The last Tuesday of every month always sneaks up on me. But that means it’s time to join Carolyn and write a little something about my one little word for the year – Stillness. Since we’re halfway through the year, I want to take the opportunity to reflect on some of the practices I’ve cultivated and think about the ways I’ve noticed Stillness take hold in my life.

The easiest way to start is to look at some of the books that have fed into my thoughts and ideas so far this year:

It’s been a wonderful variety of poetry, books on Buddhism, and memoirs. The three that have made the biggest impact are The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey, and Long Life by Mary Oliver. The common theme? Slow down. Life’s not a race. Life is happening all around us all of the time and it’s so easy to miss!

I started meditating daily in December 2020 and this morning marked 185 days. I started with just three minutes at a time, then moved up to 5 minutes in January. I bumped it up to 7 minutes in April and then 10 minutes in mid-June. Slow and steady. I’m not sure what my end goal is because I only have so much time in the early mornings, but 10 minutes feels good for now. According to my Insight Timer, I’ve meditated over 1,000 minutes this year – amazing!

I chose to focus on Stillness this year because I wanted to practice drowning out all of the noise and the compulsion to do so much. I’m constantly comparing myself to others and think that I should be reading all of the newest books, knitting the most complicated and beautiful garments, quilting the biggest possible quilts with the newest and most popular fabric lines, and sewing my own wardrobe. And when I’m not making progress on all of those things? Then I feel like a failure. It’s the quickest way to crazy.

But this year, I’ve managed shift my focus to my family and health. I’m exercising more than ever and doing an okay job of avoiding my typical all or nothing mentality. I fall out of my routine, dust myself off, and experiment with another way of getting it done. Normally, I’d stay in the dirt and feel like a failure. but lately. I feel an appreciation for my body, the fact that it’s created three children and works so hard to keep a lovely home for them. And having a child with special needs has driven home the reality that I must take care of myself if I’m going to be around to take care of him. So moderate exercise and relatively healthy eating has become my priority over almost every other personal activity (except reading), which has helped push aside some of the compulsions to do, do, do.

Stillness.

Stillness in my heart.

Stillness in my mind.

The ability to be in a moment of complete external chaos and know that I’m still there. Thinking clearly. Making choices rather than reacting. Making choices based on what’s important rather than what I’m feeling in the moment. These are my goals and I’m very happy that we have six more months to practice life with our words. I’m looking forward to more thoughtful books and many more conversations with you about it all.

And I’m very much looking forward to reading everyone’s update this month!

15 thoughts

  1. Oh Katie, this post is just beautiful! I love how still is making such a huge impact on your life! And that list of books… oh my! I have again added to my ever-growing “read soon” list! I too am embracing a slower pace in life. More focused on enjoying the here and now rather than rushing from one thing to the next! It is such a good feeling to savor the moments fully, with no worry of when it will be done. The joy in the journey is a glorious thing!

    Like

    1. Thank you, Kat! This is the fourth year that I’ve picked a word and it’s already made more of an impact than any of the others I’ve chosen — and we’re only halfway there. I’m glad to have YOU on this journey with me. Thank you for always being so wonderful!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so impressed by how much you have embraced Stillness and a slower, quieter life. I think that feeling that we have to do so much and constantly be on the go is very much a feature of our society — we’re constantly getting messages that if we aren’t working, creating, doing, we’re failing. The truth is that no one has enough time to do everything, and trying to do everything is really not going to bring us happiness or satisfaction. We all have limited time on earth, and I’m convinced that the way to a truly meaningful, happy life is to figure out how to spend that time in a way that brings us joy, love, and health.

    Like

  3. Beautiful post. At 63, I still struggle with the issues trying to jam too much into day. The pandemic actually helped me slow down. With no social obligations, the days were a lot calmer.

    Like

    1. Thank you, Laurie. I agree – the pandemic helped a lot of us figure out what’s important and made the rest nearly impossible (or very unsafe, at the very least). Now the challenge is to thoughtfully return to our “old” lives.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful choice of a word and a wonderful post! So many great books to savor – some I’ve read, others going on my TBR . So glad that this word has brought and continues to bring and provide stillness for you and by extension, your family. Such a gift for all and thank you ever so much for sharing.

    Like

  5. What a post, Katie. (And, boy, do you sing my song in some of these lines.)
    “Making choices rather than reacting.” This has been years in the making for me…and I think I’m to the point where I am at least recognizing when I’m NOT doing it–even if I’m not getting it right all the time. (And that’s a start!)
    I’m happy for you, for the clarity of what you want + need your priorities to be. I think the gift of choosing a word, or ONE of the gifts in choosing a word, is taking time to ask ourselves the questions–then following through on the answers we hear.

    Like

  6. I think there is a small but growing groundswell of people who are tired of the grind and constant do/go/buy more and more routine. I certainly see it in your list of books and I see it in my curated Instagram feed daily. Add me to the club! 🙂 The pandemic taught me that my greatest happiness lies in my home and family, my backyard and garden, the close friends I can share deep things with. Books. Food. What more could a person want, really? I enjoyed this post and I continue to wish you well in your daily practices!

    Like

    1. Yay! I’m so happy to be in a club with you, Laila!! 🙂 I think I learned many of the same lessons you wrote in this comment – I’m so much happier at home and doing my own thing than trying to keep up with everyone else. I just have to remember that when I’m starting to doubt myself!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s