Planning Ahead vs. Appreciating the Moment

Dear Friends,

Happy Halloween! Another year, another work Halloween costume contest! This year, as usual, I had two costumes…one for a Halloween party and one for work. Last weekend Michael and I went to my friends’ annual Halloween party dressed as Peg and Al Bundy. My work crew did a rock star theme, each of us choosing an iconic 80’s rocker. I went as Cyndi Lauper, and have also become a pro at teasing my hair!

It’s been another fast-moving week, but a really good one too. My plan to slow down and take more time for myself has proven to be a good one. Monday night Michael and I were completely lazy — we laid in bed and watched Married with Children (we’re hooked again thanks to our costume!) until bedtime. Tuesday night we took the night apart. He worked late and I got laundry and dishes all done and then some reading. Then last night was Logan’s SRE night — but it got cancelled this week so I still took that time to go over to Michael’s house so we could spend some time just the two of us. We laid on the couch watching Friends and eating Imo’s Pizza (if you’re not from Missouri, you need to try this iconic St. Louis pizza if you’re ever in the area!).

This weekend was pretty plan-free and I was hoping we might finally get the chance to hit up an orchard and take in some fall foliage now that the leaves are all in their full Autumn glory; but Michael’s employer had to cancel family day last weekend since it rained the entire day Saturday, and it’s now been rescheduled for this Saturday. So there went any chance of orchards and a foliage drive. He has to give tours which means we go grocery shopping in the morning and spend our afternoon at family day. Then we’re going to mass and by the time that is over it’ll be 6pm, dark, and time for date night.

I pretty much live for my kid-free Saturdays. It’s the only two days out of the month that I’m free to do what I want and have nowhere to be. So I was definitely bummed that my free day was taken away. I was driving to work yesterday looking at the Hickories and the Maples, orange and yellow and warm, and started to feel sad that their leaves would be gone and scattered across the ground by the time I finally had a chance to enjoy them.

Then I had a sudden realization. I was enjoying them then, right at that moment. I wanted to take some downtime to drive and enjoy the views, maybe even do a hike (but let’s be honest, it’s gotten way too cold for me for that!). But wasn’t that what I was already doing? Driving and soaking up the beauty of Fall? Why did I feel the need to plan a time in the future to enjoy it, when I could be doing it right now? Who says I can’t appreciate the fall foliage anytime I want?

img_0237As a planner and an organizer, I recognize that my biggest flaw is not being in the moment. I bought Michael and I a set of My Intent bracelets back in August, just a couple of weeks before his cancer diagnosis that neither of us saw coming. For his I chose the word “resilient”, which proves to be more and more true for him all the time. For me, I chose the phrase “be present”…which is what I need to be reminded of more and more all the time.

I glanced down at that bracelet and realized I still haven’t gotten very good at practicing what I preach. Every single morning I admire the row of Maple trees in the yard at the end of my street to the right, and the Hickory to the left. I feel a little glow in my spirit from driving down the street, littered in yellow and orange with a narrow path of tire tracks in the center. Every day I’m surrounded by the very thing I love most about Fall, and instead of actually appreciating it I was busy thinking, “I really wish I had time to appreciate this”.

The truth is, I do have time. Every single day I have the opportunity to thoroughly enjoy the moment I am in and be present. Some things need to be planned — my grocery list, my meals for the week, time to get my cleaning done — because if I don’t plan them they don’t happen/I go over budget/chaos ensues. But there are some things that can never be planned for — the timing of the Fall colors, moments of affection with the man I love, things my kids do that make me proud. Those are the times when I need to stop thinking about what comes next and pay attention to where I already am. When I need to stop thinking about what I should be doing and pay attention to what I am doing.

I think a lot of us get caught up in the “I will be happy when _____” thought process. That seems to be human nature. Reality is, happiness doesn’t come from planning the future, because when the future becomes the present, instead of being happy with what’s come to fruition we’re already thinking about what will make us happy next. I don’t know how many times I’ve thought back on a memory and realized how good it makes me feel. But I can’t remember feeling that good while it was happening. How did I miss it? Why is it only in looking back that it becomes valuable?

Life doesn’t exist in the past, and you never really know if there will be a future. Life happens now, in the present moment. You are only living, breathing, thinking, existing, feeling, right now. So let’s all do something right now. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing…pause. Just for a minute. Look around you, and take it all in. No matter what you are doing, I promise you there is something there, something in this moment, for you to appreciate.

I want to make a promise to myself and to all of you. I promise to stop and take time every single day to appreciate where I am. I promise to catch myself when I’m thinking ahead, and find something in the moment to focus on. I promise to use my bracelet, which I wear every single day, for it’s intent — to bring me into the present. Because in the present is where life happens ❤



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