While at Sandals I discovered that I needed to be more present in my own life. Laying face-up on the massage table as the masseuse prepares for the final rub of my feet, I realized that I had missed nearly the entire experience. I had not been present for the last hour. My mind was everywhere. I actually don’t even remember all the things that ran across my mind.
I just know I thought about my role as a mom and how I can hardly believe that my son will be thirteen in a month. How I so desperately wanted to be a healthy, stable, loving, and present mom. My many job responsibilities and how I was going to manage it all and my summer with the boys. I thought about my marriage and how drastically things had changed over the 15 years. So many thoughts about my siblings and how very difficult it’s been managing the nuances of my family dynamics. While exercising my truth that love is thicker than blood, and blood builds bonds.
I mean, I don’t know if there was a thought I didn’t think. My mind was all over the place instead of allowing my mind to join my body on the massage table. Laying there with eyes tightly shut wishing that she would start all over I made a vow to myself. There was no way that I was getting that hour back, it was gone. No matter hard I prayed for a do-over, it was indeed a missed opportunity. So, the moment she wiped the oil from my feet with the hot towel, I decided to be intentionally present in my life and my life experiences going forward.
I left the spa and returned to the sandy beach that I call my happy place. I soaked up the sun, sipped a few cocktails, ate the best mango I had ever tasted, and laughed with my husband. It was good.
For the next few days, I immersed myself in each moment, every activity, conversation, and self-reflection that was forcing me to recognize a valuable truth about myself.
Being Present Isn’t Always Easy
Being present caused me to think about a question that Brene Brown asked me a year ago. Okay, she didn’t ask me personally. Geesh, you all are so technical – it was in her book. But as I sat there on the beach looking out at the ocean that seemed endless, God brought that question to my mind. The question was “are you busy being who you think you should be or who you really are?” Whoa! I sat straight up on the lounge chair with the sun shining bright on my face. I could literally feel my heartbeat as tears rolled down my cheeks and I pulled out my journal.
For the next hour, it felt as if everyone disappeared from the beach. There, I sat alone with the weight of all that I had placed on myself. It was so overwhelming at the moment so much so that I closed my eyes, laid back in my lounger, and whispered “God, I need Your help. I need You to remind me of who I am. Not the version that I felt I needed to be, but me You created me to be.” I didn’t move for what seemed like hours but was only 20 minutes before I felt light as a feather. I opened my eyes to the beautiful sky, wiped my tears, and started writing.
You are enough, just as you are – your authentic self.
Don’t let the hustle and bustle of life, commercials, social media, or the toxic thoughts of doing more is better force you into becoming who you think you should be. Just because you think it, doesn’t make it true or right.
Search your heart for your true desires.
You are who you are at your core..nothing more, nothing less. Who you are is not what you do. You do what you do because of who you are. The key is learning to properly manage the attributes that make you who you are with discipline, determination, and dedication to be the best version of yourself.
Don’t be afraid to say no out of fear you’ll miss out on something you want.
People say it all the time, what’s for you is for you. It’s sometimes hard to believe, but it is true. When doing something causes you to comprise your priorities, even a little, it’s not for you. Or maybe, it is for you but not right now. It’ll come on your terms, trust it.
Keep the main thing the main thing.
Steve Covey said it best, “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Your main thing is different from others; therefore, the goal is to keep your eyes on your prize. What are your deal breakers? If what you’re doing does not align with your priorities, then it’s a deal-breaker. It’s as simple (or as hard in some cases) as that. Comprising your desires only gets you closer to fulfilling someone else’s.
Enjoy, savor, protect, and celebrate the little things.
So much of what we do in life is found in the small elements that make the most impact. Attending your son’s baseball game, having Sunday dinner with family, motivating someone to believe in their superpower, being by the side of a friend while they are dealing with the loss of a child, or enjoying a vacation with your spouse and being completely present. All of these things are small compared to society’s definition of “doing big things” right? But they are defining moments in your life and those around you. They shape you in ways that you can’t adequately articulate. Appreciate them.
Being Present Creates Freedom
As I wrote, I began to feel freer. Free of worry and doubt about what I’d be losing if I bet on myself and honed in on my true desires. Free from guilt to self-care so that I can best care for my family and priorities. Freer from the pressure of trying to overcompensate for the childhood traumas and family dynamics that I didn’t create but was born into. From the shame that was associated with starting over and reinventing myself. Why, because I don’t know everything nor do I have to get it right all the time. Free from the busyness of life that blinded my view of the beautiful things that I wanted to be present for. Just free!
Being Present Gives Clarity
Much of what I discovered was on me. I was the person lying on the beach so distracted by life that I was unable to feel the sand between my toes. I was the one so busy working to create a life that I wasn’t living the life I was given. That was all me. If I am not authentically true to who I am, then who I am trying to be will always be based on the expectation of others. I realized that I had begun to conform to who I was expected to be by others around me. That thought was debilitating. Realizing that I’ve placed so much value on the thoughts, needs, and wants of others that I didn’t even notice that if differed from my desires was staggering. How did I miss that? How did I get to such a place of conformity, I thought.
As I took a break from writing to contend with my question I was reminded of a time when in my life when all of my life’s questions were answered first by scripture, God’s Holy Word. My eyes began to water again, then suddenly I felt a sense of calm that enveloped me. It was as if God Himself walked on the waters of the world to that sandy beach at Sandals Royal Plantation in Jamaica just to comfort and remind me that He will never leave or forsake me. I got up from the lounger, walked to the ocean, and submerged myself in the salty, raging waters. Fully accepting God’s grace and love while repenting and letting go of my heavy burdens. If joy was a person, I was it at that moment.
I’m not sure if you recognize any of these irregularities if your life. If so, join me as I continue to intentionally self-correct and self-connect to my most God-chasing, authentic, present, kind, compassionate, loving, forgiving, productive, considerate, and genuine self.
This journey is worth our energy, I am guaranteeing an ROI (return on investment) and ROE (return on engagement) that will produce a healthy, happy, and more abundant life! Focus inward – there lies the more powerful version of who you are, so powerful in fact that you will soon lose the desire to be anyone else.
As a wife, mother, and business woman, I can totally relate to getting lost in the chaos of life and missing the opportunities to live in the present. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability and experience LaToyia! These tips are just what I needed to put myself at the top of my priority list!
It is so easy to do and hard to get your focus back.