in the present
Presence - 2022,  Word of the Year

Presence – my word for 2022

To say that 2021 didn’t go as planned is an understatement, and I’m definitely not Robinson Crusoe in that respect. I don’t think there’s a person on the planet that can say everything went as they hoped it would last year.

My word for the past couple of the years was Consistency (2020, 2021), and I discovered that there is a point in a pandemic, when one is in lockdown, that consistency can become somewhat of an obsession around keeping routines and the like in order to feel like everything is under control, when they plainly are not. But on the flip side, having habits to rely on certainly did help me keep moving forwards when things got a bit much.

Throughout the year the pandemic kept ebbing and flowing, I was in full reverse-puberty (perimenopause) mode and trying to find the right therapies and dosages for treatments, and my husband was unexpectedly away for another 11 months at a time we thought he was going to be home for good. 2021 was the perfect storm of crapulousness all round. The shining lights though were being in lockdown with my sons, and having two cats join the household.

By the end of the year I was feeling pretty burned out. I was exhausted and cynical and doing the bare minimum to get by, but oddly I felt happy and like I was doing ok, it is only in retrospect that I have been able to see what a perilous position I was in. Which is all relative of course. Others had a far harder time and I know I am privileged in so many ways. Thinks are looking up now though, so I shall draw a line in the sand and move onward and upward in this new year.

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Repetitive patterns always help pull me into the present

I have selected PRESENCE as my word for 2022, as a guiding principle for growth and to get myself back on a healthier track.

Stop measuring days by degree of productivity, and start experiencing them by degree of presence

Alan Watts

For years I have been caught up in the hustle culture of always wanting more, of needing to be super efficient and always being as productive as possible. Always doing more. Now, in the third quarter of my life, it’s time for something different. It is time to learn how to rest, how to appreciate the people and things around me more, now that my children are grown, and I am established and settled. I don’t need to hustle, I am content. It is time to go deeper – to truly enjoy and cherish the life that I have, in whatever form it takes. But I am finding that shift in gears quite difficult!

Being present in life means letting go of any regrets about the past so that it doesn’t have power over you, and to stop fretting about what the future might look like. Of course being the over-thinker that I am, I spent years worried that my husband would be killed in combat, and now that he has retired from that work, I fret that he will die too soon, and we won’t have a long and happy life together… finally. But if I continue to tell myself that story in my head, I won’t enjoy the time we do have together. I cannot let fear and worry rob me of joy. Learning to practice presence will help me expunge the poor stories and replace them with the ones that we make each day together.

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Lifted-type collage by me

So how do I do that? I have no idea to be honest. I know a mindfulness practice of some sort is required, but what form that takes, I don’t know. I shall try to meditate more of course, and I suspect that art and creativity will play a large part too. Spending less time on social media and continuing to avoid consuming too much news no doubt will feature. Do you have any advice for me? How do you stay in the present moment? I’d love to hear how you tackle it.

Have you chosen a word or phrase to guide you this year?

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