Reya turned 3 this January. I thought I would reflect on some of the biggest parenting lessons I’ve learned as we stepped into the toddler years.
Wowowowow. Hold up. It’s not even Christmas yet, not even Thanksgiving, and I’m already talking about New Years Eve
Well, if you’ve been here a while you must know by now that New Years is my absolute favourite! And my preparations for it begin in late November, so yes, we do have to talk about it now.
Here are some of my annual rituals that create that New Year magic!
Declutter & donate
From the beginning of December, I begin my annual declutter. Creating physical space in my home brings a sense of lightness that I crave in the new year.
What can I let go of this year? How can I live a little lighter? In the past I have done this room by room, but this year I will try working through Marie Kondo’s categories of clothes, books, paper, komono, & sentimental.
I also pay particular attention to my digital clutter. For me, digital clutter is more overwhelming than physical clutter! My Evernote overflows with notes upon notes of my thoughts and musings. However, I have learned that even spending a quick 10-15 minutes a day organizing my laptop, documents, photos, and Evernote, makes a big difference!
This parenting experience I am having is truly fascinating. I’ve spend the last almost 3 years building this brand new relationship with a brand new human being, and yet, I’m the one who feels brand new.
My daughter invites me to examine life more closely. To experience simple things with more depth and intention. To see so much of myself mirrored in another person. Everything has become a giant question mark, and life is more exciting this way.
Reya is almost 3. And there is a lot going on at almost 3. I’m just trying to keep up.
My very best parenting lessons come when I pay attention.
One day, I was paying attention, and I noticed that whenever Reya does something that I do not like or approve of, my go-to phrase is “That isn’t very nice, Reya.” or something of that variety.
Getting in alignment
You may or may not know that I am currently in the midst of applying for Internal Medicine residency in the US. It’s been a long journey to get to this point – it is an important story that I look forward to telling you very soon.
As of right now, I’m in the middle of it, and I will say that I feel really good about where I am. I am happy and excited; not out of optimism, or even out of belief that I will match and reach my goal, but just genuinely glad to be here. Enjoying the process, and finding joy in the steps along the way. It is refreshing to live my life from this perspective, and it is new for me.
I thought it was interesting that despite not yet having attained my goal (of being accepted into a residency program) everything feels like it is unfolding beautifully, and I feel pleasant and at peace.
I realized that this was perhaps the first time in my life that I not only created a vision for how I wanted something to look (in this example, my career), but for the last 2 years I have been consistently taking aligned action. Every single thing I did reinforced my vision.
I hypothesize that simply the act of spending a length of time moving in one direction creates the ideal conditions for transformation of self and life.
So then I thought – hmm, what about other areas of my life that feel stagnant or meh or are not looking at all the way I want it to?
If you’re caught in an awful procrastination cycle
- Take a life admin day – a whole day devoted to running those pesky errands.
You cannot become the person you want to be when you are focused on the behaviour of another person
Why did they do that/say that?
I wonder what they meant by that?
Why did they use that tone with me? They must be upset/angry/sad with me etc.
What do they think of me?
What are they thinking about the situation?
When I find myself in a situation where I am tangled up in a web of worry and restlessness based on one of these thoughts- I remind myself that what I am doing is focusing on the behaviour and thoughts of another person. These are two things that I have no control over, and quite frankly, is not my business.
When you focus on another persons behaviour, a couple things happen.
Firstly, you spend a lot of time, energy and emotions on something you cannot control. It’s needless emotional labour, and it tires you out.
Secondly, you forfeit your opportunity to be the person you want to be.
As soon as I notice I am feeling anxious about something, I ask myself “is this about the behaviour/thoughts of another person?” If yes, I step out of my stories, and ask myself “Who do I want to be in this situation? And what can I do/say/act that is in accordance with that?”
And I do that thing. This is my way out.
A relationship is a wonderful tool for your spiritual growth.
How you as a couple respond to conflict can tell you a lot about a relationship.
You can be in a partnership where every conflict pushes you further and further apart, or you can be in a relationship where every conflict brings greater intimacy and opportunities to get free.
And for the spiritual seeker getting free is the most important thing.
In the heat of conflict, it is very difficult to remain conscious. Most of us get swept up in our triggers, our stories, our opinions, our unhealed trauma.
I have learned that what we fight about is not as important as how we fight. I’ve learned that if you put your attention on fighting better, the topics that come up also tend to soften.
It is all part of learning to love another human being, and yourself.
My posting schedule has become a little erratic. After 3 months working from home at my parents house in BC, we moved back to Minnesota where I’m involved in a few research projects. I’m still finding my groove here. Reya is back at daycare. My husband and I largely work from home but I do go into the hospital on days where I have patients to enroll or meetings to attend.
I am applying for Internal Medicine residency later this year. It’s sort of a pinnacle moment of my life; something I’ve worked towards for the last few years, and I’ve battled a lot of inner demons to get to this place. The application process is extensive, and along with working and spending time with my husband and Reya, I don’t have a lot of free time at the moment. It’s something I need to prioritize over the next few months, so while I will continue to post consistently on here, the interval between posts may be a little longer.
That being said – today I want to talk about relationships and the little ways we can steadily show up to do the work of love. Here are some simple practices that grow love and connection between my husband and I during this busy season of life.
Make their happiness your priority
Every morning, I ask my husband 2 questions.
“What is one thing you could do today that would make you feel productive?”
This is usually one of his most important tasks of the day. The needle mover. Things like “Finish the brief I’m working on / this chapter / this draft / start my online course etc”
Things happen in life. I take those things and process them in a certain way within me.
When some things happen, I create an atmosphere of pleasantness and ease within. When other things happen, I create unpleasantness and unease within. I have the power to create heaven or I can create hell.
I have been seeking a way to live where it doesn’t matter what happens to me, because I am an expert at keeping my internal environment as pleasant and peaceful as I desire.
Here are some ways that we create hell within, and some ways we can open the doors to heaven instead.
Hell is being obsessed with what other people think of us.
- Realizing that people project their own experiences.
- It is not personal.
My body gives me great feedback on my state of being, and I try to pay attention. How swiftly I fall asleep at night lets me know how at peace I am with my life. How happily I wake up in the morning, tells me how much joy I have in my heart. When I notice changes in how my body functions, I know it is time to make some tweaks in my day to help grow happy things.
I’ve been thinking about what it means to have a good day. And while I have a lot of good days, sometimes on the days I wake up feeling apathetic about the day ahead – I wonder, why? What can I do to have a good day?
It isn’t often that we have a day full of only wonderful things, or a day full of only awful things. We tend to get a mix of both, along with some neutral tasks and events too.
I consider my “work” of the day to not be only to get through my daily to-do list, but to make each thing I have to do into the most wonderful thing it can be.
Here are some ways I do that: