Making Memories (and Why Being Present Really Matters)

My mom recently sold our childhood home. It was bittersweet going through boxes of things as my sisters and I helped her pack up the house. Over the course of our time packing things up, we were reminded of so many memories, so many things we did or experienced over the nearly 25 years that this house was our home. Over and over we’d say things like, “oh my God, do you remember this?” and “I can’t believe we survived that!” and “I completely forgot about this…why on earth would we hold on to this?” and “Dear God, burn those pictures… yikes.”

It brought up memories that generated lots of stories and lots of laughs as we relived the experiences we had and shared when we lived in that house.

As I reflect back on that day and the memories it brought back to the surface, I think what was most precious about it was the reminder of how present my mom was in all aspects of our lives. In every one of our stories, my mom played a role. Even in the stories we shared when she wasn’t a key player, she knew about it. She was always there, watching, listening and caring. She was totally present in our lives.

I’m reading a book called Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford and one of the messages the author shares is the importance of being present in everything you do by ridding yourself of distractions. Whether it’s the phone, the TV, challenges at work or something else, forcing yourself to be totally present in the moment is how you make memories. It’s how you build and sustain relationships. It’s how you truly live life.

I often find it easy to zone out and scroll through Facebook or check email at the end of the day as my boys finish dinner and I wait for the next round of dishes to be handed to me, but as they burst into a fit of giggles, I’m quickly reminded that these days of their toddler giggles as they *frustratingly* throw peas across the table at each other won’t last forever. And I’ve put the phone down. I don’t turn on the evening news. I only put some soft background music on that we can listen to, music we all sing along to and dance to together.

Those are the memories I’m making. Those are the memories we’re going to share when we’re uncovering things as we move on to our next adventure. And I’m so excited to relive those memories, and even more excited to be present in each moment so my boys know I’m always there and always listening, despite my repeated reminders to stop throwing food and to stop talking with food in your mouth.

Memories – it’s what makes a most amazing life.

Take Action
What is one thing you can do differently today to ensure you’re fully tuned in to what’s happening in front of you? Don’t miss the opportunity to make memories. They will last a lifetime.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading What Type of Parent are You?

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Go Center Yourself

By Jay Forte

Your employees always seem to find some way to aggravate you.

Your kids or spouse know just how to get under your skin.

The traffic on the highway, or the line of people ahead of you at the grocery store, can make you lose your cool.

The person who is too loud on their cell phone sitting near you in the airport frustrates you because you can’t concentrate on reading your novel or reviewing your notes for your meeting.

When you find yourself in any situation where your anger is rising, take a moment. Go center yourself. You will take control of your thoughts, feelings and actions to help you more calmly, sanely and wisely respond to whatever aggravation, frustration or irritation the world is sending you.

You are responsible for your responses and reactions. The situations you find yourself in are just information. Sure, some of them can be tedious, tough or terrible. They can be aggravating, frustrating and even irritating. Some of life is. But how you are in each of these moments is up to you. You can lose your cool or you can learn to get yourself to a place of calm that will help you wisely assess the situation, consider your alternatives, and choose one that can give you the best result. You can’t do this from a reactionary brain.

Go center yourself means you take a moment to get control of yourself, maintain context, get composed and then see the situation for what it is. This creates the ability to see more, consider more and ultimately choose a response that will give you a better result.

Here are three ways to go center yourself.

  1. Breathe. The breath is powerful. It creates an immediate change in you for two reasons. First, it activates a part of the brain that releases stress-reducing hormones, resulting in a relaxation response in the body. This built-in calming response is available to you any time you can remember to breathe. And second, the act of taking a breath interrupts you, even for just a moment, to disconnect you from the stress environment, breaking the default habit reaction. Once disconnected, more options to respond are possible.
  2. Move. Movement activates the brain and can shift it out of reacting. Simply by shifting, standing, sitting or moving a few steps allows you to create a disconnection from the event that can change your view of the situation and give yourself greater response options.
  3. Be inspired. Have a page of inspiring quotes, lyrics or lines from poetry to go to when you find yourself getting stressed. A line from a Maya Angelou poem, or some of the comedy found in Dr Seuss or Ogden Nash’s poems, can help you see things differently and allow yourself to get back in control. Again, it is a distraction that moves you away from reacting.

Centering is a way to be sane, calm and ready for what life sends you. Use it as you approach a big project, a big decision, a challenging situation or a tough discussion. It will help you show up to each in the best way possible by helping you see things more clearly and to manage the reactions.

Take Action

How will you center yourself in a tough situation or in anticipation of a tough situation this week? Notice the difference in the outcome and in how you felt in the process. Recognize the difference in you when you choose how to be. Calm, focused and tuned in is better than distracted, reactionary and stressed. Go center yourself.

Consider reading Want to Change the World? Engage a Coach.

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