For 2017.

At night, whenever possible and the kids are in bed, Jeremy and I like to sit on the couch to unwind, connect, be together... without the noise of 4 loud little ones.

And unwinding on the couch typically looks like me with my phone in my hand, my macbook on my lap, the tv turned on and intermittent conversation. 

I feel like I am 'connecting' with him and I also feel like I am doing a good job multi-tasking. Because thats what I like to call it... multi-tasking. And it's also a label I use to describe myself... a great multi-tasker. 

I can talk on the phone, cook dinner and respond to a text at the same time. I can have a face to face conversation with someone, while in my mind simultaneously plan what I need to get from the grocery store for dinner that night and what I need to get done the next day. I can connect with my husband while, at the same time, 'connect' with others.

And I used to think this was a good thing. Until about a week ago.

Because, at the end of every year, I do some serious self-introspection. I like to ask myself hard questions about the year I just lived... about my heart, my actions, my intentions, my relationships. I am deeply committed to growing as a person, from the inside out. Every year I want to be a better wife, mom, friend, sister, daughter, coach, person than I was the year before. So I try to be really honest and call myself out. 

And this year I definitely recognized a couple painful truths. One, I have created a pretty label to excuse a pretty bad habit. And two, I have been quite a hypocrite. 

It turns out, if I am being really honest, calling myself a 'great multi-tasker' is just a nice way to cover up the fact that I am a ridiculously distracted person. A ridiculously distracted person who has forgotten how to slow down and be present. I have become so distracted that I am never fully engaged. And my brain has actually come to enjoy a billion things going on all at once. It almost craves it. In a way, I feel like I am wasting time if I am not doing multiple things at once. Which is just so wrong. 

As parents, one thing Jeremy and I emphasize to our kids is that people and the way you make them feel, is the most important thing. People first, always. Relationship is priority. Connection brings joy. We don't allow them to sit at the dinner table and watch an iPad or the tv. When guests come over, they aren't allowed to go sit in their rooms and stare at a screen. A screen is never more important than a person. 

We tell our kids to look at people when they talk to them. And to pick their heads up with confidence... to look around and smile at people when they are walking through a room. To let people know you see them and they matter. 

Yet I do all these same things, but I call it multi-tasking. Which is pretty darn hypocritical. 

Multi-tasking can be a great thing. It's sorta like how they say a glass of red wine can be healthy for you... but not a bottle every night. There's a way that it is healthy and there's a way that it is destructive. Our task is to figure out for ourselves what healthy and unhealthy look like in our own lives.

For me, when I start getting really irritable, impatient, too busy, unable to sit still... thats when I have crossed over. When I am so preoccupied that I can't be present, I've gone too far. And I started getting like this way too much toward the end of 2016. My brain was constantly turning at a million miles an hour, being fed by chaos, and my emotions were being affected by this. 

I don't want my kids to become good at half-listening. I don't want them to grow up believing that doing 5 things at once or that being constantly busy is a good thing. I don't want them living distracted lives.

I want them to be fully present, in the moment, whatever that moment might be. I want them to experience real connection and true relationship. I want them to always put people first ... to know what it is to look someone in the eyes while they talk and not to just listen, but to HEAR people when they speak. I want them to engage with people they don't know...to see the janitor or the sales clerk or the old lady slowly pushing her cart down the aisle, and to actually look them in the eyes and talk. I want my kids to know the value of people and how to make people feel valued. I don't want them to be so distracted that they miss the moments. 

And if thats what I want for them, then that is what I have to model. 

So my word for this year is PRESENT. I am choosing to be PRESENT. To engage more with social interaction than social media. To slow down a bit. To look people in the eyes and hear, absorb, know, feel what they are saying. Wherever I am, I want to be all there. In whatever I am doing, I want to be fully present. 

This year I am committed to beginning the hard task of retraining my brain. Every day I will consciously refuse distraction in some small way until it becomes my natural way of life again. Bit by bit, piece by piece, I will work to slow down and embrace the small moments. I will learn to be fully engaged and in the moment. This is a year for less screen time, and more face time. This is a year of choosing to be PRESENT.