How Well Do You Know Your Big Toe?

How well do you know your big toe?  This summer I want to get to know my big right toe a lot better.  I know this sounds odd, so I will explain.  My friend and coaching colleague Donna Moriarty was coaching me last year  around finding more inner peace, that feeling that “everything is going to be ok”, that I used to get quite often.  Do you know what I am talking about?  It’s like a wave of feeling that passes over me and it feels wonderful.  Anyway, Donna, being a very creative and insightful coach, said to me at one point during our conversation: “Milisa, it sounds like you need to just take some time to just contemplate your big toe”.  This suggestion has really stayed with me.  I guess it’s a pretty compelling image!  What I took from this suggestion was that I should really try to spend more time doing “nothing”, other than staring at my big toe, a fascinating subject, I must say.

As a  “woman who does too much“,  this is a stretch.  And yet I know it’s so important.  If I want to find any inner peace whatsoever, I have to learn to STOP, or at least slow down more often!  So how will I get to know my big toe better this summer?  It will have to be a conscious choice to do less and sometimes absolutely nothing. Actually just be and not do.    I am a human being, not a human “doing”, after all.  What better time to try the toe exercise than in the summer?  I think I can study my big toe while eating popsicles with my kids, petting the dog or swinging on the hammock.  Donna, would that count?  I do love to multitask!

I can safely say I am mostly addicted to multi-tasking.   We mothers are so good at multi-tasking and, frankly,  I don’t know how we would function without it.   I wash some dishes and check my email.  I saute some onions and peel carrots. I boil some eggs and run downstairs and throw a load of laundry in.   I unload the dishwasher while I am making tea.  I consult on Grade 4 math homework while keeping my 5 year old happy  making muffins. I know I am not alone in this frenzy of activity and most of the time it works.  But, sometimes it drives me CRAZY and I feel like my head is going to spin off and sail through the air or merely explode.   (See my blog post: “It’s Not Our WHOLE Brain That Drives Us Crazy”.)  However,  if I ever do allow myself the “luxury” of actually concentrating on one thing at a time, I feel so great!  I can get into a state called “flow”, where I lose track of time and am immersed in a task that is just challenging enough, like writing this blog post.    There is lots written about flow.  Most of us find flow at work.  I am not going to find it emptying the dishwasher.  I think that’s why I turn to the email or something else, just to challenge myself a little more while doing mundane chores.   But then the debate I have in my head turns to the fact: that I think I (and many others too, likely) need to slow down;  that I have not made enough room in my life for contemplation, reflection; and, that emptying the dishwasher is one of those tasks that might allow my mind the freedom to reflect (not ruminate or worry, mind you.)  Think about the “olden days”.   There were so many more daily tasks that had to be done by hand, slowly, with considerable effort, most of the time.     Take washing.  Have you seen the “old fashioned” scrubbing boards that our grandmothers had to used to get clothes clean?  That must have taken some muscle and a good dose of determination too.  And then, no throwing the clothes in the dryer. They all had to be hung to dry.   Maybe we have just made all these tasks so easy now that we can’t get in any flow by doing them.   Interesting thought, don’t you think?

So, back to me and my big toe….I can visualize myself in a quiet moment sitting on the veranda at the cottage, after the kids are in bed, contemplating my big right toe.   I think Donna would say that I should try it without listening to any other obilgation calling me.  Probably the most multitasking I should be allowed at first is breathing.  Nice deep, slow breaths,  in for a count of 10 and out for a count of 10, many times over.  And allowing myself to notice what I am experiencing with all my senses is permitted too, since that will help me find that peaceful feeling (see that other blog post about the brain).  Funny, even writing about these ideas is making me feel good!  I think I have a plan.  Want to join me?  There’s lots of room on the veranda! 🙂


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2 Responses to How Well Do You Know Your Big Toe?
  1. Donna
    July 5, 2011 | 2:43 pm

    I’d love to join you on the veranda. A deep breath, flow and a quiet contemplation. Lovely.

    • Milisa Burns
      July 5, 2011 | 3:18 pm

      I am scooting over to make room for you as I type this!

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