I had an amazing day today. I had the day to myself to regroup and decompress from motherhood. Just spending time alone with no multitasking and no looking out for two little people is a God-send. So a day of yoga and taking an art class is like having my cake and eating it to! I don’t take days like today for granted. It took me a while to figure out what made me happy.
A few years ago I would spend my alone days doing the usual: nails, facial, massage, cafe, or shopping. I’d get home frustrated and unhappy. I couldn’t figure out why I felt this way. I even thought maybe it was because I didn’t find motherhood fulfilling which made me feel even sadder. Then I read the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Actually, I should say I read almost all of it… There are many great parts to this book but one thing I vividly remembered reading was that our minds need time to focus on one task. I’m trying to remember the exact words but basically what I got out of it was that instead of getting my nails done what I needed was to build something, create something, design something. My mind needed to get lost in a task. Even though it doesn’t sound relaxing, I get more happiness from building a cover for our AC unit than I do from getting a massage. This revelation has changed my life!
A week ago a fellow mom offered to take both of my girls for the morning. Her kids needed a playdate. After an 11 day road trip with my kids I welcomed the opportunity to spend time alone and jumped at the offer. She asked what magical plans I had in store. I said I really needed to clean off our back patio. She looked a little disappointed until I explained. What I needed was time to focus on clearing the space and storing thing in their proper space while never having to tend to the kids. I needed to focus on organizing without being interrupted. And so for 3 hours that’s what I did. I felt so good! When I was done I felt accomplished. My mind was at peace. I actually got to start and finish a project. It was heaven. But if you would have asked me 3 years ago if I’d rather clean off my back patio or go grab coffee I would have said go grab coffee. I didn’t know what made me tick. I was going off what I thought should have made me happy based on what seems to make other people happy.
Knowing what makes you happy is such a gift. Today’s plans came about when Potted, one of my favorite stores in LA, posted about it’s Shibori class on Facebook. I was on that 11 day road trip when I read it and immediately thought “That’s what I need! Time ALONE! I need to learn an ancient Japanese art form!” As much as I wanted to bring my oldest daughter to the class (she would have loved it) I knew I needed time to get lost in the design and dying of my fabric. And I was right! It was as if my brain and sanity were getting put back together. My hands and nails turned blue from the indigo dye but I was happier than if I would have come home with perfectly manicured nails! The bonus was getting to go to a yoga class before the Shibori class. The day was my kind of perfection.
I am grateful for this discovery. Now when I get back to my girls I feel fulfilled and accomplished which makes me a better mother. The Happiness Project has many great insights on how our brains work and what really makes us happy. I never would have guessed that taking on projects actually energizes me and makes me happier! It’s a crazy oxymoron and I’m glad I figured it out! Not to mention that my house is more organized and I may come home with trashed nails but I come home with fabulous fabric!