I am a noticer. I notice how the light streams through the window at different times in the day. I notice the tiny buds that became lively green leaves that shift into shades of yellow and then drift down with the chilly wind. I notice the tiniest sounds he makes and the sweet smell of his breathing when settling into a deep sleep heavy in my arms.
Personality tests label this as a Highly Sensitive Person. I feel that presents as too negative. It sounds stressful. Like any little thing might upset my whole day. It’s true, it does. I notice the bad stuff too. Like how many different bodies are leaning against me at any given time. The cacophony of sounds that accompany a house filled with multiple little people. The EEEEMOOOOOTIONSSSS. So many emotions. Being a highly sensitive person means I sense the negative stuff too.
I can’t escape this characteristic. I can’t erase it. So I choose to see it as a gift. And I choose to harness it when I can.
Lately I’m trying ever so hard to notice myself when things are good. I’m trying to pay attention to the feelings of strength, of peace, of joy. This is not easy for me. Big, loud, and moody are heavier sensations. Their “bigness” has a tendency to overshadow the good parts of a day.
So I practice paying attention. I examine carefully the patterns of that day for insight into how to find more of what feels right to me. My goal is not to replicate. I know better than to hang my expectations on a unicorn day. Rather, my attempt is to find something to grasp when I sense an imbalance with myself. A tool kit for peace, if you will.
Today I bring you my list of What Feels Right. Each one is more simple than the next. And for some reason, it is the simplest parts of my day that I tend to overlook too quickly. These small changes do really make a big impact, especially because they are so easy to access quickly if I pay attention. And with my finger on this pulse, it makes it easier to return to a place of equilibrium. Not perfection, not joy, just peace.
Remember this list is mine. Yours is quite likely different. But perhaps something will spark a reminder in your heart. Pay attention to that. It might be a slowing of the heart beat. Or maybe it’s a smile that surprises you. Make space for more of that, of what just feels right to you. And leave out feelings of guilt that might follow if you have once been made to think that whatever it is that feels right is not what should be. We don’t need to pay any bit of attention to that.
My *What Feels Right* List
Move. This one comes loaded with plenty of guilt. I’m not talking about that kind of movement. I’m a low bar setter because I have learned that’s all I need to feel good. When I feel the grumpiest it’s usually because I haven’t raised my heart rate or felt some fresh air. A walk does wonders, even if only around the block with a podcast in my ears. But my favorite walk is an errand walk because I love multitasking and I hate buckling children into a car. Another last resort effort is to put on my fave pop song, pick the same 4 beat move and repeat it from beginning to end of the song. It’s restorative in the best kind of way.
Write. I have never walked away from a writing session feeling drained. Even 15 minutes of writing down my thoughts for an Instagram post makes me feel like a person. I believe all people have a need to be creative on the daily and this is my favorite creative outlet these days.
Create. I do not get the freedom to tap into my creativity often enough. But I learned years ago that using my hands is life giving. Whether its a sewing project, restyling a shelf, or cooking from a new recipe, creativity shows up for me as productivity in a time in my life when that is so fleeting. It is important for me to remind myself that while it is difficult to find the time, I will never regret the effort.
Read. Starting and ending my day with a book in hand is the gentlest way to transition through my day. And it is essential that I consume from a physical book. I love the internet and I love its endless content. But I feel the most restored when I read from a real book, even if it is a brief moment in the quiet of the morning or the last moments of the day.
Drink. Water that is. This is so hard for me. Why is this hard for me? I hate water. Why do people love water so much? But it’s not a lie that it works. So if I’ve reached the end of my day and I feel icky, I know it’s time to chug water. I also try to finish a glass before my second cup of coffee or before a nightly glass of wine. I’ll never be a good water drinker. But I can trick myself into doing better about it.
Ritualize. In other words, enjoy a simple ritual. Whether it is brewing a cup of tea, lighting some candles, or choosing a record to put on, the ritual of these tasks is a quick simple pleasure.
I’m still adding to this list. It’s not comprehensive because the practice of being a noticer is ongoing. There are bigger answers to mental health. Seeing a councilor, reevaluating your schedule, communicating needs to a partner. But if you pay attention, there might be simple shifts in the daily routine that can make a larger impact than you imagine.