Many of us remember the Von Trapp family on the classic movie musical ‘The Sound of Music’ and their catchy song, ‘My Favorite Things’.
The key verse goes like this:
‘When the dog bites,
When the bee stings,
When I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don’t feel
I think the Von Trapps were on to something.
Last week, I celebrated a milestone birthday – my 40th – which turned out to be truly one of my most recent favorite things.
I flew home to see my family and friends and we had a huge 70’s theme party this past weekend with afros, platform shoes, butterfly collars, fondue, karaoke, etc – the works!! It was a blast and I think I just may keep on celebrating throughout the rest of this year!
They say that 40 (& 50, 60, 70 for that matter) is the new 20 nowadays with just a tad bit more wisdom. Not sure if I’ve fully acquired the wisdom part yet but I’m working on it!
In the midst of all of the celebrations, a lot of reflection has been taking place as well. This reflection has taken/is taking me through the many hills (the highs) and valleys (the lows) that have become my life’s experiences. Some of these experiences were fantastic on every level, some were just plain awful and some of them were a mixture of both – a kind of bittersweet experience. At various points, my life as a parent has fallen into all three of these categories to some degree! Has yours?
Taking my cue from the Von Trapps and my recent joy-filled birthday celebration, I started thinking about what all of my favorite things were and more importantly, how I could inject them into my day when things are just crappy, when no one seems to ‘get’ me and I surely don’t get them! – and I find myself full of fear, anxiety, anger, confusion, resentment, weariness, etc – you name it.
I came up with the following four (4) things that I would like to share with you:
Figure out what your favorite things are. Jot down at least five (5) of your favorite things. I like to think of favorite things as those things that give you joy, keeping in mind that these could be people, places, thoughts, things, special moments, etc. For some of us this is a no-brainer but for most of us, identifying what our favorite things are, is a little difficult largely because we haven’t done the things that bring us joy for such a long time. I found that my favorite things consist of positive people (good energy), funny moments in time (I like to laugh) and music (heals my soul).
Make sure your favorite things are your own. Now this may sound a little ridiculous to state but in my work with parents, I find that more often than not, parents, especially mothers, tend to do the ‘favorite things’ of other people and not what brings them joy. In some instances and at certain times, this is ok but when you find yourself always or most of the time doing what brings others joy and not what brings YOU joy, you must stop, regroup and reclaim your joy back -without feeling an ounce of guilt.
Picture doing the favorite things of others as a water pot that is full of holes – in which you are constantly being emptied but never obtaining fullness. In contrast, doing your favorite things is like a new waterpot – no holes – in which you pour out the amount of water you want on others, while keeping a good reserve inside for yourself.
DO at least one (1) of your favorite things each day
This is key because knowing something is one thing but acting on it takes you to a whole other level. Music has always been a big part of my life. Formally, I played the alto saxophone in high school and took piano lessons as an adult (still can’t play well but I still attempt). What really put a pep in my step though was listening to a bunch of my favorite songs and dancing around the house. I used to do this a lot but stopped when Alejandro was born and just didn’t restart it.
Now, I’ve begun dancing around the house again and try to do it at least once a day – and boy is it fun! For those few precious moments, I don’t have a care in the world and am just focusing on the pure enjoyment that moment is giving me. Plus, it is a thousand times better now because I have Alejandro perched on my hip as I dance around and hearing him giggle just puts the icing on the cake.
Create a favorite thing
If you don’t have a favorite thing or it has been such a long time since you’ve enjoyed it that you’ve forgotten what it is, then create a new favorite thing!
One thing that I enjoy is having quality, fun time with my husband but I must admit, that over the past few years with all that has happened with Alejandro, this is something that has gone by the wayside a bit. Thank you Hangman.
What Gigi?, you may be asking.
Let me briefly explain: one night after discussing another upcoming medical procedure for Alejandro, I looked at my husband and realized that we were spending an awful lot of time talking about the medical, educational & developmental aspects of our son – and while these conversations are extremely important and necessary, they couldn’t be the only things we talked about. So out of the blue, I asked him did he want to play Hangman?
Despite it catching him off guard a bit, we spent the next couple of hours playing this simple childhood game and laughing out loud at all of the silly phrases, words, made-up expressions, etc that we came up with. Now this is one of our favorite things to do together – who would have thought?
So I encourage you to spend this month being your favorite person and doing at least one thing each day that gives you joy…..especially when you are having a not so good day! Have fun!!!
Parent Coaching Tips : Families Blossoming Newsletter for Parents of Premature Babies