My Year of Living Dangerously

_DSC0026

A sunrise from December…

It’s the seventh day of the new year, and I haven’t made any real resolutions yet. I’m not going to. The truth is I have only one goal this year: to live in the moment.

This is something I’m not very good at.

I like to plan. I like to analyze “what went wrong.” I like to talk about things endlessly—before, during, and after. I don’t know if that’s why I’m a writer or if I write because I like to do those things, but the two are intricately interwoven.

But for a series of reasons—a combination of reasons—it’s become necessary for me to live more mindfully, to live in the moment. Because lately I’ve felt I have very little (virtually no) control over my life or things that happen in it. I’ve sought advice, and every person I’ve asked (even some I haven’t asked) have said the same thing—

Live in the moment.

So here I am. But the truth is, where else can I really live? We’re here. In this moment. Whether we choose to look back or look ahead. We’re still here. Right? When it’s gone it’s gone.

John Lennon once said: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.”  (Or was it John Lennon? I wondered and briefly searched—see, this is the type of rabbit hole I often go down. Check out this link to see if it really was Lennon. I’m not trying to withhold information, I just didn’t read it, choosing instead to return to this blog post, this moment!)

When my children were very young, I was much better at this than I’ve grown to be. In those days I had no choice but to be present. When you’re a caretaker of young children, you live moment by moment (even if you plan things, sometimes it doesn’t go the way you think). You play Legos or dress up, you draw and color and paint, you read aloud, you eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you walk to the park and pick up rocks and look at the trees and the dogs, and then you get tired out and you go home and nap. Sometimes you feel like you don’t get much done. A load of laundry is an accomplishment. Sometimes brushing your teeth is an accomplishment. But you also have that small person who is along with you, admiring and loving your every move, as entranced by your ideas as you are by his or hers. Life is fun and work all rolled into one.

Well, that life is clearly well behind me (my son will get his M.D. this year, my daughter is applying to medical school—I know, I know, it’s taken me a while to get here…what can I say except it was a dream life for me, the life of motherhood). Now I need to figure out how to entrance myself, and I feel a bit untethered about it all.

I’m living in the moment while thinking about how I can enhance my own life. What I want to do. New things. I considered giving up writing completely in order to pursue new things, but that’s not an option—I write.

But while I write I want to do new things.

Sometimes I think of it as my leap into danger. Sometimes I want to live dangerously. Roll down the windows when it’s five degrees and turn up the music really loud. That’s dangerous. That’s dangerous? No it’s not. Clearly it’s not. But that’s part of it. I’m figuring out how to figure things out. As I go.

I suppose that’s as close as I’m coming to a resolution this year.

Figure it out as I go.

And that’s okay.

What about you? Do you have trouble staying in the moment?

Happy New Year!

Julia

 

Comments

  1. Micky Wolf says:

    Awesome. Honest. Authentic. In the moment. :) Thank you for your inspiring New Year greeting. And now excuse me, as I take this moment, to savor the beauty of that sunrise. :)

  2. Happy New Year, Julia! I’ve had problems living in the moment my entire life. When I was young, I’d check off things on my list, accomplishments and such, and move right on to the next goal having never celebrated the preceding. You’re right about kids making you live in the moment, but with one at college and one a freshman in high school, everything is just rapidly accelerating, almost into an unrecognizable whirlwind. I love how much you loved being a mom to your kids, by the way. Sounds like they’ve grown up well, wanting to help people through practicing medicine.

    Good luck! I hope the new year brings you much joy.

    • Happy New Year, Karen! I remember well those accelerating moments, when you start to feel like things are getting away from you…hang on tight and prepare for the landing, that’s my advice, it’s a wild ride. Thank you so much for your kind words about my kids. I hope the new year brings you joy as well!

  3. Christine M Grote says:

    You speak to my heart. And I don’t need to offer advice, because it appears you know what to do. Just also know you are not alone. Patience through this transition. I am also playing with the idea of giving up writing. Water colors appeal to me.

    • Thank you, Christine, it means so much that others understand. I hope you won’t give up writing, but I understand… it’s hard sometimes to know what to do. Water colors appeal to me as well, but I don’t have a visual art bone in my body (which is a great disappointment to me). Hope all’s well with you. Sending warm thoughts!

  4. Julia — My hat is off to you for your “that’s as close as I’m coming to it” resolve.

    You live near the water.
    You love photography.
    You love writing.
    And you want a lick of danger.
    Here’s what you do…

    …take up kayaking!

