Presence.

presence [prez-uh ns]
noun

  1. the state or fact of being present, as with others or in place
  2. attendance or company:
    Your presence is requested. 
  3. immediate vicinity; proximity:
    in the presence of witnesses.
  4. the ability to project a sense of ease, poise, or self-assurance, especially the quality or manner of a person’s bearing bearing before an audience:
    The speaker had a good deal of stage presence. 

(Definition pulled from dictionary.com)

Right around Christmas time, my friend Alexis posed a challenge to our group of friends. Instead of choosing a cliche New Year’s Resolution, she asked each of us to choose a word to live by in 2018. She listed out a few options that her family members had already chosen, and I was immediately hooked on the challenge. I will say it was difficult to come up with a word as good as some of the others because they had some really great ones: creative, courage, ambition, awareness, etc. So I hmmmed and haaaaed for days until i cam up with my own. For my 2018 word, I chose presence.

First, the obvious reason. My goal this year is to be present int he moment. Far too often social media, future obligations and work can distract us from fully embracing and enjoying the present. I pride myself on being a multi-tasking master, but last year I often found myself answering work emails mid conversation with my husband or using mealtime to make “To Do Lists” for the day. And the time suck of social media…that’s a whole other post.

This year, I have challenged myself to be present in conversation, take in the sounds and smells of my surroundings and enjoying each moment of life, even the small moments that might not be life-altering but oh, so enjoyable. This has become especially important with Parker, who I have been warned by parents, will be grown up before I can blink my eyes.

So, I turned off my work email notifications. Yes, it’s important to be accessible to be successful, but now I decide when that time is. I’ve learned to pose questions differently. For example, instead of asking my husband the typical, “How was work today?,” I ask him, “What was the best part of your day?” It sparks more in-depth conversation and allows for a story versus a one-word answer. And I’ve committed to being present at as many life events, celebrations and gatherings as my schedule allows for. Even with a little one, I know the importance of not missing out on those moments and the ability to see friends and family who live far. So yes, we trekked all the way to Wisconsin with a 6-week old baby, and next weekend I will be attending a second baby shower for a dear friend. Why? Because those moments bring me happiness.

Secondly,  I challenged myself to create more of a presence on this blog. I committed myself to writing more frequently and to expand my content. Hens, why I decided to write not only about events and celebrations but to also bring in personal experiences and stories and share those with all of you.

And lastly, I decided to focus on No. 4 in the definition of presence: the ability to project a sense of ease, poise, or self-assurance, especially the quality or manner of a person’s bearing bearing before an audience. I am typically a very social person and tend to excel at my job, which is most frequently in front of large crowds. But I do have a secret fear of public speaking and having the attention fully on myself. It’s something I have slowly gotten over after years of practice. The fear began in high school when I had to take a public speaking class and stood dumb-founded in front of 30-some-odd judgey high schoolers when I forgot my memorized speech. I literally just stood there staring at the back wall. At that age, it was traumatizing. Not only do I want to continue to become a better public speaker, but I also want poised to be a characteristic people think of when they think of me.

So, here I am starting off the year on the right foot aiming to accomplish these goals and using “presence” as my motivation for 2018. I have to give a big shout out to Alexis for this beautiful challenge. And now I challenge you. What’s your 2018 word?

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