The school year just started, and I’m already putting up the white flag. I’ve got two kids at two schools with two start times and two end times. There are after-school clubs and evening events, soccer practices and music lessons. There’s homework to check, lunch boxes to pack, permission slips to sign, and lost worksheets to recover from the recycling bin. Being present has long been a challenge of mine, especially when I feel buried like this. When backed into a crowded corner of BUSY, I stop being present in the every day. I write to-do lists, snap at my kids about getting their shoes on, say things like “Hurry up!” and “I’m going to count to three!”, and look at my phone more than I look at my family.
So I was glad to receive a copy of the new book Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More by Rachel Macy Stafford. Rachel is the blogger behind Hands Free Mama, and so many of her messages–about slowing down, looking up, taking a breath–resonate deeply with me. In this new book, she reveals the habits that can help you let go of distraction, perfection, and pressure, such as “See What Is Good”, “Establish Boundaries”, and “Change Someone’s Story”. In each chapter she includes “Hands Free Habit Builders”, which are intended to be a kind of manifesto, hymn, prayer, or meditation. So many of them struck a chord with me, but this one did especially–and I hope it does for you too. A big thank you to Rachel for allowing me to publish it here!
by Rachel Macy Stafford
It is easy to get caught up in the pressure–pressure to get promoted, to be financially successfully, to have winning games, to be at the top of the class. Such pressures cause us to think ahead to tomorrow, next month, next year, and so on. How easy it is to forget about taking one day at a time. I’m guilty of letting future events matter more than what’s happening right now. And while it’s important to be prepared for tomorrow’s spelling test, next week’s staff meeting, next month’s championship, and next year’s grade level assessment, we must not allow these future events to matter more than what really matters now: Today. Today really matters. Today is all we know for sure that we really have.
Today I hope to take a few extra seconds to kiss the top of your head before you go.
Today I hope to stand aside and let you do it yourself…even if it takes a little longer…even if it’s messier…even if it’s not perfect.
Today I hope to say, “I’m sorry” and “I love you” because they are life-changing, comforting, and healing words.
Today I hope to laugh more than I sigh with exasperated breaths.
Today I hope to view missed shots and off-key notes as brave attempts at living rather than failures to succeed.
Today I hope to focus less on your faults and more on your freckles and sense of humor because they light up your face.
Today I hope to notice the color of your eyes when you speak to me.
Today I hope to listen to your words without judgment and impatience.
Today I hope to extend grace for accidental spills and other human mishaps.
Today I hope to give you a little extra time to walk along the edge of the curb, do your own hair, and listen to your words.
Today I hope to remember you are more than your achievements, more than your academic performance, and more than your behavior.
Today I hope to catch a glimpse of you that suddenly reminds me how much of an extraordinary miracle you are.
Today I hope to go to bed knowing life is better because of you.
Today I hope you fall asleep feeling loved right now, just as you are.
Today matters. Today is all I really have for sure. Let today be a day I can look back on, whether in tragedy or joy, and say today was not perfect, but it was memorable. Why? Because I encouraged. I smiled. I listened. I apologized. I waited. I cared. I tried. But above all, I love…oh how I loved…I loved myself and I loved the people in my life. Isn’t that the best part of living–to love and be loved? I think so.
I will show it by making today matter.
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This is an excerpt from Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More by Rachel Macy Stafford. Copyright © 2015 by Rachel Macy Stafford. Used by permission of Zondervan.
Rachel Macy Stafford is the author of Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters! and Hands Free Life: Nine Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More and the creator of the blog Hands Free Mama.