Lately, I have been trying to strengthen my capacity to notice and name all the good stuff in my life. For many years I have been focused on helping myself and others name all the hard stuff, routinely getting into the nitty gritty of what the difference between anxiety is compared to overwhelm or how grief might be different than anger.
I am constantly asking my kids when they are upset, “Are you sad? Mad, or a mix of these feelings?” When they are upset, I challenge them to notice and name as many different feelings as possible, surprisingly there is something empowering and validating about getting into the weeds in these hard times and naming all the feelings at play.
Looking at life with this granular approach is yet another way to tune into life and the world. It helps to map the nuance of life allowing us to make sense of our values, needs, and whatever our own unique concoction to living a good life is.
Recently, it occurred to me that I have never really poured this same inquiry into the good stuff in life. If stress can come in multiple incantations surely joy can as well? In my search for peace, I began to realize that I had a bias towards the hard stuff leaving the good stuff untouched.
If I report to someone that my day was good what does that exactly mean? Did I find contentment, joy, hope, fun, peace, satisfaction, curiosity, or creativity in my time? Surely “good” must have some intricacy to it as well. I began wondering what the exact ingredients of good are in my life.
One feeling I have become very curious about in my life is the feeling of awe.
Those moments in life when you stop in your tracks and feel a touch of marvel and magic, perhaps goosebumps, your jaw drops or a gut tingly excitement. I have read a bit about awe in the research and heard some compelling discussion about the benefits of really dipping into this experience, so it was on my radar.
A few months ago, I tried I spent some time recalling recent experiences of awe in my life. My mind instantly went to an engrossing experience watching a crow walk and explore a parking lot as well as a magical experience of having a talking crow show up in an art session that eventually nudged me towards writing. I also kept recalling fireweed, how upon its first emergence each year I am left with a deep well of excitement. My mind went to a beautiful mountain road I frequent ravaged by wildfire where the fireweed lays a pink carpet each summer reminding me that restoration and resilience are always possible.
It was important to me this summer to spend some time working on a large embroidery project so as I reflected on the moments of awe waiting for the next one to arrive, I decided to bring the two symbols together into a project.
The experience of stitching was good… and by that I mean it was filled with moments of deep contentment and peace as I stitched bit by bit. It was also filled with moments of challenge and creativity as I worked through the design and colour. It was also reflective and meaningful to hold these two symbols closely to me for so many hours. When I look at it, I also feel some pride at completing it and excitement and readiness to tackle something else. Good in so many of its incantations in one little project. I have yet to see a crow carrying fireweed in its beak, but if I do truly it will be an awe unparalleled. I hope that you too can find whispers of awe in your day and spend some time reflecting on the nuance of good in your day…. and perhaps if it strikes you to welcome your insights into a little or big project of your own