Present Moment, Only Moment.

Being a present-moment kind of girl has never been one of my strengths.

On the positive side of things, I’m an ambitious, achievement-focused kind of person.

On the negative, I worry a lot about things that don’t need to clog up today.

Sometimes this means you’ll catch see me gazing out the window on car drives, ignoring my car mates, miles away from where I’m actually at — stewing on what should happen in the next three years.

Other times, that means sitting at Andy’s dining room table in beautiful Oregon, worrying about what next Tuesday will be like when I’m back home in Atlanta.

Both are unnecessary.

Am I right?!

Today is point A and I’m always battling the desire to know about point C. What about what’s after the next thing?

I’ll be honest though; while it’s helped me accomplish a lot, that phrase about “depressed people are living in the past and anxious people living in the future?” I’ve had my fair dealings with anxiety.

A great accomplishment over the past two years has been that — I’ve let a lot go. I’ve found balance in being in the moment and anticipating what comes next.

And a lot of that came from realizing how little control you can have in life. Realizing that sometimes the best things are unplanned.

For me that’s meant finding a new everyday life rhythm.

I’m content in my job and while I want to grow and move up the chain; my todays are focused on doing my tasks better than yesterday; learning something new every opportunity and finding ways to set myself apart.

In my personal life I’ve found a lot of peace in strengthening my faith. i don’t control the overall tide of life myself; but I can trust in the one who does. And I can have good faith that if I’m focused on today; tomorrow is going to come together.

How many times have I written about this? A lot.

The reason I write about it today is because one of the best ways to STOP worrying about the future is to acknowledge your worry. Realize that it’s pointless. Find the motivation of what’s REALLY getting to you. Make a plan, if you can, for how to absolve that. And then redirect your focus positively in the moment. 

And sometimes writing about it is the best way.

Being in a long-distance relationship has affected my ability to not worry about the future in polar opposite ways.

When Andy and I are together, it’s almost paralyzing how much I want to worry about fixing this long-distance 3,000 mile issue immediately. Then in other ways, it’s so much more complicated than a quick fix — that I realize i only need to focus on the way his hair smells. What his shirt feels like when I hug him. How nice it is to go to the store together. The crunch of his steps next to mine when we take a hike. How the intonation of his voice changes at different times of day. Or how when he gets really sleepy he starts twitching. Those are nice things people who see each other everyday appreciate also; but for us when we’re together–they’re intensely meaningful.

This time last year when I visited Seattle for the first time and Andy and I were embarking on our first stint apart; I experienced for the first time “present worry.” I was in the moment — experiencing Seattle and precious time with him. But I was worrying about when the present would end. Worrying about having to get on a plane and say “see you later.”

We had brought burritos up to his favorite park in Queen Anne to look out at the Space Needle and under the bench we shared was a simple plaque that said:

“Present Moment, Only Moment.”

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Maybe to you, it’s kind of a “duh.”

But in THAT moment. I thought “I’m such an idiot. I need to just look around. I need to just give him a hug. I need to just be here.”

Ever since Andy and I saw that plaque it’s been a way of living when we have these stolen days together.

It’s a mantra when I get sad thinking about missing him–and he’s sitting next to me. It’s a meditation when I’m tempted to daydream about the “what ifs.”

As a result of HAVING to stay in the moment I’ve come up with my own list of ways to control yourself when you get all worked up about controlling life:

  • Take in the five senses of right this second. What do I smell? How does that fabric feel? Have I ever seen the light fall like that? Isolate the sounds floating through the room.
  • Keep my phone tucked away as much as possible.
  • Abolish a schedule and instead focus on overall task priorities for the day.
  • Actively acknowledge a desire to think about the future or worry // and deny it. “No, we’re right here right now.”
  • Start your day with a prayer. Give away those worries at the start so that your day can stay clean. (This is my favorite.)
  • Create conversations. Mull over the best questions. Put your heart into it.
  • Distract yourself with something new happening TODAY. See something for the first time. Find a new route to take. Try a fresh recipe. Stop by that bar that always catches your eye.
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Sometimes, God Demands Your Attention.

