Friday, July 7, 2017

The Mindful Family: We're All in This Together

Waiting for Cobbler

Week one of The Mindful Family Practice has been all about togetherness: one of the goals of the practice and one of the things our family is starving for.

I've had the week off from my work at the Crow Collection of Asian Art, with this awkwardly placed holiday of July 4 on a Tuesday.  After a weekend pick-up at camp, a lazy day Sunday and pre and post fourth jubilees I found myself finally relaxing into my week off: on Thursday.

But I kept intention close: this was a week for long bike rides (32 miles logged) with the boys, baking experiments, reading, meditating and tree-house building (a work-in-progress).

But it was also a week of chores. As the boys grow, our bungalow shrinks. I found myself in a pattern of walking through the house, picking up clothes, the guitar, fidget spinners, towels and shoes. Sometimes I found myself picking up the same thing a fourth and fifth time.

This morning I stopped looking at this as a complaint: stopped looking at it as something "done to me" and stopped yelling into our shrinking house: Boys! Pick up your stuff!

I started looking at these leavings as my meditation practice: the motion of moving things through the house: floor to dirty clothes bin, dirty clothes bin to a sorting practice, filling the washer, moving to the dryer, folding, moving the clothes back into a drawer.  Just clothes in different places. Summer puts a different abundance in this work. It's hard not to hear the call to work.

It's also hard not to hear the call of the closets: the need to lean into less clutter more minimalism. On the latter I have a long way to go. This morning I invited Edward to clean our closets with me. I showed him how to sort: sorting the give-away from the keep; sorting the hangers to recycle, sorting the shirts from the dresses.

As we cleaned the closet, we wet a cleaning cloth and I showed him how to run his fingers with the cloth along the baseboard. We did this work slowly and intentionally. He surprised me with how long he stayed. I think it was because I was teaching him something new, and I was listening. I watched this nine year-old sweep, dive deeply under the bed and pull out any "oddlings", I watched him carry our bags out to the garage. I felt this work as a practice, not a chore, as a chance to be together accomplishing something important. I think he felt it, too.

I thanked him for his work, and he asked me to make waffles. An easy way to repay his effort, I thought. We sat together watching the waffle maker do it's magic. And at the end of "brunch" I sat in the mystery of watching him take his plate and silverware to the sink where he rinsed it off, independent of my prodding.

As much as this abundance is about togetherness, it's also about time. My week home has been simple, but I looked for the spaces where our time together could truly be together: accomplishing the things the house was calling for. And all I had to do was stop calling out Boys! and just listen to them.


  1. Lovely and beautiful and so thought provoking for this mother of four...3 of whom are teenagers and the clock seems to be ticking faster everyday. Thank you for sharing, Amy.