Being Here

a path well travelled

There’s a line I read in a Liane Moriarty book where the character is looking around a cafe and thinking, If only I were here, which is odd because she actually is there. It’s a feeling I instantly related to because I’ve often had a sense of being disconnected, as if I’m observing my life from a distance and thinking that it would be a beautiful place to be. I’m longing to be right in the middle of that life, but, of course, I am right there.

When I was pregnant for the first time, I remember sitting in my car at a park during my lunch break. There was a paved track and I watched as mother after mother in yoga pants pushed strollers around it. As I sat there watching those moms I wondered, Will that ever be me? I had no idea where that thought came from because I was freshly pregnant, basking in the glow of warm wishes from friends and family and I should’ve been able to imagine myself pushing a stroller. Later that day, after I was back at work, I began to bleed and I miscarried. I don’t know if I had a premonition or if it was just a sense of disconnect from a life I wanted but could barely imagine but I never forgot that moment in the park.

Just a little over a year later, as I wore yoga pants and pushed a stroller around that same park, I tried to bring that memory back to life. I tried to recreate the awe of watching those moms and what I had imagined as bliss, but, of course, I was exhausted and filled with the anxiety of having a newborn and stressing about my maternity leave ending. I was a new mom in the park pushing a stroller like I had witnessed and yearned for and I still wondered, Will that ever be me? I was there but I wasn’t there.

In An Alter in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor describes it perfectly:

“No one longs for what he or she already has, and yet the accumulated insight of those wise about spiritual life suggests that the reason so many of us cannot see the red X that marks the spot is because we are standing on it. The treasure we seek requires no lengthy expedition, no expensive equipment, no superior aptitude or special company. All we lack is the willingness to imagine that we already have everything we need. The only thing missing is consent to be where we are.”

That’s the paradox I sometimes find myself in. I’m observing my amazing life and thinking, What a beautiful place. I wish I was there.

Recently, my husband and I took a mini-staycation to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. With the help of the grandparents, we had a full 24 hours by ourselves at a local resort, then we picked up the kids and spent another 24 hours together. I felt more present and in the moment than I have in a very long time, which I’m sure is why I had such fantastic time. I was acutely aware of every moment we spent: the excitement of being at the movies with my husband, the incredible sushi we had for lunch, the awkwardness of being at the pool in front of a bunch of strangers, the kids arguing, the nature walk I took with my daughter where she made me take a picture of her in front of every cactus and wildflower patch.

Then, I am home again and I can’t even smell my breakfast until I walk back into the house later and catch the lingering whiff of bacon.

This last year has been a whirlwind. My husband and I have worked very hard running our business and we’ve taken turns juggling the kids so that I could work more. It has gone by so fast yet I can’t believe I’m the same person I was a year ago. It’s that paradox again. This is the life I always wanted but just as I try to grasp the incredibleness of it, another moment comes along and the awe is gone. It’s just life as I know it. Then, I say, Thank you God, and the awe is back just for a moment. Try it now. Thank you God. See what I mean?

I asked myself this morning, Have I done it well? No, not by my usual standards. I don’t have a completed checklist or the comfort of a routine well executed. My house is a mess but my kids are clean. I haven’t journaled much, haven’t blogged much, haven’t thought too deeply, to be honest. I get a little lost but all I have to do is remember I’m right here and for a moment I am.

22 Comments on “Being Here

  1. Ah, living in the moment. It sounds like a great idea but proves often elusive. Glad you caught it,e ven for a weekend. Keep chasing it!

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  2. So well put. We stand outside the window looking in, not realizing we’re really looking at ourselves.

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  3. Karen, I discovered your blog from a beautiful comment of yours on Michelle’s Mama Mick site, and decided to drop in.
    What a beautiful blog about honesty and faith.
    Living in the moment is hard to do when things are not as perfect as we want, and is something I have struggled with. But then looking back, and seeing the hand of God, it is so incredible.
    And to take that staycation and get away with your hubby is so precious. Always gives a boost and keeps us going in this hectic world.
    God bless!
    ~Carl~

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  4. Dear Karen,
    You always know how to reach out and tug at my heart with your words. I can physically feel your words. You have such a positive, grateful, and relevant way to make this real for each of us in our personal ways. I remember the days that I wished I had the job I have now – everybody wanted it…coveted it. Now that I have it – I curse it!
    Such human nature to keep jumping across to land on the next red X.
    All that said, I’ve taken the last two weeks to do exactly what you’ve described and be present. What a gift and blessing to live and love like I do in this big ole world!
    I’m so happy you guys had a great stay-cation…I’ve been thinking about you. xoxoxo

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    • Cash is on spring break this week so we drove up to Mt. Lemon this morning and spent the day in the pines, playing in a creek and riding the ski lift. Even after a few short hours away, it feels so good to come home. I’m not sure how long I’ll stay present but I’ll keep staying grateful! xxoo

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  5. Oh, this really resonates with me. I love how beautifully you express so many things in my head. I’ve had a lot of that “am I really here?” feelings lately…mostly because I think life just gets so busy that we don’t have the chance to really experience it. That’s why those little getaways and breaks from normal are important. They remind us to experience our life. And that even carries over back into the the everyday mundane routine, if only for a minute or two. Great post!

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    • Thanks Kelly! You’re right about little getaways. I haven’t had much alone time either because my kids have been on spring break during alternate weeks (different schools, different schedules). Even an hour here or there helps ground me!

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    • They are great, aren’t they? Learning to Walk in the Dark is one of my favorite books by BBT. I finished it months ago and I’m still thinking about it. 🙂 Thanks Cara!

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  6. My heart is saying, “Yes!” I hear you loud and clear and I found this very moving. Thank you for this gift. And for making me smile: “My house is a mess but my kids are clean.” Karen, if my kids weren’t on the swim team, I’m not even sure they’d be clean …

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    • So, it’s not bad that I didn’t make my daughter take a shower because she went swimming two days before? What a relief! I guess clean is relative. 😉 Thank you Jessica!

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  7. this is really touching karen. m impressed

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  8. Great post Karen. Thank you for sharing. Oh, as the step-dad of two now grown children – I can tell you that you haven’t really arrived until your kids are as dirty as your house ;D

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  9. I so appreciate this today, Karen. I am writing about the same topic (though it’s snarkier and darker) and struggle daily to be Here instead of There. Thank you for your heartfelt reminder that grace is all around us and that where we are, in this very moment, is the most perfectly imperfect place we could ever be. If only we had eyes to See that.

    If only.

    Touch the sky, dear heart,
    Dani

    P.S. AHHHHHH!!! I think it’s the first time I’ve been First here ❤

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