The last 24 hours have been a different kind of test of patience.

While I’m on vacation and able to be home the last two days it’s coincidentally been the same days that plumbers needed to come in and re-pipe my apartment. That means holes in walls. Moving around my stuff to the point that it looks like I’m moving out. Dust. Invasion of privacy. And some lost sleep.

Apartment life is … getting old.

But the real kicker was that I got home yesterday and ALL i wanted to do was hang out in my apartment…alone…and watch television.

I’ve been a little distracted with Andy’s impending visit (today!!) and have let myself get stressed about the inevitable underlying question of our relationship….when will long distance not be….and who is going to move when….

That stress can creep in and ruin good moments. It can sadly diminish the BEST times when we’re actually together. And it takes a lot of will power to be in the moment. Crazy, I know.

So, anyway. Stress in the back of my mind. I wanted some crap television. That was going to help me focus on my excitement.

I walk in the door and see a weird blinking light on my internet router.

No signal. 

Instagram won’t refresh.

The horror.

I restart my router.

Restart my modem.

Turn on my television.

Nothing.

Holy. freakin. Crap. What an inconvenient day. Not only is my apartment a wreck I have no entertainment. I felt like I couldn’t even be there—it was the worst.

I’m seething in my lack of apartment luck for the day and begrudgingly grab a bag to instead go work out. (I REALLY wanted to sit on the couch, guys.)

After two miles of serious sweating I decided to take a break and just walk. After all, my cable wouldn’t be on until 9 p.m. what in the world else was I supposed to do.

And it was then that it hit me.

I needed to pray. I needed to spend some time with God before Andy’s visit. All of the stress that I let slowly build up? I haven’t been doing a good job at all about letting off the steam — and sending it up in prayer.

One of the hard aspects when you move is finding a new church and a new spiritual routine. For me, Winston took forever. Boston took a bit. Atlanta, I’ve sadly just been busy! Terrible excuse, I know. And when you neglect one part of your faith — the church routine. It’s really easy to start neglecting the other parts — your nightly prayer. Your devotions. Your practice of offering it up.

I’ve always struggled with not having control. I blame my mom. It must be something she passed down genetically 🙂

But, in my long-distance situation with Andy I could be upset about that every single day if I wanted. Luckily, it doesn’t happen that often — but I find that the longer we’re long distance, perhaps the more often that inevitably I stress out. So it goes.

It was an amazing gift to be focused for thirty minutes yesterday on just lifting up my struggles to God and realizing that not having control is an amazing thing because — you can do so much, but the rest you have to hand up to Him.

Sure one of us could FEASIBLY pack up and move tomorrow–but no we couldn’t. There’s a timing implication to this. There’s a career opportunity aspect. There are families involved. It’s bigger than us even though–we’re at the center holding it together.

Can you imagine what a relief it was to just have peace that in the right time ALL of the pieces are going to come together?

What a relief.

What a sigh of peace that I can just enjoy this week! I don’t have to be calculated and anxious.

The only one who can coordinate all of the complex parts of your life–yup, that’s Him.

One of the best parts of Andy’s and I relationship is that we’re both committed to knowing that ONE DAY we’re going to be in the same place. The timing and the exact location are written somewhere I haven’t seen yet. But I can rest in faith that God has a plan and I don’t have to stress at all.

Sometimes, God has to cut you off. He has to demand your attention. And if you’re not careful you may miss the opportunity that God is giving you to have some relief. I almost didn’t see what now appears to be such a clear opportunity.

Needless to say that since then I have felt amazing and renewed.

You need moments like that every so often to remind yourself that you’ve been a bit of fool.

I need to stop doing it all on my own and then … not doing it quite so awesome. 

Spend some time in prayer.

Be specific.

Trust in all areas. And you’ll start to see all areas flourish.