    While you’re out there on the water, photograph the bajeebers out of your adventures and then write about it. Who knows, it may become your new muse.

    • I’ve thought about kayaking! That’s a great suggestion, Laurie! And I agree that the photos I’ve seen from kayakers are incredible. Thank you for your idea and your understanding!

  5. Nina says:

    This was so good, Julia. I feel like I’m in your head with you trying to figure out what’s next while simultaneously trying to breath and stay present. It’s so hard. I’m like you–an analyzer before, during, and after. Somebody said to me recently, “You do everything so . . . intentionally.” She meant it was (sort of) as a compliment, but it came out as though she was very annoyed about it, which perhaps she IS.

    I didn’t make a resolution this year either except to keep doing what I’m doing. 2014 was a good year!

    • Hearing that you like my post is high praise — thank you for making my day, Nina! I’m so glad 2014 was a good year for you, it really shows in all you’ve put forward. I can’t wait to see what you bring us in 2015!!!

  6. Kristen says:

    Happy New Year, Julia! I think you’ve got a bit of a dangerous edge in you and I, for one, cannot wait to see it revealed this year. Just as long as you promise to not stop taking pictures! Can’t wait to see where 2015 takes you.

    • I can’t tell if you’re pulling my leg about thinking I have a dangerous edge… I do but it’s pretty deeply buried at the present time, years of being Mom and all… I simply will not ever stop taking photos, that I can promise. However, if I finally get the guts, they may be as I’m falling out of an airplane or some such! Happy 2015 :)

  7. Cherry Harris says:

    Happy New Year to you Julia . When I see your blog in my inbox I think get myself some time, a really milky drink and something to put my feet on …you write so eloquently.
    I DO NOT DO NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS. When I see everyone else doing it I let them get on with it . A few years ago I started January with a tough fitness routine and broke my ankle. I was in plaster for three months ( the good side was I did get to read the whole works of Harry Potter) .
    I have been, for the last year or so, into Mindfulness . It works in the moment but I find it hard to apply it to everyday life but I’m working at it .
    Cherryx

    • Happy New Year, Cherry! After your very kind words, you are definitely on my favorites list, THANK YOU! Glad to hear I’m not alone in no resolutions. And you put words to something I’ve grappled with: “It works in the moment but I find it hard to apply it to everyday life but I’m working at it.” Something I’m really struggling with. Thanks again for your kind words! xox

  8. As far as resolutions go, this is a great one, Julia! Feeling lost is scary, but feeling free? That’s something special. This isn’t “the unknown”; it’s a great big adventure that you’re just starting out on. You might as well enjoy it, right? I know it will be wonderful. Happy 2015, my friend!

    • Thank you, Annie, so much. I really am trying to view this as an adventure. And encouragement from positive friends like you goes a long way in making that a reality. Happy 2015 to you as well!!

  9. I’m so with you on this, Julia. It can be challenging to be present. It’s something I am working on also. It’s easy to say, much harder to do. I’ve realized that the key is to completely accept the present. No matter what it looks like. When I’m not accepting the present, I’m not living in the moment. I’m living in the past or the future.

    PS — I love the kayaking idea put forth by Laurie. :) I’ve only been kayaking once, but it was so much fun.

    • I’m so glad I’m not alone in this — and wow, does this make so much sense to me: “I’ve realized that the key is to completely accept the present. No matter what it looks like.” EXACTLY!

      As for kayaking, I may wait until spring when the ice floes melt 😉

  10. Ann Mc says:

    Wow…that was an amazing post! I’m learning to live in the moment. While I’ve not posted this on-line (and you know SOME of it), I’m going to say something here that has changed me forever.

    Yes, I have learned to live in the moment. I’ve had a series of events happen in the last 6 months that has changed that. I had a stroke and was diagnosed with two brain aneurysms (one of them is inoperable). 3 weeks, after the stroke, I stood by my parents as they buried their eldest son – on my birthday.

    …and my amazing husband is being tested for something I can’t get in to – but it’s scary…. HE truly lives in the moment. He’s not worried and he’s not scared. He says he’ll cross that bridge if or when we get to it.

    Me? I’ve not slept a full night since Thanksgiving! I worry, worry, worry about the future. However, when I’m with him….I live in the NOW! He may outlive me, I may outlive him.

    Until that happens, we are going to LIVE! Together. Happy.

    I am happy. Truly, madly, happy.

  11. Have trouble staying in the moment. Yes! I have problems that come and go with anxiety and I’m learning that if I stay in the moment — and not worry about future — my anxiety is lessened. Great thoughts Julia.