You know the thing a lot of people have started doing recently, where instead of focusing on New Year’s goals and resolutions, they chose a single word to be the focus of their year? Well… I didn’t set out to do that. But I did all of my New Year’s-type goal stuff while we were on vacation in January, and that’s just kind of how it settled out. I had something like 75 divergent and nonspecific goals, but one word kept coming to mind. And I know it’s almost March. Believe me, I feel every ounce as silly as I should to be writing about my “2014 word” almost 1/6 of the way through the year. But stuff keeps coming up. And, I mean, the impact of it is supposed to be evident all year long, so here we are.
(as in me.)
I want to be present. In my body and my life. I know I can’t be the only one who is almost never here. I find myself living my days on autopilot. Which is kind of dumb, because my life is pretty awesome. I have been blessed beyond measure. My husband, my little girls, an amazing support network of friends and extended family, a healthy body… I think this morning’s blessings in my little “thankful journal” passed 1400. And that’s just the small handful a day I think to write down.
Get up. Girls up. Breakfast. Laundry. Eleventy-billion rounds of disciplining smart and fairly willful toddlers. Figure out what I’m making to eat this week. Take said (smart, willful) toddlers to the store. (Aack!) In and out of car seats. The never-ending negotiation that is nap time. Finally my favorite man ever gets home. Dinner. You get the idea. This is, give or take, every day. I’m not complaining, but do you see how it might be easy to do? To (at best) go on autopilot or (at… not best) kind of run away? I mean mentally. Like, with my phone. Or just getting lost in my scheming about how to finish all the things most efficiently. And it’s not just the stay-at-home-mom-of-toddlers thing. My life has always kind of involved some sort of oft-used mental escape hatch. Oh, sometimes it looks like I’m leaning into it all, but hours of to-do listing is still not the same thing as inhabiting. Abiding.
So this year, I’m trying to feel what is going on in my body. I want to see the world around me. Use my senses. Spend more time being mindful and less time (a lot less) numbing out on Facebook and Candy Crush because I’m kind of stressed.
This comes with some downsides.
For one, it’s a lot easier to numb when I’m stressed than it is to actually find something useful to do with or about it.
How is this a downside? It’s not, in and of itself. I love that I see more… this. But these are a few pictures from our vacation. And none of my pictures ever capture fully what I saw. Can I just tell you that there were many days that I nearly wept at my inability to absorb all of it? I just kept thinking of a line from the Rich Mullins song, “Here in America”… “There’s so much beauty around us, but just two eyes to see, but everywhere I go, I’m looking.” Stuff like that happens when I choose to be present. It’s a bizarre anxiety. Near panic sometimes, in fact.
And it’s not just when I get away in some gorgeous tropical location, either. This one is just ice that formed on the rail of our front deck.
When I start being here, present and open to the beauty around me, it gets a touch overwhelming. Sometimes autopilot seems a lot easier. Less awesome, but certainly easier.
So that’s what I thought this “present” thing was going to be about this year.
Being here. Sensing the world around me. Paying attention to the people around me. Feeling my feelings, rather than finding ways to feel something else unrelated. (Eating. Facebook. Whatever.)
But then the more I kick the word around, the more I think of all the other things it means.