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How to Focus on the Right Things

Unfocusing on Fireflies – Thoughts on how to not focus so damn hard on the wrong things.

A year ago, I moved out of my boyfriend’s house into my own. The move was because my teenage son, who had been living with his dad, was coming to live full-time with me. That was a dream come true. I travel so much for work that I felt like my son was in a better place. Little did I realize the situation with his step-family wasn’t good. He needed to be someplace where he was entirely accepted and loved. With me!

But upon leaving my boyfriend’s house, I truly believed with my entire being that it was the end of the relationship. He said that my son would be the “straw that broke the camels’ back,” and all I could think was, Am I all the other straws? I had no idea.

Leaving hurt, I wanted more than anything to be worth the trouble, although I know that’s a tall order. I’m a lot of trouble.

It turned out to be a huge blessing. I love having the time exclusively with my son. My college-age daughter moved back in with me, too, and I know to soak up these fleeting moments. And not only did my relationship not end, but it also became stronger. He is a fantastic blessing in their lives. Not to mention, I don’t mind sleeping like a starfish in my bed again.

The house I moved into is magic. But I felt panicked. I never thought I was moving again, and I didn’t know I’d find anything. So I looked and looked, but the area I live in is booming, and brother, Austin ain’t cheap! So I was looking to lease something for a couple of years until my son graduates, and then I wouldn’t have to find a place close to a good school.

When the realtor first brought me to the house, she almost apologetically said, “Donlyn, it’s funky.” After looking for so long, I told her that it was the right price in the right place. If it were halfway livable, I would take it!

The house is old and a little hilarious. It’s painted bright orangish, with electric blue trim. The ceilings are painted like clouds. I’m pretty sure there’s some glitter paint on the walls. It has four levels built on stilts over a creek that flows into Lake Travis. It has floor-to-ceiling windows where you can see the waterfalls. There are murals a-plenty and all manner of things glued to the walls and doors. And I have fallen in love with it.

One of the biggest things that makes it so magical is the wildlife. I’m on a first-name basis with several deer. I have a raccoon that taps on the window at night, asking for whatever leftovers we have. I have a skunk, a fox, an opossum, lots of mosquitos (unfortunately), and now as summer is beginning, I have fireflies. I have a BAZILLION fireflies.

Every night it almost brings me to tears. I love it so much. They dance around the creek and waterfalls and say their little hellos at my windows. One night, my son, who also appreciates little magical moments, and I went to sit in the backyard watching the fireflies parade around us in stereo.

But, I realized something. It’s hard to focus on a firefly. Because when a firefly’s light goes out, you don’t know where it will pop up next. You can never really focus on ONE! I kept trying, though. I wanted to get a good look and admire that glowing ass! My son notices what I’m doing, and he says, you can’t focus on one. You have to relax your eyes and take the whole thing in. Then you’ll see all of them.

And I did.

And it was magic.

And I realized a lot. Everything that happened did so for a reason—lots of reasons. Everything is working out the way it was supposed to. I focused so hard on the loss that I didn’t see the multitude of blessings dancing all around me. All I had to do was let go and not try to control things out of my control. I relaxed my focus, let the fireflies dance, and suddenly everything became clear.

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