Monday, September 16, 2013

Beautiful Life and Treasured Moments: Worth Slowing Down

It's not very often that I experience a moment in my life that makes me say without a doubt that it was my favorite memory. A perfect memory.  I mean, favorite?  Perfect?  Those are strong words to use alone.  Out of all the memories we have from our existence?  To have a favorite memory?  Not just a "one of my favorites" or a "perhaps my favorite" but indeed "my favorite".  Yesterday evening was it.  It was perfect.
Heaven on earth.
It was and is...
My Favorite Family Memory (with all of us) from my life so far.  

Earlier in the day, I drove to the Biltmore Estates for a run.  As as typical for me lately, I am a bit wishy washy with my running.  I told myself that 15 miles would be nice to fit in but I would just run and see what I felt like as the run progressed.  It's hard to set yourself up for actually finishing 15 miles when your heart really isn't that into it and you give yourself an "out".  But that's okay.  Life isn't always about having a hardcore goal and constantly driving driving driving ourselves toward better, stronger, faster, longer.  It just isn't.  For me,right now,life is about slowing down.  Accepting.  Being present.  Practicing self-compassion and grace.  And allowing myself to be where I am as I am in this moment. I'm working on defining success and failure for myself, trying to judge myself less harshly, and truly truly believing that I am enough as I am.  Being a mom is enough.  Taking time to slow down is enough.  Enjoying the days without a specific goal is enough.  And cutting my 15 mile wish for a run down to 6 is enough.  More than enough.

As I hit about 2 miles yesterday, I was running in new territory.  My steps led to a narrow dirt path that meandered up a grassy hillside.  I was surrounded by big beautiful shade trees that almost seemed to be singing and whispering their life secrets to me as I ran under their huge branches and found comfort in their shade.  With every step, I climbed higher.  Alone, except for the random runner or biker coming up or down the path.  It was absolutely beautiful. The closer I got to the top of this hill, I could see that it would take me right to the Biltmore House.  And it did. There at the end of this path, right at mile 3, was this gorgeous mansion wrapped up in blue skies, fields of endless grassy hills, timeless looking trees, and the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Forget my 15 miles.  I couldn't help but just
Be Still.
And soak up all that was around me.

For those of you that don't know about the Biltmore Estates or Biltmore house, this is a picture of the house (source) and you can read more about it here.  Truly Timeless Beauty!  I hope to make the most of our membership by going on a many a run there, enjoying the gardens, the village, and touring the house itself.  

Standing at the top of that grassy hill with nothing but beauty surrounding me, I noticed the perfect tree.  The perfect spot in the perfect field.  And I wanted nothing more than to be sitting there on a blanket with my family.  Just us, a picnic, some wine, and no agenda other than being together.

So, that's what happened.
I ran 3 beautiful miles back to my car, went home to pack up and get ready, and we were all making our way back to the Biltmore for this perfect family memory.

Warm gentle breeze,
Nobody but us for as far as we could see,
Surrounded by gorgeous mountains and blue sky,
Grassy pastures,
Old, wise trees,
Conversation and laughter over cutting cheese and crunching on crackers,
Races down the hill,
Finding grasshoppers,
Being fully present, thankful and ALIVE,
Waiting for the sun to go down.

Like a Dream.  Heaven on Earth.

It. Was. Perfect.

I will forever have this moment as part of my heart and soul.  It was a reminder to me of all that really matters in life.  Everything felt simple last night.  Enough.  Full.  Rich beyond any wealth I have imagined. My thoughts slowed.  I wasn't over thinking anything. I wasn't anywhere but there, in that moment.

I'm sure that as the years come and go, there will be other memories that stand out to me as simply perfect.  There will be other moments where I feel like I'm in a dream or experiencing heaven on earth. But I do know that these moments are special. They are gifts.  Treasures.  And messages to us about how deeply loved we are.

I'm glad I ran yesterday.  I'm glad I chose to do my run at the Biltmore.  And I'm glad I didn't put pressure on myself to run the full 15 miles when I didn't feel like it.  I wouldn't trade my early return and opportunity for this family picnic for anything. There will always be times in life where I have big goals and where I am dedicated and devoted to doing what it takes to reach those goals.  But there will also be these times where my biggest goal is just to slow down and see that all I have right now is everything I've dreamed of.  Sometimes I get so caught up in the race through life that I miss out on what's actually here for me to enjoy right in this moment.  I get caught up in feeling like I'm not enough as I am.  My head gets full of the lists of all the ways I feel like I'm failing and not measuring up to what I think I should be.  I start chasing down what I think will make me feel successful.  And if I keep this up, I'm going to miss out on some pretty perfect moments in life.  Moments that won't always be here.

 Last night as I was tucking the kids into bed, I sang my favorite Simon and Garfunkel song as I often do.  I was singing to them and most definitely myself:

Slow down, you move too fast, you've got to make the morning last
Just kickin' down the cobble-stones, lookin' for fun and feelin' groovy

Feeling groovy

Hello lamp-post, what's cha knowing, I've come to watch your flowers growin'
Ain't cha got no rhymes for me, do-it-do-do, feelin' groovy

Feeling groovy

I've got no deeds to do, no promises to keep
I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me

Life I love you, all is groovy 

Life really is wonderful, isn't it?  Especially when we slow down enough to soak it up.


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  1. Ahhhh, I love the Biltmore Estate! You are so lucky to be living in such an incredible part of the country (as if Oregon isn't beautiful -- ha!) and I love that you are soaking up every minute of this adventure. So much of what you talked about is exactly what my heart needs to hear right now. That I am enough. That being a mom is enough. That we need to just slow down and make the moments last.

    The last few weeks have been busy times for my family and, while we have had some great times, it has all been so rushed. Trying to do too many things all at once. When all we really need to do is slow down, breathe and enjoy this time -- right now -- that we will never have again.

    One day, I'm sure you will be training hard, running fast and focused on goals once again. But today is not that day. Enjoy it! :) xo

    1. Thanks girl. So hard to slow down when things are piled up high. Things just happen to be moving a little slower anyway now that school is settled, the weather is just right and routines are set up. Yes, one day I'll train hard again. Maybe for Boston. We'll see. :) Hope you are back to running soon and feeling 100%!

  2. Sounds like a perfect day for sure - and what a great day of memories for your kids!!

  3. Very pretty reading. Thank you. :-)

  4. Those are the sorts of moments that you need to wrap in gossamer and tie with silk strands to store in your memory vault forever. To pull out and dust off and relive from time to time. It sounded like the most magic day.

  5. I love this post. You have such a gift for putting into words, what many of us are thinking. Especially as moms. The Biltmore is on my list of places to see. You are so lucky to be living so close!

  6. I am enamored with architecture, I hope to visit this amazing property one day. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Hi Amanda,
    Wow- loved that post! Just stumbled upon your blog and as a plateauing runner Im inspired by you to let go of times, goals, etc. and be a little more present and grateful for the opportunity 'just to run'.