Identify the Essential

What peace looks like to me

In trying to figure out what I could write about in a few spare moments on this insanely busy day, I decided to search for some zen thoughts. I consulted my closest friend…Google. Today, Google generously presented me with this article about 15 Can’t-Miss Ways to Declutter Your Mind. My mind is always whirring, which is why  I am trying to focus on living now and zen.

The article is especially relevant at this time of year. I scrolled through its suggestions and my mind got stuck on this idea today: “Identify the Essential.” I have a nasty habit of biting off more than I should chew. It’s never more than I can chew. It’s just more than I should force myself to chew. I am a highly energetic doer, so I nearly always manage to find a way to accomplish anything I set myself in motion to do, even when that means sacrificing sleep, time with my family, and peace of mind. I too often take on the unessential in an attempt to make things “more special”. It’s ridiculous, really.

Let me give you an example. Right after Thanksgiving, I started thinking about ways to make the holidays more memorable for the boys. So, I added things to our to-do list to add in these memories. I bought gingerbread house kits, tickets to see lights displays, and crafts for us to do as a family. I scheduled trips for skiing, ice skating, and play dates. And, I added all these things to our already packed holiday calendar. All this has accomplished is making me more frazzled than I already was. I’m shoving my kids into the car, dragging them off places in a tizzy, and I think all they’re really getting out of my attempt to create positive holiday memories for them is a lasting impression that their mom becomes even more psychotic each and every holiday season.

So, next week, we’re packing our bags and heading to our home away from home to relax. We might go skiing or snowshoeing. We might go skating, sledding, or to the hot springs. We might cuddle on the couch with the snow falling outside and watch Christmas movies. Or we might just stay in our pajamas, playing board games and doing puzzles. Maybe we’ll just nap and rest up for Christmas? All I know is that after an entire month of self-inflicted chaos, we’re going to take four full days to focus on the essential…time together. Because deep down inside I know that what is essential to my boys is time with us. Sure. They love their Christmas gifts. When the trees are taken down and the gifts are long forgotten, however, what they will take away from the holidays will either be memories of stress and discord or memories of fun and togetherness. I think they’d prefer the latter.

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