being here and what it means, to me

Before I get into this, I have a few disclaimers:

1) I am not a mother, yet.
2) I suffer from anxiety and depression and not always in that order.
3) I am an avid reader of blogs focused on appreciating the now, empowering one's self and reflective thinking and writing including A Design So Vast where I first picked up on the "debate" regarding presence.
4) My motto for this year has been Live in the Moment.

This time last year, I wrote a post about the dangers of balance, the pressure that I think we feel to "have it all." In some ways, I think the pressure of presence has begun, perhaps to feel like the pressure of balance. Maybe they are sides to the same coin. I suppose what I'd say about trends or buzzwords or whatever you want to call them is that you can only do what makes sense to you. I think there is power in defining and redefining what any particular path, or way of thought or parenting advice means specifically to you and your life.

I think it's good to pay attention, to be aware, to notice the way the sun comes through the trees, to show the person that you love how you adore them. It's important to me, personally, to do so. I have a tendency to do too much, to take on projects and courses and committees. I spread myself too thin and then nothing gets the attention it should. I've talked before about learning to say no, and part of that, I think, is understanding my own limitations and for me, that means I have to be not living inside my head but paying attention to other things, too.

For me, presence, is about awareness. It's about participating in my own life. I know that sounds weird. But for so much of my life I've gone through the motions. Living in the moment, for me, is finding inspiration in the small things. To do so, however, I have to notice that they're happening. I'm too serious for my own good sometimes, which makes me seem snobby and standoffish. Many people I meet and eventually become friends with tell me that they didn't think I liked them, at first. It's happened so often that I see it as a pattern of my inability to being present. Instead, I'm in my head making lists and getting anxious about all of the things that need doing. I don't mean I worry a little bit; everyone worries. I mean I fixate and run over and over something in my mind. I play out scenarios that will probably never happen. I make myself physically sick; I can't sleep. I hate the way I feel when anxious and it creeps in without me realizing it. But when I remind myself to take it in, and doing so is a practice, I'm less anxious and more focused on now instead of what if.

I certainly understand someone feeling like the pressure to "always be on" is something they should resist. However, that's not what presence means to me. It means embracing the chaos, which includes the messiness of my life and thoughts. It means resisting the motions that show everyone I'm okay and instead just living my life. It doesn't mean constant awareness; I'm not that good yet. And it doesn't mean constant reflection. I'm not some dopey, utopian, idealistic person. I don't think any of the bloggers I read are. I do try to be a reflective person, though. Reflection is important to me as a teacher, writer and woman. Blogging is a space where I try to work out ideas. It helps me look back and forward. And now that I can blog from my phone, especially using the Pixelpipe app, I can record moments as they happen, though that's not necessarily all that there is to being present, either. I used to lament that I never had photographs that matched my experiences. In some cases, I was too busy having fun to stop and pull out the camera. But now I can use my phone which makes it easier to be present and record the moment simultaneously.

I think that presence is essential to my well-being, because it makes sense to me as I have defined its terms. It doesn't work if I'm overly concerned. Am I present now? What it does it mean if I'm not? None of that works, for me. Instead its about focus and appreciation, about getting out of my head, loosening up. Presence is about awareness, for me. It's about paying attention to the journey and like Lindsey says, realizing my life has already started.