Everyday Beauty of Life
By Beth Leianne Curtis
When a body rebels against an over-booked
lifestyle, the healing can be aided by slowing down, and by practicing the
stillness and awareness that is required to appreciate the simple details of
There is true beauty in the small moments of life.
The way the curtains softly frame my dining room window allowing gentle rays of
morning light to break through as I sip my red raspberry tea. The way my
three-year-old lays sleepily across my chest, blond curls matted with sweat,
napping and nursing at two o’clock in the afternoon. The way my five-year-old’s
eyes widen with joy when he cuddles up with our cat, Sam. Of course, finding
these joyful moments of life is easy – that is, if we stop and allow ourselves
to notice them. Often, with the all too hectic pace of life, we miss the beauty
of many events because we are frantically rushing towards our next appointments.
We live by the stopwatch, sandwiching in event after event, until we’ve squeezed
out every last bit of time a day can offer. Our calendars fill all too quickly
and time marches on, leaving us lost in a whirlwind of activity. It is little
wonder we forget the details of life as we live our drive-by lifestyles.
Yet many of us can and do choose a different
way. Just as many of us have chosen to live outside the box with our choices
to give birth without drugs, to wean our children on their own time frame,
to fill our bodies and our children’s with unprocessed whole foods, we can
choose to live mindfully, with intention. After all, in the words of Lao
Tzu, “A journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.” Sometimes we
just need to recognize that step!
So it was for me. My decision to slow down the
merry-go-round was triggered by my body’s rebellion against my overbooked
lifestyle. I developed a “mystery illness” which left me so dizzy, nauseous,
and chronically exhausted that I could scarcely get out of bed. Several
batteries of tests from allopathic doctors confirmed everything was “okay.”
But all the while, I was running from specialist to specialist looking for
answers as I got sicker and sicker. Finally, testing pointed us to a
diagnosis of “Ménière’s disease”, an inner ear disorder that presents with
some, though not all, of the symptoms I had. I was scheduled for yet another
round of testing on my ears when I decided that the running and searching
was only making things more stressful for me, my body, my spirit, and my
concerned family. I decided instead to see an acupuncturist in the hope that
a more wholistic approach to my sickness would provide the relief I was
Having grown up in a household where eastern
healing modalities were the norm (my stepmother is a shiatsu practitioner
and I was raised macrobiotic), I was already familiar with the concepts and
philosophies of acupuncture. This familiarity allowed me to forgo the
nervousness that sometimes worries new clients around the “needle issue.” I
scheduled my appointment on my overcrowded calendar of events and eagerly
awaited my first session.
While I was hoping that the physical application
of needles to my body would be helpful, I was shocked when it was actually
the first words my acupuncturist spoke that presented me with the biggest
step towards my awakening to health.
After I finished describing my symptoms
matter-of-factly to my practitioner, Beth Ann, I was dumbfounded when she
quietly turned and said to me, “Beth, your world is spinning out of
control.” As the tears fell down my face, I was struck by not only how
powerfully my body was manifesting the spinning metaphor, but how submerged
in the whirlpool I was for not even noticing it! By simply putting intention
to my body’s illness, I was able to make a giant leap towards reclaiming my
health – body, mind, and spirit.
It is now over a year later and I still
continue to see Beth Ann for periodic treatments. My physical symptoms have
almost completely gone away and I have stopped swimming in a whirlwind of
dizziness. I now try to make conscious choices and decisions about the
activities and events that I plan in my life and for my family. It is this
decision to find mindfulness and stillness in my hectic life that enables me
to receive all the benefits of the acupuncture treatment.
I remember hearing somewhere that “we teach
what we most need to learn.” Of course, as irony dictates, this is exactly
the case in my own situation! As a Childbirth Educator and Birth Assistant,
I empower women to trust their bodies and to open to the energy of birth –
body, mind and spirit. I encourage women not only to educate themselves
about our culture of birth, but to embrace their own bodies’ strengths and
Part of the journey to release fears around birth requires
mothers-to-be to understand who they are as women – their hopes and dreams,
their strengths and weaknesses – and then to use the self-discovery as a
framework to embrace the work of labor and birth. Teaching mindfulness and
body awareness to other women seemed relatively straightforward to me. Of
course, all the while I simply was not able to apply the same concepts to my
own life and my own journey of obtaining balance and clarity.
In truth, I have had to make some adjustments
to my day-to-day life, which has not been easy. I have had to let go of
relationships that were competitive, stressful, or subtly negative. This has
meant letting go of some friendships that continually put an emotional drain
on my life and it has been a hard process. Yet, as I let go of relationships
that caused me stress, I have replaced them with new, amazingly positive and
healthy friendships and connections. When I put mindful intention into
creating peace in my life, an entire new community of support opened up to
me and my children, almost like magic!
I try – sometimes not always with success – to
create space on my calendar by allowing myself and my unschooled children
days of complete unstructured “non activity.” In fact, some of our most
joyful days over the past year have been days of staying close to home, just
letting the days unfold in no particular direction. Putting full attention
into playing and breathing has enabled me to step back and really experience
the joy in my son’s laughter and, indeed, my own!
Luckily, I now know that life will continue to
offer me simple moments of bliss. All I have to do in return is practice the
stillness and awareness to notice them.