On being a little more present

Sometimes I love nearly everything about life.

A few examples from yesterday:

  • The wrinkles on my dad’s head that can clearly be seen through his wispy white-red hair
  • The absurd five-alarm-fire sound of the telephone ringing at my parents’ house (this is what happens when you turn the ring volume allllllllll the way up)
  • The different colors of light streaming in through different kinds of windows
  • The salty sweet crunch of kettle corn
  • The thawing-out feeling of coming inside after a walk at dusk in November

I love all of it in an over-the-top, Sue Loves Surprise Parties kind of way. But with overwhelming love comes overwhelming fear of loss. (New discovery: I think I’m a 9 on the Enneagram. Which would explain … a lot.)

Combined with the constantly-spinning wheels of my brain, this push and pull makes staying fully present in any given moment a challenge. There’s love and fear, always intertwined, and a hundred thousand Peanut Gallery questions to spur on the conversation.

Things get especially chatty around the holidays.

  • Am I making the most of the time I have at home?
  • Will this be the last Thanksgiving I get with both of my parents? The last Christmas?
  • Do I move back here, even though my life is in Harrisburg?
  • Do my parents move to Harrisburg, even though everything they know is here?
  • Do we continue in this holding pattern, even though living in different places gets more challenging all the time?
  • Why is there a tiny pink bunny in a plastic bag on my bookshelf?

I felt like the list needed a little lightening up and also this is a real thing. There is a mystery bunny confined to a Ziploc bag and it has been there for at least the past six trips home. Maybe the bigger question is why it didn’t strike me as questionable until right now?

Bagged bunny aside, this whole pattern is something I’d like to change. Because whether it’s adding “buy milk and spinach and yeast” to the always-expanding to-do list in my brain or thinking through weighty questions about how the world works, I spend way too much time in my head.

And when I’m so caught up in my thoughts about a thing, I miss the happening-right-now reality of the very things I’m scared to lose.

As always, this space on the internet is a middle ground, not a source for magical answers. I know I’m not going to rewire my brain in a day or two, or in a single blog post. But yesterday, I tried to find a tiny piece of tangible middle ground to help myself stay a little more present.

I started by noticing how often I’m not fully present. It’s a lot. Then, once I realized that I was about to get lost down a rabbit trail, I looked around at what was actually happening, pulled out my phone, and documented little moments.

They aren’t groundbreaking moments. But I remember each of them so well because I was actually paying attention.

Each photo feels like a mile marker for a moment I’ll remember more than most—because I actively participated more than usual.

Your brain probably (hopefully) works differently than mine. Maybe you are fully present in every moment, no fears or questions or running to-do lists to distract you. That would be amazing, and if your brain works that way, please teach me everything you know. But if you, like me, tend to wander into other places in your mind while real life is happening right in front of you, this little phone trick was helpful. You might be surprised at what you find.

Like, say, a little pink bunny in a plastic bag? Or maybe something a little less creepy. Let’s hope for that.


Good Things

Need a last-minute roll recipe for tomorrow? I think I’m making these dinner rolls. If I feel extra fancy, I might make these Hawaiian rolls because they’re just so good.

I may legitimately budget in a monthly trip to Seed + Mill. Let the halva revolution begin.

If you’re a fan of Pascal Campion (and even if you’re not!), you’ll likely love Klaus on Netflix. 100% ugly cried at the end.

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