When my daughter started preschool last year I was anxious to know everything about the seemingly interminable three hours she was away. It was our first experience of sending her into the world and relying on her - and her alone - to share the events of the day. No nanny or babysitter to give us a detailed summary of activities - no one to introduce us to the other children with whom she would develop independent relationships. The classroom and its inhabitants were largely a mystery to us.
Initial questions - if answered at all - gave little information and left much to our (active) imaginations... So we began telling her about our days and waiting for her to reciprocate. This opened up a new mealtime ritual that has endured and grown richer with time. Wherever, whenever, and with whomever we dine, she initiates conversation around two questions: What was your favorite part of the day? And what was your least favorite part of the day?
At first it was charming. Then it began to be a bit tedious. After all - most days follow a similar pattern of events, and many of the highs and lows derive from the same sources. How many different ways can I say the same thing? But then I started listening - REALLY listening to her answers, and I experienced a tremendous shift in perspective. The four year old mind is endlessly creative. The highs and lows she recounts are as likely to feature imaginary friends as her classmates. And the smallest things - sitting next to someone at circle time or helping her teacher prepare a snack - are as likely to be named a highlight as a carefully crafted, meticulously organized, and energy intensive mama-driven event.
The exercise has inspired me to be more mindful as I move through my day. Cataloguing the kindness of the stranger who took time to hold the door open - or the fleeting moment of complete clarity in savasana. It has also given me the space to acknowledge, then let go of, the moments I don't need - or want - to carry forward.
Give it a try - at the end of the day today take stock of what you experienced. Celebrate the highlights (large and small) and acknowledge, then set free, the memories you don't need. How might it change the way you approach your days?
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