What Is…

In the process of trying to improve, we miss what is. What is is enough. What is is glorious. What is is what there is. Why not spend a little time with it?

This piece comes to you from the beautifully eloquent Bethany Toews.

What is working in your life right now? Make a list. Write it down. Read it out loud. Remind yourself that you are working. That who you are is enough. That where you are is ok. That you can hope for more while being grateful for what you have. Don’t worry, you are not going to rot on the shelf if you relax for a minute and pat yourself on the back. 

We live in a world that is constantly telling us all the endless ways we need to do, be, have, get, give, live more. In the process of trying to improve, we miss what is. What is is enough. What is is glorious. What is is what there is. Why not spend a little time with it?

From an early age I have felt it was my mission, my duty, to save the world. I felt that the only way to accomplish such a feat was to be completely and utterly infallible. To achieve in all things, perfection. Whether that meant flossing after every meal or getting straight A’s or never ever saying the wrong thing or not sleeping in on a Saturday when there was a to-do list 3 days long. I was determined to do it ALL, and to do it flawlessly, and to be THE ABSOLUTE BEST AT DOING EVERYTHING. Well guess what? It made me sick. It turned my body into a capsule of pain. I look back on a lot of my teens and twenties and what I remember most is the suffering. 

I was not enjoying my life. I was escaping into food and romantic relationships and over achievements and obsessive cleaning. I was everywhere but where I actually was. I was lamenting over the perceived failures of my past and agonizing over the gaping distance between me and my dreamed about future success.

Being alive is the only achievement that really matters. Ask anyone on their deathbed. Are you doing a good job of being alive? Actually alive. Present to what is. Not bobbing about in the endless sea of what could be or digging around for what can’t be found in the quagmire of what isn’t. 

Are you able to look around the room you are in and take it all in? Simply notice what you see. Thank the lamp for its light. The ceiling for staying upright. The chair for holding you at the end of a long day. The table for supporting your nourishment. Your lungs for breathing. The air for being there. Your eyes and your brain and your nervous system for being able to take it all in. Your skin, for being able to hold it all in. Any and all of it. The ugly bits. The painful bits. The joyous bits. The mind-blowing awe-inspiring life-altering oh wow oh wow oh wow bits. 

You are here! That is so incredible! That is enough. Thank the here for being here and allowing you to be in it. Thank yourself for agreeing to keep showing up. To keep waking up. To keep trying.

The holiday season is upon us. The awkward family gatherings. The overcrowded malls. The magnifying glass of how and with whom you will or won’t be spending the loaded days. Plenty of opportunities to abandon the moment. To abandon yourself. To escape into too many glasses of egg nog or all the ways you are undeserving of love. Endless people to judge. Limitless ways to wish for it to be other than it is.

Or, or, the infinite sea of beauty that exists in what is. The invitation into gratitude for what you are being given. The graciousness that is waiting to be called forth. The warmth that is the unfailing fire of your heart. Always burning, giving light, pumping blood, giving love. We all just want to give love. To be loved. I know plenty gets in the way of that simple mission. But maybe, just maybe, this holiday season, even if just for a moment, we can remember that just being who we are, where we are, with whomever we are with, is an opportunity to do what we were made to do and are already fully capable of doing—giving and receiving love. And, being grateful we are lucky enough to be a part of this holiest of gift exchanges while we are here. For this bright and dazzling moment on this bright and dazzling planet impossibly suspended in boundless space. NBD. 

Photos by James Adolphus. Follow Bethany on Instagram.

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Lovely read, Happy Thanksgiving to you! ❤

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

6 years ago

It’s not just because I’m ‘in the twilight of my years’ that I enjoy being in the moment. Even when quite young – while evacuated and away from my parents in World War 11 – I seemed to flow/and stay with what each day gave me, appreciating and remembering later all the joys of childhood and some of the woes. ‘Pencoedca’ ‘my’ wood, taught me fear of the ghosts of Druids and maybe a dragon…and the pleasure of pussy willow against my cheek; lush bluebells and all the blessings of nature. Puberty, of course, had my blood bubbling and searching for excitement, until motherhood claimed and calmed me (there is no greater love…) ‘Life’ dishes up varied menus to varied people, and luckily mine was more than palatable. Sadly, our unfortunate planet seems to be going through another rough time, which we can only blame on its inhabitants! Greed and power seem to be the keys words of the day and I find that tragic. If only more people looked up to the sun and the sky, were content, and helped their fellow human beings through their rough times. We can only hope..

6 years ago

Beautiful pics!

6 years ago

I feel like your post was something I needed to right especially right now. Thank you for making such an amazing post !

6 years ago

Thank you for your words of wisdom xx

6 years ago

Wonderful read, opened my eyes and I’m thankful. Merry Christmas :)