I really enjoy writing articles to share with you, my community. I see them as a catalyst for meaningful dialogue that allows me to be of service, and support more coaches than I have the time to work with one on one.
One thing I have also noticed is that when I share something personal that even more people engage with me.
When I shared about Connor’s birth, almost 75% of my followers read that email. It is beautiful to be seen and appreciated by my community for just being me and sharing my own personal journey. I feel more connected to my community, and in turn, they feel more connected to me. I believe that is one of the reasons I have such an engaged and amazing community.
Of all of the topics I’ve written about, the article you are reading now is particularly “real”, and one I feel compelled to share with you so you can know more of who I am and how it impacts the person and the mentor and coach that I’ve become.
Being of the “sandwich generation”, I find myself in the interesting position of having a young child (who just turned 5!) and having aging parents who no longer can live independently. I am blessed to have 4 siblings that help shoulder the continual challenges that emerge daily, as well as provide each other emotional support as we walk down a road that we often feel ill equipped to travel.
Once upon a time, my parents lived part of the year in Maine and part of the year in CT where I grew up. Given that their home in Maine is very remote and that there is a healthcare shortage there, they haven’t been able to be up there much since their health has declined. Since I live all the way in California and one of my brothers live in Colorado, we decided that we would piggyback and take care of our parents so they could be in Maine for two weeks this Summer and give my other siblings a much needed respite. While we were there, my Dad celebrated his 85th birthday and we are well aware that the time for making memories is rapidly evaporating.
Their house is on a peninsula in mid-Maine called St George and the house is in the beautiful teeny tiny town called Tenants Harbor. Connor and I made a 14 hour trek to be there (and another 14 hours back) with a vow to eat lobster almost every day. We indeed contributed to the economic health of the community through our lobster consumption!
One of the challenges of remote Maine is that things often don’t go as planned. Despite hours of telephone calls in preparation to lining up our new internet service at the house including confirming the day before, on installation day, we learned that, oops, the engineering team had yet laid the 2,000 feet of cable to make it happen. In fact I literally got a phone call today that said “we are ready to install your modem” when the house has already been closed up for the Season for several weeks!
In addition to having no internet at the house, I also had no cell service so when I drove into town, my phone would buzz and beep for 3 minutes straight. So even though I had done a great job of preparing my clients for being off the grid for 10 days, I didn’t realize I would be truly off the grid. I realized that aside from being “on retreat”, I hadn’t been fully unplugged like this in decades.
Alas, I have a mantra to let go of things I cannot control and I saw this as a grand invitation to be fully present during my trip.
Since my mother has advanced Alzheimer’s, at this point, she only has a full grasp on the present moment. She gets confused easily when talking about yesterday or tomorrow or sometimes even what happened a few moments earlier. But presence, she has that nailed. When I am fully present with my Mom, it’s like she is whole again. She’s positive, charming, and downright delightful. She has the ability to make Connor feel like he’s the most important person in the world. In fact, Connor just adored her even though he only has vague memories of the last time he saw her at Christmas 2019. He knew she forgot things but he didn’t see her as any “less than” because of it. It was pretty mind blowing for me. As always, my Mom remains one of my greatest teachers and Alzheimer’s, her TA.
I learned a lot about the power of presence on this trip. Some of what I learned was through the contrast of bouncing out of presence. Although some of these I “knew” before, I felt like I really alchemized them through this experience.
- When I am fully present, time “bends”. It can feel both endless and vast, yet before I knew it, 10 days had passed.
- There is a purity to the present moment. Even when Connor fell and got hurt, I found myself just being present with him rather than trying to “make it better.” I was calm and loving. I discovered that almost all the pain or angst I feel is when I leave the present moment, even when the present moment isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I have a huge capacity to hold whatever shows up when I am present.
- No matter what shit is going down in the world or even my world, when I am present, I am good. When people ask “how are you?”, I’ve come to answer “In this moment, I am good” and it is really sincere.
- When I am present, I realize that nothing else really matters. There is such a freedom to presence (And this comes from someone who pretty much always has a plan and a contingency plan to boot).
- I am pretty darn delightful when I am present. There is a lightness of being that feels like an invisible 50 pound backpack I’ve been carrying around has just fallen off my shoulders.
- I have a huge appreciation for whoever I am with when I am fully present. I fell even more in love with Connor, my Mother, myself…
- Even if life circumstances don’t change, life IS better when I choose to be present
And the list goes on.
What gifts have you found when you are fully present? I’d love to hear from you!
Tara Butler Floch