Pink Shoes - A Lesson on Being Present

“Well I have pink shoes!” - 3-year old Riley 

A few weeks ago I produced an international conference. This week-long event in NYC brought together over 300 artists from around the world. It was a big deal, and an event that I was very proud to be a part of heading up.

In the midst of planning and implementing all of the many conference details - from delegate travel and registration to catering and workshop set up, I didn’t see my family very much. On Day two of the conference, my 3-year old daughter asked my husband, “Where’s Mommy?” To which he replied, “She’s working at a very important event where people are coming from all over the world.” That answer must have satisfied her curiosity and not really mattered much in her world. She simply said, “Oh....Well I have pink shoes!”

I received this message via text from my husband just as my stress levels were maxing out and I was worrying about all the conference details for that afternoon and the next day. As I read these simple words from my daughter, I paused and was reminded of a few important life lessons:

  1. Be in the moment! Sure, we can spend our time worrying about every little thing, but usually worry and anxiety are negative thoughts about something that hasn’t even happened yet (and might not even be grounded in reality). Certainty is found in being present - staying in the moment and focusing on what’s right in front of us. As a friend and mentor of mine says, “In the now, all is well.”

  2. Your “present moment and concern” might be different from someone else’s”. So much of our work and day-to-day existence relies on relationships and collaborations. And in those interactions we must remember that everyone comes to the table with different ideas, expectations and priorities. On that day, my daughter was excited about her new pink shoes. And she needed her parents to recognize that joy and be in the moment with her. Sometimes when I’m thinking about schedules and budgets, my colleague might be motivated by thinking of big ideas. If I’m teaching and really want my students to understand a concept, what they might actually need in order to learn is not more content but someone who shows that they care about an immediate need - like hunger or comfort. When I’m worried about getting dinner on the table, my husband might really just need me to stop and listen to a problem he had at work (and order takeout!). All of our needs and priorities are important and must be given space.

  3. Take notice of the little joys. Life can be stressful, and we are seeing some really challenging times in our world right now. It’s so easy to stay wrapped up in the worry, stress, and negativity, but there is beauty and small joys all around us. Maybe it’s a great new song, or a sidewalk painting, or a small kindness from a stranger. And sometimes it’s cool pink shoes that make us feel fun and beautiful.

Today I wear my pink shoes as a reminder to be present, think of someone else’s needs, and have a little joy!

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Amy Kirkland