Sometimes I forget that I have a daughter. Like now.
I just looked out the window from my fiercely focused 'free' time while she naps, two hours of catching up on bills, emails, Twitter, calendar planning... and I remembered that at any moment, her little head will pop out of the bedroom and I'll drop everything with a smile exploding out of my face, to greet her. It is as if I had forgotten, ever focused in Efficient Mom Mode, that I indeed do have a daughter.
Years ago, before she came around, my mother friends would tell me how efficient they'd become. An hour as a mother was like 5 hours as a non-mother, they would say. Fueled by a super-focused fire, they could accomplish things almost miraculously, compared to when they didn't have a child of their own.
Forgetting I've got a daughter is kind of crazy given how much of my mind and life she occupies. What's meaningful about it for me is that the presence of children -- their ability to naturally be in the moment of now -- so strikingly captures our admiration, and I guess it's refreshing to think I sometimes enter that nowness too.
It is also a gift in that, while all the 'me-time' is exceptionally welcome and necessary for my grounded state of mind, I am elated when I see that girl. As long as she sleeps for at least an hour. (Wink wink.)
One of the most mind-altering things I've ever done is write a living will.
I started writing without thinking, just writing from my heart about what I would want people to know if I were to die young and unexpectedly. It was instantly ego-crushing, and heart-opening.
Writing my own living will brought the most important things in life to the surface of my attention and allowed the unimportant things to simmer out of sight.
If you're looking for a way to paint your life with a touch of exquisite depth, consider writing your own Living Will. You don't need to get it notarized unless you want to. For now, it can just be an act of truth telling and a powerful way to listen to your clearest inner wisdom.
Here's the exercise...
Pull out a piece of paper and a pen. Take some deep breaths, inhale, exhale... to get grounded. Invite your heart to take center stage.
Now imagine yourself suddenly passing on, so tomorrow when the sun rises, you are no longer physically embodied in the lives of those who love you most.
At the top of the paper, write, "To the people who love me most in life..." and then continue writing whatever comes up in your mind.
Here are some prompts:
What is most important that they know about you?
How would you like them to remember you?
What hasn't been said that you'd like them to be aware of?
How would you like them to handle any of the material things you possess?
What are you grateful for, that they showed you, gave you, wanted for you?
How would you want to be remembered? What kind of celebration or ceremony would you want them to hold in your honor?
What is your wish for them in life?
It can be two paragraphs, 5 pages, whatever your heart genuinely wants to spill. Kudos for taking a deep dive to let your inner wisdom be seen and, more than before, lived.
Dear Mother in Law,
I just can't tell you enough how grateful I am that you gave birth to your son.
I don't know much about souls and lifetimes and all that stuff, but I can tell you that in the first decade of knowing him as friends, every single time I ran into him I felt an inexplicable sense of joy. He wouldn't do anything or say anything; I just felt elated, from someplace way deep down. An ancient happiness based on an ancient love for this man.
Whatever you did as his mother, and whatever you didn't do, it all worked out so beautifully. I am grateful for all of it.
Thank you for meeting his father Claes and conceiving a child together. Thank you for carrying him in your womb, and birthing him out into the breathing world. Thank you for following your heart onto the theater stage, bringing him with you, breastfeeding him, holding him, cooking for him, singing to him, letting him crawl on your back at the beach.
Your son is a jewel beyond words. Thank you for bringing him into this world.
There is one thing we are all entitled to, and it is Love.
Walking around with your nose in the air as if you are superior? No, that isn't loving and does not reflect a healthy sense of entitlement. Knowing you are completely lovable without needing to do anything to earn love, yes, this is a true and sensible entitlement.
With honor, I support my friends and clients to step into the knowing that they are entitled to Love. Is it easy? No. But is it simple? Yes. And the simplicity is easier to see from someone else's shoes, not our own. That's one reason why it is so helpful to lean into the support of friends, or your art, or meditation, when we're finding life to be an uphill climb.
If this resonates with you, grab your journal, your bike or your favorite buddy and set out on a conversation to entertain the question not of why, but...
What is available to me right now, to remind me how loved I am?
Where can I be or who can I be with, more often... that has me feeling completely loved?
Don't forget this one -->
How can I show myself love today?
Rock on with your amazing self. You are way beyond worth it.
Jessica Rios, Founder of Leaning into Light, is a mother, coach, lifelong letter writer, and eternal fan of Mr. (Fred) Rogers. This deeply personal blog and our free recorded conversations are devoted to one of her greatest passions: illuminating the beauty of the human spirit.