Have you ever driven for 45 minutes and suddenly found yourself in not only a new town, but a place that you swear is caught in a time warp? And no, not the Rocky Horror kind…
This week, I’m travelling a bit with my partner. He had to run up to Bartlesville, Oklahoma, to see a customer and — because I own my own company — I took off with him. Let me tell you, this place is interesting. (Yes, I’m writing from Bartlesville!)
It’s rural and oddly 1970s-like in its construction. I really don’t think I’ve seen downtown sidewalks as wide as they are here. In the midst of downtown is the Phillips Petroleum…complex? Campus? I don’t know what you’d call it. But really, everything is centered on these buildings and with good reason: this is where the Phillips 66 family is from.
It’s a little town, with not one, but two (!!) Starbucks — I’m writing at one. There’s something quaint and old-fashioned about this place…except with WiFi. Parents still walk their kids to school and the pace is just a little bit different. It’s not unlike the Island Time I’m used to in Key West. Like my beloved island, there are few chains — in Bartlesville, you can shop at the Wal-Mart, but put any thought of Target out of your mind unless you’re willing to drive a while. They’re building an ULTA, though, so I imagine I could survive. Hey, I’m a suburban girl from outside of Dallas. I’m spoiled.
I can see the appeal though. It seems like everyone knows everyone else here. And although I have a few favorite hangouts where the employees know my name, I have a feeling it happens more often here.
But what’s fascinating me are the spaces in between.
What do I mean by spaces in between? Walking downtown, there were a number of open spaces where a building used to be and only an old façade or roofline remains.
There are spaces between print companies and mom-and-pop restaurants. There are spaces between where old companies from 40 years ago meet new business ventures. There are also spaces between the road and the buildings; spaces between green areas and the more populated centers.
In some ways, it reminds me of Denton, Texas, my beloved college town. In other ways, it’s miles beyond.
But it’s the spaces, the spaces that continue to fascinate me. They draw me in and make me want to write a story about them. I’m pretty sure most of the locals would think I’m crazy.
It brings up an important question, though, I think: What are we doing with the metaphorical spaces between the parts of our lives? Sure, there’s every reason to combine parts of our lives — after all, it wasn’t long ago that I realized that I couldn’t put a space between my coaching life and my personal life, so I just stopped trying. But where can we make space between the people, the work, the play in our lives?
Where can we NOTICE these spaces?
And maybe more importantly, HOW do we make space? That, my friends, is sometimes the easier answer. We make space by living a mindful life.
Mindfulness is simply awareness of the present moment. Sometimes in order to become aware of the present, we must put a space in our day. There are many ways to do this, but my go-to is to always tune into my body through my breath and begin paying focused attention to various parts of my body. I notice how the ground feels beneath my feet and how the chair feels below my legs and seat. Right now, as I’m typing this, I’m slowing down a bit to really feel how the keys feel beneath my fingertips.
Our thoughts can focus on the past or worry about the future, but our bodies are always right here. Right now. Mindfulness is a fully embodied experience.
So I invite you to take a moment, breathe deeply and just notice how that breath feels. Notice how if fills your lungs and shifts your body. And notice that it’s happening, Right. Now.
Want to further your mindfulness practice? I’m opening up my ladies-only group coaching program this January for ladies who want to increase their mindfulness, take time out for themselves, and don’t want to break the bank. Because self-improvement shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg!