Happy Now (by guest blogger Heidi Dixon Kwon)

Being the wife of a medical student means embracing delayed gratification, being flexible with unaligned schedules and acclimating oneself with lonely nights. Perhaps these challenges are simply realities for the average adult… but, I’m not sure. I’m still pretending to be one. 

However, what may be a bit more unique to ‘the life of a pupil’ are the lofty dreams and hopes that many students and student-spouses cling onto as they look toward their post-graduation life. Those elusive, fanciful dreams about being able to afford organic olive oil, bakery bread and brie cheese without having to double check our bank statements whilst in the checkout line. Or the anticipation that one day, we’ll own a car where the passenger door locks and unlocks without us having to reach over and manually do it. Or aspirations like: no more exams, eventually owning a home with an extra room for people to stay in, having children who are kind or writing a book. 

And until that ‘time,’ our lives are often strung up with eventually’s and one day’s—white-knuckling the race through the present. 

Many times, these dreams are the fodder for the present. We work hard, we study, and we invest in education and slowly chip away at debt—all to prepare for a better future. But, sometimes these well-intended aspirations fuel my impatience of the present. I become ambivalent, wanting and wishful for a greener grass ahead. 

This week, I was especially cognizant of this mentality, so I tried something new at work. Every hour, I made it a point to get up from my desk and walk around. At one point in the day, I would take my time and make a cup of Herbal Chai tea. Taking it slowly and deliberately. I would watch the spices softly waft up like a cloud when I poured the leaves into my diffuser. Carefully hugging the cup in my hands, I would bring it to my nose and take in the sweet aromas of ginger and cinnamon. As I sipped the warm tea, I would take note of the way the cardamom, licorice and peppers weaved together.

In that time, with my eyes resting from screens, numbers or emails, I could feel myself being present and grounded. Taking just four to five minutes every hour, allowed me to be mindful even amidst the craziness at work. 

With our heads down, shoveling at an ever-growing mountain of duties, it’s easy to let time slip between the crevices of work, marriage and school. But, what kind of life is the one where I am working and waiting for the better things to come? I want to be present and happy now. I want to be aware of the ways that this season is sharpening me and teaching me. How is school changing our marriage? How is it affecting my husband? What can I be grateful for today?

It’s a discipline to practice mindfulness. It’s easy to get tossed up again, dizzied from the day-to- day. But, small ways like punctuating my day with some rest, taking a walk or making a cup of tea can give the opportunity to quiet my thoughts and remember that it is good, now. I am happy, now.

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