It's been far too long since I have been able to say that. I have been consumed by future plans....or lack thereof and have found it difficult to enjoy the present but that's just it, I haven't been present.
Do you know the guys that throw fish at Seattle's Pike Place market? Anyone who has been there knows what I am talking about. Well, did you know that they have a entire training program centred around the FISH! philosophy? I had to go through it when I worked in banking and one of the practices was "Be There". They say being emotionally present for people sends a powerful message of respect and it improves communication as well as strengthens relationships...and don't I know it. I had this one client who would come in weekly (minimum) and talk to me for a good hour (minimum). He was a gentle old man with Parkinson's so he was extremely difficult to understand but I knew that he didn't have family near, probably didn't get out much, let alone have someone to listen to him, even if it was about his investments and basically needed a reason to leave his house.
This principle resonates with me still and lately, I have not been there - for my children or myself, leaving me feeling completely inadequate, especially when it comes to Ella and drained because I have not given myself the liberty I need to nurture the other parts of my mind, heart and body. It's a fine balancing act that I think many of us struggle with on an ongoing basis. But tonight, as I was listening to Ella and Louis, sipping my glass of red and doing dishes, it dawned on me - I was happy, I was content. I wasn't thinking about what next year would bring or next month, I was in the moment enjoying two of my favourite things (you can make your own assumptions as to which they were).
This morning, Ben gave me some time first thing in the morning and I finished my first out of 5 book reviews due for my course and a week ahead of schedule to boot. It felt good and I was finished and ready to head downtown by 11am. And while I didn't really want to go anywhere for fear it would start pouring (as forecasted) the moment I stepped outside, I slapped on my default outfit (wellies, cardigan and jeans) and played along. Ben went and spent his birthday money on a scarf in his college colours. It was revealed at this point that a little boy had been promised his certain favourite restaurant, second only to sushi. After lunch we went to the local bookstore to meander (my favourite thing) and then over to Patisserie Valerie for a cappuccino and piece of chocolate cake. On the way back to our bikes which were parked under the mall, we took a detour on the elevator up to the sixth floor of the parkade. Obviously, we have never been up there because we have never had a car to park, but Ben peaked out to see what he could see, and this is what he found.
It wasn't a special day, we didn't do anything out of the ordinary, or go anywhere different I just let myself be present. If only everyday, I could follow my own advise and truly be present - be present in my time with Ella, my time with Jakob and with my husband, be present in my studying and in my work and be present in the times I have for myself. Often when I am given time to myself, I leave the door open or will tend to the kids as they need it because I never want them to feel like I am unavailable (but if I am available, they will always come to me first as opposed to Daddy) and then my time is never really my time and that's not right either.
Do you find it a challenge to be completely present? In what situations or with whom? What do you do to focus yourself?
I think I am going to make this my goal for the summer. To Be There. Do you have a summer goal? Maybe consider the FISH! Philosophy's other 3 main practices. They were created for the business world but I find they are very translatable into other aspects of life:
Make Their Day
Choose Your Attitude
Have a great week! Oh, and Happy Diamond Jubilee!