Valuing yourself and being present in life

by Mary Ann on May 10, 2011

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Briana Blackwelder, who understood “being present”

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The ability to “be present” with others is a gift we give

I attended the funeral of a sweet young woman a week ago. She was 28 years old, an accomplished person, and a brilliant midwife. She had helped bring two of my grandchildren into the world. It was the most exquisite funeral I have ever attended, if that word can be applied to a funeral.

It was hugely impactful for me personally. Of course, like the few hundred people there I was grieving a tremendous loss. But it was so much more than that. Briana Blackwelder was a unique person in the sense that she understood the value and vital importance of consistently being present with not only people, but with life.

I often talk about parents being present with their children, to really look at them, listen to them and focus on what they aren’t saying. But at Briana’s funeral, I had an epiphany that “presence” as a principle is more than skin deep, it extends into all parts of our life.

I have discovered that I have had a much harder time using the principle of presence in my life as a whole than I do using it with children and the Spark Station. I recently began working on some things with my mentor. What she said to me took me by surprise. “Look, you aren’t going to get a handle on these issues until you understand the extension of ‘presence’ in one’s life.” Even though I know that being present is a life principle, I hadn’t really thought about how it applied to my life, me personally. I have since thought about it a lot, which brings me back to Briana’s funeral.

I believe that Briana understood and practiced being present in life. Over and over those who spoke talked about how she cared for herself. She took time for herself.

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Being present is a powerful principle in life

She didn’t skimp on her need for good food, time, education and friends, whatever. She valued herself. She paid attention to herself, which is being present with what we need personally for our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual rejuvenation. She knew how to value herself and stay present in her own life.

She didn’t just take care of herself though. She was present with others. So many people mentioned how she looked into your eyes, focused on your words, held you, reached out, gave you time. She invited people into her life and then fed them with presence. Her cousin said, “Briana is an amazing person. She has an infectious smile and the ability to set people at ease. She cares about the people around her and isn’t afraid to show it.”

Briana wasn’t perfect. They also mentioned her worries over her future, her deep desire for a family, her periodic insecurity about how she was doing. But despite the natural growth pains of life she understood how to be present with herself and others.

In the past ten years I have made great strides with being present with others. I don’t do email when I am on the phone (well, not as often) I invite people in to sit down and chat instead of conducting business on the door step because I am busy. I think about others more, I pray for others more, I try to remember what is happening in their lives more. I take time to call people, to listen to people.

However, I am now determined to get much better about being present in an expanded sense and to value myself and others, much more.

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Heather Hendrikson, notice the broach

I wanted to share my first effort at being more “present” in my life and in taking better care of myself. Some might think this is silly, but I can assure you it’s making a difference.

I have a young friend who wears jewelry every day. It amazes me. When she is scrubbing floors, feeding three young boys, playing ball in the back yard, she has on beautiful jewelry.

Since Monday I have worn a necklace and earrings every day, no matter how mundane the day. Sometimes it doesn’t really go with my work shirt but I wear some anyway.

Do you know how it feels? Really, really good. I am taking care of myself. I am present with me. I

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Being “present” in my own life

am giving myself some time, and thought and care.

I believe that being present is a principle of power. I believe that when we are present with life, as well as individuals, amazing and miraculous things happen for both us and them.

What are you going to do to be more “present” with your life? Share it with me, I’d love to hear.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy Larson May 12, 2011 at 10:56 am

I love your necklace. I miss Briana. That is a beautiful post. Live hard. Work hard. Play hard. Be.


Mary Ann May 12, 2011 at 6:22 pm

I love you and I miss her just being here with all of us! You are my friend : )


Heather Hendriksen May 13, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Thank you for the nice compliment about me. It’s true that I feel better when I look better. I’m sure you’ve heard of FlyLady and her book “Sink Reflections.” She encourages people to go shine their sink. The rest of the kitchen may be dirty but if the sink is nice and shiny then it makes the rest of the kitchen look better and you feel good. I liken wearing jewelry to my personal “shiny sink.” I can sparkle and feel good about myself when I take the extra 30 seconds to put on jewelry. That helps me be “present” in my own life.


Mary Ann May 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Heather you are a good example. It is helping me!


Tess May 14, 2011 at 5:43 am

Thanks for this essay on being present. Since my sister’s death, I have noticed that I am trying to be a little more like her as far as ‘being present’ goes. A simple example: each day, I pick one of her oil blends (I inherited her bag of essential oils) to carry around and smell during the day.
-Tess (Briana’s sister)


Mary Ann May 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Tess your sister is a wonderful person to emulate. She has moved me to do more to add value to my life and the lives of others. It is making a difference for me.


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