9 Ways to Live Like a Princess
"Don't hurry. Don't worry.
You're only here for a short visit.
So don't forget to stop and smell the roses."
It seems to be this way every year -- one morning I wake up and it's suddenly spring. Trees are blooming, flowers are poking their sleepy heads out of the ground, and birds are chirping excitedly at all hours of the day. It's impressive, the way nature just bursts into bloom so brilliantly every year, surprising me every time. No matter how many times I experience it, spring is always a welcome relief to the cold drudgery of winter. Everything seems once again alive, moving, relieved as I am for the sunshine and the cleansing of the April rain.
As I was walking my little pup, Bella, this morning it occurred to me that, as much as I think I'm enjoying the springtime, I haven't really been taking advantage of it the way I should be. I haven't been embracing the moment. Before I know it, it will be the way-too-hot summer and I'll be complaining about the ungodly heat so I know it's in my best interest to enjoy these pleasantly warm, flower-bursting days while I can. At this very moment, Bella is out on the balcony, nose in the air, taking in all the scents and sounds of springtime while I am sitting here, indoors, writing.
I'm missing something. I'm not enjoying the beautiful spring days the way I should and, though I've been vaguely aware of that fact for the past few weeks, I still find myself inside participating in activities much more suited to the winter months -- watching movies, baking, spending hours on the computer. It's not that these things don't have value -- they do! -- but it's time for me to stop thinking about the beauty of spring and start actually enjoying it. Here's what I'm going to do to start stopping and smelling those roses.
1. Go outside as often as possible. This can be a tough one for me, as I love being on the computer. (I'm still not sure why they haven't fixed the glare issue on laptops and iPads so I can take them outdoors and actually see them.) However, being on the computer outside isn't really being present in the spring moment, and I'm going to make a big effort this spring -- starting today! -- to spend as much time outdoors as I can.
2. Pay attention to the little things. When I'm outdoors, I'm going to make an extra special effort to pay attention to the little things. I'm already pretty good at this -- noticing the new buds on plants, spotting an unusual flower or insect -- but this year I'm going to pay attention even more to the small things around me. I'm a big fan of using my visual sense, but I'm going to start paying attention with all five senses to really get in touch with the season of spring.
3. Stop rushing and slow down. One of the reasons I struggle to enjoy the season is because I'm often in a rush. I have work, plans, things to cross off of my to-do list. Even on the weekends, I'm often "busy" with something I feel I must get done. If I really want to enjoy this spring, I realize that I must slow down and stop rushing. I need to take my dog on longer walks. I need to take the long way from the parking lot to my office. I need to stop rushing and start slowing down.
4. Learn the names of plants/animals. It's occurred to me more than once that I have no idea what some of the plants or animals are around my building. I've lived in the same zip code for most of my life and yet I don't know the names of some of the trees I see every single day. I always say I should learn what they are, but I never have. This spring I'm going to finally figure it out. Going through the process of learning more about my environment will certainly help me to be more present
5. Bring the spring indoors. I cannot tell you how many times my mom has come over to my apartment and said to me, "Why don't you open those windows? Get some fresh air in here!" I usually shake my head and tell her defiantly that I don't want fresh air. But why? Fresh air is probably the very thing I need and there are so few days (when it's not way too hot or way too cold) that I can actually open the windows and let the air in. This spring I'm going to start opening windows, start letting the sounds and smells and sights of spring indoors.
Being present at any time of year is a struggle for me (which is the very reason I started this site!), but it's a skill I'm striving to improve. Every year, I look back on the perfect months that fall between the most aggressive seasons of summer and winter and wonder why I didn't do more to enjoy them. When winter comes around again (or even the sweltering summer heat), I don't want to find myself once again wishing that I'd enjoyed the mellow months more. This year I'm going to make much more of an effort to take part in the spring festivities going on outside in nature -- and I'm going to start by spending the rest of today outdoors!
How do you enjoy the spring months?
What advice do you have for someone striving
to be present this spring?
"Life is available only in the present.
That is why we should walk in such a way
that every step can bring us to the here and the now."
Thich Nhat Hahn
For the past year or so (and maybe even longer than that!), I've been waiting. Waiting for things to start. Waiting for the time to come when I can stop doing what I'm doing now and start doing what I've always wanted to be doing. I'll come up with a creative idea or storyline and think to myself, "Oh, I'll just do that when I'm writing full time..." or, the lesser evil, "I'll work on that this weekend when I'm rested." I put things off because I'm relying on that wonderful, promising "someday" -- the time when I'll be free to do whatever I want to do, all the time. The time when I'll have all the time in the world and I'll be constantly and continually inspired every single day.
Much as I hate to burst my own bubble, I've recently come to the realization that a time like that is not going to come around. Sure, I might be able to leave my job and write full time. Yes, I might be able to fulfill my lifelong dream making a living as a full-time writer. But that doesn't mean I'm going to stumble into some magical world in which I am never busy, never stressed, and always free to do whatever creative thing my heart desires. Let's be real here: that's not reality. No matter what you're doing, where you're working, how you're living your life, there are a million reasons to push something off until another day.
Rather than get bummed out by the notion that there is no magical place in which all of my writer dreams will come true, I've decided to take the approach that I stress again and again on this site: I'm going to live in the present. I'm not going to put my writing on pause until the day I leave the 9-to-5 behind and start writing full time. Though sometimes it seems easier to do so, I'm going to stop allowing myself to default to someday.
Admittedly, waiting has been a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine. It's nice to think, "Oh, yes, I'll do that when I quit my job and have all the time in the world." When that's actually a real possibility, the use of that excuse seems quite logical. Why in the world would I push myself into a do-it-all mentality right now, when I can wait till the time when time isn't an issue? Silly as it sounds on the screen, in my mind this has been making perfect sense for a long, long time.
I don't know what caused the switch to flip, but about a week or so ago I realized that I was spending all of this time waiting for a day that might never come. Even with all of the planning and preparing and hoping and dreaming, there are no guarantees. A million things could happen that would cause me to put the dream of writing full time on hold. And even though I still believe it's a realistic possibility -- even though I can still see that shimmering light of a dream-come-true out on the horizon -- I know waiting until someday isn't the choice I should be making.
For the first time in a long time, about a week ago I picked up a notebook and pen and started scribbling. In less than thirty minutes, I'd written a short story -- the kind of story I would have enjoyed reading. It was a small thing, but it was a start. A few days later I was driving home from work and pulled over with my notebook and pen, inspired to write and not willing to wait. It was a sloppy sketch of an idea, but it was something. It was a fierce scribble of words on the page; it was me not waiting. It was a rare moment of following my own advice: living in the now and actually doing exactly what I wanted to do.
With the possibility of pushing something off to someday, it can be hard to live now. And when the someday seems so real, so likely to happen, it can even be more tempting to make "I'll do it later" your catch phrase. But waiting is a risk. There might not be a someday. There might not be a tomorrow. Clouded in negativity as that sentence might sound, the truth of living now shines through like a silver lining. If there is something you're dreaming of -- something you want desperately to do -- don't wait for it. Do it now. Be in the now. Stop waiting. If you don't start now, you could end up looking back at a lifetime of somedays.
A special Happy Birthday shout-out to my mom, who is celebrating her birthday tomorrow. She's always been such an inspiration for me to live in the present and focus on the positive, and I'm so lucky to have her in my life. Happy birthday, Mom! I love you to the sky and back!