Ordinary down pat

It’s no secret that I’m changing, rapidly and profoundly. I almost can’t keep up with myself. It’s possible that I’m driving others crazy with my constant discussion and self-reflection on this. But I must share and document my little epiphanies for later, because sometimes I feel these changes so intensely I wonder if they are really real. I mean, how could this be? Why, all of a sudden, are things clicking into place in a way that seemed so elusive before?

I ask myself this daily.

I can point to several specific reasons: I’m sleeping for the first time in over a year. I’m reading books and blogs that speak to me and inspire me and make me think. I’m getting help and I have energy. I’m finding my writing voice, the sun is shining, and there are exciting times on the horizon. My professional life is buzzing along with meaningful and challenging work. My children are flourishing and happy and full of personality. I know they are all part of it, important parts obviously, because they are important parts of me. But I need it to be something more, because I feel like at least some of these things could change, in a moment. And if they change, they might disturb this joyful balance and I will be left where I was. I cannot stress enough how afraid I am to go back there.

And my husband, my sweet, wise husband, says to me:

“Why do you need to know the why? Just go with it and enjoy it.”

And he’s right. My sweet, wise, generous husband.

“Fulfillment derives not from lofty achievement, but from ordinary feats. It arrives not once in a lifetime, but every moment of the livelong day.” Karen Maezen Miller

And so we come back to hand wash cold: care instructions from an ordinary life and all that I’ve learned from this book. And this important realization that came to me, seemingly from nowhere. He already gets it. He always did. And I missed it. I didn’t even notice him living it.

He already takes pleasure in the everyday moments, in the life he’s living today. He does this better than anyone I know. He doesn’t hurry. He plays with our children with abandon and complete focus. He includes them in any task without little worry for how long it will take with their help. He assumes responsibility when he needs to. By this I mean, he sweeps the floors, does the dishes, takes out the trash, puts on a load of laundry without my ever having to ask and never with complaint. He knows what needs to be done and he does it. He focuses completely on the task at hand. I tease him often for his inability to multi-task. But the joke is on me. He had it right all along. He does what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and just lets the rest wait. He’s good at it. And he’s happy.

I’ve been seeking out answers to improve my emotional well-being, to free myself from the heart palpitations I get when I feel overwhelmed and out of control, when all along they were staring me in the face. How did I miss it? Why haven’t I given him credit for being more in control and present in his life than I ever have been in my own? When did he get so wise?

I know when.

When I was too busy worrying, being preoccupied with my own thoughts and feelings and fearing that I wasn’t good enough. I failed to notice my real life and the beauty and simplicity that comes from just living. I was missing everything.

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34 thoughts on “Ordinary down pat

  1. kate says:

    i really love this post. in fact, i am going to send the link to my own sweet, wise, and generous husband because it sounds so familiar. and i am going to look up that book you mentioned. thanks!

  2. melissa says:

    I like your husband's point of view. Take the good that comes! Embrace the change! Who cares why! It's a great philosophy.Of course, if you can figure out why, you can try to replicate those circumstances at some later date when change is eluding you again! (Just in case you needed any help overthinking things here…)

  3. Blissed-Out Grandma says:

    This is a beautiful realization, beautifully written. It seems to me that women often fall into the trap you have written about…some spend their whole lives there. Like you, I'm married to someone who realized long before I did the importance of living in the moment and appreciating what we have. It's wonderful that things are coming together so well for you!

  4. Lindsey says:

    Oh, I am so familiar with this … for me it mostly takes the form of self-recrimination for having wasted so much time with the internal tug of war. But then I remind myself, that's just me and I've always spent more time thinking and reflecting and being both melancholy and elated than the average person. So there's no way around it. But it's a marvelous thing, to recognize the wisdom of someone dear to us, and to acknowledge it.xo

  5. Sarah says:

    I am in such an emotional place in my life right now, Christine, that this has brought me to my knees with tears mixed with happiness and sadness alike. You are settling into a beautiful, simple path. It's an honor to read your journey.

