Becoming present

I have been absent for longer than I had hoped, which given we are in the process of moving house is understandable, but all the same, it has been frustrating. I want to connect more, be present in the moment, and seek creative expression through writing. But life has a habit of getting in the way.

Despite my best intentions and genuine belief that I could achieve my 2021 new years resolutions, my resolve to get creative, keep in touch with friends and family, to write…these are the first things to be dropped in the tumultuous sea of doing. I should know by now that the new year represents the calm before the storm. Kids begin school, extra-curricular activities gradually begin, there might even be the odd lunch date or afternoon kids playdate, but by March it is full steam ahead. All of a sudden, you are carried along with this avalanche of activity, invites and things to do, places to be, notes to be filled, children to be readied and all the laundry, feeding, and transporting that all of that entails.

It is important to steal moments from this avalanche, to look to the margins of the endless to-do list, to take a moment to pause and consider whether your actions are adding value to your life, providing a sense of achievement and fulfilment. This is especially so when you feel that there are more important things you could be doing with your time. Yes, there is work, laundry, people need to eat, but there is much more.

I have been practicing the habit of becoming present this past week by pausing to consider the things I can easily add to my days that bring me joy, create deeper connections and keep me grounded in the here in now. Stopping by here is one way, as is sitting with my morning coffee and knitting a few rows. I have also returned to my yoga practice at our local class. All of these simple acts bring me joy and provide quiet satisfaction and fulfilment.

We have also found ways as a family to slow down the pace and focus on being present. During lockdown last year we started the ritual of the mid-week Japanese dinner Ghibli night. It is a fun family activity, a wonderful excuse to experiment with recipes from Sonoko Sakai’s ‘Japanese home cooking’, and is a slow and deliberate way to spend our one free evening of the week. And traditions, particularly in food, form such a pivotal part of family life. The kids will remember these moments with fondness, and will hopefully forget the hurriedness of modern life. Another way we have sought to celebrate our time together as a family is to ditch the Sunday movie and instead play board games. Our particular favourite at the moment is Ticket to Ride Europe. Some of us can be a bit competitive, but mostly it is good fun and a departure from the norm.

Whatever you choose to do, it is important to actively get off that treadmill and find joy in the here in now. The laundry and the dishes will be waiting for you.

I would love to know what you do to slow things down and become present. It is something I think many of us need constant reminding to do – I’m sure there are even apps, but I like the old fashioned methods the best.

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