a (hundred)thousand thoughts

sometimes i wonder just what exactly goes through my head all day. there are moments where i feel that i am brain-dead because nothing that is filtering through makes sense. it is a simple flooding of random ideas, notions, thoughts and feelings. nothing is discernible. that feeling is immediately followed by the complete opposite notion that i am utterly and completely insane because of the sheer number of thoughts going through my head all at once.

i just spent at least half an hour trying to track down “the average number of thoughts in a day”. there is no factually comprehensive answer with scientific data provided as proof or foundation. in fact, every article, blog post, and entry found on the topic was followed by a barrage of comments about the validity of the information and the qualifications of the definition of thought, idea, and consciousness. it made me light-headed. but the overall concept is that our minds are so filled with “thoughts” that we have a separate one almost every second (tandem with the idea that we are capable of having multiple layers of thoughts at one time). whoa.

as stated by Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now, “Thinking has become a disease”. i’ll say! a thought every second? on top of a thought at the exact same time..? one of which will draw our attention while another exists unconsciously on a plane that we aren’t even cognizant of? can you think of anything more elaborately constructed than the human mind, it’s psyche, and the intricacies of consciousness??? i cannot. the fact of the matter (in my humble opinion) is that the thoughts are not the disease. the disease is our human desire to validate every thought with feeling and action.

every thought doesn’t need acknowledgement. every idea doesn’t need validation. it is this neuroses that has brought MINDFULNESS to the forefront of “self-care”. we are so powered on, so consumed, so involved with every little thing that we have had to remind ourselves how to slow down and breathe. literally. mindfulness is centered around ignoring the tsunami of thoughts, following our breaths — in, down, up, and out, and actually being PRESENT in this place, in this space, in this time — right here, right now.

sometimes i dream about conversations i’ve had or want to have, letters i’ve written or will write, or even future blog posts. i have my best work related a-ha moments in the shower (when i’m not at work), or as i’m drifting off to sleep — prompting me to send myself an email at work. i do my best dinner recipe research during my lunch break (when i’m not at home). and i write best when i’m too tired to finish (as there are always more than a dozen “draft” posts in my cue — this will be the third post published today that was started not today; a feat i have never accomplished before). i secretly dream of and plan my children’s futures on the nights when i’m restless and cannot sleep. and i peruse memories of my grandmother when i’m home, in my kitchen, preparing a meal.

everything that i listed in the paragraph above takes place when i am not there (except thinking of my gramma). my whole thought process is void of mindfulness. i’m thinking about work when i am at home. i’m thinking about home when i am at work. i am seldom thinking about what i am doing when i am doing it. i have actually thought it through hours or even days before… making my mind available to obsess (TO OBSESS) about the next task while i am still trying to conquer the task at hand.

i put forth a conscious and concerted effort to be present when i am spending time with my kids. it’s hard to not give children all of your attention. as a single parent, i do have the task of planning ahead for most everything. particularly meals and outings. we have a pretty solid schedule through the week and on the weekends we throw caution to the wind and let the chips fall where they may. but as of late, i’ve been making a point to not plan ahead. to just sit down and let them clamor over me. to lay on the floor and play with them. to let them pick the books i read, and to turn the pages. it allows for so much more conversation and interaction. they grow so fast…

i try to track my thoughts. when i’m at work i make endless lists to assist me with task completion. i actively use Outlook, and Evernote. i also use Notes, and Reminders on my phone. for a few months, i was also using a bullet journal, which i’d like to get back to, but requires a little more time than i have readily available. and with all of that, i still forget things. sometimes big things. perhaps if i just slow down, breathe, and focus on the current project i’ll be more productive. i mean, what good is an unchecked task list?

here at home my dishes are piled up. the laundry, both clean and dirty is also piled up. the storage closet is filled to the limit with clothes and shoes that are too small and need to be donated. the refrigerator could use a good cleaning. and the pantry could use a purging. at least the beds are made and the bathroom is clean. my eyes wander about the apartment looking at the flaws and problems. then i see this knee high stack of books. library books. that is where i will let my thoughts settle. we check out 33 books from the library two weeks ago. we read them all. i read them for, with, and to my kids. it was time and laughs that we shared together. those are the thoughts that mean something. those are the thoughts i will validate. this is where i will let my obsession rest… in the gaze of my beloved children.

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