Parenting Blog

Practicing Mindfulness (or She Knew It Was A Draw)

Two summers ago I hiked across England with a bunch of lads, one of whom is an author, PhD, and university professor on the topics of communication and practicing mindfulness. I didn’t have the mind to fully understand these subjects then and at times doing either well still confounds me (see: this sentence which is a bit of a mouthful) but on Saturday afternoon, as I sat in my car in the parking garage on Flower Street on the campus of USC, I saw what mindfulness looks like in its most simple, beautiful form.

I was on the receiving end of mindfulness and I liked it a lot.

The communication between my wife of 15 years and I has been fragmented, intermittent like we’ve been stuck in a bad cell area for over a year. Our voices go in and out and the static between us can prevent thoughts and emotions from reaching each other.

But not on Saturday because she knew it was a draw.

LAFC Home Match Practicing Mindfulness Communication

I spent Saturday in Los Angeles with not too much to do save for attending the 2nd ever home match at Banc of California stadium, the shiny new home of the newest MLS franchise, LAFC. I was over the moon excited.

My wife didn’t mind me spending an extra day away from home, 3000 miles from her and the girls, so that, basically, I could see a 90 minute soccer match between two teams, neither of which I root for in any way.

LAFC Home Match Practicing Mindfulness Communication

She gets me, but I rarely anymore do I acknowledge the beauty of being ‘got’. I might mention it to others, in person with a smile, or post on Facebook about it with a smiley face emoticon, but saying it to her? Yeah, no, the communication failure gap is wide with me.

The match was fun but ended 1-1 because Los Angeles Football Club wasted a handful of chances in front of the FC Dallas goal. I’d have liked to see a late winner, in front of the fervent LAFC supporters cascading up and down the pitched safe standing section behind the north goal, to see the massive black and gold flags in there be whipped around in a joyful fury, to hear the entire place erupt. But that didn’t happen.

LAFC Home Match Practicing Mindfulness Communication

Walking back to my car on the 4th deck of the garage about a half mile away, I was thinking “I can’t wait to call Jill”. I was eager to continue the stellar conversation we had while I drove into this part of L.A. hours earlier, to continue talking about the Mom 2.0 Summit I had just attended — about my ambitions and my worry that I’m not the one suited to accomplish them — and about possible getaways together in the fall. And then I got a text message.

“How was the game? I see it ended 1-1.”

I nearly cried.

This was mindfulness, right there in front of me. She had no reason to know the score, to check on the game result, but she did. Two sentences. Two simple, beautiful sentences.

Me being a moron, I neglected to say to her, “thank you for knowing that the game ended in a draw” when we’d talk again. I was caught up in yammering on about what I might do later that night (I had found a cool sounding concert at the Ace Hotel) and how I might get there (leave the car, walk and Lyft back, or drive and pay to park again???). I was kind of obsessed with my own L.A. nighttime schedule that was emerging and talked a mile a minute about my choices. I was excited and not being mindful of anything else.

And then I forget again (see: moron) to thank her the next time we talked, after the concert was over, after I got back in my car that I had moved and parked, and was driving to the airport.

Feeling like a fool, I pulled over and texted her:

“Forgot to say this on the phone: thank you for looking up the score of the match I was at today. That meant a lot.”

A handful of sentences, spread out over two texts on either end of a few great conversations, probably wouldn’t register as important or worthy of a 700+ word blog post if everything has been copacetic with us. But everything hasn’t been, so these sentences, these examples of practicing mindfulness and demonstrating a healthy communication pattern, matter. They point the way forward for my wife and I.

LAFC Home Match Mindfulness Communication

Ideally I’d have learned a thing or two about practicing mindfulness two years ago while trudging through sheep shit across the skinny whole of England with my smart friend…but better late than never, right?

*This isn’t the first time I’ve been moved by someone in my life knowing something about a sport I love.

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  1. This is great and a reminder to practice mindfulness. I started practicing mindful breathing, but need to be better at mindful listening.

  2. Ditto to Jason’s comment. There’s a lot here I have to start keeping in mind more often, particularly about mindful listening.

  3. Man, this was the perfect spark (thanks, soccer!) to get me to realize what I haven’t been doing enough of in my marriage. Might need to try the breathing too.

  4. Always evolving, right Aaron? To become better people, parents, partners.


  6. Jeff, this was an amazing post. It means a lot to read this, especially considering our conversations over the days prior. I love that you both “get” each other. And that you took that extra moment to say thank you.

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