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Rule 13: Be Present

Aug 11, 2008
Cara France is the President of Sage Consulting Associates. She holds her MBA from Stanford, is an abstract painter and world traveler, and is the mom of twin two-year-olds.

When I'm happy, fulfilled and centered in who I am and what I value, I have everything to give - to my family, my career, my community. That is the premise on which I live my life.

It's about quality. It's not the number of hours I spend with my two-year-old twins - it's the quality of that time. My gift is being "present" with them 100 percent. I love managing and growing my business. I love spending quality time with my husband. I love being with my children. The challenge is being fully present in each moment, truly sharing my "self" and my time.

It's about what I believe. I talk to mothers who feel torn - there isn't enough time for work or kids, and they feel like failures in both arenas. This isn't my experience or my belief. My approach is "it's possible to be fully engaged, fully expressed and joyful in all areas of my life that I value." I believe this is true, and it shows up in how I have chosen to live my life. No, it's not a fairy tale or the latest self-help affirmation. No, it's not always easy. Yes, it requires discipline, commitment, trust and occasionally a little courage. It requires the willingness to explore who I am - the good, the bad, the ugly - and to look honestly at my deeply held beliefs and change the ones that don't support my values.

It's a journey. Early on, I found having my Blackberry meant I was always connected to the office which made me feel better about taking care of my clients, but often it disconnected me from my kids. Then, I turned the Blackberry off for the three to four hours I was out with my kids. Next, I started blocking consistent days and times where I'm out of the office. That helped me to arrange my work schedule around my important "meetings" with my children. Then, I started enlisting people in my office to help support my choices and commitments. Today I have the support I need. All these practical steps allow me to be fully engaged and present with my kids.

It's a practice. Some days are better than others. It's about being aware. I notice when my thoughts and fears take over and try to bring myself back to the present. And I have to do it over and over and over. When I'm with the kids and I start thinking about issues at work, I take a few deep breaths and focus on this precious time with my children. When I'm present, it becomes obvious what the current moment is about and how to go into the next moment. Whether it's skipping bath time because the spontaneous music time is magical or meeting with a key employee because they feel there is something important to discuss, being present allows me to be tuned into what is needed in the moment. And, that's where the magic happens.

Yesterday I spent the morning in swimming class with my twins - splashing and swimming, eating lunch together, then a quick change into "work clothes" and into the office for several key meetings to push forward my most important business goals. Then, home for a wonderful family dinner where we say our gratitude prayer (luckily, my two year olds are grateful for mommy and daddy). We had an unexpected family drumming circle, skipped bath time because drumming seemed so important at the moment, and read books and went to sleep.

Everyone benefits. By focusing on being fully expressed and fulfilled, I'm able to be truly present and joyful which impacts everyone I touch and everything I do. When I'm not fully present with my kids, they tend to get whinny, cranky, and act out. When I'm fully there, we connect. We have fun. We play and we laugh. With my husband and co-workers, it plays out the same way. Being present is a practice - one that for me makes all the difference!

As excerpted from "42 Rules (tm) for Working Moms" Super Star Press, 2008
About the Author
Laura Lowell is the executive editor and author of "42 Rules for Working Moms." She has gathered practical advice and information from working moms all over the world to share with others. She lives and works in Silicon Valley with her husband and two girls. http://www.42rules.com/working_moms/index
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