Oh, how I have missed writing and sharing with you here these last eight weeks my dear friends! So much has transpired since I took a step back to enjoy the summer with my kids! I am glad to be present with you again.
It’s funny, sometimes by taking a step back we actually end up taking leaps and bound forward. My summer away from blogging to focus on my boys has been quite fruitful in ways I didn’t quite bargain for.
I was quite fearful what would happen with the success and momentum of the blog. I worried I would lose my place in the group of writing friends I’ve made over the last year and a half. I forgot my own advice that fear is a liar.
This caused me anxiety throughout the beginning of my summer. I watched my writing friends gain momentum in their own writing abilities and head confidently toward their dreams. A couple of my friends published their first books this summer. Several made huge strides in their social media presence and published in popular online venues.
As I watched them work hard and gain success I felt myself become less sure that my own dreams and goals would come to fruition. For the first time in my life, I found myself completely on the sidelines without my pom-poms to cheer others on. I felt flat, disoriented, lonely, and depressed.
I was altogether missing the beauty and purpose of my writing sabbatical — my kids.
We went to so many baseball games this summer. We spent oodles of time at the ball fields practicing, playing, goofing, and growing. We played in the pool. We laughed. We enjoyed one another — and I was missing it because I was afraid.
Then in early July a soldier committed suicide in our apartment community. He suffered from PTSD. The night before it happened we had helped him through an episode caused by some kids using ‘pop-its’ on the sidewalk. He wasn’t discovered until a week after he took his life.
The suicide rocked me to my core. I wondered what we could have done to prevent this tragedy. I lamented my self-focus and pride. I realized I was missing it — the now.
I was so focused on what I wasn’t doing, didn’t have, or wasn’t accomplishing with writing, the blog, and marketing. I was missing what I was doing — experiencing life and making memories with my kids.
I wish I could tell you that the worries and loneliness I felt during the summer broke off after that, but it wasn’t. In fact, it ramped up as I fought to remain present with my children for the next six weeks.
As each day ticked by I argued with myself that I was doing what was best. I was with my boys and loving them — and I was — but I also felt my attention being pulled away by what I lacked.
I wanted to take the next step forward in writing, marketing, and “make it in the writing biz.” It’s uncomfortable to admit, but I had to first learn how to be present where God had me this summer. He began a great work in my spirit regarding my restlessness and lack of presence.
Being a Witness to my Life
Whenever I found myself lamenting over a friend’s Facebook post about her book launch or read about another’s successful, viral, blog post I began actively stopping myself and asking myself this question: “What is happening in front of me right now?”
To become present I had to become a witness to my own life.
Asking myself this question made me put the phone down and watch as my kids played or join in with them, again. My emotions immediately would change from a mood of lament to one of cheer and delight.
Create Strong Memories
Dominic played on an All-Star baseball team this summer, thus why we spent so much time at the ballfields. I like to photograph moments to document them for the kids to have later in life. Instead of capturing every moment through my camera lens I decided to sit back and take it all in.
Watching him play, interact, and experience both highs and many lows through this particular season was incredibly frustrating as well as defining for my husband and me as parents. There were many opportunities for teaching and guiding our boy’s emotions that may have been missed had we been busy watching through a lens.
Becoming present meant creating strong memories in both the triumphs and the losses of the moment — and to grow from them.
The strongest moments of loneliness and anxiety I felt were often in the few quiet moments the summer afforded. My thoughts would always default to, “it’s quiet, go write, go blog, you can publish a post and surprise your readers.”
There was nothing wrong with this thought other than the fact that it was full of desperation and self-promotion. It wasn’t even so much about the actual writing that would compromise my time as it was the follow-up marketing that I inevitably would do to cause me to be less present with the boys.
I committed to what I felt the Lord led me to this summer. I wanted to remain committed to it — and to remain committed to my boys.
Whenever these pesky moments came upon me I would actively switch my thoughts to listing the people, places, events, and things I was grateful for. Perhaps the most effective tool for becoming present is to engage our hearts in inventorying all we have to be grateful for.
As summer began to come to a close and the routine of school hours loomed, I noticed that the step back I took from building momentum toward my goal for writing began to look like taking a step forward into becoming more and more present in this life — in this moment — and enjoying it.
Now my work is to remain in it.
Questions to ask yourself:
Am I easily distracted by everyone else’s life — do I need to practice being present in my own life?
What is happening in front of me right now?
Take a moment to take a Gratefulness Inventory of your life.