I am sick to death of reading fluffy pieces that tell me to take a long bath, and to integrate more self-care by just breathing, to fix my entire life. Magazines and blogs are filled with articles about finding extra time in your day, while social media flaunts pictures of girlfriends walking in flowered meadows or sipping tea from perfect steaming mugs. Of course everyone is dressed in flawlessly coiffed clothing picked out by their stylists.
I am sick of ads selling me the pretend or the purchased so you too can be just like the beautiful person living in an advertisement. I am never EVER going to be Matthew McConaughey or, sadly, his girlfriend, by simply driving a Lincoln. It’s the societal expectations of the ideal that are creating unfulfilled lives: “Be successful. Be beautiful. Dress like this. Look a certain way every single moment.” Essentially, we are striving to be something we are not. With material advertising images constantly blasting us, it is hard to be happy with what we already have.
It isn’t just advertising anymore. On social media, we see images of our friends and acquaintances looking perfect. They seem to be the beautiful family living a life full of amazing adventures. Gee, we think, shouldn’t my life look like this too? Sadly, we often find out later that in reality, their marriage is falling apart and the kids are disconnected from their parents. The postings are not the truth; only what they wanted us to see.
Keeping up with the neighbors and buying into false advertising simply hurts us. They are impossible images and expectations that don’t support a healthy life. Instead, we have to learn to be present in our own lives. Regrettably, our messy, complicated, over-informed lives don’t support this concept of staying grounded. To be grounded means that you are in your physical body, centered, living in a balanced state instead of floating in someone else’s vision or desires.
Sometimes, it takes a serious dose of personal reality to shake us from the illusions. Yesterday, I got a phone call from one of my favorite people in life. She was crying, barely able to speak. This person is strong and in control, not prone to drastic sadness. I stopped what I was doing and sat down on the ground with true fear in my heart. She finally choked out that there had been a terrible car accident. I listened with tears in my eyes.
When I hung up the phone, I couldn’t physically stand, still thinking of the suffering. I wanted to crumble in a ball and be done with the day. After a few moments of doing nothing, I could only think about being present: Right Here, Right Now. I want to be present in this moment, not ignoring the tragedy but acknowledging this devastating moment, to live my life. It quickly became a grief survival mantra: Right Here, Right Now. I have to be here, today, whether it means taking care of chores, working, or sitting still. I have to be mindful of this moment in time.
I am not belittling the accident or even using this horrible tragedy as an example to live fully, but it reminded me, as all terrible things that happen do, to stop spinning like a busy, crazy woman. We have to physically stop as well as mentally stop, and take that moment to slow down and to remember that we don’t have forever, that we aren’t pictures on the computer. My moment on the ground forced me into quiet; to send love to the friend in need, but also to everyone I love. All of them.
Experiencing and accepting the life each of us has created is really the rulebook we should be following, not dreaming of something we wish we had. This doesn’t mean you can’t strive for more, or want things to be different. This acceptance can actually give you space for creating new adventures by cutting out envy. Regardless, it is our creation to celebrate.
I want to be present, not lost in that magazine ad or a friend’s post. I want to feel true contentment, and the ability to walk through life ignoring the glitter and remembering that I am complete. It is a challenge every day. While I know some people are organized and have planned their lives out, some, like me, fell into most of it, bumbling lost until we found our way.
My life is a house full of loud extroverted people (minus my poor introverted husband), doors banging, constant movement, and lots of chaos. It is a whirlwind daily. It does not look perfect even after a day of house cleaning. I mostly wear yoga clothes, my hair in a bun, and serve tea in non-matching mugs. I expect guests to make themselves at home and often to even pitch in to help when needed. My reality is not styled or glossy. I have to remember that I don’t want it to be because that would mean giving up something else.
I want to stop everything and look my kids in their eyes the moment they walk through the door. I want to hug them and let my touch say how much I care even as they are heading away from me. I want my kids to see me paying attention to them, not my phone, not the work piled on my desk, but them. Most days, after rolling their eyes (teenagers!), they slide past me on the way to friends, food, or something not mom-focused. That moment is right too. They are doing what they are supposed to do in creating healthy separation, but I still need them to know that I am here. I am available. I am listening, creating the relationship, and being present, Right Here, Right Now.