Monday, June 14, 2010


Over the weekend, I had the immense pleasure of spending the day with one of my favorite authors, Karen Maezen Miller. She is every bit as gentle and wise in person as she is in print and online. 33 other women and I spent the day away from family, responsibility, and the pressure of everyday life. She spoke directly to us, eye to eye, heart to heart about what it means to be a mother, a.k.a. what it means to be human. She showed us how to tune in when you’d really rather not, how to bring Spirit and meaning to each moment by simply bringing your attention to the here and now, by the ultimate act of faith : to breathe in and let go. To trust that there is enough. Enough time, enough love, enough energy to face whatever demands your attention. After all, its truly only one thing at a time.

I’ll likely be sharing many things I learned from my day at The Mother’s Plunge over the next few weeks, but one thing that Karen said that is swirling around and around in my mind is this:

“Whatever you bring your attention to will flourish.”

Uh, oh.

I’d love to be able to say I’m paying the most attention to my children, to my smokin’ hot husband, to my writing, to consistently making my house spic and span, to my faith.

But really I’m paying attention to:

A) Facebook, and other screen time distractions.

B) Keeping up with my family schedule, and how busy I always feel, irritated that I don’t have more time for myself.

C) Making plans for the future or longing for the past, where I believe freedom really lies.

D) Avoiding housework, or spending real “face time” with my kids. When I know that if I just sit down (or stand up, whatever is the opposite of what I’m doing at the moment), the tension of undone housework and needy children will simply melt away.

“Whatever you bring your attention to will flourish.” Hmm, let’s see…

Let’s start with the first one:

A)Spending too much time online= less time for my real life. Which leads to:

B)I’m too busy, not enough time for “me”. Which leads to:

C) Longing for the past, or making plans for the future, where freedom surely lies. Anywhere but here, please. Which leads to:

D) Resenting and avoiding the things that really need my attention, and if only I would pay attention, I would have more peace.

Hmmm… something is flourishing here, but it ain't peace.

Sounds like I need to start paying attention to the things that I actually WANT to flourish.

Yeah. Ouch.

Here’s where I usually start the dreaded should/guilt cycle. It goes a little something like this:
I really should stop being on Facebook so much. I really should spend more time playing with my kids. Should, Should, Should. Blah, blah, blah. Not helpful . At. All.

I literally spent years “shoulding” on myself every day, and its something I’m still working with. The thing is, there is no should. There are things I want to do. And sometimes I don’t do them. Period. It’s always my choice, and as long as I'm still breathing, I have another moment in which to choose. MY choice, always. Ahh, total freedom.

Choose what your priorities are for today. Gently, easily and without pressure to perform perfectly. Simply sit down (or stand up) and DO them. What you pay attention to will flourish. But remember, more "shoulds”= more guilt. Perhaps what Yoda really meant was: “Do or do not. There is no should.”

So, let’s try that again. These are my priorities today:
-Practice writing, 800 words.
-Practice my yoga.
-Practice keeping my computer closed most of the day. (she wrote, cringing)
-Practice making lots of eye and smile contact with my children. Listen more, direct less. Let them teach me how to play again.
-Practice my household routine that gets a basic amount of housework done that helps me to feel more peaceful and free.
-Practice forgiving myself if I don’t do any of the above perfectly.

There is enough time, enough freedom, enough energy, enough YOU for today. Choose what you attend to wisely, gently. And remember, babysteps are welcome, and will get you anywhere if you don’t stop stepping.


  1. Wow! "Baby steps will get you anywhere if you don't stop stepping." Gonna have to steal that line when you look the other way.

  2. beautifully written and full of important reminders for us all! thank you for sharing. xx

  3. Wonderfully said. Huge Karen fan, hand wash cold provide me with an important epiphany in my life. So much still to learn, but I feel I'm doing it right and excited for all that will unfold.

    Good luck with this project, I hope it brings you where you want it to!

  4. Oh, Emme, you wrote write out of my head. Thank you. I'll be trying today too.


  5. found you via hip tranquil chick...this post is wonderful - some really great advice here. i am writing that karen quote down somewhere i can see it daily! beautiful. grazie!

  6. Hi Emme, thanks for this awesome post and word for word it feels like my life/my head/my struggle! I love Karen's work, her books, her blog, her teachings. (so envious of your Mother's Plunge!) 'Attention is love': a favourite line of mine.
    So if only for today, I will pay attention :-)
    Love your blog!

  7. Yes! Yes! Yes! Love Karen and YOU! keep on writing and sharing with us. xoxo

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  9. You had me at the chalkboard words of, "if not now, WHEN?"

  10. This is absolutely marvelous!

  11. I have had your Twitter profile open in one of my 1,000 saved Firefox tabs (I know, I know) for days. Yet this turned out to be exactly what I needed to hear at the perfect moment. Thank you!

  12. Great post. Great reminder of what we know but pretend not to!

  13. amen, sister. as maezen says, "your life is your practice".

  14. Well said. Another great post, keep them coming!

  15. Thank you so much everyone. Every comment means so much to me.

  16. Great thoughts. Important thoughts. Thanks!