The Gift of Being Present

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The gross anticipation of a new year may be a false promise of a new start. 

The holiday season may fill you with a child-like anticipation of opening up a new gift. Will it be what I asked for? But, before you unwrap this new, exciting gift, it sits like a beautifully wrapped promise under the tree with a big shiny bow and the hope of a dream fulfilled. Maybe you’ve worked all year to secure your place on “the nice list” with the hope of enjoying your reward and now the anticipation of opening it and making it yours is almost too much.

You toast with champagne on new years eve and feel the buzz as you anticipate the countdown to a whole new year filled with promise and new beginnings, but then you wake up hungover to the same life you left the night before realizing that you are only one day older and the same old effort is not somehow all of a sudden enough just because the calendar has flipped.

I have yet to see a task too simple for people to complicate. I see people putting a lot of energy into making things hard instead of letting them be simple.

I do think this new year is a gift. When you open a gift, if you think whatever is contained in that box is going to change your life, then you have already set yourself up for failure. My problem is that gifting all of this “stuff” is not a gift at all. Maybe this year we can consider gifting time and experience instead. But why wait? Why does the calendar have to dictate when we decide to make a fresh start and give each other a gift? I would rather receive a thoughtful gift on a random Thursday that has deep meaning and love than a diamond necklace on a holiday, but that’s just me. I would much rather be given the gift of my loved ones being present.

We are the ones who give meaning to our lives, we shape our own reality. This year, take control and get better at making your life good. Become a master Storyteller of your own story. Whatever you do, just be, right now. 

photographic reminder above courtesy of pippalou from morguefile.com

Being Present

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Being present means living in the moment. Being present means enjoying right now instead of replaying past events or role playing possible future scenarios. There is a time for each of these to take place, but when it’s time to be present, it’s good to be able to relax into the moment at hand. It’s a skill worth mastering.

Our ability to be present depends a lot on having good boundaries. Your boundaries should be intentional and unapologetic. Keeping good control and understanding of what you want and need helps you to stay “in the moment” and enjoy more. Having weak or undefined boundaries makes you more likely to be passive or let others define them for you. Taking responsibility for yourself avoids the opportunity for others to take control of us. At the same time, respecting other’s boundaries will demonstrate how you want to be treated.  This means often letting go of our attachment to outcomes and need to control each result. Inner peace comes from letting the outcomes naturally play out in each moment without judgement or attachment. Being present means paying attention to yourself and whether you are trying to alter the moment and outcome instead of just observing and accepting it.

When you add judgment, comparison, or competition to the present moment, you are no longer being present. If you can let go of what you think “should” be happening or what “might have been” then you can more easily let go and enjoy being present. There will be enough time to lick your past wounds later. Trust that you can handle this moment, you deserve to enjoy what’s happening now and you will be capable of juggling whatever is thrown your way next. “Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure” -author unknown 

Do you have a mind that constantly races in every direction? One way to bring yourself into the present is to learn how to quiet your mind and focus on what matters right now. Taking yourself out of the moment and becoming an observer when you begin to feel anxious or fearful may help you to gain insight into whether or not this moment really requires that response. Fully experience this moment until it’s time to move on to the next. Being an observer of yourself may help you learn more about what triggers those moments of fear and anxiety. Knowledge is power. Observe and breathe…

The moments are going to keep happening. Fighting against the moment does not make it go slower. Each moment comes when it is supposed to come. Take a big, deep breath in. Now let it out slowly. You either took the time and felt present enough to enjoy that breath, or you rushed through it to see what was next. Each breath happens, quick or slow is an illusion and a judgement that you put on those moments. Time never speeds up, time never slows down. Even if you fight against the present moment it will still happen and still move at the same speed. Change will happen, change keeps coming. No matter how hard you try, you can only breath in OR out… never both at the same time. Each breath comes when it is time. 

Staying present means realizing that you can only do one thing at a time. Whether it be work, pleasure, obligation or otherwise, multi-tasking with either your body or mind is just not possible. Being able to do several things in quick succession with great ease should not be confused with multi-tasking. Complete one thing, then move on to the next.

Let time move and change and flow while just being within the movement of each moment. The less expectation of the next moment, the more you can fully enjoy the present. Reflection has it’s time and the process of learning involves thinking beyond the moment at hand and there will be time for all that too. But, when you can live and breathe in the now….. just be.

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Becoming Me

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Who were you before the world stepped in and told you who to become?  When a baby cries out and a caretaker responds with loving kindness, in the beginning it’s all a guessing game to try our best to soothe, respond and love.  But we really never know the true meaning behind those cries.  Even the best intending people may put their own needs and assumptions on those cries and respond the way they see fit.  That’s the best they can do until that baby can confirm those suspicions.  Is that baby having every need met, or is that sweet, dependent soul beginning the journey of taking what is offered and making it fit? Such is life as we grow into ourselves and begin to make our true selves heard.  And even then, how much are we forced to push down and ignore of what we really want and need?  Those innocent smiles on children desperate to please may be the faces of little ones learning to do the best with what is given to them while learning to manage what they truly wish.    

