Don’t you just hate to wait? When the line at the Wendy’s drive through just creeps along, when the person checking out in front of you has items without a price tag, when the customer service rep leaves you on hold for fifteen minutes? Will that Sunday driver in the left lane ever move over? And then there are those situations where you know already it will take a long time, but you still hate to wait, like losing 10 pounds, or wondering if you’ll get the promotion, or deciding to move to another neighborhood. Is that fellow going to propose to your daughter or not? Being patient, by definition, is the ability to suppress restlessness or annoyance during circumstances over which you have no control. Because if you could change things then you wouldn’t have to wait and you wouldn’t need to be patient. So why do we get our blood pressure up over the practice of waiting? I don’t really know the answer to my own question, but I can offer a few thoughts on being a patient person. First of all, we need to own the fact that being impatient is our own response to circumstances. Sometimes I’m in a hurry because I’m late, and I’m late because I couldn’t say “no” to one last task, so there is no point in getting mad at the traffic. So just stop. Stop the frustrated inner monologue and take a deep breath. The fact is, you are just late and arriving with an attitude won’t help. Next, take a moment to check in with your body. Impatience settles in to your shoulders, your jaw… where do you feel tense? Focus on those sensations and see if you can relax. Drop your shoulders, loosen your grip on the steering wheel, breathe. Once your blood pressure returns to normal you can assess your situation. Perhaps you can make adjustments in your schedule. Perhaps you can open some space for inspiration concerning a tricky problem. Or maybe you can make friends with life not knowing for sure how a situation will turn out. Someone much wiser than me said it this way many years ago: Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself? -Lao-Tzu, Tao-te-Ching 6th Century BC
It seems like a busy time of year to be talking about inner simplicity. There is nothing simple about orchestrating the gift giving, keeping track of the social events and managing those end-of-the-year school projects. Did I mention baking?
One of the ultimate objectives of attaining inner simplicity is being able to live in the present moment. Not just survive, but actually breathe and engage. That’s important because life is just a continuous succession of present moments. Most of us spend an inordinate number of our moments regretting the past, fidgeting in the present, or worrying about future. We miss a lot of life that way.
Here is a simple activity that I’m fond of doing because it brings me to a place of peace. Before I go to bed at night I often step out the back door. If it’s summer time I might walk into the backyard, if it’s winter time I only linger on the steps. Some days I just poke my head out the door. What I want to do is see the sky. I want a silent, meditative moment with the night sky.
You could also invite your family members out the back door one night. Have a breath of fresh air and stand together, silently gazing at the stars. A moment of simplicity. It also works with friends in the parking lot after dinner, or with girls in the middle of a giggly evening activity.
These days Orion is just over the Tulip Popular tree to the right. In the summer I see the Big Dipper over my neighbor’s house on the left. It’s just a simple moment that puts perspective on my day. And any moment can change your life- you just have to be there.
Have you ever been to a conference or a workshop, settled into your place with your materials, a cup of coffee in hand, and the facilitator asks everyone to get up and move? It seems like such a huge task. I’m not resistant to the principle of moving–I know the value of conversation with different people in the room- but what about my stuff? Should I take my purse and my bag of materials? What about my little plate with the Danish and fruit? Are we coming back to this spot later? The things around me, my stuff, make movement difficult. We know we live in a materialistic society, encumbered by our belongings, but I’m thinking the same thing is true with my “mental stuff.” You know, all the thoughts that ramble around in my head that make it difficult for me to move.
Emotional movement is what I’m talking about. Picture a child, who sees the day as a clean sheet of paper waiting for a story to be written. She is energized by the promise of discovery and possibility. She is present and emotionally available. I don’t remember my six year old saying, “I think I’ll try to be curious today,” but I’ve had to say that to myself as an adult. I’ve “matured” into a limited, restricted, “reasonable” view of possibility. It’s hard to move into wonder. My mind is a busy, multitasking place, and there is no telling what I’ve missed in the moment, because it was too hard to shift emotional gears.
Like moving our bodies, it is sometimes hard to let go and move our hearts. Here is a challenge: let opportunity guide your emotional engagement. I don’t mean yell at someone when you feel frustrated. I mean notice the moment that calls for generosity, and then give a little. Expend some emotional energy for a stranger. Be wowed by beauty in nature. Soak in the sound of children’s laughter. What’s wrong with being in the emotional moment of wonder? My teenager did his homework! The cashier made eye contact with me! What’s wrong with letting your heart show up on your face?
Fall 2012 Troop 40072
As I’m wrapping up the fall as a new troop leader, I realize what an amazing learning experience this has been. Sometimes good, sometimes frustrating, but always worth it.
Sometimes, I ask the girls to share something that stands out in their mind since our last meeting. Highlights, or low lights. Here are mine from this fall:
- “Start with doing badges for the first several months then move on to Journeys.”
- When girls have different interests, find a way to combine them. For example, Little Dresses for Africa (http://www.littledressesforafrica.org/blog/) combines sewing and helping children in Africa, two topics that interest our troop.
- “Don’t put so much pressure on yourself.” (Easier said than done.)
- I’m enjoying the adventure of figuring this out. I’ve met people, gone to new places, and learned a definition of leadership.
- It has been incredibly complicated to open a bank account.
- I have had a lot of trouble getting registered with my local council.
- I have a vague sense that I’m doing this on my own despite being part of a huge movement (and writing a blog about it!)
- To have a mixed-aged troop of 14, you need one adult for each age group because although they’ll do things together, each group has unique needs.
- When given the choice of badges to start, the girls liked the idea of working on food badges… followed by bugs.
Most Fulfilling Moment:
- When one Brownie asked me if I planned to be the troop leader next year, and I replied, “I think so…” a group of girls said, “Yessss!” to no one in particular.
- My daughter refuses to wear her Daisy tunic because it’s not a sash like the older girls get.
Tell me: What did you learn in the first season of Girl Scout troop leading? What’s the best advice you’ve gotten? Or given?