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Staying in the moment

20 January 2023

My daughter is nine, and developing a nice sideline in life coaching. On Thursday night when I was fretting about work while making the dinner she said “worry about work when you’re at work” and it worked. I did stop worrying. One of the biggest challenges of being a parent – for me at least – is staying in the moment. There are so many distractions, from existential worries to whatsapp alerts. I know that this time is precious. Soon, she’ll be a teenager and won’t want to talk to me for hours at 9pm, and then she’ll have a phone and I won’t want her to be on it.

My aim for today’s run was to stay in the moment: to enjoy being outside on this cold and clear January day. I did enjoy it, but not in the mindful way I had hoped for. My feet were moving calmly, but my brain was running everywhere. Remembering something I said in a meeting that I wished I hadn’t, worrying what trainers to wear at the race I’m doing on Sunday, wondering if I needed to get dad something else for his birthday.

Occasionally I’d stop to walk and find that my mind cleared. The constant beat of questions and worries stopped and I would notice the gutter of ice at the edge of the road, a golden plover in a field, or the fingers of an oak branching into the blue sky.

After my run I swam a few lengths in the swimming pool at the gym. It was nearly lunchtime and very quiet. Shafts of sunlight rippled through the end of the empty fast lane and I ducked in to bask in the glow, eyes closed. I was happy and I can’t remember what I was thinking about. Maybe summer. Maybe nothing.

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