A few days ago I took my GRE on the campus where I attended college. It was surreal returning there, communing to some degree with the ghost of who I'd been. I had expected to find a more definitive sense of closure but was struck instead by the sense that I'd already achieved this. I saw a friend who seemed to exist for me outside both the present and the past, and then I headed home ahead of schedule—back to the complexities of my family, our start-up, the Thanksgiving party at my daughter's learning center. This felt better to me somehow—more authentic, rooted, a clear stepping into my adult self. My friend said something valuable: Hold on tightly, and let go lightly. In a way, it felt like that was what I was doing with myself.
My kids and I drove to Tennessee after the Thanksgiving party to visit a unique indoor playground/learning center located there. It provides hourly childcare, but we found it unexpectedly closed. Undeterred, I took my children on my errands with me and finally let them play at another indoor playground within a restaurant where I sat and read the magazines we'd picked up for free outside the health food store. The one which resonated most with me then was Blush—within it I found some advice which I want to share:
An emotionally healthy life is found in being as present as we can be to our experiences, facing them as they come.. . . . It takes real strength to face life as it comes, step by step, just as it is. It takes real patience to accept that some things in life cannot be hurried along, but must unfold over time. It takes real courage to be emotionally present to our experiences so they can touch us, shape us and enrich us. If we can, then we not only get through our experiences, but we get something meaningful from them. - Jennifer Kunst, Ph.D.
Dr. Winnicott's good enough mother is not so much a goddess; she is a gardener. She tends her child with love, patience, effort and care. And she does so imperfectly. . . . She is a mother under pressure and strain. She is full of ambivalence about being a mother. She is both selfless and self-interested. She turns toward her child and turns away from him... She is not boundless. She is real... It takes an imperfect mother to raise a child well. You see, children need to learn about life through real experiences. They need to learn to deal with disappointments and frustrations. They need to overcome their greed and their wish to be the center of the universe. They need to learn to respect the needs and limitations of other people, including their mothers. And they need to learn to do things for themselves. - Jennifer Kunst, Ph.D.
While Dr. Kunst waxed poetic with her practical guidance, Dr. Frank King's article “3 Simple Things You Can Do Today to Feel Better Tomorrow” also spoke to me. From the pages of Blush, Dr. King urged me simply to drink more water, connect with nature and walk. This works for me too.