Thursday, June 26, 2014

An evening of mindfulness

A few weeks ago I attended a two day conference in Richmond.  Although its only 75 minutes away when my work said they would pay for my hotel room I jumped at the chance. Brad thought it was weird that I wasn't just coming home.

"Why are you staying? What are going to do?" he asks.
"I'm going to sit in my hotel room. All. By. Myself.  And do whatever I want. Or nothing."

He who does not see the beauty in this obviously isn't immersed in the nightly bedtime routine. Granted, we don't have babies who need rocked to sleep, but there is always a need to be filled, usually well after the time that I'm ready to be " off duty." Therefore, an evening all to myself felt like a little piece of heaven!

Despite looking forward to an evening to myself I did what I usually do and made plans to socialize. I  was supposed to meet a friend and her new baby girl for dinner but she ended up needing to go out of town.  While I was disappointed not to see them I was back on track focus on, well, nothing.  As I was leaving the conference I came upon a blood donation mobile.  Between getting tattoos last year and traveling to Africa I hadn't been able to donate for the last year. I was able to slide in and give blood right before they closed up.

I was excited to discover that the art museum had extended hours that day and there was an exhibit that I had been hoping to see. Most of the time that I've been to the art museum in the past few years I've had the kids with me.  This is not an easy feat.  It involves lots of "don't touch that"  and "don't run" and "don't talk too loud", all while trying to provide a educational and enriching experience for them. When we leave there I'm exhausted! This evening though, I didn't just walk through.... I meandered. I stopped. I looked.  I read about the paintings and statues.  I appreciated.  I didn't check the time once. I had no where to go, no one expecting me, nothing "next" on the agenda. It was a completely different experience than I've had in years!

Then I searched for someplace to eat. Because I was hungry. Not because someone else was ready to have a complete meltdown since they hadn't eaten.  Not because we had to fit it into a busy schedule. I ate because it what my body needed.  It felt like such a novel concept!  I found a cool little restaurant called Three Monkeys.  How does one resist that?!  I sat down, ordered a drink and food, and pulled out my phone to peruse Facebook, email, whatever.  After a minute, though, I realized that I didn't want to see any of that.  I just wanted to sit in a restaurant, observe what was going on around me... the sights, the smells and sounds.  All of it.  I didn't have anything else on my mind.  I didn't have to worry about where to be or who to pick up or drop off.  I had no obligations to let my mind wander to.  I could just BE.  I put away my phone and watched the people a few tables down.  It seemed to be a couple and another man and woman that they were setting up.  I looked across the street at the 70 year old lady sitting on her stoop and wondered what was in her Red Solo Cup. I watched the fans and the twinkling lights around the ceiling (hopefully by this time I didn't look like I was on acid... I just like twinkling lights!  They make me happy!) I checked out the cool architecture of the Fan.  I giggled at the funky art work on the side of a building across the street.  (I have to fess up that I did pull out my phone at this point to check out the dessert menu of the restaurant behind the art.)   But I really just focused on what was around me, how I was feeling, what was happening in that moment.  I ate mindfully, fully aware of the food and how it felt in my mouth, how it smelled.  It's really a completely different experience when you are able to do that. 

I eventually moved across the street for a mint chocolate shake that was calling my name.  I'd been craving this for years since we went out after a friend's bachelorette party and the restaurant claimed that they had no mint.  Still in no rush I eventually headed to my hotel, gave myself a relaxing pedicure, then turned in for one of the best nights of sleep that I've had in a long time.

It was a great conference the next day and really a fabulous two days away.  I'm aware that my mind is racing all of the time, but I think this getaway really highlighted that fact.  I'm always thinking about what is happening next.  I think our schedule is extra crazy since neither Brad nor I have a set work schedule.  Every day I'm thinking ahead for the next week about who needs to go where, how they are going to get there, who is going to do what.  One of those facets is pretty much always on my mind.  Is it possible to be mindful and live presently when, as a mom, we have so many moving pieces to keep straight?  I'd love some insight if you have any.  Otherwise, I'm thinking a monthly overnight getaway might work for me!

One of my favorites

Love Chihuly

Maybe I was so relaxed since I had a drink after donating blood?!

Love the Fan for things just like this