It’s been over 50 years and I can still remember my Mother’s words:
“Nancy, make a game out of it.”
I was six or seven years old, and frustrated by something. One time I remember trying to tie the shoelaces on my new pair of Keds. I must have tied those laces into twenty knots and was near tears. That’s when my mom leaned over and said: “Nancy, make a game out of it.”
Miraculously, it did make me feel better.
Fast forward to 2007, and now it’s my stomach that was tied in knots. Life threw me a curve ball that I didn’t see coming, and I felt like I had lost everything – even my self confidence. All I could concentrate on was the past and how I wanted things to go back to the way they were. But that was impossible.
How do I make this emotional pain stop? How do I move forward?
That’s when my mother’s words came back to me: “Nancy, make a game out of it.” And I thought the only way I can do that is to let go of the past and try to be in the present. But how? Then it came to me. I decided to concentrate on my five senses – sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste. I wanted to see if that could bring me into the present.
At the time I was walking through Millennium Park in Chicago, and I thought: OK, let’s use my five senses to embrace my surroundings. I thought:
What do I see right now, this instant – and I saw the beautiful flowers that surrounded me.
What do I hear right now, this instant – and I heard lovely birds singing and calling to each other.
What do I smell right now, this instant – and I smelled the hot dogs steaming in the food cart close by.
What do I feel right now, this instant – and I felt the hardness of the bench I was sitting on.
What do I taste right now, this instant – at this time, nothing. But I made a mental note to get some chocolate as soon as possible.
By using my five senses and making myself aware of my surroundings, it made me forget all the messiness that was going on in my life. It actually brought me a sense of peace.
The first time I did this exercise, that peacefulness lasted only five minutes. But with time and practice, that calm feeling lasted longer and longer. It truly was magical. I had found a game I could play to help ease my pain. And the best part – I could play it by myself whenever and wherever I needed to.
It helped lift that heavy cloud that followed me around. It helped me become happier and stronger and ready to move on. If you decide to try it, let me know how it works for you. You will be pleasantly surprised.
Next week I will share another lesson learned that helped me start over again and lead a life that is more fulfilled and less scary.