Slice of Life: Choosing Where to Be
We spent this past weekend at a Choice Literacy writing retreat. There were too many wonderful aspects of these three days to list them all. On the drive home we both reflected on the weekend and what we noticed about ourselves as writers over the past few days. The word that best summed it up for us was mindfulness.
Mindfulness is defined as
1.the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
2.a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations
Three days with no cooking, cleaning, carpooling or digital distractions gave us the space we needed to think, reflect, create, talk and write. It was more than time – minutes away – it was the quality of the time. We chose to turn off our phones and close all social media applications. We decided not to check email.
These decisions gave us the space, not just the time, to truly be present in what we were doing. That space allowed us to question, hear feedback, revise and learn. When our schedules are packed it is easy to divert our attention when a thought, an idea, or issue that is worthy of our focus comes along. Rather than linger on our “near-wins” we move on to the next items on our to-do lists. When we create space to be mindful and present, we give ourselves the opportunity to stretch ourselves and learn.
We know that three day retreats are not going to be something we do often as working moms, but we want to think about what we can learn from our experience. How can we create spaces for ourselves at home and at work that supports mindfulness? One idea we decided to try is to plan more time with no technology distractions. Switching our phones to “do not disturb” and choosing to turn “wi-fi” off when we need to be present in our work or at home. Technology has so many benefits in terms of communication, access, and information. It seems as if the world is at our fingertips and we can literally be productive from anywhere at any time. In some ways it makes our life easier, but it also has traps.
We find ourselves over-committing, being too responsive or getting distracted by the technology available to us. At times we both find ourselves guilty of missing the moment we are in because technology has us in a different place. We both struggle with truly being present when we know there is a world of opportunities, demands, and responsibilities awaiting us on our phone or computer. This happens both at work and at home. When you try to be everything to everyone, you can wind up impacting very few people and feeling depleted.
This weekend made us realize that just because you may be able to juggle all the balls doesn’t mean you should. We know we cannot change the chaotic pace of our lives; we are not sure we want to. There are so many moments of joy, connectedness and fun in our crazy lives. We would, however, like to be more aware of our mindfulness. We want to create more space in our lives to be present and truly experience the moment we are in. Jim Elliot reminds us, “Wherever you are, be all there.” We hope to choose mindfulness more often so we can focus more on the moment we are in and learn from being aware of what we are thinking, feeling and questioning.
How do focus your attention to the moment you are in? Do you create space for yourself to think, reflect, question and respond? How do you balance being connected and being present? We would love to hear your perspective.