“The biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three on them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4, and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in a hurry to get on to the next things: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.”
It’s early and still dark outside, though sooner than it seems possible, the sun will be up and so with the boys. This 60 to 90 minutes are the quickest in my day. They also top the list as my favorite. In these moments, I prepare myself for the day. I direct myself. Take aim. I am determined that it will be a good day. I’m always determined that it will a good day. The leather charm on my notebook reminds me to “be the light,” and I take it quite seriously. I think it is our job to make the world a better place, little by little, each in our own unique way. I think we are given or can cultivate gifts that will help us do our part.
This day is different than most because I have a 6 AM client at the gym (I usually start seeing clients at 9AM), then I’m back to get the boys off to camp. I have no time for reflective writing. I usually start my mornings with some sort of personal or reflective writing and a workout, but today I just barely have time to do my daily action card. I add all of the tasks that I need to complete today. I think if there are any I need to add to the weekly or monthly cards, so I’m not burdened with trying to remember them. There are so many things to remember. If I just try to trust my memory, it will fail me. It does that more and more these days. Perhaps because of age or stress or the complexity of my life, or all three. If I write it down, I feel less burdened.
I am finished with my client. It’s time to head back home to get the boys ready for camp, but I just met a new client for the first time. She’s not new to the gym, but she is new to me. I write her name in my notebook and just a quick note about her. I may not ever refer back to it, but just writing it down helps me to remember these details. Remembering little details about my clients makes me a better personal trainer to them. People like when we remember them. It connects us. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that matter most. I write down she was leaving for London this morning and her back was a little sore. The next time I see her, I might remember to ask her about her back or her trip or both.
There are five things that I’ve decided are really essential to my well being. One is exercise. That’s the “E” on the top portion of my action card. I try to exercise 4-7 times per week. Physical activity is like magic for me. It benefits me physically, psychologically, and emotionally. My workout log is in a small, passport-sized insert that I keep tucked in the plastic pocket I affixed to the back cover of my notebook. I like that I’m able to take my workout log out of my notebook easily, so I can keep it with me as I work out.
I check my calendar to make sure my son’s performance is at 10:30 AM and not 10 AM. It is! I was actually fairly certain, but check, double check, and triple check, after missing that one performance in my whole mothering journey. I will never forget that day. Now, I make sure I have the event in both my analog and digital calendar. I usually set an alert on my digital calendar, but there wasn’t one. However, the event was written in my calendar. Putting it in both places not only helps me ensure I will not miss anything, plus it’s almost like a scrapbook/memory book when I look back through my notebooks. I like to look back on my calendars, especially. They tell me more than just appointments. They give me a chronological tour of my life, a reminder of how I’ve spent my time and a reminder to value my time.
My afternoon is going to be filled with a series of some stressful and time-consuming phone calls relating to finances, an incident involving damage to my vehicle, and health insurance matters. The joy will be in getting things resolved and keeping on top of things, so I don’t feel like they are on top of me. Before I make the first call, I decide to spend 10 minutes meditating. The “M” on the top of my action card can be checked off. I’ve just started meditating regularly and it isn’t easy for me to do, but between meditating and writing, I find enough quiet space to strike a good balance.
The first call I make is about the claim on my vehicle. I contacted the other party’s insurance company and had to answer all sorts of questions. When was the accident? Did I have photos? What were the details? To whom did I speak at the store where it happened? I had everything written down. I felt assured that I could answer all of the questions quickly and easily. I took notes as the claims adjuster spoke, so I’d be ready for the next call tomorrow. He gave me his direct number. I jotted that down to, along with his name, and I dated the note.
Each call I made went on that was, referring to notes and my calendar, and taking new notes. If I didn’t write things down, my recollection would begin to fade as soon as my calls ended.
I didn’t manage to do everything I’d planned to do this afternoon, so I begin tomorrow’s action list because I already know there are things I have to get done. Some things from today’s list will also need to be forwarded to later in the week.
Recent challenges in my life threaten me with daily stress and seem insistent upon leaving me bitter. But it’s just not part of my makeup. Every day is a new day, and I wake up glad to be awake. So, I will take some time to reflect tonight, so I am in an even better place, as I drift off to sleep tonight. Reflecting is the “R” on my list. I write a letter that I will never send, but it feels good to get my feelings out. I feel like I’ve been heard, if only by the Universe. But perhaps that’s not an “if only,” perhaps that’s all that needs to be. I feel a sense of calmness. Not happiness, but calmness.
I am up early tomorrow, so it’s time to wind down. Before I close my eyes to go to sleep, I flip through a few photos that I printed. I’ll stick them in my notebook, in a pocket. Maybe I’ll affix them to a page and write about them, so I can remember all the simple joys in my life. Sometimes I decide to put them in an album or hang them on the fridge. For now, they go in my notebook. Flipping through them today, with all that has gone on, also helps me easily recall all that I am grateful for. I’ll jot it down. The “G” stands for gratitude, and I try to practice it each day.
Before I drift off to sleep, I plan to squeeze in a bit of learning. Just a bit. I’m exhausted. I’ll look through my strength training anatomy book and find something cool to share with my initial consultation tomorrow. Perhaps I can recall an inspiring quote to share as well. That will take care of the “L” on my list, which is for learning. If I find that I’m too tired to stay awake and read, I can still check off my “L” because my life lessons count for quite a bit of my learning, and they always become clearer to me in my writing.
I love the feeling, the aesthetics, even the smell of my notebook. I’ve captured hundreds of photos of it because I find it amazing how this book made of leather and paper and filled with markings and ephemera seems to have a soul, a pulse. I wouldn’t be surprised if it took a breath. It allows me to breathe. To Exhale. To breathe. To find simple joy and peace. It allows me to live in the moment and recall the moments I’ve lived. And if I’m lucky, I won’t have the same regrets that Anna Quindlen wrote about.