One Word: Present

Late last year, I got the idea from a friend (who also blogs and homeschools her children) of choosing One Word for the year. I think it’s a clever way to help me be more focused on my resolution to better myself during the new year. I used to make a list of new year’s resolutions around this time. As the year would go by, that list would be forgotten and I wouldn’t know if I had become better in any way at all.  Having ONE WORD, one theme that I can easily remember and readily visualize, will hopefully help me become a better me in 2016.

My One Word for 2016 is PRESENT.  To be present in the moment. To live in the present, to relish its joy and embrace its meaning.

I remember reading the New York Times article by Tony Schwartz entitled “Addicted to Distraction.” It reminded me of how my family and I are almost constantly immersing ourselves in distractions. We carry our smartphones and tablets with us everywhere. While at home, we use our devices on the dining table (even while we are all together seated and sharing a meal) in the dirty kitchen and even in the bathroom. When we are out in restaurants and cafes, we almost always ask for their wifi password. When we are choosing accommodations for a family holiday, we look for those that include free wifi. I’ve seen my children using their laptops and tablets/phones at the same time (that type of “multitasking” is beyond me). I’ve seen my husband and my son watch TV while playing games on their mobile devices.

My addiction to distraction has been keeping me from being present in the moment and being present with my family. While I’m helping my son with his lessons, I keep my phone nearby and respond to every Viber and Facebook message as soon as it comes. While I’m at my daughter’s football training, I’m checking emails or planning my blog. While I always plan to start my day with morning prayers, I end up turning my phone on first to see any new Facebook or Twitter notifications. While I am preparing our dog’s meal, I stop to answer a text message, get distracted by new stories on my Facebook feed and forget that our dog is hungry.

In June 2015, I was painfully reminded of my tendency to prioritize productivity over presence. I wrote a blog post entitled “When I Chose to be Productive Instead of Present” where I recounted that day when I broke my son’s heart. During his last day of summer basketball, he played his best game ever. While he was playing his best game, I was at the bank running an errand. It broke my heart to hear him tell me afterwards, “I really can’t tell you with words. I just wish you had seen me.”

Many times, I’ve missed the joy and meaning of being PRESENT: seeing my children score goals or play well, hearing my children joyfully talk about what they did with their friends, relaxing with my husband after he has a long day at work, playing fetch with our eager dog, enjoying conversation with family while at the table, and allowing my mind to be quiet and my body to be still so I remember to appreciate my breath, my life, my blessings.

This year, in 2016, I choose to be more PRESENT (starting with leaving the phone behind when I go to the bathroom).