Gift of the present
It’s amazing how much clearer our thinking becomes when we’re at peace with ourselves and in the present. Even better if it’s all at the same time. This is my view today, so you can likely understand why I’m happy to be here.
Humility. That’s what’s on my mind today and yes, it’s because of many things that have happened over the past few months that have brought me to today’s “presence” of mind.
The story starts with having had the opportunity to co-author a book with my colleague and friend Mary Ann Baynton. I’ve been a writer for over 30 years…well actually as long as I can remember going even farther back…but this was a humbling experience as I discovered I still had a lot to learn. I am indebted to the editors, proofreaders, reviewers and most of all to Mary Ann for her vision in making our book even better than I had imagined. Better than I could have done on my own.
“It’s time to exhale now,” said my friend as we let our beloved project go off to the printer. More on that in another blog.
Then, as the dust settled and I found my way back into my own life, that life’s main guy — my partner Mike — and I started to seriously look at how we are going to relocate from our urban home of 22 years to our lake home of the past 15. I’ve had more than a few moments of anxiety about this. But then more than one of the people we’ve shared this news with have said, “You’re living the dream.” That idea keeps settling in, calming me. This is an adventure, one I’m not entirely sure I’m ready for but I’m doing it. Doing it knowing that if it doesn’t work out as planned…we’ll come up with another plan. The idea of reducing debt is great but even more appealing to me is simplifying and reducing the “stuff” in our lives we don’t need anymore. I do still need work though so if you’re wondering, this is NOT retirement, it’s relocation and an opportunity to focus on and be in the present in one place instead of two. Will I have what it takes to surive a full time existence in wild Winnipeg River country? Not sure. I’m humbled by that too.
Over the past month (while all this has been happening), my son and I took a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) course together. I was so proud of him for taking this important step to manage his anxiety. The course helped us both. Talking about it has helped even more. Being the relentless, overprotective mom that I am, I want to keep helping my (adult) son, keep telling him what I think he should be doing next, keep offering my great ideas. But my partner, his dad, has gently told me to ‘stop’. And this has been a good (and humbling) thing as I’m seeing my son thrive as he finds his own answers. And guess what? I didn’t have all the answers anyhow.
Early in the summer, my father-in-law (my partner’s stepdad), Rollie, began to decline. This was round two in a hard fought battle with throat cancer. A fight we thought he had won when, after a month of radiation treatments, he was cancer-free. We didn’t know back then that just 4 months later he’d suffer intolerable pain due to the nerve damage caused by the treatment.
Last November, at his 85th birthday and before his cancer diagnosis, we figured Rollie would see 90 for sure. He had such a dry wit. If you were one of the ‘fools’ he had no tolerance for, watch out. But if you were one of those people — both old and young — he admired, mentored, or perhaps, just tolerated, you were one of the lucky ones. Rollie’s encyclopedic knowledge of anything aircrart or anything historical for that mattter were gifts he shared generously and yes, arrogantly, at times. As I said, Rollie didn’t have much time for fools. And, as it turned out in this past month, he didn’t have much time at all.
Humility fits into Rollie’s story through the quiet grace he exuded over the years in many ways. It was definitely there during his final days as the light started to drift out of his eyes and the wit was less forthcoming off the tip of his tongue. And it was there in that final hour, while our mother Shirley was away having a short break, and he left without a fight.
These are the stories that have been running through my life over the past few months, and through my mind today.
CBT taught me some of the benefits of staying in the moment.
But really, it’s these small (and big) everyday lessons that are the real gifts offered to us when we stay in the present.
P.S. Here’s a couple more photos that are the view from my notebook (pen and paper kind) today.
P.S.S. Our book will be released as a free download after Sept. 21, 2017 at www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com. Look for The Evolution of Workplace Mental Health in Canada—Toward a standard for psychological health and safety by Mary Ann Baynton and Leanne Fournier.