Chicago mom: Notice what is here. Appreciate what you have.

Every couple of months, I get a big headache, so big that it sidelines me at least for a day.

These headaches are unwelcome and I wouldn’t wish them on anyone, yet in hindsight, they are amazing teachers.

When I am in my bed, I have a clear vision about what I do every day. I recognize the effort I put into my schedule and the sincerity I put into my parenting. When I am flat on my back, I have great admiration for my daily schedule and I am hyper-aware of my busy daily experience.

These headaches remind me to be grateful when I feel good; they remind me of my effort rather than where I fall short. But unfortunately, when I am feeling good, all I can see is what I could have done better, what I could have done more of, and what I should have said differently.

Such an energy drain, for sure. I dwell too much on the undone rather than the done.

So these headaches always take me back to basics. How do I spend my day, and is that what I really want to be doing? What do I focus on, and how do I want to use my energy?

For example, when I am lying in bed with a headache, I can hear my children downstairs. I love their stories and their energetic voices.

I listen to them from afar without needing to teach. I appreciate them without needing to respond. Even though they are just a floor below me, I miss them and I miss our interaction.

I guess you can say that pain or inability brings everything into sharp focus.

And the message is always the same. Notice what is here. Appreciate what you have. Stop thinking you need to be more than who you are, and stop thinking that you need to do more than you are already doing.

Look out the window and notice the day. Listen to your children’s voices, hug your husband, feel what it feels like to be present in this moment.

I am thankful for this teaching, but I wish I could integrate this understanding into my everyday awareness. I wish it didn’t take headaches to make me understand what is true about life.

Yet there I go again, thinking I should be better than what I am. So instead of wishing for more, I notice what I am doing. I accept what is. And I appreciate my ability to share this story with you.

Cathy Cassani Adams is co-founder of Be U Inc., author and mom to three girls.

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