In the next three weeks, I will be managing an extra full plate at work: multiple speaking engagements, leading a retreat, finishing a new telecourse and more. And as I look at my schedule–all things I truly love to do and that feed me–at times, I’m finding myself wanting to blink and wake up on Nov. 1 with the month behind me. But another part of me sees the incredible opportunity this period presents for me to be fully P-R-E-S-E-N-T and enjoy each experience for the gifts that it brings.
This past Saturday evening, our family ran to the mall–my least favorite spot ever–so I could buy some jeans from the Gap. My son and his friend were with us and the boys wanted us to see some shirts they’d found at a teen store next door. After some monetary negotiations with my son around a hyper-colorful, surfer-style hoodie he couldn’t live without, we headed up to the cash register to check out. A tired looking teen girl with purple hair rang us up and as I’m thinking, “Man I can’t wait to get out of this store, ” something inside me encouraged a pause … and I looked up to really take her in. Mustering up some energy, I asked, “How has your day been?” and handed her my Visa. She looked up surprised and seemed to come alive. She became animated and shared a really funny story about how she had chosen to wear fashionista shoes to work that day that looked great, but were killing her feet. I smiled, “Yeah, been there before,” I said, and we laughed. And this perfunctory sale moved into a moment of real connection and even, transcendence (my husband and the two boys stood by taking this all in with curiosity).
What do we miss when we choose to “blink,” fall asleep and not stay fully present? What rich experiences, connections and moments pass us by when we move into auto-pilot and just go through the motions? How often do we miss the opportunity to connect to the magic, the mystery and the nuance of life because we’re not really “here?”
These questions lingered with me as I walked out of the store and reflected on the three weeks ahead, silently vowing to do all I can to stay awake, not wanting to ever miss a moment like the one I had just had with my sweet young sister (read Sisterhood from last week if you missed it).
One time I presented a keynote at a national women’s conference titled, Are You Saying Yes to Your Life? and afterward was approached by a woman (I later found out she was an IT executive) with tears streaming down her face. She confided, “I just realized, I’ve been so focused on meeting other people’s needs and producing, I haven’t been present to my own life …I have abandoned myself.” The realization had shaken her–understandably. But, comforting her, I shared, what a gift she had received that she was now awake to this realization.
Are you facing a really full October, too? Read more from my blog on Being present with what is and why Slower is better and check out Chapter 10 on Being Present: Remembering What Really Matters from my award-winning book The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life.
INVITE: Would you like to learn the art of mindfulness and learn to live in the here and now? Join me for two upcoming retreats at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health (MA) or check out one of our online telecourses, filled with helpful meditations, tips and tools to help you slow down and be more present.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness teacher/speaker and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 12 year-old son. More on her background here.
Photo: My new Tibetan Singing Bowl from the Omega Institute bookstore. This beautiful bowl sits on our dining room table and my 12 year old strikes it before every meal to invite us all to be present and grateful before eating. My husband and I love voicing gratitude and prayers before meals, but lately, were noticing our almost teen son was tuning these moments out. The Tibetan Singing Bowl has been a great way for him to participate in helping us all be more present during this sacred time together (thank you Kert for showing us this practice with your kids).