Word of the Year: Presence
Updated: Jan 31, 2019
Does anyone else get really reflective in December? As an achiever, I start to take inventory of the year. What was accomplished? Or even more important to me, how have I changed and grown? At the beginning of each year, I ask God for a word for the year. One word. For 2018, the word was made clear to me in an instant, "Presence". If you've read my blog post "My Journey to Rest-Notes from an Achiever Heart", you can hear me audibly groaning at the word presence. I have always been very future driven, and have also struggled with anxiety and depression that keep me replaying events of the past. The present has never been my sweet spot. How do you make a goal to practice presence? I did what any researcher does, find the definition of presence: "the state or fact of existing, occurring, or being present in a place or thing.". So being alive...that's it? What kind of "resolution" is that? So I started the year in a way that I have never done. No goals. No deadlines. No plan. Just the word presence. Honestly, most of the year I forgot that this was my word for the year until my husband reminded me a few weeks ago as we sat and reflected on 2018. It has become a way of living for me this year, and has brought me more joy, contentment, creativity, power and peace than I could have ever dreamed possible. Is being present something that has been resonating in your heart? Read on to see how presence has impacted multiple areas of my life in 2018.
At the beginning of the year, I had no intention of starting this blog. I had been applying for jobs in my field, and doing this in tandem just didn't make sense. The blog was something placed on my heart a few years ago, that I have put off time and again to "bad timing" (also translated to: I don't start something that isn't perfected or exemplary). Turns out that living in the present is a great way to cut down this mindset. I dreamed up the idea for a massive letterboard backdrop the "Mega Letterboard DIY", and thought, "this is it! The perfect big statement to start off the blog" (I'm really in to big ideas and installments). The project was taking some time to materialize, and normally I would be stubborn, "I'm not starting this thing until I can produce this over the top idea that I know people will love" (yikes). Something funny happened this time though. I was truly enjoying creating and had made this cute Groot Headband for Milo. It brought me so much joy that I wanted to share it and start the blog early. So I did! Looking back, that's what it's about. To say, "yes I made this plan, but I am striving to complete it, and there is joy in something else that I'm doing right now". Presence gives you permission to say no to the works of your life that are being completed from a place of striving, and yes to the moment that you are in right now that is bringing you profound joy.
If you've been around me for more than 10 minutes lately, you have probably heard me use the word "Enneagram". I plan on doing a whole post on the Enneagram, and other personality tests that I have found useful. I took the Enneagram test in the Fall and have learned SO much about myself. It came at a time where God was challenging me to work through a circumstance in a way that felt out of character to me. I did NOT want to do what was being asked. Through this test God showed me that I had the capacity to do this hard thing. It actually wasn't out of character, it was growing to a higher functioning level of my character I didn't know existed. I have always been “results“ driven and not very relational. Working through the results of this test this year, I have learned that I not only have the capacity to care for others at higher levels, but to champion for them as well. Through this process I have learned a different aspect of the word presence, being present for people in my life. One of the tools Enneagram has is opting in to receive a "thought of the day" for your specific personality type via email. I use this tool to start my day with an awareness of my tendencies, and how I can focus them for good.
I'm Not Waiting
I have received many questions since I finished my degree last year, and have been staying home with my son. Many people know that I have been actively applying for jobs. I honestly thought I would have been working in my field by now. But, for whatever reason, I'm not. Normally this would cause me to take matters into my own hands and jump at whatever opportunity I could find. Each time I started striving this year, I just heard a swift "stop". Sooo I guess I'm just in a "waiting season"? (I can't count how many times I've used this phrase in my life). Again, I'm so future focused that I'm practically always in a "waiting season". Part way through the year, as I was enjoying the things I was creating and loving being with my son, I heard the phrase in my head "I'm not in a waiting season. There's no such thing as a waiting season". It was like a switch was flipped. Are there dreams I have left unfulfilled? Absolutely. Do I still have goals? Heck yes I do! But there is always, always purpose and opportunity in the present. Even if it's not made clear until much later. It is still a challenge for me. Each day I'm trying to not be distracted by what's not happening yet and invest in what is happening right in front of me. I show up to create like it's my job, because I'm loving it. I spend time with my kiddo and give him extra snuggles. I go to a daytime small group. I cook more. I go to Disney...a lot. I make Porg marshmallows. Because I can right now. Invest in your present.
Social Media: Don't Look to the Right or to the Left
I really didn't know too much about how social media worked until I started the blog. There are so many great things about it, but WOW it can be an animal. I think most of us have felt stuck in the comparison game on social media before. I have definitely felt the pull from these things. When it comes to the blog, social media and other standards, I have heard one phrase replay in my head this year, "don't look to the right or to the left". Don't get caught up in what others or doing, or what you think your life should look like. Keep being original and enjoy the work you're doing. Endless social media scrolling is a false presence. It can trap us in this alternate reality where we're left wanting what others have, making assumptions of what others think of us, feeling left out, etc. etc. Some of my friends did a social media fast at the end of the year to focus more on gratitude. I limited my time, and did my best to say no to mindless scrolling. Consider unplugging, unfollowing and tap into what you're feeling when you stop scrolling. Are you inspired? Uplifted? Encouraged? I hope so! And if you're left feeling discontent, evaluate and make a positive change. When I shifted my focus to what was actually going on around me, I created, noticed and remembered more. I've started asking myself this question more, "is what I'm doing right now something I will remember?". Don't get me wrong, I'm all about Netflix, Mario Kart and Emoji Blitz. I'm just actively working on limiting the time I do them. The iPhones now have great timers for social media/internet browsing/games and I'm going to be utilizing that function in the new year to keep me accountable.
Have you been thinking about the past year? Are you dreaming for the year ahead? I can't recommend enough picking a focus word for the year. This is my 7th year doing this, and it has never disappointed. I also do a "vision board" to start the year. I'll be sharing instructions for that in the coming week on my Instagram stories if you want to follow along!
Happy 2018 and New Year!