Celebrating the Messy Middle

Half the trouble in life comes from pretending there isn’t any.” – Edith Wharton

On Monday, I was practicing a short mindfulness break in the middle of the day to create more awareness of the middle of my life as I wrote in this post. What I noticed was that my day was kinda awful.

On the carpool to school, our neighbor and my daughter’s best friend broke the news that in three months they are moving 1200 miles away.

I’d just set aside all the gratitude and grief that arose as I thought of this big change in my daughter’s first real friendship so that I could work. Then the phone rang and it was my son’s daycare and they’d had an outbreak of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and needed me to come pick him up right away and get a note from the doctor before he could return.

I canceled all the rest of my work appointments for the day while I was driving to school to retrieve him, scheduled a doctors appointment for him in the afternoon. Then I asked the neighbors if my daughter could stay with them after school until I returned from the doctor which brought another wistful realization of how much I’ll miss them when they move in three months.

In short, the day was reactive, unsettling and bumpy. As I mindfully checked in with this, I had to chuckle because it reminded me of something I learned from Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön. That meditation and mindfulness are not ways to always be feeling good – in fact, it often brings more irritation because we are aware.

Aware and irritated by it fit how I felt during that check-in perfectly. However, the awareness brought the ability to move through it instead of just locking it up in a box. And that is always a gift I appreciate because I learn that I can handle it. I’ve come to think of meditation as my way of irrigating the irritations so I can flow past.

Sitting with this, I could touch the powerfully poignant moment when my daughter’s first friendship changed. More than that, I was able to notice it before my optimism overwrote it with dreams of new neighbors, a new carpool and the next friend. And I suppose that’s exactly the point of focusing the spotlight of awareness.

It seems perfectly fitting to write about this in the middle of the week. 🙂

(featured photo from Pexels)

27 thoughts on “Celebrating the Messy Middle

  1. Well, Wynne, you’ve done it..again! What an incredibly rich post. Oh, how I could relate to the pointers that you shared. When I felt locked into my tiny perspective of “Art” so many years ago, I suffered for every “thing” that he believed he needed–wife present, children happy, success (whatever that meant), and….the list goes on. Through Grace, a much deeper level of life has revealed Itself and the joy that comes with that, as that, is indescribable in words. People will notice it, though; for now “flow” is evident, instead of the bristling irratations of Art…trying to set his world “right.” Thank you again. 🙏

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Your observations about the nature of life capture the ups and downs very well, even if they are “relatively” minor. If we adopt an Eastern religion, it is possible to get outside the personal relationship to those events and take a wider view. However, if we do that, we run pretty close to the point where nothing much matters in our everyday existence, including almost all those things we take seriously, sometimes desperately seriously. It is no wonder the master meditators, who are among the happiest people on earth, spend so much time meditating!

    Accepting the terms life permits requires us to remember to do that without obsessing about it. Looking at the world as filled with absurdity is another possibility, which has its own downside. I wish I could provide a single solution that would work for everyone. No one seems to have done that yet.

    Wynne, you do an excellent job of walking the tightrope of daily events, raising two kids on your own, and making a living. I doubt we can ask for much more from ourselves. It helps if we realize that half the time, many of us try to persuade the human world that we have everything figured out, when in fact, we don’t.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve thought that about Eastern religion many times – that too far in that direction makes everything meaningless so I’m so grateful for your comment that elucidates that same idea.

      Thank you for the wonderful compliment about my tightrope capabilities. I definitely don’t have it all figured out but I’m sure having a fun time writing about it! 🙂 Thank you for your very insightful and encouraging comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “Aware and irritated by it fit how I felt during that check-in perfectly. However, the awareness brought the ability to move through it instead of just locking it up in a box. And that is always a gift I appreciate because I learn that I can handle it.”

    I love this! You’ve expressed what I felt but couldn’t pit my finger on it! Yes! Yes, mindfulness doesn’t always make us feel happy!

    We have been fed myths that we need to be happy all the time and if we’re not, we’re doing something wrong!

    If we’re to move through all of life’s issues, sometimes we’re going to be very unhappy!

    Mindfulness helps us to see clearer! Clear vision helps us to move through the issues, but if we’re all caught up with the emotions of the moment, finding the next tiny step to take can feel impossible!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love what you say here “Mindfulness helps us to see clearer! Clear vision helps us to move through the issues, but if we’re all caught up with the emotions of the moment, finding the next tiny step to take can feel impossible!!”

      Yes yes yes!! Love this comment, Tamara!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. 🥰 thanks Wynne! I love how you’re acknowledging to yourself that you may be in the middle of a crappy day but you reorient yourself to handle the second half as best as you can!!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am learning so much from you, Wynne Leon! I have just started to make the connection between myself and mindfulness. But what you wrote here…about how being mindful allowed you to move through these uncomfortable feelings, rather than shoving them inwards… you filled in the next piece of the puzzle for me! Thank you, my friend.
    And I am sorry to hear that your daughter will suffer in this way. Her generation will benefit from something we didn’t have yet… the technology to stay in touch in more meaningful ways (zoom, etc.). Hopefully that will bring both her and her friend comfort until they start meeting others to build connections with. Sending lots of love her way!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What a great point about this next generation and the technology they have. But your point makes me think about your larger comment – what is that I’m getting better at not stuffing my own uncomfortable feelings inward. However some of the most uncomfortable feelings are the ones I take on for my kids and aren’t even mine to own like the change in my daughter’s relationship. Hmm, you have me thinking…

      Thank you, Grace!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. That sounds like quite the emotional and bumpy day! Congrats on getting through it and finding level ground again.

    Hand foot mouth is such a pain in the ass and so gross. T got it twice and it was so annoying. Hopefully your son avoided the worst of it!

    And I’m very sorry about your neighbours moving away. As a young child, I can understand how these changes can be hard. But as you noted, when one door closes, another one will open. I hope you help your daughter with this closure while preparing her for the new possibilities ahead!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Twice?? Yipes! Fortunately this time he had such a mild case of it (like 4 bumps) that I didn’t even notice so by the time the doctor looked at him, he was already well on his way to recovery.

      Such a good point you make about closure. We’ll have to find a way to do that. Thanks for the idea!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Wow, Wynne! What a beautiful post.
    I love the way you express your thoughts so eloquently, I’ve come to think of meditation as my way of irrigating the irritations so I can flow past.”
    Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your posts are always so perceptive. Wow, the idea that mindfulness might actually bring MORE irritation because we have that heightened awareness, yup sounds about right. Thanks for sharing your wisdom on how to stay in the moment despite the turbulence.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “…meditation as my way of irrigating the irritations so I can flow past.” Wooooooowwwww! What I said earlier about you being wise. That is rough, though, for sure–such helpful handy neighbors leaving. They will be a blessing to a new family soon. And you will be a blessing to your new neighbors, too.

    Liked by 1 person

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