But I’m Trying
One thing for sure that I would like to express, is that I am not an expert on any topic. I want to learn; I am one of those people, always learning. I live my life with an openness to new experiences, which includes learning new things.
One day, more than a decade ago, some of the ideas began to form about what living an intentional life means. I just knew I wanted to live my life more positively. I wanted to feel like my choices were relevant and that my life decisions were (made) on purpose. At the time, my life, like many modern peoples’, was a series of events that made me exhausted and unfulfilled. Some of this is the circumstance, and it is easy to say that this shall pass to the single mom with two babies. Of course, time changes things, and sometimes we learn better coping and support strategies; but oftentimes it doesn’t and we don’t. I did not know it then and am only now beginning to communicate about this journey.
Intention isn’t one thing
Intentional Living may be many things to many different people. Maybe you never heard of it, and you just want to know the word, or maybe you have some idea what it means. When I was trying to decide what to call and how to define the life that I had been striving for, I found definitions that are not my definition; nonetheless, I would consider them valid. Each person must decide for themselves what are the things that are worthy of their intent; it’s like priorities but with a bit more thought.
Intentional living to me is identifying my most important reasons for living and making sure that is where my energy is focused. It sounds dramatic; it doesn’t have to be. My children are the center of my world. I am working on developing my relationships with all three of my children; all three of who are different and in different life stages. What makes it intentional? The intentional part is a personal goal for yourself that the choices you make match that goal. In so many words, it’s that you are living a life with integrity. Making a conscious effort to decide what is important in my life is the first step in living intentionally.
Intentional also means to be present. Being present is far harder than just being there. To me being present means that I take the time to slow down and listen. Listening isn’t just hearing the words of others but trying to just be there with them at the moment of them sharing. It isn’t always obvious someone is present in their relationships. The goal is worthwhile, even if all we do is try our very best at being present.
Choices that I make with Intention
Some of these will seem like no-brainers, and I am sure someone else is doing better, but that comparison is not what this is all about. The first way of living with intention is committing to being non-judgmental. You have to start with not judging yourself; this is what I am working on. Once you work within subjective boundaries to identify what is important, you can begin to let go of what is not important or meaningful to your life.
I could just say that I am non-judgmental, but most people would say this about themselves. My intent instead is to work diligently towards living life harmoniously with all living beings, and this requires me to let go of what should be, and accept what is. I intend to defer to all living beings, no matter what.
The natural world provides an easy avenue for making this happen. I have no problem with the wet grass or the broken branch; my backyard lets me live with acceptance. It is other people, that we come across, making this love and approval thing feel very trying; especially when you feel judged yourself. I am working on releasing the unnecessary exhausting anguish of worrying about how I am perceived while continuing to seek internal guidance. My intention here is definitely for my health and peace of mind.
Most of the intentions in my life revolve around relationships. I began with the effort to be more accepting and understanding towards all beings. This plays into the people that are closest to me, as well. As a mom, I take my responsibility for intentionality seriously. The next time my five-year-old decides to let loose with a howl and a scream about how his life isn’t fair, I am there to comfort him. Being present with him at that moment when he is having a tantrum is not the easiest thing to do. Believe me, I know there are “alternatives”, but for me and my family, there are not. My intention for my child to always be his safe space remains true, even when he is angry. I know this must sound crazy to all the parents who give time-outs, scream, count, or put their child in their room. It might even sound crazy to those parents out there that “ignore” bad behavior. I have done all of those options before, I know how it goes. My intention is for myself and my child. If I hold space for him and allow him to be upset, then we have a better relationship. He feels secure and can calm himself faster. Be aware, if you think I am simplifying (I am) and/or have a perfect child (I don’t). Parenting is hard. We often don’t give ourselves enough credit to make mistakes and try to learn better. I do get it.
After relationships with people, my relationship with nature is my most vital intention. I choose to hang out with trees and to be outdoors as much as possible. Green space is super helpful in my life. I adore plants and trees. Forests are my favorite places on the entire planet. Being in nature is so helpful for mental health that modern science is finally noticing activities like “forest bathing”, that have long been part of Japanese culture.
Being in nature for me is both a motivator and a relaxant. Most of the time, I am going to my backyard, which allows me to be present. I take the moment outdoors to hear the birds and wind, feel the breeze and raindrops, smell the pecan trees and flowers, and watch the ever-changing sunset from day to day. All of it brings me joy with the enticement of my senses. The outdoors allows me to process (emotions, thoughts, ideas) and renew (energy, space, emotions, ideas).
My intentions are genuine, yet I know that I am learning.
If you are interested to know more about forest bathing, I recommend the following – “Forest or Nature Bathing: Ancient Practices, Modern Uses, and the Science of Relaxation” https://www.bluezones.com/2019/06/forest-or-nature-bathing-ancient-practices-modern-uses-and-the-science-of-relaxation/