I Only Had a 30% Experience

being present emotion motherhood Sep 03, 2021

Last night we drove around as a family to look at Christmas lights.

I really don’t think my girl stopped talking the entire time we were out.

She was so excited that her little body couldn’t contain her emotions.

She was truly experiencing everything she saw physically AND mentally.

Physically she felt the excitement in her chest, and it traveled down to her hands and feet so they just wiggled like crazy to match her excitement.

She experienced what she saw and heard mentally, because she verbalized every thought she had about every single light and every single song.

This girl was having a full experience.

When she woke up this morning and sleep had a chance to wear off, the first thing out of her mouth was, “Mom!!!! Did you have just the best time looking at Christmas lights last night?!?!?!” 

She fully enjoyed her moment so much, she even let it carry over into the next day.

Admittedly, I very rarely find myself fully enjoying a moment or even being fully present with a moment, because I’m so very often thinking about the next thing and what I have to do for the next thing.

In fact, most of the time I completely ignore the emotions I’m feeling even though I may be fully aware of my thoughts.

Let me pause for a second to explain what I mean by emotions and thoughts, because it’s a little different than how most people see it.

Thoughts are simply the sentences in our mind. They’re the opinions, judgments, interpretation, and meaning that we give to those things that are happening around us. 

Emotions or feelings (I use those words interchangeably) start in the brain with a thought and then travel to the body and are experienced in the body. I don’t want to get too scientific-y or too jargon-y with this one, so maybe a few examples would be helpful.

With all the thoughts she was having about the lights last night, my girl was physically experiencing the feeling of excitement in her body.

Her heart beat faster. Her hands were shaking. And her feet moved constantly. That is how her body felt excitement.

Another example that might be helpful is how I experience worry in my body. When I have thoughts that cause me to feel worried, I feel physically sick to my stomach, almost immediately. I am unable to feel the sensation of hunger. My face goes white and my heart beats faster.

Those are too very different examples, but hopefully they illustrate what I mean about thoughts and feelings.

Thoughts happen in the brain. Feelings are felt in the body and are the product of our thoughts.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming . . . . 

My girl had a full and complete experience looking at the lights last night.

You know what I had? Maybe a 30% experience. 

And the saddest part?

I do it a lot.

I didn’t really observe each of the lights we saw or the songs we heard.

My mind wasn’t thinking about all the little details of what I was seeing.

In fact, half the time I was thinking about something completely different.

Because I wasn’t in the moment, I wasn’t even able to feel in my body the joy that I could’ve experienced watching my girl and my boy go through their own sweet little emotions.

So many times we miss out on having a full and complete experience with something, because we’re not even thinking in the moment or if we are, we’re not even really recognizing how it feels in our body.

Do we truly know what joy FEELS like? Or love? Or wonder?

Do we make time to really experience it?

This time of year there is a lot going on.

Especially for a working mom.

It’s easy to forget the little things.

It’s easy to not be present in the moment, because you’re just trying to survive.

But what if we tried?

There will be A LOT to experience over the next week.

A lot of positive emotions and probably some negative emotions too.

I commit to feeling all of them, especially the positive ones.

I want to feel life so fully this Christmas week that I can wake up the next morning and still truly feel all the feelings of “having the best time!”

Originally Published 12/19/19

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