  6. LZ @ My Messy Paradise says:

    With every post, I realize more and more how well you put your thoughts on 'paper.' You are so beautifully able to sum up your thoughts and emotions. Truly. I see this with my husband, too. I am so concerned with what my actions will mean later, that I'm often unable to enjoy them right now. Joe gets it. He just plays. He doesn't worry about what else he needs to do. He sees a mess? He cleans it. While I I make a list a mile long about how to tackle it. I guess I need to give him a bit more credit. And read that book…

  7. mummyjanie says:

    I love your writing. And as you often do, you have spoken your thoughts.I think in men's DNA, there in ability to mulit-task has allowed them to live in the now. Most men I know are like this.I often shake my head at my husband who after a day of work will come in and sit down, put his feat up, tickle the kids. Me? I walk in and usually freak out about the mess, having to make dinner and how much I think I need to get done that night. I think my husbands got it right. Come in, sit down, relax for a minute…dinner's still going to get made and the house is always going to be a mess.

  8. JackiYo says:

    Wonderful post, Christine. You have me thinking about my husband now..

  9. Alex@LateEnough says:

    what a sweet post about your husband. i love that marriage is about learning from each other. and that we can STILL be learning even years later.

  10. IASoupMama says:

    Why is it that a woman's "inner critic" is always watching, always taking notes, always chiming in with a comment at exactly the moment is it least needed? I have tried to drone mine out with life, but the lil stinker keeps popping back in to remind me that I am merely competent and never stellar. I do remind myelf that competent means that everyone makes it to the end of the day alive, well-fed, and clean. And that I do shove that critic aside and enjoy my life and kids more now than I used to, and that's a good thing.

  11. ShannonL says:

    You are one lucky lady, Christine! I love Jay's no-nonsense approach and not worrying about the "whys" of life. Just rolling with it and focusing on the now – it's awesome.I am so very happy for you and your new-found happiness and contentment. I love to hear about it, and you're not driving me crazy at all! You're also teaching me (and others) many important lessons here.

  12. Sarah says:

    I love this. It is so amazing when things that have been there all along are revealed to us when we have fresh eyes.

  13. Debbie says:

    Yowza. What a beautiful post and realization.

  14. Justine says:

    Christine – I am so happy for you that things are falling into place for you. You, of all people, so deserve this. And it's amazing that you have found the perfect foil in your husband. I can't imagine where I would be without my guy. They do provide us with much needed comfort, support and equilibrium don't they? And if things do go awry (as they often do), hey, at least you will always have someone amazing at your side.

  15. Kate says:

    First, can I tell you how very envious I am of your husband who sees what needs doing and does it? Mine has different lenses in his eyes. Don't get me wrong, I love him and wouldn't trade him in for anything, but it would be nice if he could focus on today and here and now. Second, keep it coming! Your writing about your changes inspires me toward change. It is one of my favorite things about this bloggy world – I am pushed in good directions by lovely folks like you.

  16. cjschlottman says:

    What a great reality check! I am so happy for you that you have a husband like mine was. They are few and far between. And about our internal dialogue – What keeps women from loving themselves and treasuring the things about us that are stellar? Like you and so many others, I beat myself up because things are not "perfect," whatever that is. I have begun a new mantra, and it's the lead paragraph in my journal every time I write an entry. Here it is: "I AM A BEAUTIFUL AND STRONG WOMAN, CREATIVE AND CAPABLE OF FULFILLING MY DREAMS." Strange that I need to remind myself every day of how worthy I am.

  17. Leslie says:

    Christine, I'm really familiar with your sentiments here because in my marriage, ones very like them belong to my husband, who is so thoughtful – sometimes too thoughtful! – about what we're doing, where we're going and why. I'm sure you haven't ever missed everything, but worrying can get in the way of so much. I'm glad it sounds like you have a little bit of "Hand Wash Cold" right there at home, every day.

  18. becca says:

    I love this journey you have taken us on Christine. How lucky you are to have been finding so much peace and happiness in your days. I believe we've all been where you were… getting overwhelmed and bogged down by little things and not seeing how SIMPLE it really can be to find the sweet spot in life. You are fortunate to have your husband help you see how possible it really is. It's inspiring to say the least! Beautiful post.

