Be the Noticer.
One of my yoga teachers said this frequently in her classes and it has stuck with me. The phrase pops into my mind now and then when life becomes more hectic than usual, or I am just not feeling myself.
Today, I apply it to life’s happenings over the past couple of weeks.
Last week, my hometown had to endure the experience of a suicide. Again. It seems to be happening more and more frequently. Or at least this act is being reported more frequently. This time, it was a classmate of mine. From elementary school all the way through high school. There was only about 100 people in my class, give or take, and most of us had grown up together. We were our own kind of family.
Many classmates came together. They dove back into that family bond we had created so many years ago. It was heart-felt and vulnerable. It also developed some expectations of our classmates that were maybe unfair. Such as showing up to the funeral, sending the family flowers and/or helping to fund a memorial. There are a millions reasons why someone may agree or disagree with these expectations. All I noticed was the expectation being set; not necessarily the acceptance of the responses.
My sister asked me if her wife’s parents were on our wedding guest list. Initially I thought to myself…no. should they be? they aren’t my parents. Or Lance’s….am I missing something?
So of course I asked her. And we discussed. And I asked her how she decided who to invite. She told me to think about the people in our lives that know us as a couple. Support us now. And have been present in our lives together; as our wedding is the first big step into our lives as a collective unit.
I read a very well written blog post about a mom who chose not to be around a certain family member once her child was born. She chose this because of the negative impact the relationship had had on her own life and she did not want her child to feel the repercussions of such a negative environment.
A friend of mine is pregnant. At first, I was upset. I didn’t know what to say. There were so many things I wanted to say, but none of them were positive or supportive. So I epically failed at trying to sound supportive. Because that is what friends do. I felt like the entire situation was one of those “red-flag, hurry up and run” scenarios.
But I also heard the excitement in his voice. And the sheer happiness that had overtaken him. And dammit, I love babies. I’d like to say I stepped back and noticed these feelings. And that is all. But I didn’t. I vented and rationalized my argument in my own head and with a couple of the people closest to me before I actually stepped back and noticed.
Once I observed my own feelings, I could sort through them and approach the idea from a different angle. And once I did that, I could begin to examine how I wanted to respond to the situation. Whether that meant keeping my mouth shut and choosing to be supportive or deciding that maybe this friendship was changing.
Since these happenings, I have begun to notice and examine the connections we make throughout our lives. Some of them stick. Some of them don’t. People change. We grow up. We learn. We develop into our own, independent individuals with hopes, dreams and goals.
I agree there are deep-seeded connections in our pasts. There are people I used to rely on; who were there for every step of my childhood. People from different aspects of my life such as dance, cheerleading, work and school.
I would never go back and change these interactions. I treasure each relationship I ever had; friendly and intimate. They have shaped me into the person I have become.
What I learned is that while these connections were important to my growth, they aren’t a part of who I am today; and this will continue happening throughout the rest of my life. So many of the people who were once a part of my life have no idea who I am now. To be in each others lives in any manner other than an, “we went to school together” or “we worked together”, we would be creating an entirely new connection.
So today, I spent a lot of time with my side of our wedding guest list. I took some off. I added a few in. There are so many people who were a part of my life that I am so grateful for and I am fond of the memories we shared. But they are just that. Memories. It is unfair to put expectations on those memories. From the other individuals involved and from myself.
It is the people I surround myself with today that are having an impact on my life now. I get to choose those people. I get to choose the people who accept my for who I am today, love me, support me and make my life better. I am blessed to have so many people in my life that I can say this about. Up until this week, some of them probably weren’t getting the credit from me they deserved. And I know there are other people I haven’t yet met who will impact my life in the future.
When we notice, we can begin to reflect. In this case, I reflected on the importance of my current relationships and was able to grasp the connections I want to nourish.
So stop criticizing and getting caught up in the little, flustering and hectic moments and start noticing.
Notice your expectations. Your reactions. Your wants and needs. Notice the behaviors of those around you and be more lenient with them. Reflect. Take some breaths. Give yourself and those around you a break. Make choices about who to surround yourself with. Nurture relationships that will flourish and support the person you are now and would like to be in the future.