Listen, I know it’s July. I know I was supposed to write my “word of the year” post back in like, January.
Truth be told, I’ve known my word – PRESENT – since January, but in the spirit of honesty, I was a big, fat scaredy cat to share it with pretty much anyone. I told SBMOG, all fumbly and bumbly sometime in mid-February, like “uh, hey, yeah, well, here’s the thing…”
Let me back up a second.
Last year, my word was CAPACITY and pretty much the moment this word entered my head it was SO freeing. As we relocated and started a new business in a new city with a new baby on the way, I was making it rain with the stuff I was throwing off my plate. I gave myself tons of space and grace and it was awesome.
Maybe the best thing about it was that for the very first time, I considered not just my calendar, our finances, or sure, even my ability to plan or think through something when I said yes or no, but how each yes and no would impact my emotional capacity. These babies are beautiful and amazing and absolutely worth every minute of colic and teething but that doesn’t mean that my emotional tank isn’t tapped out with all the needing and mothering and holding and shepherding and all the things.
So this last year has been a year of leaning in, letting the wounds from all the steel wool rubbing off the last several years not just scab over, but heal up, and the scars start to fade.
And I’ll admit it – when I first thought of having another word of the year, I thought “YES! Capacity was so great! Bring on another!”
As I prayed and thought, the word that popped into my head over and over was PRESENT.
“Present?” I thought. “I’m decently present. I’m a stay-at-home-mom for goodness sake. I’m here all day, every day. What am I not being present in?”
So ever so creeping and crawling slowly, I looked at what it meant to be PRESENT in this new life where I had created a lot of new space.
And this isn’t about anyone but me so don’t take this as commentary on your own life in any way. But I realized I was watching too much TV and on my phone too much. And if I wasn’t doing one of those things I still wasn’t engaging with the people around me. Not 100% of the time because my kids don’t need me to entertain them, but I only get one shot at this, so I needed a balance.
Slowly, slowly, I’ve been working on being more present where I am.
I’ve cut almost all TV watching during the day. I save it for the evening when I fold laundry. (Full disclosure: I’ve started watching Gilmore Girls again because I want to be completely prepared when the reboot comes out. Don’t judge.)
My phone is tougher. 3 little kids and having a desktop mean I’m using my phone to work. And it can be SO easy to let work slide into all of the parts of my day, sometimes without hardly even noticing. I tried deleting apps, but I use a lot of them for work, so that didn’t work.
So when my kids or husband start talking to me, I set my phone down. I’m working hard to have hours where I don’t touch it except to change the tunes or a podcast. And my oldest will even ever-so-gently remind me to put it down if I’m distracted. I realized I don’t have to text people back right away or have 10 simultaneous conversations. It’s not full-proof. But I’m trying.
Maybe the biggest part of this is that being a wife, a mom, a newbie homeschooler, a start-up homesteader, and a writer are all amazing gifts. And sometimes these gifts make me tired. It is super easy for me to follow pre-established bad habits of stress patterns to kind of tune out and shut down.
And that’s a heart issue. My phone can be an accomplice. My TV can be an accomplice. But so can books, food, podcasts, studying, writing – all kinds of things that are just fine in moderation like anything else.
But when I use them or allow them to distract, numb, or let me put up walls to block out what’s going on around me, I’m not being present.
So I keep trying, keep messing up, keep asking God for help, for reminders. And He has been faithful to give them.
A few weeks ago, I saw this quote. And I keep coming back to it.
Wherever you are, be all there.
On an exhausting day when I’m reaching for the remote or my phone to drown out the noise, this quote and tons and tons of truckloads of grace have helped me to snap back.
I know it’s July but in a lot of ways this still feels new. Still feels like an almost daily event where I think “am I being present now, where I am?”
This will be a growing year. It already has been.
Do you do a word or goal for the year? What are you learning as your grow this year?