The Gift of Being Present

Mom and Baby Polar Bear Playing at the Columbus Zoo

Hi Readers,

These days I don’t have as much time to blog, as I’m a full-time mama plus writer/illustrator.  But I haven’t forgotten you or your loyalty to this blog. So today I have a special treat. A special gift for you. It’s the gift of being present.

And it’s really all I have to give right now, even to myself. And especially to my daughter. Every day is different, with unexpected challenges and rewards. I’m constantly on my toes. Every moment has become precious. I’ve learned to do things in bite-size increments. In some ways, I feel like I’m living fast and furious. As in, how much can I get done while she’s napping? Do I clean bottles or fit in 30 minutes of writing or go take a nap? I’m sure many of you out there can relate, whether you have kids or not, but especially if you do. And certainly if you’re a first-timer, like me.

But how do we get through it?  And do we even want to? Or should we slow down and savor each moment? After all, everything changes so fast, especially when it comes to small children. So you learn to live by moments. The first time they sit up by themselves. Their joy at eating blueberries for the first time. When they finally call you “mama,” even if they don’t quite understand what it means yet, especially to you.

Schedules go out the window and plans change, sometimes by the hour. Just as you were about to go out for a walk, a dirty diaper sidetracks you. And then laundry. And then bottle washing. And then a nap. Maybe for the both of you 😉 But what a welcome thing a nap can be. And maybe just the thing you really needed. You both wake up refreshed and happy to see each other again.

This is what being present is all about. Open to whatever comes your way. Noticing the small things, that seem so insignificant. The tiny miracles that sometimes go unseen in day-to-day life.

Another upside is you don’t have as much time to focus on the past or future, which alleviates some anxiety. Past mistakes become learning opportunities and you move on. Fewer plans are made, but they’re quickly replaced by the joy of spontaneity. Small adventures. The first flower of spring. A vegan blueberry scone. Your daughter delighting in a bluejay soaring through the air. And maybe the mountain of dishes will get done. Maybe they won’t. And that’s okay. Cuddling trumps all!

I’ve definitely learned to be more efficient, but is that always better? Sometimes you have to embrace being before doing. And because some things just can’t wait, you prioritize what really matters. Like playing pat-a-cake just to see that smile that lights up the whole world.

And at night, rocking my baby to sleep becomes just as relaxing for me as I watch her eyes flutter shut and send her to dreamland. Watching her sleep is what being present in the moment is all about. After all, she won’t stay this tiny forever. I carry her everywhere now, but soon she’ll carry herself through the world. I’m not ready to think about that 😉

Baby Giraffe Standing On Its Own at the Columbus Zoo

I’d like to leave you all with a mantra I learned in my baby yoga class.

“Be present, not perfect.”

Enjoy the gift of moments! And if you have any special ones, please share 🙂

 

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“Wombifest”

There’s a great article in the Nov. 2012 issue of EXPERIENCE L!FE magazine.  Maternity lifestyle expert Latham Thomas was interviewed about how women can get the most out of their pregnancy.  Check out Mama Glow, which features her new book with the same name.

As a writer, what I found most interesting was her comparison  of babies to ideas and how we, in a sense, give birth to them.  She likens the creative process to “wombifesting.”

LT– “It’s focusing on the womb, the place in the body that’s connected with everything we create, and understanding that everything is born from darkness…The energy here is always fluid and flowing; all you have to do is show up and lend yourself to the process…Womb-ifestation happens inside of you and then moves out into the world. The growth is not necessarily witnessed by others.”

Continuing with the brain paintings, here is my interpretation of this concept.

Calligraphy Ink on Mixed Media Paper

I call it: Incubation.  I feel a little like Victor in Frankenstein when I say that 😉  The interesting part about the process is that I used chopsticks with calligraphy ink to create this piece.  As you probably guessed, ink is quite permanent and chopsticks are not very precise.  It was very scary because I knew there wasn’t much I could do if I made a mistake.  At the same time, it was liberating to just create without relying too much on a given outcome.  What would be would be.  And that is at the heart of incubating an idea.  ❤