In the Here and Now

Have you ever had a lengthy conversation with someone only to realize you may not be talking about the same subject at all. A few days ago, my fifteen year old granddaughter and I had a great philosophical discussion. This is not unusual for us because she is a creative in her own right. She writes fantastical fiction and poetry, and she loves to discuss existential ideology. At any rate, we were both waxing eloquently, when I asked a question. She paused and I waited; then she said, “Wait, what are we talking about again?” We both laughed hysterically since this has happened to us before. Each of us become so caught up in making our point that we haven’t really taken the time to hear what the other person is saying. In our case the subject is always less important than the vocal exercise of witty banter that we enjoy. We think it keeps our creative juices flowing.

That little episode did make me think about the importance of being in the moment – being truly present in the here and now. Too often, I find myself either stuck in the past, or contemplating the future to the point of distraction. I think that is what happens when my granddaughter and I are having our conversations. One of us starts concentrating on what we will say next, rather than what is being said at the moment. I think the same thing can happen during any event, whether the occasion is professional or leisure. Instead of enjoying or participating in the circumstances in front of us, our minds are off in other directions robbing us of any present precious moments. This is especially true when our cell phones are in hand. I’m finding that I have to be very intentional about the here and now. In the words of the great philosopher, Aerosmith (lol) “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”

In today’s culture, “here today and gone tomorrow,” is no joke, and living with regret is not the option I want to choose. So I try to engage my whole being in the experiences and exchanges – the opportunities that come my way. It doesn’t matter how simple or how complex the opportunity may be. For example, I received two vases of flowers for my birthday last month. I took the time to notice the texture of the flowers, the scent, the size, and the variety. What was similar, what was different? Did you know that day lilies symbolize “forgetting worries.” Orange day lilies represent joy, love, courage, beauty and devotion. My oldest son gave me orange day lilies and pink roses which represents gratitude and appreciation. My prayer partners gave me pink day lilies, white daisies, and lavender mums. (Love, admiration, compassion, loyalty, honesty, and purity consecutively.) After looking up this information, I had a deeper appreciation for the gifts and the gift givers. I watched the flowers open more and more each day. I noticed how long they lasted, over three weeks. My attention was drawn to the vases at various times during those days, because I allowed myself to be truly present with the gifts. I didn’t allow myself to say thank you, put them on the table and walk away. I thought about the givers, the sentiment behind the gifts, and the beauty of each flower – all having an wholesome and positive effect on me (feeling love, joy, contentment).

Perhaps you are thinking, that’s a little overboard, but imagine applying the power of being present to your relationships, or your encounters with people in general. Last Saturday I went to a meeting at a large complex. When I arrived there was only one car in the parking lot and the door in front of me was locked. I called the person over the group I was meeting with and she directed me to the south side of the building for parking and entering. Just as I was about to pull off, I saw another person pull in to the parking lot. I could read her expression through the windshield. I imagined I looked the same way less than ten minutes before. I rolled down my window and asked was she here for the meeting. As I was relaying to her the directions I received over the phone, another lady drove up. She rolled down her window and asked what was going on. I relayed my phone message to her. She said, “No worries, you guys follow me,” and we did. Today, I went to a meeting in that same complex. The program coordinator assigned us to partners. My partners were the two people I met in the parking lot last Saturday. We recognized each other and began talking. Our group gelled immediately, because our first encounter had been intentional about helping each other. What if I had driven off? What if the second woman had just made a three point turn and left us? How different our first impressions would have been when we assigned as partners.

My husband sent me this little message by an unknown author via text on Thursday. Perhaps it will make the point better than my examples. “80 years, 959 months, 4171 weeks, 29,200 days, 700,800 hours, 42,048,000 minutes. This is the average lifespan of a person. So if you live to be 80 years old, I wonder how many years, months, weeks, days, hours , and minutes are you really HERE? Awake, alive, inhaling and exhaling in this NOW MOMENT? The HERE and NOW. It sounds simple – what’s so hard about being present? The problem is, most of us don’t know how to do it. Living in WHAT WAS or in the WHAT IF’S, we forget how to be here in the WHAT IS!”

