Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Gift of Presence: a new resolution

I have dozens of resolutions, also known as "lists" scattered about my life, and since they are ongoing, I don't put any more emphasis on creating a list at the start of a new school year. Yes, summer is ending and as we enter into fall, vacation from school is over (for most). And a new year for school-goers is starting.

Over the last few weeks, I have come to the decision that the most important thing I can do this school year is give myself a gift that also benefits my family, friends, health, intellect, spirit and work.

It is, simply, to be present.

For me, to be present means that I will give my children, my husband and people I meet everyday, focused attention. When it is prayer time, work, a social activity, or any other thing I am doing -- I will give that person, activity or task the same focused attention. Everything else must (and usually can) wait.

This is going to be a challenge for an extreme multitasking, type A-personality, but I've been practicing and see the colossal benefits already. God is so good.

  • My children are happier.

  • My marriage is stronger.

  • My health is better (and I can actually sleep better at night without thinking about the many things on my "to do" lists!).

  • My memory is sharper and therefore I can accomplish tasks better and more efficiently.

  • My spirit is younger.

  • My interior life is richer.

For most of my life I've prided myself on the ability to do a lot of things. Now, I will make a great effort to NOT do them all at once. Especially while my children are asking me for help with their homework, someone is calling for my assistance via phone, checking work e-mail, making dinner; trying to do all these at once make for a disaster in at least one of those tasks.

It means I will read and write with full attention to that task.

It means I will not over-schedule my days, nor will I make plans that pile one thing on top of each other. I will learn to let go and allow God’s will to be done…in my life (as it is in heaven…)

Doing this over the last few months has been good for me, but it comes with a price. Being present also means saying "no" more often, so I can say “yes” to things that truly are priorities in the life God has graced me with. I have missed seeing my mother every weekend as I used to because she lives far away. Instead of driving ‘forever’ to visit with her in person, I connect with her via phone everyday, and write long letters (which she prefers anyway because she gets to reread them as often as she likes). We have not even begun a major house-files reorganizing/spring cleaning project that is many years overdue. I haven't learned to update my new laptop computer nor have I connected with my own family members who live in other cities or countries even. And still, it is all okay. God knows what needs to be done by me, and what needs to be done by others, according to His plan.

The upside: laughing with my daughter as we try on the new scents at the fragrance counter in our ‘girls-only-window-shopping spree’, sitting with my husband at our outdoor garden furniture after a day of weeding the flower garden and watering the lawn enjoying a moment of quiet relaxation, having time to sit and talk with each other without the children interrupting. And finally, going out on a real date and enjoying the precious company of the one who reminds me of the reason for our being one in the first place: my loving spouse.

God continues to grace our lives with His goodness and providential presence…if only we allow Him to do the talking, and we listen with the heart.

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