In our home, we eat a lot of meals at the breakfast bar because it’s easy to serve up the plates and get to it. The kids sit on stools on one side and I’ll stand in the kitchen, ready to grab salt and pepper or fill their water glasses. But one recent Sunday night I performed this ritual like always and something strange happened. My daughter picked up her plate and started leaving the kitchen.
“Oh!” I said. “Do you want to sit at the table tonight?”
She smiled and nodded.
We all sat at the kitchen table together and it reminded me of my theme for 2014: A New Serenity.
Here are a few examples of what “a new serenity” means to me. I hope it can help you dream up reasons for keeping calm and carrying on this year.
A New Serenity means:
• I can walk a few paces around my breakfast bar to the table, sit on my rear and let my growing children teach me something new, like making eye contact.
• On Friday afternoons, I can clock out of work and acknowledge all I accomplished since Monday. Dang, I’m good!
• Singing and playing an instrument, or public speaking, is fun instead of scary. Otherwise, why am I doing this???
• Sleep is an important to-do item that I like to accomplish every day.
• Laughing, especially at myself, reduces the seven visible signs of aging.
• Big, messy dogs make excellent exercise partners.
• I trust that the world can spin uncontrollably without me.
A new serenity doesn’t come from a bestselling book, a kale diet or shoes (and I like shoes). It comes from mind and heart in harmony with ordinary time. Not perfect. Not splashy. Just exciting the atoms in my monkey brain. But I have to recognize the beauty like a hummingbird…dipping into flowers one minute, zipping over my roof the next.
My point is, don’t miss it when it’s smacking your face. Smile and keep it in that mind pocket reserved for your best-ever kiss and the carnival pony ride when you were 4.
I’m not dumb. A new serenity doesn’t mean I’ll never experience pain. In fact, it’s the knowledge of that pain – past, present and what’s to come – that makes serenity so powerful. If I never get this zen moment again, why spend it worrying that I left the stove on?
Maybe all this talk of serenity is just a carbohydrate hangover. Then again, it’s the knowledge that even as I spent quiet time with family and friends during Christmas, there were others not so fortunate who were restless, angry, lonely or in grief. I’ve been there too, and moving through those painful times gives me a huge appreciation for what I’ve lost, let go and gained.
We can’t keep serenity like our favorite shoes. That’s why it’s so important. It's like no matter how much we’ve messed up, beat up, misstepped, mistaken and misbehaved, we are dearly loved to our split ends and unpolished toes. With nothing to lose and nothing to gain, life is a series of whispers to be you in every time.
Sit. Eat. Bliss.
To your serenity this year, friends.