I might be a bit biased, but I am convinced I have some of the most intelligent and thoughtful blog readers out there. I am constantly amazed by the insightful, heart-wrenching and thought-provoking comments you share with me.
Quite often I receive an email message from a reader who shares his or her own Hands Free story that makes me cry.
Quite often I read a comment or question from a reader that challenges my thinking so greatly I cannot seem to forget it.
That was precisely the case with a question a reader recently left me at the end of her email message.
Just as she was about to sign off, she threw out one last question. This dear reader asked, “How do you let go of the insignificant?”
I envisioned myself as a tiny weight lifter struggling to bench press enormous weights emblazed with the words The Answer To The Million Dollar Hands Free Question.
Responding to this question required a few days worth of reflective thought and prayer. Honestly, I knew I didn’t have THE answer, but I thought by sharing my own experience, it might help her find her own answer.
I ended up providing her with a few of my most used Hands Free tactics and linked her to the blog entries that described them. But what I realized in my two-day thought process was this: Letting go of The Insignificant is a daily, hourly, minute by minute challenge for me. Letting go of The Insignificant requires making a conscious decision in every waking moment of every day about where I choose to place my thoughts, energy, effort, heart, and soul.
Although I had responded to my thoughtful reader’s inquiry, the question, “How do you let go of the insignificant?” remained with me. Every time I found myself getting distracted by meaningless things, I was reminded. Hello, it’s Mr. Insignificant again.
“How DO I get rid of you?” I kept thinking to myself.
I decided that if I could figure that one out, I would no longer be a Hands Free Mama in Training.
Until then, I will continue to try and find more answers to this critical question (because I honestly think there are as many answers to that question as there are living breathing human beings).
And a few days ago, I found one.
How do you let go of The Insignificant?
You go where The Insignificant cannot go.
You go where The Insignificant is not welcome.
You go where Mr. Insignificant and his well-known side kick “Daily Distraction” have no business being.
You go to the library.
Here is my story…
I used to take my daughters to the library once a week when they were younger. Every time we relocated, the location of the nearest library was the first thing I would “Google” about our new city. Yet, as the children grew, and I became “busy,” our trips to the library became few and far between.
But the other day, my four-year-old said she wanted to read all the Froggy books ever written. What a precious goal for a four-year-old. The Hands Free Mama in me could not deny her this lofty goal. I knew we must do it.
We went to a beautiful local library as a family on a Saturday afternoon.
Just as I was getting out of the car, I paused and looked at my phone and decided it was not needed where I was going. I left it in the car and took my daughters’ hands instead.
As soon as we walked in, I was enveloped by hushed whispers and muffled steps in the soft carpet. I inhaled the scent of worn pages as I would a home baked pie. The relaxed checkout people sat smiling, ready and able to approve as many vicarious getaways that a bag could hold. Instantly, my blood pressure dropped about ten points.
The Insignificant began losing its grip.
My seven-year-old went off to peruse her own section. My four-year-old grabbed her daddy’s hand and headed to puzzles. I was left in blissful solitude to open page after page of beautifully illustrated books that I would later take home to read to my children. As both an elementary school teacher and writer, this was pure heaven.
After about ten minutes, I heard my oldest daughter’s voice. She was speaking to the woman at the circulation desk.
In a self-assured tone she said, “I would like a book about bullies.”
I watched from a short distance as the kind librarian tried to narrow it down by asking, “Would you like picture books or perhaps non-fiction books about bullying?”
“All of them,” my daughter confidently replied.
The patient woman escorted my daughter to several sections of the library. I watched as she would remove a book from the shelf and show my daughter the cover. Every single time, my daughter shook her head with approval.
Soon the taut little muscles in my child’s arms bulged from the load of bully books that now filled her arms.
Before the woman left to go back to her post, she turned to my daughter and offered a sympathetic “Good luck.”
I’m certain this sweet librarian said a prayer for my child that night. I’m sure she envisioned all sorts of horrible scenarios for the child who checked out every bully book the library owned.
But I knew the real reason my daughter wanted these books. Thankfully because of Talk Time, I knew the reason.
My daughter had survived her own bully experience in the fall and now had taken it upon herself to help those in need. She wanted to help other children in bully situations overcome the fear of standing up for oneself, just like she had.
Although I was very proud of my daughter, I felt a pang of disappointment in myself. I wondered how long she had wanted to put her hands on these resources. I sadly wished I had brought her here months ago.
But my Hands Free inner voice quickly dismissed the guilt. The loving voice that tolerates no negative self-talk said, “You are here now; that is what matters.”
She sat on the floor pouring over her small mountain of bully books. I sat down next to her and read aloud one of the more advanced books that the librarian had offered her.
My daughter didn’t have much to say. She was absorbing. She was digesting.
The Insignificant had completely lost its grip.
After a few minutes, she gathered up her grand stack using every ounce of strength in her small body and ran off to show her dad.
To my four-year-old, I revealed the five Froggy books I had collected for her. By the delighted look on her face, you would have thought Froggy was here to read them to her himself.
My Froggy obsessed child and I then curled up together in the beanbag chair and proceeded to read all five of the books. “Froggy Goes to the Doctor” even received an encore.
The Insignifcant? What’s that? Not only had its grip been released, but it was now the farthest thing from my mind.
One hour in the library; I had escaped the rush of the world. I had crawled into a sacred, quiet place where distraction could not touch me. And in this place I had found a beautiful connection to the ones I love the most. I felt peacefully renewed, serenely whole.
And each night when we select one of the thirty-five picture books that we checked out on that glorious day, a tiny sliver of peace is re-discovered. We snuggle into the safety and security of our blankets and become lost together in the story.
And one day soon after, an additional bonus of this tranquil escape to the library came to light.
My seven-year-old daughter came through the door afterschool bursting to tell me something.
She told me that when she witnessed a shy student being made fun of, she put her arm around the crying child and asked her if she needed help. After the child indicated she did, my daughter took her to the teacher to report the incident. My daughter was pleased by the response of the teacher and by the heartfelt apologies of the instigators.
This was my child who six months ago had endured several days of being pinched and excluded because she was deathly afraid to tell the teacher about a bully.
I tried not to show my tears at her announcement. Yet, I was overcome with relief and gratitude. Thank God, I had not been “too busy or “too distracted” to witness this beautiful transformation in my child.
Thank God, I had let go of The Insignificant long enough and at the right moments to help my child come to this place.
How do you let go of The Insignificant? I have an answer:
Crawl into the spaces that The Insignificant cannot fit. And what you might find is peace, tranquility, and the ones you love the most are right there waiting for you.
Where do YOU go to let go of The Insignificant? If you have an answer, I would love to read it through the comment button or by emailing me using the “contact me” button under my logo. And if you don’t have answer, discover one today. Start by looking in the places that make your loved ones smile. Start there. Do it today.
interesting thing , the insignificant. certainly not as graceful nor as eloquent, but as a planner I have found that if I take the time to lay out my plan for the day, i am able to eliminate most of the insignificants that have nothing to do with my mission for the day–and for a busy housewife or professional, we need a way to measure “whether we want to go there or not”. a mission measurement allows us to do that
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thanks for sharing your take on how planning actually helps you reduce “the insignificant” in your life. I guess it is a matter of finding that balance that is right for each one of us. As one who used to make To-Do Lists that resembled professional agendas, what really mattered got lost. Now I find that I can plan just enough to feel organized, yet I can “let go” at the right moments so I don’t miss the good stuff. I appreciate you taking the time to share!
I kick out the insignificant when I lay next to my husband rubbing his back with my tender finger tips. That is just a tiny piece of heaven being put right in my hands.