You know you are getting older when you get all negative about setting New Year’s resolutions. It’s kind of sad when you lose that youthful trust in humanity and in our ability to stick to resolutions. That said, why even set them when you know that you probably aren’t going to keep them in the first place? The reality is that most of us humans simply won’t change bad habits based on an arbitrary date on the calendar. The facts speak. 92% of us will fail miserably at keeping our New Years’ goals.
One blog I visited the other day offered to help me keep my list of resolutions by committing to send me a follow-up email if I left my 2015 goals in the comments. The blogger got me a little riled up. Now that is just ridiculous, I thought. If we need a complete stranger to help us stay motivated, maybe we should question whether or not our goals were really that important to us. Or if we have too many to keep in the first place. The self-help experts will all tell you that the secret to keeping resolutions lies in how specific you are about the tangible ways to bring about the change we desire.
I am no expert but I feel like there are seasons in life where we are more apt at following through with change. We may sense an urgency based on circumstances of that season. Like plants, we grow based on the soil that has been undergoing tilling, pruning and preparation. And guess what, those fertile life seasons might not be timed with the 1st of January’s New Year’s resolution list.
We started our new year in Mexico. Some dear friends hopped over the border from California and joined us for one night. We put four kids to bed and chatted well into the night about every possible topic. At some point in conversation, someone asked what our theme was over this new year, boiled down to one word. I liked the idea of a theme. Yet, for a linguist, the one word challenge is akin to telling your child that they can only have one Lego block to build with. Surprisingly though, one word did immediately come to mind. That is because it is something that has been birthed organically through the experiences of the past year. I uttered my little, powerful word with fear and trepidation: “be”. As in “be present”. As in, be fully and wholly me, inside the picture frame, in each moment and neither live in the past or in anguish about tomorrow.
Being present isn’t a resolution or a goal. It’s more like a deep anti-goal whisper within my soul. A reverberating truce with my achiever self. And might I add, one of the hardest states for any mama let alone for a personality like mine to remain in. But I want to learn to be.
To”be” is a gentle, constant reminder that I. will. never. ever. get this day, this moment back with my family, with my children, with my friends.
To “be” doesn’t mean you can’t plan or have a clean house. It does mean you choose to live with aggressive intentionality.
To “be” isn’t only about being mindful and aware but adopting an open-handed posture ready to seize relational, professional and other opportunities only available right now. It’s the gift that lets us stop and see the beauty in the chaos.
Imagine what the world would be like if more of us chose not to escape the now.
It was in this spirit that I seized the summer-like day yesterday to go on a run rather than work on my writing project. It prompted me to set aside my evening plans to invite a spontaneous guest to share a meal at our table. It has also started to enable me to enter into the thrill of seeing the world through our kids’ eyes. Clearly, I have been missing out! Mama friend, this is no proclamation of laziness to “be” all floppy on the couch and purposeless. Rather, it is a declaration over the overflowing laundry and suffocating dishes of this household that they too can wait every once in a while. Wait, err, did I just write that?
It is a constant struggle in these young years of motherhood to choose to be present. I won’t lie, there are a few frightening things I have come to realize about being present. This is the fear and trepidation piece that came with uttering my theme word “be”…
To “be” can be a frustrating place. Especially when it means that you become that friend that can’t get back to an email or text message because instead you chose to be present.
To “be” can be a humbling place when it means welcoming in unannounced house guests. Especially when it looks the way it does 96% of the time.
To “be” can also be a very lonely place. Especially when I am not happy being wholly here. Let’s face it, I can’t really be following 394 social media stories as I care for an ouchie. Or trying to proof-read a blog post while I prepare cute little lunches.
To be here fully means that I cannot partially be elsewhere. What a challenge as a Third Culture Kid, with friends on the other side of the globe, in this hyper-connected world.
The other day, Ayo shut my laptop down and said: “Fini maman, l’ordinateur!” And he was right. All done, computer. Now was time to be here. To be.
Forget the 2015 resolutions you already feel guilty about not having kept. If you had to think of a one word theme over this year, sprouting from your current life events, what would it be?
Photo of me “just being” with my daughter by Courtney Zimmerman of Carrying Wonder Photography