Be Present and Savour Life

Karen Madej

Enjoy and appreciate each moment.

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Author’s Own Photo. Kirkcaldy, Scotland

I believe many of the world’s citizens are not present in their lives. I believe they go through the motions required of them in their daily lives. Get up, go to work, come home, sit in front of the telly. Or a variation, throw in some kids to care for, exercising, going to the pub. Whatever they do to fill their humdrum lives.

I used to be like that.

Even if people do exciting things like going on exotic holidays and buying designer shoes do they really truly appreciate them?

Do they take photos and bore their friends with pictures of foreign foods and strange monuments?

After the initial flash of show(wo)manship for those Louboutin’s, doesn’t the glory wear off and they end up on the rack in the walk-in closet with the hundred other pairs?

How many people do you know who savour photos and shoes on a regular basis?

“Savoring is the act of stepping outside of an experience to review and appreciate it. Savoring intensifies and lengthens the positive emotions that come with doing something you love.” ~ Laurie Santos, The Science of Well-Being

If you’re doing something and not appreciating it, why are you doing it?

All the time growing up, at school, and work, and with friends and family until the age of forty-three, I didn’t appreciate any of it at the time it was happening. And certainly not afterwards.

I have no recall of fond memories, the smell of a meal, the taste of a cup of tea with two sugars. With a couple of exceptions.

As a teenager, I can remember the fear when I cowered in the hallway cupboard as my step mum hit me. I don’t remember why she was hitting me. It was only the once.

While on a boating holiday, I was given a mug of hot chocolate by my boyfriend’s mate. After the first sip, I made a visceral guttural noise deep in the back of my throat.

“You never make that sound when we’re having sex,” said my boyfriend. As a seventeen-year-old, I don’t remember having sex with him at all. And no, I was not often inebriated in those days.

In the last five years, I’ve penned memories, embellishing them in places to create a better story. Adding in the senses and emotions I know I must have felt but have forgotten, either willingly or inadvertently.

I can do that now because I became aware of how certain acts, tastes, and smells, make me feel. And I remember them.

This awareness and memory of feelings were initiated (perhaps renewed) at the age of thirty-two.

Sex with a stranger. He rescued me on the dance floor of a night club, my first (and only) sexual encounter of this type, triggered something that caused me to flashback on the moment to this very day.

During our relationship this guy made me feel so much.

His spontaneity was exciting but never knowing what he was thinking was frustrating.

His generosity and good taste with birthday gifts, on the correct day, were previously unknown with my ex-husband of six years.

When this man gave me the attention I was craving, I loved him.

I told him he made me happy. I told him I loved him. He told me he knew.

This boyfriend’s use of me as a skivvy and good earner became resentments.

My emotions continued to be mostly under wraps to other people until twelve years after my step mum died.

My lack of remembered emotion, unless fuelled by alcohol and hangovers, took me through to the identification of denial by a psychiatrist, and group therapy. Penultimately taking a redundancy package from my employer of twenty years.

Homesickness, while living on a desert island, led to finding the best career ever and then dwelling on three failed long-term relationships.

With the help of my new life, far away from the UK and English men, and my female friends in Prague, I finally found me.

The me that emerged in her own right learned how to not only enjoy and appreciate, but truly savour the smell and taste of freshly ground coffee beans, of crumpets with butter, Marmite, and cheese or the perfect Châteauneuf de Pape.

To take so many photographs that one or two came out spectacularly — to the point where I am proud of my work and share it with everyone.

To stop on the street and admire and smell not only the roses but the flowers I don’t know the names of and take photos of them too.

To be fascinated by the ocean and the strange birds that swim in it.

The urges I get to capture the clouds and the sky and the boats and the town I live in are acted upon.

You know those moments that make you exclaim, “oh. my. god. That tastes/smells/look amazing!” With eyeballs rolling back in your head and moans of euphoria.

I may not know why I don’t remember or can’t recreate the feelings from moments in my past life but I do know how to enjoy my life to the full now. I put it down to sleepwalking through the larger part of my time here so far.

I’m not a zombie any longer. I feel everything. I might be wrong about the citizens of the world. I hope so.

Crying — not just when someone is kind, but when I laugh so hard at something a friend says or when I read an incredible poem or story or watch a fantastic film.

Marvelling at the wonders of the world.

Growing angry and taking action, saving the world. Even the smallest steps can start the biggest movements.

Savouring life.

I picked up the wonderful verb ‘savour’ from The Science of Well-Being on Coursera, it is a free course from Yale University. I’m not affiliated with either Coursera or Yale but I am enjoying the course very much.

If you aren’t already savouring your life, I challenge you to pick one thing to savour every day.

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Passionate about climate change and living a debt-free, sustainable life. Determined to learn how to and build an adobe house or Earthship. The goal is to live off-grid and off the land. Energy for heat and to power electrical devices and appliances will use solar, wind, and hydro-powered electricity. No trees will die to make my home.

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