Every day I try to ask myself a question for how I want to live each day.
Often I'll let the question be: "What do I - just me and not anyone else - want to do today?"
Sometimes it's less surface level: "How can I give today?"
On Monday, I decided to ask myself "How can I be more Loving today?"
And all day long, I practiced: when I found myself being snarky or witty, instead of opening up my heart, I corrected myself and said what I really meant. When I found myself stressing over the slower-than-snails pace the people in front of me were keeping, I let my heart view the situation instead.
I continued this on Tuesday and was feeling really great except there was still something off. By the time I got to her that evening, I was perplexed.
"I really like my life, you know? I'm happy, I feel great, I love that I'm the type of person that juices kale in the mornings and goes to the gym and meditates. I like that I'm the person I've always wanted to be."
She nodded because she gets it.
"But.. it's like there's still something just not right. Like there's still something that stops me from truly getting to where I want to be and what I want."
She smiled because she lets me sort it out on my own.
"I mean, maybe.. do you think.. it's because I sort of still walk around with my guard up? As though I've got a giant shield in front of me, you know, just in case?"
She burst out laughing because, well, of course.
So, yesterday, on Wednesday, when I woke up, I decided my question would be:
"How can I let down my guard today and let the world in a little more?"
I turned it into an adventure: what would happen?! How would it feel? Could I even do it?
All day, I visualized dropping the giant shield, breaking it, setting it off to the side, whatever.
When people said hello to me, I smiled or said hi back and kept walking. Instead of, you know, silently cursing them in my head or rolling my eyes. When the delivery men came to install my new stove, I chatted with them, helped in whatever way I could and learned a bit about them. Instead of being panic stricken, convinced I'd end up as a Lifetime channel movie-of-the-week. When my roommate's friends arrived today for a visit, I talked to them and enjoyed their presence instead of immediately being quiet or removing myself from their time together.
And then the coolest things began to happen: I reconnected with an old friend. I got an opportunity I've been wishing for. My favorite vegan food truck, The Cinnamon Snail, surprised me by filling a bag with a bunch of free treats, since it was the end of their day. I was given a free ticket to see a Broadway show I've been wanting to see. My birthday plans magically came together in an easy way. Everything felt light and easy and free and fun.
The shield tried to revive itself all day. It fought this new idea like it was in a war. But every time I felt myself closing off again, I just gently put it back down and kept trying. The best part is never once did I get frustrated with myself. Never once did I freak out and get mad at myself. I just kept trying.
Rilke had it right, friends. Live those questions.
What question are you living by today? What question can be an overall compass for your day? If you pick one, embrace it, keep it in your mind and then watch as answers start pouring in.
Some of the unexpected treats that came along today.
If a free 'smores vegan donut isn't proof that good things are flowing,
then I do not know what is.