This last year has been a bit of a roller coaster for us and I've had a hard time dealing with it at times. We've had a number of life changing events to deal with - the most significant one for us was selling both of businesses and becoming employees again.
At the start of the year I saw an idea posted by one of my friends on Facebook. The suggestion was to write down every little happy moment on a scrap of paper and to collect them all in a jar. On New Year's Eve you look through them all and remember all the happy times across the year. It was a way of being in the moment and being aware of the emotions being experienced at that time - a helpful way of practising mindfulness I thought.
At the start of the year I was really struggling to cope with stress so I started to do this. I made several notes over the first three months of the year - small things like when we had made pizza together and bigger things like my daughter's 6th birthday party on the 6th April.
Earlier tonight I was thinking about a happy time we shared this afternoon. I took both my daughters to the beach near our house after school, where we met a friend and her two daughters. My friend and I were sitting on a rug, catching up on our lives, whilst our children played. As often happens, I was watching out of the corner of my eye for danger but enjoying my discussion with my friend. I was half way through a sentence when Vicky said,
"Hang on, I've got to just go and capture this moment."
and got out her phone to take a photo of our two eldest daughters. They are best friends and thick as thieves at school. I looked over to see them absorbed in a lovely game they were playing, creating and decorating a pretend rabbit hole in the sand. At that moment, the wind and the salt from the sea was blowing through their blond hair, the sun was shining on their freckle kissed, smiling faces and they both laughed at each other, sharing a wonderful intimacy. It was one of those moments that made my heart melt and the love I feel for my first born pour out. I wished I'd been as quick as Vicky with my phone but instead I just sat and drank in the picture.
I was thinking about this as I went about my chores this evening. A couple of weeks ago I went on a yoga retreat in West Wales and practiced some mindfulness meditation whilst I was there. I haven't been doing too well at meditating since I've been back. I was thinking about this moment at the beach and how I needed to get better at mindfulness when I remembered the jar. I decided to add the memory to it and then noticed that the last memory in there was 3 months ago - my daughter's 6th birthday party which took place two days before the acquisition.
I feel sure we've had happy, family memories since then but my mind is blank trying to recall them. Maybe I've been too busy to stop and reflect. Maybe I've just been on the treadmill of life dealing with everything reactively. Maybe I've actually been feeling a lot happier and haven't felt the need to write things down. Who knows.
Now things have started to feel more normal again, we're settling into our new work routine, and the cortisol levels are lowering, I might be able to stop reacting so powerfully to negative emotions as they occur and get better at mindfulness. I am also hopeful that the happy moments I experience, like today, might be easier for me to sit back and enjoy too. Life really is for experiencing.