As we grow and mature, we have a chance to consider who we are and what truly makes us happy.  Are you letting yourself be the person you were meant to be?  How do we figure out exactly who that is?  After years of being told what to do, it may be difficult to truly be authentically present and acknowledge how much of who we have become is put upon us and how much of it we were free to develop on our own.  Take a step back for a moment and think about where you are, why you are there and whether or not it is who and where you would like to be.  Such is life really, but the next phase is letting go of some of that ingrained learning and allowing yourself to push back from the shore and mindfully explore what your choices will bring.  Navigating your path after you set sail on an adventure such as this may be filled with unknown, but it’s always in times of deep reflection or exploration that we have the opportunity to grow the most.        

Need to change a few things?  I do, and I want to learn more about myself.  There are 5 steps I am taking to thoughtfully process this lesson.  

Live life and engage in activities I enjoy.

Over the last few years I have found myself diving into new experiences with a brave, awakened yearning for change.  Feeling satisfied and content was no longer acceptable.  I longed for a divergence from my routine and I have found myself engulfed in exciting new opportunities saying, “YES!  THIS is me! THIS is what I crave and how I want to live!”  And it feels good.  I want more of that, so I make it happen.  

Stay curious and learn

Instead of sitting in wonder of some of my interests, I decided to engage in workshops and learn new skills, read new books and attend readings of their authors, and manage my own new business focused on my passions.  I hunger for new knowledge and I will never know enough about the matters that interest me.  

Live in the present

Engage.  Put down your technology, turn off the television and properly engage with the people and experiences around you.  I like to make a pile of cell phones when my friends have dinner and the first one to reach for their phone instead of being immersed in the gathering is handed the check.  If we all remain engaged and never touch a piece of technology then I consider that a win.  If you are not enjoying your surroundings and need the stimulation of outside sources, then it’s time to unravel that.  That unraveling is genuine work and you should be making time and space to focus on and improve that matter.  It’s the constant learning and unraveling that makes us grow indefinitely, but it’s in the present that we live.  Wherever you go, there you are.  Be there.  

Meet new admirable people and reawaken valuable lost connections

The people I have met and align myself with have made all the difference, and the people I have reconnected with from my past have impacted my journey more than words can say.  It’s those who love you unconditionally and authentically that deserve your precious time and attention.  Strengthen those bonds, throw your energy in their direction and it will come back to you with boundless possibility.  Your soul mates, no matter how abundant or few, will see the authentic YOU emerging and admire the light shining from you.    

“All of me loves all of you. Love your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections” -All Of Me, John Legend

Sleep and spend time alone

When I am alone with my thoughts and without other influences to taint my perspective is when I catch a clear glimpse of who I am and what I truly want.  I like to form my own impressions without speculation of others leaking in.  And, never underestimate the importance of rest and renewal.  Our sleep patterns are the refresh opportunity that we have everyday.  After expending all of this energy to make change and become my authentic self, I need to let my body absorb this information so it can truly be integrated into my reality.      

The question of who I am may never definitively be answered because she changes with each moment, but it is the promising journey to discover and rediscover myself that ignites my spirit and inspires my momentum.

 

above photo is of my daughter holding my hand that very first day

Picture Perfect

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The most beautiful moments in life are frozen in time.  Maybe they live as a perfect picture on paper or in your memory.  And, even though we may feel melancholy as we remember those times, they are never really over.  Memories melt into our existence and give us peace and hope of living more beautiful moments.

When you can see your beauty, strength and potential in the eyes of another, possibility and hope abound.  The present is a creation built from the past and future.  Memories and moments play like an old movie in my head.  I am the joyful, lone movie goer in a big, empty theater while I remember…. and I’m grateful.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” – Dr. Seuss

From our experiences we hold souvenirs and meticulously incorporate them into our trinkets on a shelf and they become part of our story.  Maybe we wear them around our neck or tuck them into a pocket and carry them with us as a reminder.  We look at them, touch them, turn them over and over in our hands to incorporate tangible senses into our remembering.  The story of my life is told on the shelves and walls of my house as well as live in my heart.  Those souvenirs remind you that those memories actually happened, the story is written and will stay with you.  Some of the best memories are the ones you didn’t know you were creating at the time, they come from life flowing around you and letting yourself fall in love with that moment without even realizing it’s happening.

Life may happen between those moments, but those moments are the magic.  I live for picture perfect times like that.  But, it’s the past and no one can live there.  We move on to the next phase and wait for new moments and memories to find us.

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” – LP Hartley

Create moments, gather memories and live your life as if you are walking through a garden.

 

photo above was taken by me on a picture perfect morning

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