January 31, 2013
One of our favorite Children’s books was Madeline. If you were just learning to read, it would seem that the book title was two words: “made line.” That is exactly what Miss Clavel did with the young girls: she made two straight lines. The particular reason I love this book is because Miss Clavel had great mindfulness.
Madeline and the 11 other Paris convent straight- lined girls have Miss Clavel – a nurse - to keep them in a literal and figurative line. Bemelman’s popular children’s book has been around for over 7 decades. Miss Clavel, the master mistress of order and structure, is the oxymoronic gentle and firm hand to guide and shape the young girls.
During the day she would shepherd them throughout the streets of Paris, knowing that curious Madeline was one easily drawn to distraction and trouble. And when the exhausted Miss Clavel would get the 12 girls tucked in for night and float to her far away wing of the convent to settle into bed, she could finally breathe a peaceful sigh at the end of the day.
Except for one night, Miss Clavel bolts up in bed and says to herself: “Something is not right!” As the reader, I wonder how the heck she knew that, since she was like 4 miles away from the bedroom where the little girls were supposed to have been asleep. Miss Clavel did not have room monitors, so how did she know that something was amiss? And sure, enough, Madeline is sitting up in bed boo-hooing with a side ache that turns out to be appendicitis.
And of course, it got me to thinking about intuition, awareness, and mindfulness; and the “sense – ability” that we all have at our fingertips to know when something is not right. It is those moments when we have an inkling, a mercurial blob of a sense, that feels funny. Sometimes we feel it physiologically – like in our throat or in the pit of our stomach.
We have a knowing. My husband, a Star Wars afficiando, says: “There is a disturbance in the force.” Personally, I call them: Miss Clavel Moments,” and I am ever so grateful for them when they appear. Those inner promptings are like surprise gifts to us – to pay attention, to be aware; and sometimes they are a call to take immediate action. And almost always, there is a positive benefit.
But they needn’t be surprises. They can be cultivated and mainstreamed into our everyday lives if we would pause; and listen, see, touch. I believe that too often, we override these subtle proddings, because we allow our thinking, rational, logical area of the brain to call the shots on our thoughts, feelings and behavior.
Imagine what we might feel like if we allowed some of those subliminal nudges to permeate our consciousness and direct our behavior.
Next time you have a Miss Clavel moment, pause, and consider what that moment’s sense could be prompting you to do. If something isn’t right – if it doesn’t feel good in some part of your being – don’t ignore it or avoid it. Acting on it could be a wellbeing lifesaver.