by Kathy Stowell
We’re halfway into our first year living in the ‘burbs. It surprises me that the hardest adjustment so far has been sensory.
This week, I woke up to the sounds of robins, which took me back to the farm life we left behind; the farm life my husband and I coyly dreamt up together on our second date. The memory of our slightly nerdy mating dance over a sushi exchange made my heart long. But as the early spring rain melted away the few traces of snow left on our freshly-sodded suburban landscape, it released promising smells of earth, worms, and new dream beginnings.
While the sweet tweets and smells set me up for a ridiculously giddy and productive morning of window opening, decluttering, and vacuuming, it also slipped in the countereffect of shining a light on the void I still felt. I had let go of one dream (the farm life) for another—a more pedestrian-friendly, school-options-available town life.
In essence, our values haven’t changed. We just rearranged them in order to honor the season we’re in as a family unit. And just like rearranging furniture to express the function or intention of a room, we can meditate on how we can continue living in the values of our dreams, both as individuals and together as a family.
Here’s how you can do that, too.
Begin by inviting clarity to your personal values.
Look back at your happiest memories. If you get stuck, conjure up the image of one of your favorite photos of yourself. Bliss has this magical effect of increasing your photogenetics by 15%. (Totally made up statistic, by the way.)
One image that pops into my head at the moment—given that spring fever is heating up in me—is a picture of me in the garden, wearing my favourite jeans and running shoes, digging in the dirt.
What are the values this Facebook profile pic of years past hints at? Simplicity, comfort, nature, and fun—and the fun bit comes from remembering that I was totally hamming it up at that moment.
Then, approach your partner with this “Happy Moment” exercise.
You can approach this in the same way: Ask them to describe their favorite memory or photo of themselves, and together you can explore the values this might allude to.
I remember having this intentional conversation with my husband a few years ago and it unearthed his value for adventure in life.
I have to admit that I audibly sucked in my breath when he disclosed this bit. At the time, I was slowly morphing into the world’s most elusive homebody. Adventure for me meant going to the grocery store without a shopping list.
But once the surprise of his response wore off, I was reminded that his love of adventure was why I fell in love with the rock-climbing-in-five-different-continents lug in the first place.
And it inspires me to seek out and welcome in gradual levels of adventure, too. This is one of the core values I wish for my children—to live a life full of meaning, expression, and difference-making.
Then, a similar conversation happened when we decided to make the move from our homestead to be closer to the conveniences of town and the school of our dreams for the kids.
Be sure to catch your partner in an ideal, relaxed situation to ensure the most productive conversation.
For this big talk, I caught my husband in the bathroom—in the tub, to be exact.
There he soaked while we discussed our chosen values; the values we wanted to lean this decision on. Both of us agreed that the kids’ education was at the top of our list, along with a more pedestrian lifestyle and simplicity.
We had found ourselves on the same page and we moved on as a solid unit.
But still. The smell of wet, well-composted manure. The sounds of Mr. and Mr. Robin Redbreast seeking grub for the young. Where’s my heart leading me to?
This is when creativity and resilience comes into play.
And the gardening books. And the illegal (for now) chicken coop-building plans. And a walk around our new yard, holding hands, sharing fencing and garden bed ideas out loud (okay, totally made up the hand-holding bit there, too).
Sharing and expressing our values with our loves can inspire new breath to the hopes and dreams we have for ourselves and our family. Sometimes, all it takes are reminders, healthy conversation, bird songs, and earthy smells.
About Kathy Stowell
Founder of Bliss Beyond Naptime &
Mama Bliss Coaching School
Kathy Stowell is the founder of Mama Bliss Coaching School—a twelve week training program for moms to coach other moms to deeper self-care, creativity, a values led-life and simplicity. She also writes at Bliss Beyond Naptime about how honoring four pillars of Mama Bliss can move a mama toward discovering her passions and calling outside of motherhood.