I sigh. A lot.
My teenage daughter recently spent an afternoon entertaining herself by counting how many times I sighed—which is often a sign of anxiety and stress. As a work-from-home mom of three, who juggles her business, family, and the adventures of homeschooling, I can easily identify with both anxious and stressed.
Some days I sit down to work, only to get my laptop opened, when a request for food is spoken from the mouth of the littlest—the same child who just swore that he was, in fact, not hungry and needed “not a thing.” I’ll begin the glorious work of cutting up raw chicken for dinner to be then asked, with urgency, to play a round of UNO. So, I sigh.
I didn’t always notice the sighs. But when my kids started using them as entertainment and my six-year-old began asking me what was wrong because I was making that sound again, I began to notice them.
I began to notice, also, my frustrations, my temper, and my judgments. It happens. We get tired. We feel things. All the things. Too many things, sometimes. Angry. Isolated. Rejected. Unseen. Not enough in our own skin.
These things will happen. We’re human. Gloriously flawed. Perfectly imperfect. Beautiful hot messes.
And when they happen, we have a choice. We can act out or look in. I used to do the former. It was destructive to my relationships and hurtful to everyone involved.
So, I began the work—the damn hard work—of looking inward. I began to allow my sighs to serve me. To teach me. To provide me an opportunity.
When I hear that sigh, it now often (more than not, thankfully) serves as some sort of bell. I’ve come to realize that something is happening in me, and because I’ve been too busy to notice it, it just escapes out of my mouth—and now my daughter is counting sighs and my six-year-old is looking at me like maybe I’ll possibly erupt.
I don’t erupt as much anymore, because the sighs are signs. If we look for them, we all have them. Things that happen before the calm turns to storm. Things that can help us transform ourselves from hot mess to mindful.
Being mindful doesn’t mean I’m meditating 24/7 or that my life is all butterflies and positive vibes. Being mindful means that when I’m a hot mess, my mind is cluttered, and I’m a train wreck about to happen, I can pause and shift. I can notice that I’m a hot mess and then come back to the now.
And sighs are my warning whistle to the impending train wreck.
Find yours. Is it tension in your jaw, a headache, upset tummy, or maybe you, too, sigh? You’re in good company.
There is something beautiful about turning our hot mess-ness into mindfulness and accepting all the parts of ourselves. It’s empowering and transformative. It’s grace and beauty.
Don’t strive for perfection. Pretending to be something we’re not is crippling. It’s inauthentic. Be who you are, beautiful human: uniquely you. And when the past or the future creeps in to steal your now, become intentional about noticing. Turn your hot mess into the beauty of mindfulness.