We start out as children and young adults learning and following the footsteps of those that came before us. They made it possible for us to exist! Now it’s my turn to create my own imprint and footprints for the next generation to follow; to trust my inner wisdom; to acknowledge with gratitude all the facets of life. When I’m unsure or the path seems misguided and leading me off course, if I get still enough, the path gets illuminated before me and I can be the guidepost for those that will follow in my footsteps.
I spent the weekend on a mindfulness for mothers retreat at Copper Beech Institute in West Hartford, CT. I had so many amazing insights and breakthroughs, which can only happen when we slow down and retreat. I wrote a lot in my journal. I took full advantage of all the yoga and meditation workshops. I kept my iPhone in the drawer in my private room and I went within. The group was led by Hunter Clarke-Fields, the mindful mama mentor. You can listen to her podcast and take advantage of her free resources at: https://www.mindfulmamamentor.com/
We were a small group of nine mamas. I learned new tools and tips for my mindfulness journey. Mindfulness and meditation are not an attempt to strive, self-improve, or add to my day as another to-do. In this retreat I was reminded about my why. Why do I meditate and do yoga most days? It gives me freedom and a sense of relief, as simple and profound as that.
As the retreat was coming to a close, I still hadn’t visited the labyrinth. So it was my own personal closing ceremony to integrate the group sharing and insights. I was alone. It had snowed the day before and I had to follow the footprints that led to the labyrinth. The path in the labyrinth was gravel and not shoveled. I saw footprints in all directions within it. I was able to find the path and stay the course. At one point because of the snow, I was unsure how to get to the center. When I got still, I saw that no one had gone right and when I did, I was back on the path. My gatha or mantra came to me in the center of the labyrinth: “Peace with this, Peace within me.” I am ready to be the guidepost for those that will follow my footsteps.
It is unusually warm today in the 50s in southern New England. The piles of snow from last week’s blizzard are starting to melt. Drops occasionally drip on my head from the historical buildings as I walk on by. The snow is dirty. Rain is in the near forecast. It’s gray and cloudy. Remnants of holiday cheer are strewn here and there: bits of broken pine and evergreen and a solo red ornament missing its hook lay on my path.
The snow is melting. I see the turf of green grass at the edge of a wall. There’s litter, a cigarette butt, and tiny pine needles reminding me of what once was there. It’s the kind of day that you wish you could curl up and take a nap or read a book. Rain is on its way.
Whenever I take a walk, I’m reminded that the simple act of walking clears up my mind and breaks up my workday. I will go back to my office and eat a cara cara orange, my favorite fruit this time of year. I’ll enjoy its bountiful juice and eat a piece of sunshine to brighten this dreary day.
I wanted to start good habits when I began to work full-time. I freelanced for many years working outside of my home, and I knew this new position would keep me more tethered to a desk. We are supposed to get two 15-minute breaks along with our lunch break. I noticed coworkers going outside for their cigarette break. But I craved to move my body and breathe fresh air. I wanted get out of my work mindset a bit, take a real break to renew and recharge myself for the rest of the workday. So I invented the apple break.
I love working in downtown Providence, RI, because it’s so walkable with many options to choose from. There’s historic Benefit Street. I can stroll along the Providence River, or go downtown to window shop and people watch. Even the Roger Williams National Memorial is a convenient destination.
I would get outside rain or shine and start to walk in one direction, eating my apple. Sometimes I’d pick up the pace and walk quickly, sometimes it was a more leisurely stroll. And as soon as I finished eating the apple, I’d change direction to turn around and head back. Then I always slowed down my pace to walk mindfully. I’d take deep breaths and take a moment to notice my surroundings. I would observe the ivy climbing up a tree trunk, the fragrant blooming flowers, the breeze, or simply marvel at the changing color of the maple leaves.
And I found it was easy to spend one of my 15-minute breaks outside.
Now that I’ve been working full-time for a year, I can reflect on this new habit and how I’ve incorporated it into my daily work schedule. It’s definitely easier to get outside when I’m in Providence as opposed to the other courthouses around the state. I prefer fresh, local apples that are in season. And when I couldn’t get apples, I’ve been able to enjoy smoothies on my walks as well.
Now that autumn is around the corner and it is officially apple season in New England, I’m ready to restart my apple break habit. I can’t wait to visit the farmer’s market and stock up on crispy, fresh apples. My 15-minute break will be more pleasurable. It is a true break in the literal sense. I’m away from my desk, moving my body, and invigorating my senses while eating delicious fruit. Then I’m ready to tackle whatever challenges may come my way.