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What Really Matters?

The last few weeks, I’ve been helping my oldest son with the college application and financial aid processes. Holy smokes, I had no idea how profoundly this would affect me!

Yes, the actual “work” involved is tedious, but truthfully, it’s the emotional impact of the realization that he will be heading out on his own in less than a year that has my head spinning-

Did I prepare him well enough? Did I create memories he will treasure as an adult? Does he know he always has a safe place to return if life gets to be too much? (Did I screw up too much?)

So yes, I’ve spent a lot of time crying lately, lol! But such is life.

Such is love.

All of this introspection and change has ignited in me a new desire to SLOW TIME DOWN. To savor every moment. To stay clear headed and present. Not just for my boys, but for myself.

Time is so precious.

WE are so precious.

And we deserve to experience it all - the joys, the pain and the beauty of this life.

We deserve to prioritize what REALLY matters to US.

A big house, a fancy car, a lofty job title, trendy clothes, a hefty bank account, race PR’s… all of these things are exciting and can add tremendous enjoyment to our lives.

But these things come and go, and we are still US with or without them. (Notice I didn’t include “the opinions of others” in the list of things that add enjoyment to our lives.)

While it’s clear that, as a mom, my kids matter to me, I know there is more.

So how do we figure out what really matters to us?

I want to share an exercise I love, which you can do when you have a few quiet minutes to yourself:

Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, bringing your thoughts to your breath. Random thoughts will arise. Just thank them and return your thoughts to your breath.

Once you feel centered and calm, try to envision the whole picture of your life so far. Pan out and see it as if you’re watching a movie. Next, without forcing any specific thought, notice which “scenes” in the movie of the years of your life jump out at you first. Don’t overthink or “choose,” just let the memories come to you instantly – in five seconds or less.

The scenes of my life that jump out at me are memories of building snow forts with my dad as a child, and memories of walking down the train tracks with my boys creating make believe stories with them when they were little.

These memories “jumped” off the page of my life instantly.

What memories jumped off the page of your life instantly?

Take a minute to jot them down.

Now consider - what do these memories have in common?

With mine, I can clearly see the importance of family and the people I love most in the world, but upon deeper consideration, I also see that both of these memories involved time outdoors and “creating” something. With my dad it was snow forts; with my boys it was stories.

What three (or more) things do your key memories share?

These are the things our subconscious minds have “flagged” in our memory, because they have been the most fulfilling to our souls.

Now that we have identified them, we can consider if we’re satisfied with the amount of time we devote to these things.

How can we SLOW DOWN and bring more of these things that REALLY matters to US into our lives?

Using my example again, it’s easy for me to get caught up in all of my responsibilities and allow days to slip by without consciously choosing the things that bring me the most joy. On weekends, my boys hole up in their rooms playing video games with their friends, and I tackle the endless pile of laundry, bills, recycling… ad nauseum.

And then another weekend has passed.

But now that I have keyed in on what matters most, I see it. I can choose to let the laundry lie, put the bills and recycling off for a day, walk into town with my boys for ice cream (because no teenage boy can say “no” to ice cream), and maybe create a make-believe story with them, along the way-

“Once upon a time there were two little boys…” (I can see their eye rolls in my mind, but I also see the little smile they try to hide that tells me that this will be a memory that jumps off the page of their life for them one day.)

You see, if preparing my firstborn for college has taught me anything, it’s that time keeps moving; our roles and responsibilities are always there, but WE get to choose who and what we include in the precious moments of our lives.

WE get to choose what really matters.

Xx Jen

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