Water. Bloom.

My cable and wifi are finally back on but today instead of television, I felt compelled to sit in more quiet with my coffee this morning. What a gift to have time for reflection and rest as I gear up for the fun that is about to start.

10 hours until Andy touches down in the A!

xx.

Boston, you are home for now.

Repeat to self “Boston, you are home for now.” And again. Repeat.

The perennial planner in me has watched the closure of my first year of graduate school, sees my final semester down the road and is already so tempted to try to plan for what’s next. The after Boston. The fresh job. Another move. Some change. Some shifting. Some more growing.

And I want to prepare and dream and get excited or feel in control of next January.

(HA!) Like that can happen.

And even if I could magically begin planning where I would like to move next or the exact job that I would like to apply for, even if–well, I would miss out on enjoying a whole six months of Boston.

I have loved living here and I still have so much to explore and appreciate.

That little planner inside is a hard one to squash!

So, how do I cope? I focus in on what to appreciate and love right now. My first year of school is done and this coming week I start my internship at Newton News (exciting opportunity). That means a full summer opportunity of getting myself together.

What am I hoping to work on?

The reel.

This is a duh. My internship will give me the opportunity to be on camera twice a week and produce a lot of new work. That means that at the end of the summer I should have my reel ready to go to start applying for jobs this fall.

Fall school work.

Would you believe I really want to get a head’s start this summer on my fall work? I have to turn in a thesis or “professional project” as I prefer to think of it at the end of the next semester. It will probably make my life a LOT easier if I can get some form of a head’s start. Minimum I need to have a full game plan for the fall.

Um, my fitness.

I say “um” because it’s kind of a shame. Boston and graduate school has translated to eating out and a lot of recreational drinking. 25-year-old bodies aren’t made for constant rich eating and college-style drinking. Mama needs to get back in shape! So, that means putting together a routine gym and running plan that will:
A) Get me back in shape!

B) Not re-irritate my stupid stress fracture.

But, am I right?

Cook, cook, cook.

This plays off of the fitness part.  A big part of the fluffier Ashley is alllll of the eating out. I mean, come on, it’s Boston. There are so many great pubs to try! But, I really want to work on cooking at home more and healthier. This is something I really enjoy and also summer should be the easiest season to get a jump start.

This all seems pretty reasonable, right?

This is likely my LAST summer “break” so I want to make it as productive as possible!  Now. Seriously. To stop planning….

I tend to hyper-focus.

Especially on things that I’m excited about, or really into. Right now there are a number of things on my mind:

– First and foremost; dag I’m back on the Jesus train. I’ve been SO stressed out lately; and it’s been amped up by the fact that I can’t run. So instead I’ve been back on my taking deep breaths and remembering that “there’s a plan….” So Joel Osteen has been helping again. There’s another ingredient coming, don’t get discouraged.

– I’ve seen a lot of movies lately, and I can’t wait to see “Despicable Me 2” next. Don’t judge. Too sassy to care.

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– I am FINALLY in the midst of “Parks & Rec” season 3. And oh my, so wild about Adam Scott. Always loved him. Always loved “Parks & Rec.” But the two together have raised my obsession with powering through the show even greater. Love.

     

          
 
 
– Does someone want to make me a beautiful cake? I’ve been wanting cake. all. week. long. Another bad side effect of not running. (Who am I kidding? I always want cake.)
 
 
– Lastly, I’m sick of my summer wardrobe already. Not a good place to be. GAP Outlet is beckoning me. Need to resist…need to resist…

When it’s out of your control, all you can do is trust Him.

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There are a couple of situations in my life right now that seem a little unsurmountable. There are a lot of prayers going up. And while I’m trying to just channel a lot of hard faith that things are going to work out the way that they are supposed to—I realized how easily I forgot this bible verse that I held SO dear just six months ago. It goes a little something like this:

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

– Ephesians 3:14-21

Just a little devotion for your Thursday.