“The highest most powerful thought someone can have is not ‘I’m unique’, but rather ‘I’m just like everyone else.” Marianne Williamson
I thought of this quote the other day when I was standing at the kitchen sink washing sweet potatoes. And by washing I mean rinsing. Sometimes extra details bog me down. I’ll find myself thinking, “I can’t use a scrub brush. It’s just too much. I’ll never make it if I have to use a scrub brush to wash these potatoes!” It’s as if that one extra step would be too much for me to manage. My sanity hinging on this one small detail.
As I held the substantially sized potato under the streaming water, though, it *winked* at me. With curiosity and reverence I became aware of the ordinary practice of washing a sweet potato. ‘Notice me’ it was saying. So I did. It didn’t look much different from the hundreds of sweet potatoes I’ve seen before. But the moment itself became meaningful when I stopped to notice it.
I do this thing where I make up stories about myself and other people. Usually it happens when I’m struggling. When dread or anxiety come to visit, I start thinking how so-and-so probably never feels this way because they obviously have everything figured out.
Other people probably don’t dread scrubbing sweet potatoes. What is wrong with me?
And you know what is wrong with me? Nothing.
So instead of focusing on the rising dread and punching myself in the gut with shame, I repeated that Marianne Williamson quote. “I’m just like everyone else,” I breathed in and out and set to cooking dinner.
All at once the house of my heart felt warm and illuminated like the moment after you switch on a light upon arriving home in the dark. *click* “mmmm, that’s better.”
Later that same day I was behind the steering wheel of the ol’ Subaru, headed to pick up my daughters from school. Suddenly a general wave of anxiety and dis-ease settled in over me. ‘I need to listen to a really awesome podcast right now,” I thought. “Or some music! Where are my headphones?!” I reached over to the passenger seat with one hand and felt around my purse for the giant knot that is my ear-buds. I meticulously and cautiously worked at untangling them with one hand while still driving with the other. You’d have been impressed.
I’d mostly finished separating them when something caught my attention. It might have been the way the winter afternoon sun was glinting through the trees, but I can’t be certain.
“Notice me”, it said.
“Hmmm, maybe you’re on to something,” I thought, tossing the ear buds back onto the passenger seat.
The words came once again, I’m just like everyone else.
Everyone has random emotional emergencies. I am not an isolated example of idiocy.
And so I noticed. I noticed the vibrations pulsing through my chest, trembling like a frantic violin rapidly reiterating two high pitched notes. I noticed that it felt chaotic and urgent, like the sound of a stuck record repeating one strange and mildly alarming noise. For about 30 seconds, I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I noticed that too. It was uncomfortable.
And then... it wasn’t.
I don’t even recall the moment it lifted, it just did. The lights kicked on, the violin became legato, the record released to play it's gentle tune. My heart moved forward in quiet, chronological motion once again.
I drove my way to the kids school and retrieved my daughters. (Writing this now, I can see there may be a connection between after-school pick up and this anxiety, but that’s another story).
For now, I hope you know that you’re not alone in your struggles. We all have times when our insides turn to trembling violins.
You’re just like me and I’m just like you. You’re okay.
And if you watch really closely, you might just catch your sweet potatoes winking at you.
You might just notice that mundane moments can be transformed when you pay attention to them.
If you’re looking for coaching and direction or want to develop mindful skills in dealing with bombarding emotions and shame, I would be thrilled to begin The Well Sessions with you.
Contact me today and be one step closer to wholeness.