Being Present

Is it the easiest thing in the world — or the most difficult in today’s wired age, where we (and work) are “always on” ?

For me, after years of battling cancer online and off, with the help of so many friends from all over the world, logging off is terribly hard. Putting the twitter down feels like telling friends “not now,” and I have the hardest time saying that.

But this week I’ve tried to unplug a bit to be present for my children as they deal with going back school, to a new school, and to kindergarten for the first time. I’ve worked without (gasp!) the internet turned on, and I’ve gotten a lot done. And I’ve gone back out to the garden while the puppies play, pruning the butterfly bushes that took a beating when we lost our tree. I didn’t even notice when the butterfly bushes broke, I was so busy. That’s not me. Busy, sure, but too busy to play with puppies? To care for my garden? To sing with my children as they swing (I can’t push, but I can be with them), or to teach them to hit a baseball?

As I unofficially “go back to work” this week, now that the kids are in school all day and a third NASA contract is coming to fruition, I am also trying again to implement one new thing for work, for play, and for relaxation: being present, and being thankful for all the science and medicine that has enabled me to have productive work days; lazy afternoons with my children, puppies, and friends; and life itself, three years I thought I would never have.  I am so lucky, and I am working on being present.


18 Responses to Being Present

  1. Jeannine says:

    So lovely and so true. Good for you! It’s not easy to turn off and be present but important for your kids, your body, and your soul. I don’t want my kids image of me to be the top of my head above my computer screen. I’m trying this approach evenings and weekends but it’s not always easy. Really nice post. xoxo

  2. NYFriend says:

    It is so hard to be present and mindful, but so essential as you have pointed out!

    Hope school is going smoothly for the boys. We start on Monday. Yikes!

    Congrats on the NASA contract! Will you be posting about it somewhere? Just curious. 🙂

    A lucky 3 years for us all to have you. 🙂

  3. Sometimes on the weekends I put up a “vacation” message on my personal e-mail indicating that I’m not checking e-mail for the weekend, but inviting people to call on the phone if it’s urgent (although I don’t post my number). It’s very, very interesting the way that people respond to that.

    Thanks for this great reminder – I think I’ll do it again this weekend !

  4. JavaMom says:

    I find this is a big struggle for me often. When “just a minute” becomes 5 minutes… 10 minutes… or more. I have to remind myself that THEY are the number one priority and all the other stuff can wait.

    This is a great post for me to read right now, thanks for writing it!

  5. Carolyn says:

    Susan, It’s really interesting that you write about “being present” now, because I just finished watching the Frontline episode called “Digital Nation” yesterday! It really got me wondering about how my daughter will grow up with technology, and my desire for her (and her father and me) to make sure to have time “disconnected” (and that includes the TV too!). Also, a friend of mine just spent several weeks “disconnected” in order to examine her life with and without technology. She spent the time writing a book about her experience,and called it “Disconnected: technology addiction & the search for authenticity in virtual life”. I do think there are many things to enjoy in life that have nothing to do with technology. It’s simple things, like playing with puppies and children that really enrich our lives. (And now I’m going to give my daughter a little tour of our garden! I want to check whether the apples are ripe enough to eat!)

  6. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Susan N, marty l. marty l said: This makes me so very happy. From @whymommy […]

  7. […] At Toddler Planet, Susan shares her thoughts on logging off and Being Present. […]

  8. Niksmom says:

    You’ve encouraged me to try to be offline a bit more and find ways to be more present for my son, my husband, myself. I so admire the grace and consciousness you bring to us through your experiences and your perspectives, Susan. We so often take for granted that we have limitless time. Your lessons are a gift to all of us to cherish what we have NOW.

    • whymommy says:

      Now really is all we have, right?

      I love my online world, don’t get me wrong (how else would we all have met?) — but it keeps me calm to emphasize offline interactions as I can make them, in these early days of chemo2010.

  9. Kimberly says:

    We have been offline a bit this week while on vacation. It does help to be more present with the kids.

    On another note, I just read your 9/11 post that you tweeted about. We were here in DC, too. Horrid day.

    Also, my husband’s aunt has been diagnosed with IBC. She isn’t talking about it much. Could you give me one or two “best” websites to point her to for support? She is single and in her 50s. Thanks!

  10. elesha says:

    Susan I just had the strangest thing happen. I live in Australia and I sat down to read my monthly note book magazine. There was a heading “one mums fight” and low and behold it was YOU!!!. I was like I know this name I know these words. How amazing that thousands of women in Australia are now aware of your story and checking for IBC now. THankyoux

  11. Wow, what an inspiring post, really brings so much into perspective, and junebug is just perfect. Thank you for your insights and sharing your courage.
    Please join us in offering your opinion on :
    We are trying to bring perspective and stop the negativity. You and all the others are super courageous and it is because of everyone in the Pink Ribbon campaigns that there is more respect, help us by sharing your insight and thanks.
    Looking forward to your next post! Thanks.

  12. Nor says:

    I’m finding too that there’s a need to unplug, but I do miss the virtual world and have to find the balance. Good luck with the NASA thing!

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