You know you are getting older when you get all negative about setting New Year’s resolutions. It’s kind of sad when you lose that youthful trust in humanity and in our ability to stick to resolutions. That said, why even set them when you know that you probably aren’t going to keep them in the first place? The reality is that most of us humans simply won’t change bad habits based on an arbitrary date on the calendar. The facts speak. 92% of us will fail miserably at keeping our New Years’ goals.

One blog I visited the other day offered to help me keep my list of resolutions by committing to send me a follow-up email if I left my 2015 goals in the comments. The blogger got me a little riled up. Now that is just ridiculous, I thought. If we need a complete stranger to help us stay motivated, maybe we should question whether or not our goals were really that important to us. Or if we have too many to keep in the first place. The self-help experts will all tell you that the secret to keeping resolutions lies in how specific you are about the tangible ways to bring about the change we desire.

I am no expert but I feel like there are seasons in life where we are more apt at following through with change. We may sense an urgency based on circumstances of that season. Like plants, we grow based on the soil that has been undergoing tilling, pruning and preparation. And guess what, those fertile life seasons might not be timed with the 1st of January’s New Year’s resolution list.

We started our new year in Mexico. Some dear friends hopped over the border from California and joined us for one night. We put four kids to bed and chatted well into the night about every possible topic. At some point in conversation, someone asked what our theme was over this new year, boiled down to one word. I liked the idea of a theme. Yet, for a linguist, the one word challenge is akin to telling your child that they can only have one Lego block to build with. Surprisingly though, one word did immediately come to mind. That is because it is something that has been birthed organically through the experiences of the past year. I uttered my little, powerful word with fear and trepidation: “be”. As in “be present”. As in, be fully and wholly me, inside the picture frame, in each moment and neither live in the past or in anguish about tomorrow.

Being present isn’t a resolution or a goal. It’s more like a deep anti-goal whisper within my soul. A reverberating truce with my achiever self. And might I add, one of the hardest states for any mama let alone for a personality like mine to remain in. But I want to learn to be.

To”be” is a gentle, constant reminder that I. will. never. ever. get this day, this moment back with my family, with my children, with my friends.
To “be” doesn’t mean you can’t plan or have a clean house. It does mean you choose to live with aggressive intentionality.
To “be” isn’t only about being mindful and aware but adopting an open-handed posture ready to seize relational, professional and other opportunities only available right now. It’s the gift that lets us stop and see the beauty in the chaos.

Imagine what the world would be like if more of us chose not to escape the now.

It was in this spirit that I seized the summer-like day yesterday to go on a run rather than work on my writing project. It prompted me to set aside my evening plans to invite a spontaneous guest to share a meal at our table. It has also started to enable me to enter into the thrill of seeing the world through our kids’ eyes. Clearly, I have been missing out! Mama friend, this is no proclamation of laziness to “be” all floppy on the couch and purposeless. Rather, it is a declaration over the overflowing laundry and suffocating dishes of this household that they too can wait every once in a while. Wait, err, did I just write that?

It is a constant struggle in these young years of motherhood to choose to be present. I won’t lie, there are a few frightening things I have come to realize about being present. This is the fear and trepidation piece that came with uttering my theme word “be”…

To “be” can be a frustrating place. Especially when it means that you become that friend that can’t get back to an email or text message because instead you chose to be present.
To “be” can be a humbling place when it means welcoming in unannounced house guests. Especially when it looks the way it does 96% of the time.
To “be” can also be a very lonely place. Especially when I am not happy being wholly here. Let’s face it, I can’t really be following 394 social media stories as I care for an ouchie. Or trying to proof-read a blog post while I prepare cute little lunches.

To be here fully means that I cannot partially be elsewhere. What a challenge as a Third Culture Kid, with friends on the other side of the globe, in this hyper-connected world.

The other day, Ayo shut my laptop down and said: “Fini maman, l’ordinateur!” And he was right. All done, computer. Now was time to be here. To be.

Forget the 2015 resolutions you already feel guilty about not having kept. If you had to think of a one word theme over this year, sprouting from your current life events, what would it be?

Photo of me “just being” with my daughter by Courtney Zimmerman of Carrying Wonder Photography

8 thoughts on “Be.

  1. Lots of clarity and hope, with the best line being Ayo closing the laptop cover and saying “finish with the computer.” Two cute, too cute.

    We don’t make New Year’s resolutions, because we have learned to live in the past and see why we did so many things wrong last year. It is a catharsis to us to look back at bank accounts, car condition, and what should have been done to enjoy the self flagellation. It keeps us in check and reminds us that looking ahead will be an easy pattern to follow as we just patch up the holes left from the past. Like when we had a guest over and before serving the wine, I tasted the wine privately. NO GOOD. We poured it down the drain. Second bottle, NO GOOD, and that one went down the drain. We ended up finding a medium quality wine that seemed to work, though we wanted better for our fine Thanksgiving turkey. I’m still learning from the past. Resolutions, means adjusting the rear view mirror a bit. I’m still amazed at good choices I made in the past. How did I have the brains to choose a perfect wife at the tender age of 26? I was good. She’s still perfect and lovely. How did I have the good sense to buy such a great car in 1998 that is still a top performer. I honor our past. Gasp!


    1. I love how you are the exception, the eternal optimist. While the rest of us are heaping guilt upon ourselves for miserably failing to keep our goals, you are pretty darn content with the past giving you jet fuel to seize today.

  2. I think at New Year it’s enough to just reflect on what we are doing well and vow to continue doing just that. Build on what we have and what we are succeeding at. There is no point aiming to be something we are not – that’s my view. I love the idea of ‘to be’. It fits in well with my promises to myself for this year – a lovely way to sum it up!

    1. Hi Amanda!
      Yes, I wholeheartedly agree with building on our past learnings. What a beautiful exercise to reflect on the past to take heart for the future, and in my case for today! Letting what we are good at shape our expectations for today is what the best companies do as well..

  3. What a gorgeous picture! Who took that?? I would have to say my word for the year would be “focus.” As in, just do one thing at a time. Avoid getting side tracked. Whatever I am doing, do that thing. Then do the next thing. Try to keep my energy from spilling out everywhere, and keep it narrow, in a path, where I want to put it, not where it just randomly goes, like a puddle seeping out. I think I would feel more grounded, and more satisfied if focus was a bigger part of my life. I like Be a whole lot, too. I feel like “Be” and “focus” overlap.

    1. Thanks, Pam! The photo is by a friend and photographer Courtney Zimmerman from Carrying Wonder Photography. She camped out at our place one Saturday and caught a number of amazing candid shots of us just doing life. Crazy cool photo journalistic style.

      Totally agree that “focus” overlaps with “be”. Both are a real challenge in an instantaneous, always-on world, let alone as a mother of small children. And both are such vital disciplines to model to our children who have never known a world before Internet pestering.

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