Mindful met Irene (42)

Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit like the Upside-Down Face emoji. You know, one of the new emoticons that now grace our phones since the latest update. Have you met it yet? I’m not really sure what it stands for, but that doesn’t stop me from using it a lot. If someone texts me ‘How are you?’ and I reply, ‘Not so great,’ you can bet your bottom dollar that I slap that emoji on to the end of my message. Or if I get a complicated text that I do not know the answer to, I write: ‘We need to talk about it,’ and yup, the Upside-Down Face gets added on too. And if someone sends me a message that they had a bad day, I tell them that I understand, and hey presto, there it is again.

What I find tricky though is that I don’t quite know how other people interpret this emoticon. Do they see it the same way as I do? Do others also see it as a ‘gosh-that’s-a-lot-to-deal-with-and-I-also-sometimes-feel-like-that’ emoji? But it’s not just this one emoticon whose meaning is unclear to me. Take the blushing face with two open hands attached to its chin. Is it clapping? Or sweetly shrugging its shoulders? Or the one with the thin mouth (a line, basically) and large eyes glancing upward: looks like a ‘I-need-a-vacation’ emoji, but as I’m not sure, I dare not use it.

In any case, I was feeling the same way as that Upside-Down Face (the ‘gosh-that’s-a-lot-to-deal-with-and-I-also-sometimes-feel-like-that’ one), and then I thought about all those lessons that come up in Flow, and it seemed pretty obvious to apply one to myself. Namely, the lesson: Treat yourself, you’ve earned it.

So I shall! I’ve taken a few extra days off before my vacation, I haven’t finished my work, haven’t had time to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, but I don’t care. I’m leaving the building and getting away. For three whole weeks. And when I return, I hope to come back as a Laughing smiley again, or the Nerdy with buckteeth and glasses. A smiley that reflects the desire to make Flow for yet another year. Happy summer holidays everyone!

Irene, together with Astrid, is the founder and creative director of Flow Magazine. She lives with her children (10 and 13, co-parenting) in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Each Friday, she writes about how various Mindfulness lessons apply in her daily life.