pay attention

Every evening at dusk a huge murder of crows flies over my house low in the sky, hundreds upon hundreds of them. In between the noise of traffic and the metallic whir of the skytrain far off in the distance, if you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of a thousand wings.

Whenever I notice them, I take time to pause, be still, be silent. The beauty of their daily migration is worthy of my attention. (They’re a lot more difficult to miss now that my son can say “crow”.)

Knowing that I only have a handful more evenings like these, wing-filled sunsets in September skies, makes them that much more valuable. It also makes me reflect on the most valuable currency of all : my attention.

This summer has been one of the most chaotic, stressful times of my life. As difficult as times like these are when you’re living them, they provide an invaluable opportunity for clarity and reevaluation.

For me, this difficult time reminded me the importance of saying NO and setting clear, firm boundaries. It has made me think about the most lovely yoga teacher I have ever had, who encouraged us to say NO with the force of a young child, to say it fully and completely with our whole being, so that we can find our way to a true, authentic YES.

It has also reminded me to be more careful about how I spend my attention. Every time I found myself having to take calls while at the park with my son I couldn’t help but think that this is not how I want to spend my time. This is not what is most important to me.

How’s that go?

That which matters most must never be at the mercy of that which matters least.

Putting out fires and living in reactionary fight-or-flight mode is not how I want to spend my time. I can’t always control that – let’s face it – difficult times will find us again. Sometimes life is a matter of fight-or-flight. But a lot of the time, that’s a matter of perception as much as anything.

I can choose to be mindful. I can choose to slow down. I can choose to say no to more work and yes to more time with my son. I can choose to pay attention to myself, to put my oxygen mask on first. I can choose to not feel guilty for doing so.

Right now, all I want is to get moved and settled into my new farmhouse, curl up by a fire with a basketful of wool and my boy and make plans for spring. That’s what I want to spend my attention on. My son, my kitchen, my writing, my farm, my family. No more, no less.

What do you wish you could pay more attention to? What is getting in the way?

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