Oh how I love these words. These are words that I spent over a decade desperately chasing after. To be present in whatever I was doing was what I wanted so badly, but instead I built up walls around my heart because if I was numb than I couldn’t feel the pain. To be present for me was to choose the difficult path, the one where old wounds were still open, the road where guilt consumed me and fear ran rampant. To be present meant that I had to face reality and in my reality Nicole was dead and the person I was and that I had become I hated.
Growing up I was very emotional. Everything I did in life I did leading with my heart. I felt everything and because of this my life was filled with a lot of tears. I would shed tears of sadness, but also tears of joy and empathy, tears of compassion. I am like a machine and for me you know that I am running well if I am able to cry. I don’t mean to sound like a cry baby because I’m not (my husband may tell you differently), but for me crying was my release. I could never bottle my emotions inside and the way for them to come out for me was through a good cry. I’m the person who buys the first card in a store that makes me cry. Yes, I’m the jerk getting all worked up over a beautiful card in CVS. I’ll bring that card right up to the cash register like I was just told my long lost sister was found and we are going to be reunited. Life was good.
When the movie PS I Love You came out on demand (if you have not seen it, kick out your hunny, grab some ice cream and a box of tissues and WATCH IT!), I was home alone and decided to watch it. This was during my anxiety and the movie caught me way off guard and for a moment all my walls were down. When I tell you that I was sobbing, that is a huge understatement. I was crying to the point where I actually had to pause the movie so that I can really get into my cry. I was crying so hard that my face became ugly. We all know the ugly cry. It’s the one where your face contorts into the most ridiculous shapes and snots are dripping like a faucet down your face, dropping into your mouth, but you don’t care because you are just that out of control. Okay, now you may be thinking “This girl may be nuts,” and if that’s the case then I dare you to watch this movie alone and see what happens. I just love a good love story. Also at this point in my life I became emotionally attached to whatever I was watching, which I will get into another time. So you get it now, I was a crier, and after a brief hiatus I am still a crier and I am not ashamed. It is one of the things that I deeply love about myself.
Some people see crying as a weakness, but I see it as strength. When you can allow yourself to feel to the point of tears, you are strong. It is so much easier to keep our armor on and protect ourselves than to truly disarm yourself and just feel.
During my therapy sessions when I would leave Carol’s she would always say, “When you walk to your car really feel as your feet hit the ground and your body takes a step. Feel your hand on the door handle as you get into your car.” In the beginning she would say this and I would hastily say Okay back to her and then rush out the door, holding my breath while jumping into my car before speeding away. Needless to say I didn’t get it. To be present felt so foreign and impossible to me despite having grown up this way.
How often do you feel present? Have you ever stopped during your day and really thought about what you were doing? Have you taken the time to really feel your breath entering and leaving your body? Have you noticed the way your body and muscles relax when you are calm? Have you quieted your mind enough to look into the eyes of your children, husband or friend and truly see them and appreciate them? Did you ever slow down enough to feel the breeze on your face or the warmth of the sun as it hits your skin? Do you know what it is like to be fully present in life? When was the last time you can recall being in the moment, actually FEELING the moment?
Last year my answers to these questions would have been, no, and I can’t remember. But this year is different. It is so different.
I have been actively practicing being present for over a year now. It is hard work and I have to think about it every day, but I refuse to just exist; I want to live, I want to feel. Last week I was vacationing at a Lake house upstate with my family and it was the perfect time to just relax and be all there, living in the moment.
I was sitting outside on a swing with my oldest daughter and I had one of those moments where my mind was totally quiet and the only thing in the world I was thinking about was this sweet little angel who is mine. Nothing else mattered as I looked into her eyes. I saw her sweet sweet heart as she smiled that smile that could light up a room. It’s the smile that takes me all the way back to when she was just a baby teaching me how to be a mom and showing me the beauty of life. I saw the delicate little dimple in her round chin, the one that matches her daddy’s, the one that I can’t stop kissing. I saw how tall she has grown in what seems like the blink of an eye and my heart filled up with so much emotion that tears began filling up my eyes. I think about how blessed I am to be a mother, not only to one, but three beautiful girls. My heart is beating faster as I think about how much I love her, how much I love living in this very moment. The sun is shining and I notice the wind as it tickles my face. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Being present is the first thing that I think about each morning when my eyes open for the first time. It is the first thing that I strive for because if I am present then I am happy. If I am present and happy then I am open to receive the gifts that life has to offer. You can never truly live if you are not living in the moment. Life is about being awake in what we are doing. You are not awake if you are worrying about the past or anticipating the future. The only time you are awake is if you are in the “now” and that’s the greatest place to be.