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I Am Here. Part Three: Here.

This post is the third installment in a three-part series exploring the mantra: I Am Here. In my first post, I explored the word “I” from the mantra, and the ways in which I am striving to take ownership of my choices, ideas, and opinions. You can read that post here. My second post explores “am” and the ways in which I am challenging self-doubt and embracing identity and belonging. That post can be read here


I am here. I am here. I AM here. I am HERE. Today’s writing is on: HERE.


What does it mean to be present? To be here in the current moment? And… why is it so hard to do that sometimes?

Reflecting on the word “here” as part of the mantra “I Am Here” feels the most straightforward of the three words. Being here, or being present, is at the heart of meditation and mindfulness practices. Both of these are practices that, like yoga, I have dipped my toes in over the years but would never claim to be an expert on. 

One thing I do know is that meditation challenges you to let your thoughts flow over and through you and not carry you along in their current. It challenges you to reject the chains of worry that are so easy to pull yourself along. It asks you to stay here, in the present moment, and to not get lost living in the past or worrying about the future. To take life one breath at a time. To be here, now. 

I once heard an idea that essentially said: those who are depressed are living in the past, those who are anxious are living in the future, and those who are happy are living in the present. This is a paraphrase from a source I can no longer recall of a deeply nuanced idea. Cherishing memories of the past or imagining dreams of the future are a normal part of life – you can’t just ignore your past or your future. But the nuance to the saying lies in the idea that to dwell too much on the past or the future can steal the joy from what’s in front of you in the present. 

I am a person who can easily get caught up in my own head.  My husband will sometimes catch me with a distant look in my eyes, say, in the middle of dinner.  When he asks me what I’m thinking about, the answer could be anything from a lesson I was (mentally) in the middle of planning, to a random question about a months-away plan, to something I feel guilty about saying to someone… you know, ten years ago.  It’s not hard for me to find myself in another place or moment besides the one I am physically occupying at any given time.

I have always been a book lover, enjoying little more than getting wrapped up in an amazing story, world, or a life unlike my own.  I can also get very invested in the TV shows I watch – reading articles, listening to podcasts, and following the actors or authors on social media.  Even as a young child, I didn’t want to miss a moment of the story, to the point that I would insist the VHS tape MUST start all the way at the beginning – and not of the feature presentation, I’m talking all the way back to the FBI warning. And as a child, it was nothing at all to drop into a universe of my own imaginative play – Barbies or dolphins or horses or Polly Pocket. 

To be honest, reading, listening, and watching has been an intentional coping mechanism I’ve used in these past few years.  Why allow myself to get pulled into the small- to large-grade issues running 24-hours a day on the news cycle when I could get lost in a story instead?

At this point, though, I must stop to ask.  When does a hobby or desire to consume content and digitally connect go from being a fun pastime and distraction, to a problematic avoidance and absence from my real life happening in real time?

It becomes a problem:

…when what starts as an intended few minutes of checking into an app quickly turns into minutes (hours?!) lost to doom-scrolling.

…when sleep is lost and the only thing I have to show for it are dozens of new reels that I watched that I won’t even remember tomorrow.

…when I feel invested in random people I don’t know online (and who don’t know me either, for that matter) and yet I don’t “have time” to keep in touch with my actual friends.

…when I become more worried about logging my steps or my outdoor minutes or my whatever than actually enjoying the time I am spending outdoors.

…when I become so preoccupied with recording or photographing or posting the current moment that I am not really living in it.

…when my head is filled with worry about what may come or what may happen and a perfectly good today is ruined by worrying about tomorrow (Sunday Scaries, anyone?).

…when I’m trying to photograph my children (because, really, they’re only this little once, and how can I remember this moment if I don’t capture it?) and my toddler actually says to me, “No mommy! Put your phone in your pocket!”

(That last one hurts the most, by the way, and has left me feeling chagrined more than once recently.)

So, if those are the problems, then what is the solution? 

The solution takes work, and it takes presence of mind, but I believe the solution is to devote myself to being more fully here.  

To allow myself to be here, present in the current moment.

To make time and spend time being here, with my friends and loved ones.

To more often close the phone, close the apps, close the dozens of mental tabs that seem to be open, and open my eyes instead to the here and now.

To yes, spending some time recording memories, and some time connecting with people online, but to spend more time here making memories and connecting in real life.  

To let myself truly take in the people around me and the setting around me. To really be in my classroom, with my students. Or in my home, with my family. Or in nature, or in line at the store, or in my car noticing my drive, or in the conversation I’m having, or in the feeling I’m experiencing. To connect to my senses. To really feel alive. To be in whatever here I happen to be in.

It’s not wrong to read, listen, watch, connect, photograph, connect, record, and scroll.  But it is wrong to spend my time like it’s an infinite resource when in reality it is quite finite. It’s wrong to allow myself to miss out on my own life.

Balance and nuance are needed. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can help.  Just as I’ve recently written about honing my decision-making “muscle,” I want to purposefully hone my being-present muscle, too.  I’d like to add some more balance to my life by being more here in the present moment, with the people around me. To being really and truly here.


In writing today’s Slice, it occurred to me that “here” can refer to not only the present moment, but also one’s current stage of life. Today’s struggles and joys will be traded for others in time. I am currently a mother to two young children, but I won’t always be in this stage of life. I won’t always have the interrupted nights of sleep, nor will I always have a little boy who literally squeals in delight when he sees me. Who asks, incredulously, with a sparkle in his eye and a grin on his face, “Mommy, you’re home?” Or “Mommy, you’re awake?” Or simply, “Mommy, you’re here?”

Yes, my sweet little love. I am here. 

I am here.


5 responses to “I Am Here. Part Three: Here.”

    This is so so good. And just so full of truth and I can *hear* your voice when I read this. You stabbed me a few times there, when your words hit my situation, but then you came with solutions and affirmations and YES. YOU. ARE. HERE.
    For such a time as this.


  2. The actionable middle lists you created were powerfully focused. That ending, though? Wham! It takes all the practical observations from earlier and wraps them in one wrenching image. Thanks for sharing your reflections.


  3. I am so glad you are HERE slicing this year. What a beautiful, heartfelt reflection on being present. I connected so deeply with the parts about being present as a parent. It is so hard. I love that you focused on the balance of it all.


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