While waiting for the elevator to get my haircut I noticed something interesting.
Just moments before, I dashed hurriedly into the lobby rushing past people and things to the elevator bank.
I was in a hurry. I was running a little late.
Of course, the elevator was not available when I arrived. I pushed the up button and waited.
I was only going up ONE flight, and I could not find the stairs.
I did that thing some of us do - “push the already lit UP button” thinking I may persuade it to come more quickly.
I nervously strum my fingers. I grabbed my phone and looked for something to hold my interest on Facebook.
Still. No elevator. The woman waiting with me was just as anxious, pushing both the up and down buttons repeatedly and pacing back and forth.
I noticed the pace of my breath, the quick beat of my heart and the parading thoughts in my mind.
“I’m late. This is going to mess up my afternoon. I’m going to be late for my 2:00 call, then late for picking up the kids. I need help; I can’t balance all of these responsibilities. Did I pay the parking meter? I don’t have time for this. What is wrong with this woman next to me? Why is she so anxious? Why are the stairs blocked off? That’s unsafe! What if there was a fire?” blah…blah…blah…
Mind you, that was all happening in my MIND in about 15 seconds.
As I sat there tapping my anxious toes, it hit me.
I had a choice.
I took a mental pause and then began to slow my breathing down. I invited one deep slow breath in and felt my breath exit my body. I took another and another.
Soon my heartbeat slowed, as did my mind.
It was only a few short moments before I calmed down and relaxed into the moment. The elevator finally arrived and carried me to my appointment on the second floor.
It was one of those simply profound everyday moments that bring me back to myself again and again.
Patience is a parenting muscle I need to strengthen over and over. It is moments like these that I can choose to practice building that skill with some awareness, attention, and just a few short breaths. It’s moments like this that remind me what life is all about.
When I reflect back I can see how much I missed on my way to the elevator, the warm October breeze (an unexpected treat in Chicago!), the incredible skyscrapers I live amongst, the beautiful flowers in the lobby, and even the woman with me in the elevator lobby. I cannot even describe what she looked like, the color of her hair or what she was wearing.
My wandering mind had robbed me of so much in those moments.
I also thought back to my family and how many moments look just like that, the moments when I am too busy doing and not noticing my kids or partner or the simple pleasure of being together.
In that moment not only did I learn once again about patience, a skill much needed for me as a parent, I was reminded to slow down, take pause and be present to all of life.
It’s amazing what can happen while simply waiting for an elevator.
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