I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!
While sorting laundry and checking pockets, I pulled out a tiny piece of paper from the pocket of my jeans. (Usually I pull out money, guitar picks, gum, paper clips and other assorted trinkets from everyone else’s laundry, not my own) It was the fortune from my fortune cookie from this week’s Friday lunch date with my husband. Lately David and I have been setting aside every Friday afternoon for a date. We look forward to our lunch together on Fridays because usually he has been gone several days and going out gives us some time together to reconnect and catch up on the happenings of our week. It is a tradition that I hope we continue for a very long time. Knowing so many people who have not had successful relationships we know that we are blessed and make every effort to cultivate and nurture our relationship every day. Our Friday lunch date is just one way we do that.
So back to my fortune cookie. Most of the time when I crack open a fortune cookie I am not “moved” by the bit of wisdom printed on that little piece of paper. Most of the time, my “fortune” will say something like “Keep on keeping on” (actually that was David’s fortune yesterday). But when I retrieved my fortune yesterday I found myself with goose bumps and absolutely nothing to say except “ah ha!” My fortune read: “Silence is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons, you must pay attention to it”.
The word silence defined by my trusty online Webster’s dictionary means absence of sound or noise. One might ask how could silence be a teacher? What could one possibly learn from silence? If there is no noise or words being spoken, how could one learn anything? When we are silent we are forced to think and when we think, hopefully we are able to hear what life is trying to tell us. Two years ago when I started working toward a healthier way of life, I started first with my emotional self. I knew that if I were to have any success of a better physical self, I would have to be in a better place emotionally. One of the first things I remember hearing our group leader say was that it is important to set aside time for quiet every day. I remember thinking that that was next to impossible in my life. She suggested that if we set aside the same time every day it would become part of our daily routine, therefore, allowing us the time we need to rejuvenate, re-fuel and reconnect with ourselves. As difficult as it may seem to carve out a certain amount of time every day, I have found that when I do, life goes much more smoothly and quite often I am able to see the difficulties in my life a little more clearly. Another benefit from silence is that it allows us to take time to cool off when we are angry or upset and give us the opportunity to think before we speak. All too often we are quick to speak only to wish we could shove the spoken words back into our mouth. By taking a break and being silent, we allow ourselves time to focus on using the right words to get a point across or properly express our feelings.
As a preschool teacher, I have numerous opportunities to teach the art of silence in my classroom. My students are three years old and sometimes can get rather loud. One method of teaching them to be quiet is to simply turn off the lights. Immediately, they stop what they are doing and know that when the lights are off they need to be quiet. Allowing them a few moments of quiet time gives them the opportunity to calm down and prepare for the next activity. When I was growing up we never had “time outs”. However, the “time out” method is used frequently today to have a child sit apart from whatever activity is going on and think about their behavior. In my classroom, I rarely use the word “time-out”, even though I use “time-out” often. Trying the positive reinforcement method of discipline, I will instruct a student who needs a “time-out” to have a seat in the red chair and take a break. Immediately that child knows that whatever he or she is doing is not acceptable and that they need to take a seat, be silent and think about doing better. Once again, being silent allows the child to regroup for a few minutes and then return to the activity at hand with positive results.
In our world today we are surrounded by so much noise that when silence comes we are not sure what to do with it. For me, I welcome the silence in my life. Finding a few minutes several times a day to focus on just me and my thoughts allows me to be a better wife, mother, friend and teacher. Making me a priority along with everything else that needs my attention is necessary if I am going to have success in the various areas of my life.
Take time this week to be silent. Allow yourself to be free from the outside world if only for a brief moment. Take an extra five minutes in the shower, drive the long way home from work, go for a walk without the iPod, set the alarm clock to go off a little early for a little quiet time before your family starts their day. Whatever you choose, allow your brain a brief rest on a regular basis. In spite of what society tells us, it is ok to be still and be quiet. It is okay to have nothing to do every now and then. When you take care of yourself you will be a more productive worker, a happier spouse, parent and friend. And when you are happier, the world around you will be happier. In the words of Mother Theresa, “See how nature, trees, flowers, grass grows in silence; see the stars the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.” I encourage you to not only touch someone’s soul with silence, but your own as well. Shhhhhh…..