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So it’s November and we all know what that means…

Time to turn your clocks back and enjoy a week of waking up feeling rested at 6:30am.

Time to break out that box of winter clothes: coats, boots, hats, and scarves.

Time to buy more Kleenex, drink tea, and make soup.

Time to start daydreaming about where you might travel this winter to keep warm.

Time to take a family photo, learn how to cook a turkey, and exchange names for Christmas gifts.

November is also a time to PAUSE.

PAUSE and THINK and BE THANKFUL.

This is the month of THANKSGIVING after all.

I find today a particularly perfect day to pause and be grateful as I am right in the throws of Boden’s first “cold.” Runny nose, watering eyes, cough, excessive spit-up…the real deal. The poor little guy sounds like he’s sucking air through a straw in a cup at the end of it’s rope. His smile, though less enthusiastic, still appears on occasion but looks odd paired with the tears streaming from his red-rimmed eyes. We have him sleeping with his mattress on an incline to reduce nasal congestion and a humidifier to keep the dry winter air at bay.

And yet, through it all, I am reminded how blessed we are.

This month’s Real Simple magazine included an article on being present- staying focused on the here and now, being aware of your existence, and truly savoring the little moments that make up your life. Different people from different walks of life wrote about the ways that they remained present.

I think that’s hard to do in our day and age when we are focused on where we are headed, more aware of our desires and goals than simply living, and brush aside the little moments in a race toward the big events we eagerly anticipate. ┬áSo…I’m going to take some advise from these people who actually practice slowing down and focusing on the now.

Here’s a few that stuck out to me:

– Lulu, a 41 year-old Improv teacher, writes, “Listening is extremely important in improv- not just to what another person is saying but also to how they are saying it. That awareness builds a connection that keeps you in the moment.”

How many times have I “listened” to someone while thinking about something entirely different at the same time?

– Katie, a 36-year-old Muralist, writes, “I give myself as much time as possible to get work done. I start early, before people are out, and plan in extra days. That way, when others stop by to talk or ask questions, I can have a genuine exchange without feeling stressed and still find those essential quiet moments to work.”

How often do I plunge into my day without first spending some quiet moments to myself?

– Ashely, an 27-year-old teacher, writes, “One of the things I’ve learned from kids: Don’t focus on the end result; the process is more important…We get so much more our of every moment when we get rid of our tunnel vision.”

How much do I wish that Bo would reach the next milestone rather than appreciating all the things he is able to do now?

– Annie-Marie, a 36-year-old Naturalist, writes, “Spend 30 minutes at the park or any outdoor space on a regular basis…without listening to music or talking on the phone. Just sit there. At first you might struggle, because your brain is still busy with human problems: work, relationships, habits of the mind. Eventually nature will draw you out, and you’ll become part of the rhythm of your environment.”

How many days do I spend on my phone, on the computer, or just plain cooped up inside without breathing in the fresh air?

– Jesus, God’ Son, says, “do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?…seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

So, during this month of Thanksgiving, I’m hoping to take this advise and become more focused on the here and now. Appreciate the little victories. Stop and smell the roses.

Pause and be aware that I am living…thankfully.

Photo via Tinton Falls