Last Thursday, on Election Day morning, my daughter commented on how so many people she knew were so anxious and distraught on that day. She looked at me and said “But not you, mom.” It is in moments like this that I am grateful for the wisdom that comes from 68 years of life. I reminded her that for decades, we have lived through political storms and changing administrations. Daily life goes on and it is that precious rhythm of raising children, going to work, and running a household that provides the ballast. We laughed because this whole year has been nothing but uncertainty and we are making it work. We can do hard things. We just don’t have to make them harder by over-stressing about things we have no control over.
One day I was showing my young grandchildren an Inspiring Land and Sea video on my Headspace app and when they saw the manatee floating so peacefully above the ocean floor, they laughed and said “That’s you, Gigi — so calm!” I sometimes tease them that one of my superpowers is staying calm, so their sweet reaction felt like an affirmation.
Cultivating a genuine calmness that I could rely upon didn’t happen overnight. I had to get to the bottom of what was getting in my way — like old triggers and racing thoughts. Patience is definitely a big component of calmness and while I once perceived my natural tendency to be patient as a gift, I came to realize my patience had a few snags. One was that I was prone to stuffing my emotions. And thanks to the Enneagram, I discovered that I was far too often focused on others and ignoring my own needs. So I had an overdeveloped level of patience with others and a pressure cooker of stuffed emotions simmering inside of me. A surefire recipe for disaster when it came to unwavering calm.
Self-discovery and awareness have freed me from those old pitfalls. Unfortunately there are no short-cuts or magic wands. Like most things worth pursuing, it takes commitment and a lot of practice. But I could feel those changes becoming easier over time and eventually I had a newfound core of calm — a reliable and trustworthy resource for myself.
My daughter recently shared with me that she is a benefactor of my calmness, my patience and my insights.. When she told me this, I recalled Pema Chodrun teaches that when we do the work to develop better responses to life, we not only help ourselves but we also have a positive impact on those around us. These confirmations are a testament to her teachings.
Five years ago, I began to pursue some meaningful personal changes so that I would be better prepared to handle whatever life had in store. I could never have imagined a year like 2020 has been. All I know is I am incredibly grateful for doing the work and reaping its many benefits in a year that doled out uncertainty with abandon.
Check out these dynamic resources for more inspiration:
This is Why We Practice — Mindfulness Magazine http://resources.magappzine.com/feeds/production/comboapp/451/media/99677/b494b6d3-c716-43f8-b57b-29da7f2ceeba.html
Give Them What They Want – Dr. Rick Hanson – Facebook Post https://www.facebook.com/rickhansonphd/posts/1795305393965469