.
The little things are a part of the treatment plan for my life. Ever since I was a young woman, I’ve dealt with occasional periods of depression and anxiety over the years.
My worst time in the ring with those struggles came to a head a year ago this month. I had come to a time in my life that where I had created everything I set out to do — everything I ever wanted, with room to grow: age 41, amazing husband, beautiful and happy children, my own business, a strong, striking and healthy body, good friends, a loving extended family.
It was all there and there was more where that came from. And it scared the shit out of me. I was totally confounded by this and I was exhausted by thinking about my thoughts and why I had landed in this space where I felt so alone and so afraid in the warmth of my life.
There are lots of conclusions I came to, and am still coming to, as I do the ongoing work to manage my diagnosis. I think some of it had to do with being in a place of near constant action and reaction for many years — the building and rebuilding of things in life (I know you’ve read some of this before, but bear with me):
- my parents marriage ending and all of us growing into what our family would be in fits and starts (and we are an awesome and resilient people, if I do say so myself)
- I couldn’t have more babies. In fact, I lost baby after baby after baby (after baby). I was in the several doctor’s offices across the state like it was my job for two years trying to unravel that shit.
- We had a baby (he’s five now) from Hawaii. We adopted him. I got on an airplane to get him the day he was born. It was an out-of-body, fairytale experience.
- I couldn’t figure out “my purpose” — where I supposed to be in the realm of career, life’s work and all of that. I’ve earned two graduate degrees and certification through two coach training programs to figure it out.
Those are not little things — those are magnificent, life-altering events. That’s some big livin’ and I wouldn’t change one millisecond of it. But here’s what I’ve learned: the “bigness” of all of that caught up with me when life became less about striving or building and more about inhabiting what I’ve created and being open to what was next.
I think of it as “life inertia” — kind of like when I rode the TARC bus downtown to my high school every day and I had to stand if the seats were full. We’d glide into a stop, but if I let go of the hand strap, I’d sway and stumble to the front. I let go of my grip on things — things that were settled, resolved, completed or in-progress. And I didn’t know what to do. What was the next big thing? Or had I created a life that could be so big and full that I didn’t know how to participate in it?
Here’s what happened: I assembled a good team of people in my field to help me. To help me understand the narrative of my life so far. To help me find medicine that was exactly what my body needed to help me feel better and not like my mind was out of control. And that period also heralded my relationship with what it truly means to slow down more. It is a practice and I’m by no means perfect at it — and I don’t want to be perfect.
Perfect and I have danced for far too long and she keeps stepping on my feet. Maybe it’s like working a program when you’re an addict — you meet yourself where you are every day and go from there.
It is about the little things — savoring, noticing, collecting and appreciating. So along with my weekly therapy sessions, some work with the coaches I love (because coaches are the bomb-dot-com), the big container of my meds I lovingly organize every week and my “Happy Light” I bask in during the grey months, here are some of the little things that I appreciate that let me let myself be well. They are my own beams of extraordinary and they’re all around me.
- The people I see every morning in the coffee shop starting their day — that one dude who looks like a Samoan body builder and drives a convertible Honda del Sol with primer on it (no matter the weather, it seems).
- My offices at home and in the building where I rent space: I feel immediately at ease and like myself in those spaces — they are beautiful, inviting and warm.
- When my son whistles Christmas carols.
- My daughter’s music playing on her iPad when she’s taking a shower.
- Those red velvet cupcakes they sell at Panera — I eat at least two a week.
- My husband telling me today that he had a dream last night where he was talking with his dad (who died last month). He asked him how old he was in heaven and he said “every age.” And that’s exactly what I knew he would say.
- I really do stop, turn towards the sky and look at the moon when I roll the recycling bin out on Wednesday nights. It is so grounding and so peaceful.
- The snow day Friday with my kids where we ate breakfast for lunch and crawled along the icy streets to get home while Christmas music played on the car radio.
- Standing by the fire last night with my friend Alice at our kids’ school during Bardstown Road Aglow.
- Hallmark Channel holiday movies — I’m surprised by how well some of them are written. Pleasantly, merrily surprised.
- My friend and I going through some big life stuff and circling back to one another with the little things that bring girlfriends together: food, wine, talking and listening.
- Chai, 1/2 a biscotti and odd patches of conversation while I write this at Heine Bros. I love humanity.
The little things are all around you, too. I’d love to know what your “little things” are — the more we share with one another, the more we lift one another up. Leave some in the comments.