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  • SuePattonThoele

Choosing to Be Present

I believe we want to satisfy the needs and longing of those we care about, really see them and intimately know them, but how do we actually know what their needs, delights, and longings are if we don’t regularly choose to be completely present to them? The good news is most of us are suck-’em-up sponges when it comes to presence. Just a few minutes of eye-contact, full-attention, face-to-face concentration between friends or lovers or kids and parents can fill us to the brim. I think that’s why having coffee or doing lunch is so popular—and necessary—for women. In those settings, we are present for each other in the moment. Texts and Snapchats are great for touching base but are not the satiating full-facial connecting of true presence.

Today, I was having a swear-a-thon hissy fit over a technical issue, and my hubby, Gene, was my captive audience. He lowered the paper, looked me square in the face, and just listened with a little smile. He chose to be absolutely present for about a minute and a half. I had been heard, seen, held in his gaze, and—it appeared—enjoyed. And it was enough. This full-minute-of-undivided-attention approach can also be magically effective with kids of all ages.

Speaking of kids, their gelled hairstyles have given new life to Brylcreem, so I’ve adapted Brylcreem’s ancient jingle to... “Presence: A little dab’ll do ya!” Not always, of course, but often.

During your day...

  • Choose to be completely present to yourself and one or two other people, or pets, for a minute or two.

When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is

your presence. How can you love if you are not there?

—Thich Nhat Hanh

Excerpted from The Woman's Book of Strength by Sue Patton Thoele. Available on Mango and Amazon.

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