Last year was somewhat of a disaster for me personally. Family members and friends became sick and I lost others that I wasn’t planning on losing. People are supposed to live forever! It came as a great shock to me to find out that they don’t. My own health deteriorated last year to the point that in December 2018, I felt the need to contact the DVLA about surrendering my driving license. A difficult decision you’ll understand. Especially as I can’t just jump in the car when I want 5 minutes peace or if I want to go somewhere!
Suffice it to say that I felt like I spent most of last year lurching from one disaster or disappointment to another! Life has been harder than it needs to be. Then I looked up this week and 2018 was gone and 2019 was here! While I’m glad to see the back of 2018 for all the reasons above, I wasn’t prepared for it to slip through my fingers while I wasn’t watching!!
So this year is going to be different for all the right reasons! I don’t believe in making New Year’s Resolutions but I do believe in making goals and plans. I think my main plan this year (apart from working on the paranoia that has been drummed into me since childhood!) is to be more mindful. So my word for this year is:
Now I’m not talking about the kind of present that comes in a box but the kind of present that makes you raise your hand and say ‘Here!’ when your teacher calls your name at registration and a few more complicated things than that!
For the purposes of this post, the Oxford English Dictionary defines the word ‘present’ as follows:
I. adjective 1. [ predic.] —in a particular place • a doctor must be present at the ringside • the speech caused embarrassment to all those present. 2. existing or occurring in a place or thing • gases present in the atmosphere. 3. [ attrib.] —existing or occurring now • she did not expect to find herself in her present situation. 4. now being considered or discussed • the present article cannot answer every question.
– origin Middle English: via Old French from Latin praesent-‘being at hand’, present participle of praeesse, from prae ‘before’ + esse ‘be’.
But there’s more to being present than your simple attendance. How many of us have sat through the long hours of a summer’s Friday afternoon at work dreaming of the beer garden? Can we really be said to be present at work? I think not.
When I decided that ‘present’ was going to be my word for the year, I asked my Instagram followers what the concept of it meant to them. I had this reply from a good friend named Ruth:
To be fully immersed In the moment. But you can’t be present unless you have arrived. This can be hard to do if you have a lot on your mind or have had a bad day. To arrive is to tell yourself that you are in the here and now. Stamp your feet a few times to get grounded. Then arrive. Then focus on the present. If other things come into your mind and take your focus, ground yourself again and arrive again. To start with you might have to ground yourself and arrive a few times but the more you practice the easier it will be to be present.
Don’t forget that what’s happening now at this moment in the present is what’s important. What happened yesterday has gone, it can’t be changed. What’s happening tomorrow will still happen. But what’s happening today will never happen exactly the same again. Arrive, be present and enjoy it.
And that raises a valid point. How can you truly be present at a location if you haven’t arrived at it? And I suppose that means a bit of preparation. For example, this week, RiverSystem had a meeting with the managing director of a music distribution company and because I have a head for figures and a business brain, he wanted me to go with him. This meant I had to spend a lot of time mentally preparing for the meeting and resting so I could be there,
The other thing about arriving I suppose, is acceptance. I need to accept where my life is now even if I don’t like it and face any challenges head on instead of wishing them away as I’ve done in the past. We’ll see how it goes with that one.
So what does all this mean?
Essentially, I’m going to try and spend less time with my head in my phone and more time being mindfully engaged in where I am. When I visit places, instead of gratuitously snapping photos of everything, I’ll be paying attention and snapping the important things. And I’m going to try and keep my social media to an hour a day which is going to mean finding companies and software that do scheduled tweets etc for me throughout the day. I’m going to set a timer so I don’t get bogged down in Facebook drama!
Also, I’m going to start making my work time more productive and less panicky! So I’m going to break big jobs into separate tasks and set a time limit for each task instead of just panicking about everything like I always do! I’ll let you know how it goes!!