  19. ck says:

    What a wonderful pair you are. Supportive, encouraging and loving. The only thing better than making changes in your own life, is having a cheering section who is just as happy for you as you are.

  20. Corinne says:

    I needed this today, Christine. Thank you. It never fails how far we get on this journey of being aware and here and in it and enjoying the moments… we still sometimes need the reminder.

  21. Rudri says:

    I finished Miller's book a few days ago and I still trying to internalize her message. I think it will take a few reads before I comprehend and try to put her philosophy in practice. I am so glad for you Christine. It is wonderful to hear that you are coming to terms with your peace. Lovely post.

  22. Aging Mommy says:

    Christine you should never apologize for writing about and sharing your feelings because doing so puts in concrete your own thoughts as to where you are now and also because your writing about things just might help and inspire someone else.Your husband sounds like a wonderful guy and you clearly appreciate just how important this is, having someone to cheer you on and be in your corner. I will just say if I may that your husband is right, it is important to live in the moment and enjoy what you have now without always questioning, but I also think it is important to understand how and why you got to a happier place when you get there and know what it is that will keep you there and take you even further along that right road.

  23. Charlotte says:

    I've learned a new, life changing lessons before only to realize my husband has always known it. But then again, I think the opposite has happened (at least I hope so!)

  24. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    I honestly think that some of it has to do with being a man. There's just something that allows them to focus, to enjoy and to not over think and over analysis. I often say to my hubby, when I'm upset about something "I wish I could just turn my brain off so I stop thinking about it. Why can't I do that." He does it, and I'm always so jealous of that.

  25. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    I honestly think that some of it has to do with being a man. There's just something that allows them to focus, to enjoy and to not over think and over analysis. I often say to my hubby, when I'm upset about something "I wish I could just turn my brain off so I stop thinking about it. Why can't I do that." He does it, and I'm always so jealous of that.

  26. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    I honestly think that some of it has to do with being a man. There's just something that allows them to focus, to enjoy and to not over think and over analysis. I often say to my hubby, when I'm upset about something "I wish I could just turn my brain off so I stop thinking about it. Why can't I do that." He does it, and I'm always so jealous of that.

  27. Allison @ Alli 'n Son says:

    I honestly think that some of it has to do with being a man. There's just something that allows them to focus, to enjoy and to not over think and over analysis. I often say to my hubby, when I'm upset about something "I wish I could just turn my brain off so I stop thinking about it. Why can't I do that." He does it, and I'm always so jealous of that.

  28. Krista (@kristahouse) says:

    I am in love with your writing. Thanks so much for inspiring me to think more deeply when some days all I do is change diapers!!!

  29. Kristen @ Motherese says:

    Sweet Christine, I'm so happy to have read this today. So happy that you have such a wonderful partner in your life and so happy that he has helped you toward this realization. I was just talking with my own husband (on date night last night – woohoo!) about how much I value these very same qualities in him. Why the why? I need to hear more of that. Thank you.

  30. Chantal says:

    Ohh how sweet! Your DH must just love this post. It is beautiful and I am just like you, only I am still floundering in unhappy land. I know it will click for me too. Just when, I am not sure.

  31. evaevolving says:

    Christine, I'm loving reading more about Hand Wash Cold. Just ordered my copy the other day. I expect it will take multiple readings and much reflection to fully grasp this totally different way of approaching life.You have a gem of a husband! I love that you recognize his "living in the now" style. And I hope that instead of being hard on yourself (why can't I be more like him?!) you learn from observing him (oh, well I could do that).This is my favorite line: "He does what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and just lets the rest wait." I think we could all learn from that.

  32. j says:

    …how wonderful. i love awakenings dearly. thank God for them. it's so hard to slow down enough to 'see' … what a blessing to be part of blogland and be able to read posts like yours! thank you.

  33. Denise says:

    Well, wow. I just loved the 6 word post of yours that I just read and I find this post (I've been out of blog land a lot this week). Again, wow. Ironically, (as a a writer and all), I'm finding myself blank–with no other words than Wow. And thank you for the glorious, spot-on, I'm-so-happy-for-you post.xo

  34. harriet glynn says:

    My husband is exactly the same. There's never a rush, never an agenda, lots of one-on-one time with our son.

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