“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” -Bill Keane

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There are mornings when I wake up and the reality that I have lost both of my parents hits me hard! My heart falls into my stomach, I feel sick and so lost. To be without them always feels like a punch in the gut. It still takes my breathe away. My father is gone a year and four months, my mother passed away almost a year ago. It’s a pain that I would never want for anyone to experience, yet we all will. Some morning  I feel completely paralyzed, unable to accept that they are both gone, until I hear my 12 year-old call out to me. Her voice helps me to  refocus and be grateful for her existence.

It’s not easy to deal with loss, especially when you suffer multiple losses. Regardless of my pain, I put a smile on my face and try to begin my daughter’s day on a positive note. We chat as she gets ready, some mornings we are frantic, trying to get out the door.  After I drop her off at school, I return and often find myself unable to leave the couch.

I try to enjoy and be mindful of my first cup of coffee. It always puts a smile on my face. I thank God for my husband, who almost never leaves the house without making me coffee. That’s love.

As soon as I allow myself to feel gratitude,  my heart gets lighter. I am grateful for the people I have in my life. Today is a present.

Mindfulness

You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf.” -Jon Kabat-Zinn

The past few weeks have been difficult for my family. It was our first Thanksgiving since my parents passed away. We decided to skip it this year, it was too difficult. Instead, we sat in our pj’s and watched movies. I took some time to think of all that I had to be thankful about, there are boundless things and people whom I am thankful for. I am mostly grateful for my parents and their gifts of discipline, faith, compassion and their love of family. We will forever cherish one another because of how they raised us.

So while I mourn my parents, I also need to honor them by being the best wife, mother, sister, friend that I can be. So I sit, I reflect, I am mindful of the pain, but I’m also mindful of all they have given me. I am grateful for their love and that will never leave me.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, a mindfulness expert, uses the ancient metaphor of the ocean to describe how mindfulness works. The entirety of our mind is deep, it’s vast and intrinsically still and quiet, like the debts in the ocean. There are times in life when the waves are dangerously rough, but if we learn to sit still and get a hold of our thoughts, we can ride through the waves.

Mindfulness is a practice, it’s all about being. Mindfulness helps you find your way, it allows you to listen to your heart, listen to your own yearning. Just begin by paying attention to your mind, really get to know it, be present, so when you are stirring the pot, or washing the dishes, just do that, be mindful of it. Whatever you are doing, do it with awareness. Dive underneath your pain, your anxiety, your anger and you will find awareness capable of holding it all and knowing “this is anxiety, It’s going to be ok”. When we actually believe our negative thoughts we spiral into anxiety and depression. Change your thought pattern and you can change your entire life. When you become aware of your negative thoughts, you have power over them. Zinn says that mindfulness is the gateway into the full dimensionality of being human of being alive. Without it you miss a lot.

I try to be mindful as much as I can. I often find it easier when I walk in nature. Mindfulness is not meditation, you don’t have to sit still for a period of time in order to be mindful. It’s just the practice of being present. Try it and you will realize that you are not your thoughts, but the awareness of your thoughts. It will change your life.

You can learn more by picking up Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book Mindfulness for Beginners.