For years and years of my life, I didn't know how to "be where I was." I know this sounds a little strange, but I'm confident that I'm not the only one who has felt this way.
I'd be snuggling with my husband on the couch, and although I was kind of listening to him tell me about his day, I was also thinking about the groceries I needed to buy, the email I needed to send, and the load of laundry that needed to be transferred to the dryer before it started to smell like mildew.
My mind was also distracted when I was reading stories with my children, eating lunch with friends, working on a writing project, or even trying to go to sleep.
I look back at pictures like this (a 4th of July parade with my little ones), and I know for certain I wasn't cherishing my time with them. It was more like, "Let's get this parade over with so I can go home and make lunch and get everyone down for a nap."
It's incredibly sad to realize that, but I couldn't fully enjoy the present because I was so concerned about all the other things I needed to be doing.
Life isn't like that anymore, and I can't tell you how grateful I am to be able to be where I am.
Alia snapped this picture the other day when Grace and I were doing each others' hair at the same time. I needed my hair blow-dried, and she needed her curlers out, so we worked together. I loved that moment.
This is how our refrigerator looked for the month of October. The "clutter" of pictures used to bother me, but now I can smile and appreciate the love that went into each piece of artwork.
Spencer and I eat a sweet potato on the front porch about once a week, and I can soak up the moments we get to spend out there, one on one.
After school each day, I sit at the table with all four of my children. They talk about what happened that day (yes, sometimes there's quite a bit of tattling), and we make plans for the afternoon (an hour of quiet time is always on the schedule), but even on the toughest days, I feel their love, and I'm grateful that they're so excited to see me.
And I can't help but smile when I see my girls doting over Spencer. I tell you, they have TONS of pictures of him on that camera.
It was Friday, though, that I really started to appreciate this blessing of "being where I am." Spencer and I spent the day with my mom and two of my sisters, Susan and Laura.
We went through an old photo album of my grandmother's, and my mom told
us all kinds of stories--about the miraculous healing of my
great-grandpa's arm after he fell down the cellar stairs, her storybook
days on the farm with Aunt Viva and Uncle Ollie, and how she first
learned to make bread.
I sat next to my mom, with my arm around her shoulders, for as long as I could.
We ate sandwiches for lunch while we huddled in the van outside the park, and then Spencer played on the slides until it started to drizzle.
He was so excited to show his Aunt Laura how the umbrella works.
I don't know how many more years I have left with my mom.
Hopefully we'll all be around for a long time, but you just never
Being able to spend a few hours with people I love means the world to me, and being able to be there while I'm with them means even more.
So what's changed in my life that's enabled me to finally "be there"?
Some incredible people have taught me how to answer these two questions:
(1) What deserves my focus?
(2) How do I keep that focus?
In answer to #1, my family members, mentors, and Power of Moms friends have taught me how to prioritize my children
and my relationships. They've shown me how to put wider margins into my
day, establish firm boundaries around my project time, and create a
balanced life (by not getting stuck worrying what everyone else
thinks of me).
If you'd like to benefit from these ideas as well, we're doing a free webinar on Margins, Boundaries, and Balance this Wednesday night at 8:30 MT. It's part of our Power of Moms webinar series, and I think you'll love it.
In response to question #2, several excellent books have shown me how to organize my thoughts, tasks, projects, and goals into a trusted system that takes the stress out of my life. I've put everything I've learned into the Mind Organization for Moms program, and we'll be doing a special workshop about this as part of our Phoenix Arizona Retreat on November 18th and 19th. It would be so fun to see you there.
Life seems to get more and more complicated as my children get older (I'm sure I haven't seen anything yet), but choosing and keeping my focus makes life more beautiful than I ever imagined.
Any other thoughts? How do YOU help yourself to be where you are?