the space between

I don’t know where February has gone, but I’m glad to see it’s almost over. Spring is around the corner. We’ve been flying from one thing to another, it seems. It’s made the weeks fly by.

There have been countless interruptions to our usual schedule. I spent last weekend a few hours south for an academic conference. It was both exhausting and revitalizing in that way that conferences can be, and I was happy to spend a night with an old friend since it was in her hometown. Life changes fast and in ways we never expected, but it feels so good to have old, comfortable friendships. Those that are worn-in and somehow create a space that doesn’t exist anywhere else.

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I’m not sure that completely makes sense, but it’s that peculiar way that your friendship with one person can be ever-so-slightly different from your friendship with another. The years and conversations and challenges and honesty somehow create a place that is particular to the two of you. It felt so nice to catch up and be reminded that things change and yet they stay the same.

The conference overlapped with much of my weekend, and I didn’t get the usual reset I receive when the kids are away. It was a fast wash, rinse, repeat for the week ahead. I’m eyeing spring break on the horizon and the end of the semester not long after. I’m grateful for the rhythm of an academic year and already contemplating the million possibilities for this summer.

I get the weekly COURAGEworks email. (Anyone else know about those? A Brene Brown collaboration.) And this week’s addressed mindfulness in a way that pierced me a bit — “Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness. It’s about creating a clearing. It’s opening up an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question.”

It’s a fine line — to feel what’s in front of you, to let all the emotions bubble up without judgment, but somehow let them pass by and then create a deliberate space for mindfulness to think and dream about what is next. You can completely lose your autonomy when you allow your every moment to be ruled by emotion. I’ve seen this time and time again when one emotionally fueled poor decision leads to a landslide of occurrences and consequences for someone. I’m working hard to usher in stillness after whatever current emotion passes. It feels so good to think and dream with true autonomy, to not be trapped by any expectation or promise, to see open space in front of me.

I volunteered in Jude’s class a bit today. As I helped a small group through an activity on syllables, I looked around the room at all their little looks of concentration focused on various tasks – clipping paper with scissors, stamping letters on paper, sounding out phonetic letters. Kids are so good at focusing on the task at hand without all the baggage attached to it.

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I think this is why they are so good at joy. And so good at dreaming and questioning and thinking creatively.  They feel what there is to feel without shame or judgment, and then they let it pass, and they move forward to what is exactly in front of them — no more and no less. There’s a lot to learn from that, I think. There’s a lot of freedom to be found in that space between.

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