Creating Rhythm and Mindfulness in Everyday Things

I've been thinking a lot about the idea of ritual. Children thrive on routine, but that word never conveys what a routine actually accomplishes. Routine suggests control, no real reason or known purpose.

Instead I've focused on the idea of rhythm. Rhythm means that my children and I can mark the passage of time in ways that help us to appreciate how the little pieces of our lives add up to the big mystery. 

Rhythm is a better word for us. We have natural rhythms that help my girls find their way in a confusing life. Since they are new to this, I want to give them something that helps them find meaning in the whys of every day.

In the stillness of winter, we are dreaming of spring.

In the stillness of winter, we are dreaming of spring.

Honestly, I'm not great at this.  I've been trained to watch the clock and to measure my own accomplishments by what it says. I have a hard time being patient enough to let rhythm in.

Last night my 4 year old snuck into the living room where I was working. The concept of work is strange to her. She can't read yet, so she stares at my documents until her eyes lose focus. For her, my real work is the business of explanation and the business of comfort.

We'd been playing the Big Bad Wolf game earlier and for anyone with experience with children, games are never just games. In the stillness of bedtime, she'd spooked herself thinking about wolves.

So I did what eases my own fear. I talked about big things. I talked about the new moon,  and what gives the moon its light. We walked outside and watched our frosty breath as we tried to find the moon. It wasn't in a good place to see from our back yard, so we watched the stars instead. She loves the three stars in Ursa Major's tail, and so we talked about them. She calls them the three bears. 

Stars are above our heads and below our feet and we can sleep dreaming of them.

New Years Goals versus New Years Resolutions

I am sitting in the dark with my four year old writing this post.

She came to me crying because she has developed a sudden fear of the dark. So we talk about what's in the dark, and how it's normal to feel afraid of what you can't see. Someday, fear of the dark may serve her safety. We talk about how sometimes mommy is scared, too.

But we also talk for a while about things that are beautiful. She is fascinated by spiders right now, and we talk about all the times we've found good spiders in the house, releasing them outside to build their webs. She tells me what they looked like just in case I forgot. 

I'm never sure if I'm doing the right thing when I parent. 


One of the things I do just before New Years now is separate my goals from my resolutions. Resolutions are little things I'd like to change: wear a pretty dress once a week is my current one.

Goals are dreams. They are visions for the future that I'm trying to bring into the current moment.  One of them is this blog. Another is to visit Iceland and complete the Icelandic crash course with the University of Iceland.

Goals remind me that I am a person who can accomplish amazing things. They remind me that in spite of all the crap, life can be fulfilling.

This is important for my children because I want them to understand that the world is open to them, and so I must live that truth for myself.  They are mirrors of my own behavior and I want that mirror to be limitless.

Three things to keep in mind when making your goals for this year:

1. Joy

   Really, joy is pretty much the reason we live. When you find your joy, you can find a lot of meaning in this weird existence we have. So write things down, brainstorm, create a vision board, whatever you need to do to get started, and you'll find yourself dreaming bigger than you ever have.

2. Focus

   Sometimes after we do the work of discovering our joy, we are overwhelmed by what we find. I like to cluster goals together so that as I'm working on one goal, it's helping me move towards another. 

3. Grace

    We catch a lot of flack for not living in the moment or seizing every minute of the day, but let's be honest here. It's really hard to live authentically every second. So if you don't accomplish all your goals this year, or even any of them at all, give yourself space to be thankful for what you do have and your ability to move on.

So what are your goals this year?