Mind full to mindful: One Thing Better, Kate VanNoorden

One Thing Better is a weekly series featuring very cool creators I’m impressed with, in a one-question interview format.

It’s a simple premise. Each week someone will answer The Question. 

My friend Brian Reekers kept mentioning his friend Kate — as an anchor in his life. Someone he connected to spiritually. Someone who supported him on his own exotic growth path when others shied away.

(He’s an angel whisperer.)

It turns out I knew this Kate person. The art world had connected us years ago. 

Here’s what I love about Kate VanNoorden. She’s full of wisdom and questioning. One could forgive her at her age if all she wanted to do was sit back and give advice on her wisdom gleaned from a long and full life. 

But no, she’s keen on ever learning. Check out what she learned at 67 . . . . 

The Question:

What one thing have you been doing recently that’s making your life better?

Kate VanNoorden:

What a beautiful nose you have, I thought.  Devon was resting his poufy poodle head on me as I rested. We were nose to nose.  I could see the amazing construction of the nostrils, the texture of the nose skin, the white tendrils that lay on the top of his nose.
His eyes were closed in contentment at being so close. I could see his long eyelashes resting on closely clipped cheeks.  What a wonder is this creature!!

Being in the moment.  Being mindful. Making and taking the time to be present NOW.

When walking the dogs on what I call my “gratitude walks” I do not use my cell phone. This is their walk.  I am there for them.  I watch what they stop to sniff, allow them to leave their calling cards on bushes and the yard trimmings put out for trash pickup.

My “elder statesman” is turning 12 this December – an excellent longevity for a Greyhound – his racing days have left him with ankles that hurt and tender feet.  He moves more slowly, sniffs more deliberately. 

Are you reading the stock page I ask in a teasing voice? The others always stop when he stops and wait patiently for him to start walking again.  There is a deference and respect among the pack.  

While they amble I notice that the “Florida frost” is in bloom.  A weed with a miniscule pink blossom that grows in abundance on lawns and highway medians looking just like frost has come to Jupiter.  
It is side by side with a tiny blue blossom – they are both termed weeds but when I pick them, I see great perfection in their forms that are so small that it takes several to cover a fingernail.  I might not notice them if we were walking swiftly.

I was raised with the New England Work Ethic that one must be productive during each daylight hour.  It wasn’t until I was 67 that my Mom told me it was OK to take time out to read.  NOW you tell me, I said.  
By then the fast paced tempo of my life was so ingrained that moving slowly was not of choice but of nature.  I moved so rapidly I was often tripping, stumbling, falling and over the years I broke both ankles twice.  
What am I supposed to be learning from this, I would ask myself?  
It was at the time of the last limited action event that it hit me that the world had not stopped because I did not complete my daily list.
I, who was always doing for others, was forced into being on the receiving end.  I began to realize that to be a good giver one must also be a gracious receiver.  
I began to rethink my daily “to do” lists.  What is really important? What actually has to be done?
Along those same lines I have stopped cramming so much into a certain time frames.  If my list contains 8 errands to be attended to, I find I now listen to my body – maybe the last two errands could be done another time.  
I no longer try to accomplish one last chore before heading out the door to an appointment.  I have started giving myself a bit more space in each day to avoid rushing and stress. 
Just this change of being mindful and staying in the moment keeps me from reacting with impatience.  It allows me the opportunity to try to achieve my daily goal – To someone, somewhere, somehow – BE A BLESSING.
I've seen the future and it is leafy
Celebrating one thing for 2015