is for Xanadu
The perfect place.
The word “perfect” doesn’t scare me. Using it doesn’t set me up for unrealistic expectations even with my perfectionist tendencies. I think it scares other people more than me because I find that people like to remind me “nothing’s perfect” or “perfection is overrated” as a way to comfort me when I use the word, you know, just in case. I don’t know why they feel the need to protect me, but I’m not even sure I completely agree that “nothing’s perfect.”
I learned about an exercise a year ago to help me visualize better and feel better. I close my eyes and try to experience how it would feel in everything in my life were perfect—and yes that is the word that was used “perfect.” If you know to whom to credit this exercise to, please let me know.
It’s a surprisingly easy and relaxing thing to do—to imagine how perfect feels. The key is the feeling of perfection not the seeing of perfection.
I did this for a few days—stopped—life got in the way—shitty—and I neglected my perfect. Then one morning after I sent my daughter off to school, and the silence was screaming at me, and I was beating myself up for being taken advantage of, humiliated, or betrayed—take your pick—I decided I needed to sit and feel perfection for awhile.
I sat down, closed my eyes, and let out a big sigh. As I was sitting there imagining the feeling of a perfect life I had an epiphany—the perfection I was feeling was the way I felt about my life right now. I am living a perfect life. My eyes popped open and I was smiling—my life is perfect right now—wow.
Perfection was a feeling--not the tiny house I rent, or the temporary feelings of sadness I had, or the balance in my bank account. It wasn’t the weather, the city where I live, the chipped china plates, nail polish stains in the sink, broken floor tiles, or muddy dog prints on my floor. I am in the middle of having a perfect life and it feels like peace.
The circumstances I find myself in will come and go and waiting for the perfect life isn’t necessary at all. It took me awhile but I get it—it’s not a place; it’s a feeling, and if I can tap into that feeling every now and again to remind me, then I get to experience perfection right now. I get to set down the hurt and anger and realize how great I have it right now—muddy dogs and all.
J is for Joy
Be joyful today! This is your tenth day of your 26 Days to Practice Peace. If you have placed your focus on any of the previous nine words I am hopeful that you found joy or comfort at some point during that day.
Being joyful is something that feels “bouncier” than being happy does—to me. I don’t know why that is. A smiling baby seems to embody joy. My big Newfoundland Mix, Grover, seems joyful when he hops around in the snow like a 80 pound bunny rabbit. Joy seems to have a distinct look and feel to it.
Before I headed back to the working world a few weeks ago I stood at the kitchen door watching my daughter walk across the yard, out the gate, across the street toward her friend’s house, looking back to wave multiple times on her way to school. I felt joy watching her. It was different than just being happy, it was both a knowing and appreciating that these moments would soon be gone and that I had better soak up the feelings of these mornings and make them last. Me standing at that door is something we had done every morning since the day she let me know it was not cool to have her mom walk her to school anymore, but since it was coming to an end I just felt so joyful watching her head off to school knowing I’m her Mom.
“Tears of joy” is also something I cherish. A moment so wonderful that your eyes leak; there is nothing quite like that. Tears of sorrow or shame sting my eyes; they have a distinct burn as they well up in my eyes. They make it too cloudy to see as I typically try to hide my face and walk away. Not tears of joy though, they are light, crystal clear, and almost refreshing.
I am trying to think of a recent moment that I had tears of joy--exercising my imagination—but I am struggling at the moment. The reason is simply because I have had a lot of those painful stinging tears lately. Now you know why I needed to start writing my 26 Days to Practice Peace.
I will focus on joy today. The joy I feel when I see my child after work, the joy I feel when I know I made a difference in someone’s day, the joy I feel when I make someone laugh at work with my goofy comments, and the joy I feel when I watch my daughter from across the room while she is busy being a child.
I wish each of you all the joy in the world today.
is for Imagination
I love it when it is so quiet I can hear the snow falling.
I love it when I see a shooting star.
What tiny moments do you love? Not because you receive their gifts every day, but precisely because you don’t.
These tiny seldom occurring events are the kind of moments you can use to exercise your imagination. I have to close my eyes to hear the snow in my memory, but I can keep them open to see the memory of a shooting star. I think that’s weird. The image of a shooting star floats in my imagination somewhere above this page. It almost seems to be floating in a bubble above my head.
I love the way imagination works.
Imagination can certainly be used to create brand new never before seen things, sounds, stories, solutions, etc. but I like to think that I am more likely to imagine that “great new thing” if I insist on using my imagination often—giving it practice. So I exercise mine by filling my imagination with details from things I do remember, but I don’t worry about accuracy. It might sound like I’m exercising my memory, but it’s more than that. I don’t just remember something—it’s the practice of filling my mind with sounds and pictures that I can really “see” that is helping me improve my imagination. I have practiced hearing my snow falling so much that I am now able to close my eyes and hear it when I’m in a crowded place to help me feel centered and calm.
Think of a moment you remember seeing or hearing. That moment you are imagining belongs only to you, it's a special moment that you were graciously invited to witness and now it is being imagined once again by you. Didn’t that just add a whole new level of “special” to your moment?
Thing are perceived in only one way—your way—and it happens for each of us (which is probably why there are so many misunderstandings.) Your memory, your moment is unique to you—mine is unique to me. Fascinating. I think that makes these moments treasures to behold and definitely worth spending at least sixty seconds with every day exercising your imagination. How about you?