Today is Sunday and Sunday night is one of my favorite times of the week.
Sunday has a different pace to it – even though stores are open and sporting events and meetings and some work responsibilities happen, the stock market is still closed and as a collective, there is still a deep breath in the air on Sundays. It may not always be that way. Who knows how things will change as we continue to introduce new levels of advanced technology that doesn’t rest…but for now, we can notice and appreciate the restoration available to us on a Sunday, if we choose to take it.
When I work with people who are in the throes of family life, which is most of my clients – one of the first things I seek to understand is how their lives are organized. How do they move through the week? Where does the time go? What captures their attention? What do they care about?
And if they have children in the home, how do they spend Sunday?
I grew up with a Sunday Night Family Meeting – my mom would create a meal plan that would be taped up to the side of the refrigerator, my dad would reference his calendar and we would make sure everyone knew where everyone else was going to be that week. In my family now, I refer to this event as the Sunday Sit Down, and I have come to believe it is a cornerstone of living well as a family.
And if you’re not in a time of life where you have dependent children in your home, the Sunday Sit Down is a time for you and/or a time for you and your partner to arrive – literally, arrive to your life and look at it, from above.
What would you like to experience this week? How would you like to feel? What is a priority? What can wait?
See that you are not just here to get things done – not just here to go through your life – you are here to experience a life immersion. To feel it, live inside of it, belong to it.
Gratitude is so generous with us – it’s like a friend who always knows exactly when to call. The friend who anticipates your needs before you ask, sends the encouraging text, remembers to ask how the presentation went after the stress of preparing for it, and forgives you when you forget or misstep.
Gratitude is just there for you – and by there, I mean everywhere.
Gratitude is in the smallest details, the most ordinary moments, the specifics of your everyday routine and the specifics of the grandeur. When you zoom out, and get above your life, gratitude is waiting from that vantage point as well. In fact, the only thing that gratitude loves more than a close up is the big picture.
I am grateful for Sunday evening because this is the time I see the big picture.
I’m not sitting in the traffic jam 15 minutes late for my mammogram already fearing I will have to do this again and even though no one has asked me to reschedule yet.
I’m not watching the basketball game overly invested in my son’s performance and trying not to be annoyed with Boyd’s commentary about the lineup at any given moment of the game.
I’m not running out to the store one more time, I’m not uploading the permission slip I should have sent one week ago, I’m not taking a kid to the orthodontist or a dog to the vet, I’m not trying to fit in my workout or fighting the apathy I feel what we’re having for dinner that night.
I’m none of those things yet. On Sunday, I’m with my calendar, sitting at the dining room table, Stevie Wonder plays on the record player, we’ve made an effort to have a nice meal and we’re talking about what good things happened that week and we share the challenging ones.
This is not always a perfect exchange as a family – sometimes Myles says “I don’t know” for everything good and anything bad. Sometimes the girls make eye contact with each other and I can sense they’re making fun of me or us and I don’t know why and I have to breath through my self-consciousness. Other times I realize, mid-exchange, that the three teenagers are zoned out and Boyd and I are deep into a recount of a challenging exchange he had with an executive producer and how he’s going to address that person in the days ahead. The imperfections can be frustrating in the moment but overall, it’s just the reality that the big picture is colored with emotion. Every picture of your life experience is colored with emotion.
So feel the big picture today. Get above the minutia and look at the gift of the whole thing – you belong to this next week, it is yours and this next week of December is here for you.
What will get your attention? Will you gather for Hanukah – exchange gifts? Will you be Christmas shopping? Will you attend a holiday office party? Will you volunteer at the church or sign Happy Holiday cards? Are there projects at work to complete, friends to see, travel arrangements to finalize?
All of that is going to happen – and more, and maybe less – look at it, see it, and appreciate that above all of the plans and the commitments, there is this other thing – it’s you being alive.
It’s you being a part of something special. You belong here. You are important with all of your thoughts, feelings and actions – and you are a part of the big picture of your family, your community and the world.
When you are grateful from this perspective, your life becomes a wonder. It truly is a mystical expression of joy and hardship and triumph and sorrow and love. Your life is wonder-full.
DAY 10 Reflection Questions
*Sit down with your family today. Sit down with your partner, sit down with yourself – and look at the big picture of the week you just had. Appreciate everything you accomplished. Offer yourself self-compassion for what was hard and let go of anything that you can no longer control anyway.
*Prioritize the week ahead. Get very clear – how do you want to feel? What’s most important about these next few days? Plan for it and address your calendar accordingly. Look at your obligations and also look at the white space in your days. Value both, see the *whole* calendar.
*You are here – living your big and small, beautiful, boring, exciting, simple and complicated life. Remember to *live* and *experience* that life is the main point. Even when it feels like you are a machine for accomplishment – you are not. You are meant to rest, to regroup, to reset – use this time on Sunday to be grateful that the big picture is what it is.