A lesson in slowing down my thoughts and a focus on the positive.

The last few months I have been forced to focus on stress reduction.  I had a bad case of hives from January until April.  Let me stay focused on this post by saying, the allergist said they weren’t hives.  So stress reduction efforts.

On thing I have been doing is reading about meditation.  I wish I could continue on and say I have been sitting quietly for 10 minutes every morning.  So the benefits and rationale behind mindfulness have been on my mind.  This idea of mindfullness has converged with my reading on flow and happiness.  The basic idea is that you have to learn that it is not the chase to happiness, but enjoying the journey that brings happiness.  Mindfulness is being Zen (also reading Zen Habits blog, read the authors book in one weekend).  So mindfulness means doing the dishes and just doing the dishes, being fully present.  Which by the way is good practice for Restorative Justice.  Being fully present for another person promotes healing.

I’ve also been reading on storytelling – and it’s not what happens to us, it’s the story we tell ourself.  Hmm, mix this all together.

I am walking to my car, sipping on my homemade mango smoothy.  I am peaceful, enjoying that it is a little warmer outside.  I am not late for work or rushed.  A bit of mango clogs the straw.  I am reminded of this story (which is a split second for me, but needs full explanation to you).  The story is a vivid childhood memory:

Mom takes Scott and I shopping at a shopping center (it’s got to be the early to mid 70’s, shopping centers weren’t Malls yet).  I might be 6 and Scott is 4, we stop at a little store, I think a Fanny Farmer.  I get this absolutely delicious chocolate cream puff.  Scott gets a strawberry milkshake.  I am in heaven eating this delicious treat and then distracted by my brother.  He doesn’t have any other skills to communicate his feelings, except to cry.  His crying is upsetting my Mother, I briefly tune in.  Scott is upset there are Strawberries in his malt.  My Mom gets him a straw so he can avoid the Strawberries.  Peace restored, briefly.  My brother gets more escalated, I tune in agan and see that his straw is plugged now, with yes, a Strawberry.  Now my Mom restores peace by giving me the milkshake and giving Scott the chocolate cream puff.  I drink the milkshake and I am sure plot some sort of revenge.  What kind of an idiot orders a Strawberry Milkshake when you don’t like strawberries.  Next time Mom’s not looking, I’m definately getting his GI Joe in a Barbie dress.

So back to the other morning.  My own straw plugs and the childhood memory I just describe flashes in.  Instead of laughing it off or letting it come and go, I stop to think about it.  I believe until I really thought about it, my flash version told me:  life is not fair.  Here’s what I learned when I took a much closer look:

I LOVE being the big Sister.  My brother has grown into a really great guy.  He’s got 2 teenagers who live with his ex-wife and he’s got two toddlers and one one the way with his current wife.  He’s learned from his first marriage, he’s committed to his family.  He’s got a great sense of humor and a real committment to being a Dad.  He no longer orders Strawberry milkshakes.

-I got to be a care taker that day.  I got to give what I was enjoying to keep peace.  My Mom knew she could count on me or I just knew to do what my Mom wanted.  This instilled something in me.  I went on in life and a few years later punched the block bully in the face for picking on Scott.  That’s a entirely different post.

So if you have stories that pop in your head (positive, curious, scary, whatever).  Take a moment, think them over.  Sift thru the things you think of, what you ‘put in your scrapbook’ as a child may look very different as an adult.