There’s an Emoticon Meme that shows the range of emotions a man goes through compared to those of a woman , and it has nailed it! When I first saw this Emoticon chart I thought it was funny. But then it began to rattle me a little bit because it was so true!
I eyed my husband suspiciously, realizing that he does in fact have a permanent amused expression on his face if he is awake. I on the other hand go through everything from euphoric happiness to a blatant criminal mindset within the same 24-hours. In stunned disbelief I realize that just this morning I felt like Julie-Freakin’-Andrews on a mountain top…but by the time I crash into my pillow tonight, I’m practically Marilyn Manson. Not Monroe.
How do guys let it roll of their backs? How do they do it? They have to be on to something because they age slower without coating themselves in anti-aging cream every night. Plus, they only hang out in the shower for a grand total of 3-minutes. I know they didn’t have time to pre-loofah. And they certainly didn’t condition their hair, or end their shower with an almond shell scrub.
My husband and I had recently sold our home and bought another, so I have a lot on my mind. That’s when I found myself perched on our bed staring intently at him, clearly off in whatever-land being bemused by who-knows-what. He came around and looked over at me peering at him. With a sly grin he mumbled, “What?”
I went for it.
“How do you do it?” I demanded.
His eyebrows twitched along with his lips trying to avoid a smirk and innocently asked, “What? Do what?”
I narrowed my lashes at him, “That! Stay laid back, calm even! You’re never worried! Why-aren’t-you-worried-dammit?”
He honestly laughed out loud. “What are you talking about? Do you want me to be worried?”
“There!” I squeaked, “That right there….What are you just thinking about?” His irritating answer landed somewhere between, ‘Nothing,’ and some nonsense about the most efficient system he could come up with to patch and paint the rooms of our house before closing day. You know…like a game. Before he could entertain me with his myriad methods of man-tasking, I disengaged in wonderment and awe.
He was genius. He wasn’t rehashing the day. He wasn’t analyzing dinner. He wasn’t obsessing over a student. He wasn’t forecasting doom for our son because the little guy thinks it is funny when people fall down…(a habit which he may have inherited from me).
I peeked in at my own demolition derby of thoughts: What time is closing? How long will closing take? When should we switch utilities? How do we get the pets transferred to the new house without them stressing or peeing in the car? How is baby boy feeling about seeing all these boxes piled up around him? I can’t believe that the one day this year that we need Day School to be opened they’re closed! Should I bring snacks and juice for the baby to the closing? Should I put extra pull-ups, a change of pants, or just diapers in my bag for the day? How is my daughter doing in her new place? Has she found her secondary job? Is she eating right? Which lecture notes are being used tomorrow? Did I remember to upload homework submission links for my students? What will be the weather the day we move? What am I going to feed my family on moving day? I forgot to get birdseed for the budgies….
I often tell myself that I do this endless list of questions to be prepared. I convince myself that if I don’t do it, no one else will. While there is merit and value in planning and being organized, there does come a point when the constant mental barrage becomes overwhelming before anything even gets started. Close on the heels of that notion comes the laundry list of worry and guilt that comes with the risk of thinking you might falter.
I’m not alone. This is what women do. That is why we have Emoticon Memes that look like tiny psych wards. Our Minds, our Spirits, and ultimately our Health becomes wrapped up in what I call Noise. Distractions. A Negative Verbal Loop. The Truth is, 99% of the Noise is Self-Generated and has nothing to do with our real time outcomes. If anything, it takes away from our outcomes, or at least the joy of experiencing life as it happens. Seekers across the ages have been telling us that the only thing we truly have is The Now. In bad moments I think, “Well. Now sort of sucks. Now what?” In good moments, though, I find (like most women) that I quickly dismiss the moment of bliss, ready to move on to the next great feat because our culture teaches us “Not to rest on our laurels.”
I think the best translation of that, especially for women, is that what we’re telling ourselves and what we’re hearing our social constructs tell us is that we’re not good enough, there will always be more to do, self-praise is selfish, and unless you’ve worked painfully hard for something….it isn’t valuable. Every inch of success must come at a cost. The more personal the better. All lies. All illusion. All part of the holographic game we play.
Two weeks ago I came to the realization that the last movie I went to see in theaters was Maleficent. Not only could I relate to her retaliation at losing her wings, but I could relate to her journey back to balance. But, that’s not the point. The point is that I haven’t been to the movies since Maleficent.
I want to trade, or at least share in the row of Emoticons that men feel throughout the day. I want to celebrate the small moments that collectively define who I am, without bringing down the joy because I’ve already moved on to the next project. I want to stop and breathe, meditate, practice Qi-Gong every day out of enjoyment, not requirement. I want to close out each 24-hour segment of life to be its own episode, and not carry its stress, disappointments, or stumbles into the next day. I’m realizing for my own health, and for a much smoother ride in life, I have to consciously choose to do those things that bring me joy. I have to choose to go to the movies. Meditate. Play an extra thirty minutes with my son. Play piano. Soak in the sun. Stretch and exercise. Stop and thank myself for what I’ve done for Me that day.
Author Christine Day talks about finding your heart. Finding your heart space. Noticing your heart beat and recognizing that this is who you truly are. When you pay attention to your heart…you are in the moment. And when you are in the moment, you are in appreciation. And when you are in appreciation, the floodgates of joy come rushing in – even if it is just a trickle at first – you feel the spiritual and physical change of sensing now. Not the Now that you think maybe sucks a little, but the Now that is in your heartbeat reminding you that no matter what has happened, is happening, or will happen….You are there. In your heart center. At this moment.
I have intentionally practiced this for about two weeks. Whenever the mental demolition derby starts up, I have consciously stopped and found my heartbeat. No one knows I’m doing it – I could be rolling along on campus, listening to a speech, grading homework submissions, or feeding Little Man. Eckert Tolle’s advice in A New Earth was absolutely correct when he stated, “All we have is this present moment” at its true value. I have found the results over these last two weeks have been positive and noticeable. For the first time in a long time, I’ve been able to come up for air. When we stop and listen to Ourselves, we are better able to perceive Change, take Inspired Action, and Live Life in a drastically Different, Positive, Life Affirming way. When we stop and listen to Ourselves, we are no longer concerned with what might have been, or the uncontrollable details of what will be. And that, my friend, Opens Every Possibility Imaginable.