Most of us are blessed to have at least five senses, some of us seven or eight (a topic for another time), yet we don’t use them to help us be present. When is the last time you closed your eyes to enjoy the music? When is the last time you inhaled the sweet smell of a sleeping baby? Have you lowered your tired body into a warm bath and felt each muscle ease into relaxation? Have you smelled the scent of fresh brewed coffee (at home not at …)? Have you had the chance to hold the hand of an elder, feel the softness, see the veins through the thin skin, realize the grip was strong, and the power of touch had created a deeper bond? Have you seen the sparkle in the little eyes that look up to you and realized it’s a miniature you looking back? Are you missing anything in those days and times you call ordinary?

I tell myself everyday, “Don’t miss the blessings of this day!” The here and now is a blessing, even when it’s messy because it is an opportunity to feel something, to see something, to hear something, to live something, and most of all to be something. “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing!” How about you? What do you do to live in the present? How do you deal with the Here and Now? If life seems mundane, maybe it’s because you aren’t living to the fullest in the here and now.

Peace, safety and sanity – Live the your best life.

Lily Stargazer

When things get back to “normal” . . .

I have have heard this sentiment expressed so many times in the last couple of days. It always leaves me wondering “whose normal”; “what part of normal,” and “what do you mean by normal?” In my mind “normal” can be relative. After all, very few people have the same lifestyle or the same worldview as others. Right???

I’m not sure returning to “normal” is a great idea. When I ask myself whether I want everything to return to the way it was, my answer is no. There are life lessons I’ve learned during this time of sheltering-in that I don’t want to lose. There are also things I learned about myself that I don’t want to do or be anymore. I see this as a positive not a negative. Here’s some examples:

I want to keep having relationships with the seniors (elderly adults) in my life. I want to listen to their wisdom, their humorous comments, and their recipes for longevity. I want to remind them how important they are and what a blessing it is to be in their company. I want to interview them and record their experiences and their worldview for posterity. When this sheltering time is over, I want to spend time in their presence, not just letters, video chats, and texts or emails. I want to be truly present.

I want to spend quality time with my family. I don’t want it to be so unusual that we are all together in the same place actually communicating and participating in activities together. I don’t want to be so busy that it becomes an excuse for being unavailable. Life is too precious for that kind of regret. There’s a time and place for everything, and my family time is not the time to be preoccupied.

I want to continue journaling, my self care regiment, reaching out to friends and family, and taking the time to appreciate the beauty of every day. There are so many inspiring things in nature, so many uplifting experiences, so many valuable relationships, and so many wonderful words to read and to write; I don’t want to lose any of these things. Living through the pandemic has changed my perspective, I believe for the better.

Certainly, I want to continue working with children as an occupation. I love what I do. I also want to continue to produce poetry and stories and writing my blog; that’s part of who I am. I suppose it can be argued that these things are part of my normal, but I’m not sure I will look at these things in the same way. Working with children is an important investment, not just a job. Writing is a valuable means of expression, I can’t afford to frivolous with it. Bene-log (Good Word) is my intention in everything I write – to encourage, to inspire, to entertain.

When things go back to “normal,” I hope people will remember how to appreciate others. I hope people will continue to help others and consider the less fortunate. I hope we will keep the so-called least (the elderly, the children, the homeless, the impoverished) in our communities lifted. When things go back to normal perhaps we can be more thrifty and conservative in our spending and never be hoarders again. Perhaps we can continue sanitary habits in public and private. Perhaps we will never take our blessings for granted again, especially life and health.

When things go back to normal maybe it could be a “better normal.” What do you think? Is the old normal really what you want, or has your normal been changed forever and for the best? I’d love to hear from you.

Many people today feel overworked, overbooked, and burned out. They long for purposeful and meaningful lives. The remedy lies in rediscovering what it means to be truly present…