While heading to the grocery store one morning, I stopped at a light near an old Chevy sorely in need of a paint job. There was a teenager at the wheel, blaring music with the windows down. Her bumper was scuffed. One taillight was crushed. But she didn't seem to mind. Her manicured fingers tapped the steering wheel like red-tipped drumsticks, her hair lifting in the breeze. She sang at the top of her voice, ignoring the audience around her. I liked her.

Just before the light changed and she drove off, I noticed her car had a bumper sticker: What if the hokey pokey is what it's all about?

Then I thought, "Wait, what if it is?"

It could've been my mood that day, or it could've been destiny. But idling behind that Chevy, all at once it occurred to me that I'd left no room in my life for simple delight. I scheduled, penciled in or planned everything from my kids' playdates to dinner with friends months in advance, just to get it off my mind—which, more and more, was swamped with a nonstop, firehose-like onslaught of obligations. Where were the moments when I could rap on the steering wheel with my hair blowing in the wind?

So now I'm trying to make time to enjoy the sweet, simple, inconsequential bits of life, wherever and however I can—which starts with paying more attention to what's happening right now. We just celebrated my son's 11th birthday at a laser tag arena. If you've never set foot in one, it's loud, crowded and smells like feet; the old me would've gladly opted out, waiting in the birthday party room, setting up the pizza and cake, checking e-mail. The new me, however, got suited up, chose a laser tag handle (Mominator), and ventured in alongside a dozen of my son's friends with vest, laser gun and survival instincts in tow. It was awesome—I didn't even come in last. Crazy Hair Day happens this week at school, and after giving my sons tricolor mohawks, I plan to put on my blue party wig when I drop them off, strutting along beside them. We'll look ridiculous, but it will be fun.

I've also noticed the effects of my experiment in other, deeper ways. When I'm not obsessing over getting things done, getting to the next destination, getting my point across and moving right along, I hear a lot more. Yesterday my 9-year-old wanted to tell me his side of an argument he'd had with his brother. "Please, Mom," he said, "just listen before you say anything." So I did as he asked. I listened, and had a revelation: The outcome of the altercation didn't matter to him as much as being heard by me did. I chose to be in that moment with him for as long as it lasted. I want more encounters like that.

I'm discovering that life isn't something I'm supposed to master, but an adventure I'm meant to experience. I'm worrying less about what I should be doing and becoming more aware of what I am doing. I'm starting—one foot at a time—to put my whole self in.


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