Have You Opened Your Present Today?

I happen to be blessed with a sister-in-law who has become one of my best friends. Whenever I am stressing about something or worried about something, especially family-related, I just text her and she calls me. I end up talking in circles but she gets it. With so much going on this year on all fronts I can’t believe she has not blocked my number as I have bugged her a lot! Anyway, on a recent phone call (well, a few weeks ago, but everything feels like yesterday when you are retired) I was venting about the election and worried about the future, about things I just could not control. I also was reflecting on long ago, decisions made, wondering if I made the right ones. I was in a tizzy!

As per her usual simple yet brilliant Chellie-style, she shared something her mom (or her grandmother, ugh, this memory of mine) once shared, that she thought might help me chill out. This is what she said:

Yesterday is History.

Tomorrow is a mystery.

Today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.

Yes, it is simple, yes you have probably heard it before (Eleanor Roosevelt said it first I believe), but have you ever stopped, really stopped to think about what it means? After I hung up with my sister-in-law, as usual, I felt more focused and happier. I knew I had to write something about it, as finally, after months of brain chaos, I thought this might be important to remind people of. We need to stop wasting our days with worry and regret. It hasn’t helped.

So I started to open my eyes. I purposely tried to tune in to my surroundings and look for things wonderful. Funny, I started to notice this gorgeous butterfly that seems to always be fluttering around my pot of zinnias in the morning. OK, maybe it is not the same one every time, but still, a daily dose of butterfly? What can be better than that? I have found myself standing in the sunshine, waiting, watching, just to see what it does. I feel like I am in heaven when I see it! Once it literally made circles around me (of course it made me think of my dad in heaven…who knows…). {UPDATE: yesterday afternoon while zooming with my three children from up north, I went out to show them a few things and low and behold, there was my yellow striped butterfly. Not only did he sit on a few flowers for long enough for them to see him, he also flew circles around my IPad while I was holding it!!}

During the late morning when I get out on my walk, instead of stressing about things I have no influence on, I started to just look around. I noticed the sky especially, which is always crazy down here in Florida…..it can be sunny one minute but the next thing you know the sky starts to downpour from just one random gray cloud…..and then, just as fast as it comes, it is gone. But, the puddles are there…and I now make sure my sandals are off and I purposely go out and stomp in them. It brings back memories of being 8 years old because that is what gave me joy back then (that and catching frogs and toads and floating down a stinky creek in a blue plastic boat). I also have started to truly cherish having a body healthy enough to be able to jump on my bike and ride. I soak in the smells of the warm air and the sight of the long straight bike trail ahead of me. I still keep my eyes out for those black snakes that like to cross the bike path that I try not to make a speed bump and so far have succeeded.

And recently, when I take a shower after a long hot day, I don’t just rush through it….I have stopped and imagined, just for a minute, what this simple shower would feel like if I were a woman my age who happened to be a refuge in Syria. After crossing the dusty, hot, dirty desert on my own, feeling exhausted, thirsty, hungry and yucky……how amazingly wonderful would it feel if I finally was able to take a long warm shower in a bathroom as beautiful as mine? Suddenly, I don’t care about the discolored grout in the corner anymore. The warm clean water feels like a gift I typically forget to be thankful for.

I think most of us take for granted luxuries like hot showers, good water to drink, warm blankets, and safe beds to sleep in. Maybe we need to paint a room that looks shabby to us, or maybe we want to redecorate, or maybe we can no longer afford the big house or nice condo we have and need to downsize. But, the reality is in our country most of us are truly blessed to have what we need to survive and be happy. We just sometimes tend to look at and focus on what we don’t have, what we want verses what we need. We don’t think we can be truly happy “now” so we look to the future (which we can’t predict and can’t control) to try to figure out how and when to be happy. When right in front of us, it is all right there.

We also have regrets. We think back to all the mistakes we have made. We wonder, how would it be if we did things differently? We wonder how many people we may have hurt or done wrong. Even though we can’t go back and change it, stressing about it, feeling guilty or sad or bad takes away our present.

Recently, in some of my readings, I came across a concept called “Ho’oponopono”. It is a way of seeing the world, originating in Hawaii, based on the concept of living in the present and letting go of the past that you keep worrying about. The technique was created by Morrnah Simeona and disseminated by Dr. Hew Len. The basic premise is in addressing “the divine within you”, whatever that may mean to you….the words, or mantra they recommend is saying to yourself, out loud or silently, whenever you find yourself stressing is:

I am sorry, forgive me, I love you, I am grateful.

Apparently, we miss lots of wonderful, beautiful, happy moments every single day because we deep down have had bad experiences that we hold on to. Because this is a blog about nutrition and eating and acceptance of imperfection in our eating, I have reflected on what this may mean to those with eating issues, whether it be those wanting to lose weight, those sick of dieting, or those who have suffered with eating disorders. I know for a fact that lots of people, especially women, regret what they ate yesterday, stress about what they are going to eat tomorrow and worry about dealing with the holidays that are going to be happening for the next few months. I know that those who already feel they have “blown it” or failed in whatever way they judge themselves are not recognizing their ” present”.

So I just want to remind everyone that tomorrow is not here yet. Yesterday is gone. The only thing you have is today. Your present. How much energy you waste on yesterday and tomorrow is wasted energy. All you have is today. I challenge you to look around and find your present. Even if you have to step outside and look at the sky, I promise, there will be beauty there. Do you have a very cool smart relative, sister, friend that you can call and vent to like I do? What a gift!!!! You deserve it! Call them!

Or maybe you are someone struggling with eating issues, maybe you have turned to old behaviors that you know are not supportive of the best you. That was yesterday, today is a new day! We ALL have things we wish we could change overnight, but that is not how true growth happens. It is only when we pay attention to what we are not happy with and then forgive ourselves for our imperfections, and return to love…..not only for others, but for ouselves. We deserve it.

So, as the holiday season is at our doorstep, a time we should enoy but find ourselves struggling, for good reason……please never forget to open your present every day. It is there.

You just have to notice it. You have to find it.

6 thoughts on “Have You Opened Your Present Today?

  1. Jeri Bothamley

    Thanks for sending this Joanne. I can see where Jen gets her desire to write. Nice insights. Denny and I were just chatting and thinking that we’d love to have you folks for a long weekend, and Adam, Jen and Dan, when you come north in the summer. Think it would be fun, and the kids would love it. If we can spend a week together when everyone is sick, think of the fun we’d have if we all feel ok! XO, Jeri

    Sent from my iPad



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