IT DOESN'T GET BETTER THAN THIS

Saturday, November 3, 2018
I'm a futurist, for better or worse. I've always had a tendency to look ahead at what's coming up next in life and to keep one eye focused there. Very focused there. EX, I remember sitting at my parents' kitchen table when I was close to graduating from high school and deciding, for whatever reasons (honestly can't remember why), that I was going to graduate from college in 2012. That meant I'd finish my college degree in three years.

I finished my degree in exactly three years.

I have a small list of life things that have played out after I "saw" them first, per se. Again, for whatever reasons?? I really don't know why I do that. I just chalk it up to my futurist side. My tendency there has helped me get some "life" things done, but it has come at a cost: I've often lost out at being present and being content. The virtue has a vice.



I am currently working to neutralize the two. I will always be a planner, but I want to be more present. I need to be more present. Now that Ryan and I are in a life spot where our needs are met -- we have a place to live, a job, beautiful babies, old and new friends -- even though my futurist eye wants to zoom in on something up ahead, I'm finding that it can't. Better yet, I'm realizing that it shouldn't. Even if it has recently tried...

EX, I've focused that eye on the tween/teen years for my girls for most of the last year. I've had a small baby, I had two toddlers, I've been worn out. I mentally determined a while ago that if I could just make it to ages 10, 12, and 14 with Emmy, Claire, and Olivia that I'd be home free. "My girls will be so independent and fun and old. I'll be their greatest fan and we'll be best friends. I'll have x amount of hours during the day to complete projects. I'll help people. I'll call my friends and family. I'll do my hair every day. I'll sleep all night!" 

The virtue of that focus is that I have a vision for my future, my girls included. The vice is that when my present situation gets tough and I wish it were different (and I know it will be different since I've already pictured it!), subconsciously, I feel let down. Reality doesn't match my mental expectation. Then I feel sad, then frustrated, then annoyed at the perfectly good present.

None of us want to be dissatisfied with our lives, yet all of us become dissatisfied with our lives, and this unnecessary process of futurist thinking is one reason why. It creates expectations that neither you nor your people can reach, because the future is out there, not here, not now. Ingratitude for what you presently have in life also creates mental and emotional agitation, which you then project on your crew. If you can't appreciate what you currently have, you won't even be able to embrace what's coming next. Contentedness comes from being grateful NOW, not with reaching life's next step.

Watching my friends here with teenage kids has so effecitvely opened my eyes to these realities. I look at these incredible moms -- their kids ranging from ages 10-18 -- and guess what? Untrue to what I previously thought, their lives are not easier than mine. I see what they're doing for their kids, with their kids, and enduring because of their kids, and their lives are not easier than mine. They're different than mine. The fact reminds me of something I've already learned and shared in a different context (see this podcast interview here) but that totally applies here: progress is circular, not linear. You may see someone up top of the world and doing fine while you're struggling at the bottom, but they will make it around the circle and so will you. Up and down, up and down. Repeat, repeat. For us all.

So, Jeni, you know how your demanded of body, mind, energy, and strength feels stretched? It doesn't get better than this. Your girls' physical needs, emotional struggles, mental breakdowns?   They will evolve, not evaporate. Your bandwidth to make life what you want it to be -- your marriage, your friendships, even your hair! -- it's at a prime. What you are going through right now in life is challenging, yes. But guess what? It doesn't get better than this. 

Makes me see so clearly that my present is everything. No need to hold out on being happy and enjoying life -- THIS is life! This is it. In the context of my capacities, it doesn't get better than this.

Makes me see so clearly that the girls' tiny voices, twirling tutus, and make-believe afternoons? It doesn't get better than this. Their toys tossed across the playroom, wobbly bike riding that needs my constant hand, and animal-stuffed toddler beds? It doesn't get than this. Their velvety soft skin and butterfly kisses and chubby little bodies that still fit in my arms? It doesn't get better than this. 💛
So recently when I've felt my one eye drifting ahead to future days of teenage drivers versus babies in diapers, I say that phrase aloud -- "It doesn't get better than this"-- and blink, I'm back to the now. Consequentially, I am better living in the present and appreciating it. My mind has been more free. My stress levels have lowered. My girls have had a happier mom. It has all been a blessing.

I will never deny the power of having personal vision (I'm a futurist, for better or worse)! I mean, I can see up ahead right now -- our future will be incredible (being my girls' mom makes that inevitable). Yet. It will be just as good then as it is now.

It doesn't get better than this.

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