This post started out as a ritual for the whole family. A ritual to help children and parents say goodbye to the summer and hello to the school year. But as I was writing, it morphed into something else. It soon became a story about what I’m learning right now, a lesson I’ve been working on for a few years.
I’ve been a student for the past year. Deeply entrenched in studies concerning, life, simplicity, and parenting, I was also given a crash course on patience and asking for help when I had surgery this past May.
But my biggest lesson, the one that I’ve been working on for years is slowing down.
I wrote this in October 2013
“People always say that “Children are our best teachers,” but sometimes I forget just how much I can learn from my little man. My son is 5 years old and this morning he taught me quite an important lesson. I had gotten up late, so we had a rushed morning. I was panicking about getting him to school on time and getting to work on time.
I barely tasted breakfast and honestly, I’m lucky that my socks matched! As soon as we stepped outside, my son went straight for the grass. Frustrated, I called him back to me so we could get going. He didn’t listen. He was busy and in another world. Growing more frustrated, I lost my patience and spoke gruffly to him. He looked up at me, with a little fist full of little flowers and said, “OK, mom.”
When we got in the car, he gave them to me and asked me to put them in water when I got to work. My son noticed the beautiful flowers on the lawn instead of rushing out the door. He stopped and took a moment to be IN the moment and to be where he was.
He slowed down.
I got his message loud and clear, “Slow down, mom.” I am not going to lose my job if I get to the office 5 minutes late (I understand that not everyone can say that). Maybe I need to start getting up a little earlier so I can stop and notice the flowers…
Most importantly it reminded me that I had not tasted breakfast, I had not really paid attention to what I was doing that morning, and I had not taken time that morning to truly be with him before I left him at school for the majority of the day. These things are important. Sometimes we just need a reminder.”
Now, in 2016, I’ve still not fully integrated that lesson into my life, as evidenced by our extremely busy summer. I am determined to slow down. I do not want this next school year to be full of busyness and hectic days. I’m tired of busy. I’m tired of being worn down. I’m tired of forgetting to breathe. I want peaceful, slow, and relaxing right now. I need that.
I’m still recovering from surgery and my body is really good at letting me know when I’ve done too much. It doesn’t take a lot these days. Being forced to slow down has been very frustrating. I’m a Capricorn through and through. I have things to do, darn it!
However, it’s also been a blessing. I’ve been learning to move more slowly, to spend more time savoring life. Truly enjoying time spent with loved ones instead of worrying about where to go next. Taking naps and reading when my body demands a rest. Waking up slowly and deliberately. Taking slowly paced walks and truly enjoying the weather.
Deliberate. I want to be deliberate.
This is my new plan.
Originally, I had prepared a ritual for families to help usher in the school year, but instead, I put it aside to bring you a ritual for you, parents. Because slowing down starts with you.
Children are naturally slow, as I’m sure I don’t have to tell you. Just ask any child to get their socks and shoes on and get ready to go and you’ll see what I mean. It’s the grown-ups who need to relearn how to slow our lives down. Here is a ritual to help you start:
Slowing Down Morning Ritual for Parents –
You might need to plan ahead for this ritual if you aren’t usually the first one up. Let your family know what your plans are so they leave you alone for a few moments or set your alarm a little earlier.
We all know how important setting intention is when we practice magic. I believe it is the same when we start our day.
When your alarm goes off, slowly move to shut it off. Lie in bed for a moment and focus on your breath. Focus on the movements in your belly as you breathe. Then shift your awareness to the movements in your chest, then to your throat and finally bring your awareness to the movement of breath in and out of the nostrils.
When you’ve done this exercise, slowly get up out of bed. Don’t get dressed, just throw on your robe if you must.
After a trip to the bathroom, if needed, head to your kitchen and begin to prepare your favorite morning beverage. If you have to wait for water to boil or coffee to brew, use this time to visit your breath again.
When your beverage is ready, choose your favorite space in the house to sit in. For me, it’s our 3 seasons room that overlooks my garden. Take your beverage to this place and have a comfortable seat.
Wrap your hands around the cup, close your eyes, and think about how you want to feel today. Picture yourself feeling this way. Picture yourself moving deliberately through your day and taking time to savor all of your moments. Infuse this intention, this energy into your beverage. Picture the calm and the peace (or whatever you want to feel) swirling in your cup.
Spend as long as you wish doing this. Enjoy your energy infused beverage, and end the ritual in the way of your tradition.
Extra Credit –
I’ve also been starting my morning doing “Morning Pages” a great exercise from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s a great book on boosting your creativity and overcoming writer’s block, but I find that these exercises help me clear my mind for the day. They give me a space to work through my thoughts and find solutions to problems before I emerge from my morning cocoon and take on the day.
I hope your mornings are slow and wonderful,