What Is The Best Way To Capture Moments?

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.”

– Jon Kabat-Zinn

The morning is glorious. I’m up early, alone. As the sun rises over the quiet lake. I’ve got my legs up on the pier, balancing my notebook and coffee next to me. The sun is warms my face and the breeze blows down my neck thanks to my newly cropped off hair, just cool enough to be glad I wore my sweatshirt. Wild bunnies and chipmunks scurry in the bushes next to me, undisturbed by the water skier gliding by. The waves lap gently against the shore; paddleboarders and kayakers are my only human companions, and they appear as intoxicated by their surroundings as I am.

It honestly couldn’t get much more perfect for an introverted-nature-loving-writer.

This is what summer should be like – distractions including only a jumping fish, the glitter of the rising sun on water, and the slight smoky scent of bacon wafting from down the road.

This moment is mine – simple and free for absorbing every little bit. It didn’t cost me anything, just the price of being awake, rising early to show up and experience it.

moments on Lake Tahoe dock

My writing over the last four years has evolved into an exercise in capturing moments – the intenseness, the frustration, and the beauty of loving fiercely, thinking deeply and teaching audaciously. As simple as it sounds, it truly has been anything but. Trying to capture the intenseness of the experiences of my life, endeavoring to scribble the sights and sounds and smells to share with an  unknown audience challenges me in such an acutely intriguing way. Snatching photos of moments to enhance my words has unlocked my view of what can be contained in a frame, forcing me to stop and think and consider what is around me.

It is forcing me to pay attention.

I breathe deeply, grateful to be here today.  As I approach 50 I feel a shift in my gratitude practice – it has become a slowing, a releasing of what is unnecessary, hurtful, and holding me back. Recently, a teacher friend asked me how long I thought she’d be able to keep up her energy for teaching. As I thought about it, I realized that it isn’t the energy level that changes – it’s the level of energy I want to use in different areas of life that changes. The more mindful I become to the moments around me, the more mindful I become to how I give of my time. I’m becoming selective and selfish and miserly with my time and energy, and at this point in life, I’d rather spend two hours soaking in the morning sun on this pier, writing and sipping coffee and thinking about this huge, wide Universe and this one wild life I’ve been given than just about anything else.

And I realize I’m on summer vacation now. I fully understand the gift of having a morning on a pier, the ability to not think about students and lessons and the outside life. It’s not the vacation energy I am so infatuated with. It’s an energy balanced by the peacefulness of aging, of being young enough to still settle in on the wooden dock, feeling the warm wood under my legs. To know all I have is all I need. To trust that my kids will be OK, that my husband will be well, and that my teaching will provide me with the means to fill another area of my life that’s opening up and calling for attention.

It’s an energy pushing me to pay attention, to write just for me while hopefully offering a glimmer into some part of life that needs to open up for you, too. Maybe this moment you’re suddenly paying attention to somewhere you’re stuck, or scared, or maybe you and I can find we’re kindred spirits-another soul who finds joy and happiness in thinking deeply, loving fiercely and teaching audaciously. Someone who doesn’t give a fuck about trying to impress you or do the things women are expected to do. Someone who wants her words to match her actions, and for her children to live fully and help make the world a more awesome place.

Someone who wants her life to matter.

Toni Morrison writes, “At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.” I think I know what I’m doing now.

It is enough to just be here on this dock, at this moment, with the breeze blowing the pages of my spiral notebook and the sun blazing in my eyes, casting shadows as I write. This moment is too blinding to photograph. It’s just me, here, paying attention and capturing its beauty to share with my kindred spirits.

What Is The Best Way To Capture Moments

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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I Thought I Knew What Was Best For My Kid-But He Had Other Ideas

Ski racing at Squaw Valley
Ski racing at Squaw Valley

I got a text from my 14-year-old son the other night suggesting I check ig – that’s Instagram for parents without teenagers. Intrigued, but somewhat hesitant about what I might see, I clicked over. A quick video popped up, taken from the handle of a shopping cart rolling wildly across an icy parking lot in the dark in Mammoth Lakes, California. Screams of delight pepper the soundtrack, accompanied by the comment “What a way to start off the Olympics with some of our own games #slidinanddrivin”.

Yes, my son was unsupervised, in the dark, far away from home and it made me smile. Why? Because surprisingly, it’s what’s best for my kid.

When he was born prematurely fourteen years ago, he spent the first six weeks sound asleep. Watching him snooze, all five pounds of him curled up with a smile on his face, I figured mothering a boy would be easier than I expected. I figured he would always be so sweet, calm and compliant. I figured he would spend the next eithgeen years or so waking up in the room at the end of the hall, and that if I kept the cupboards well-stocked he would be pretty happy to be home. For the most part, I figured right.

What I didn’t count on was his independent, indomitable spirit. Once again, at age thirteen, he forced me to flip through the parenting handbook of my soul and struggle to determine what was ‘best’ for him.

I never in my wildest dreams imagined that he would voluntarily move away to boarding school. I know parents who have had to send their kids away to ‘save’ them, but for my kid, the thought of not seeing his smiling face or hearing him pad down the hardwood floors on his way to the kitchen each morning left me breathless. Panicked. Terrified.

One thing I was always sure of was that I knew what was ‘best’ for my kid, and suddenly, I was stupefied with his idea that moving to Tahoe to live, learn and ski for the winter was what he thought was ‘best’. As Katrina Kenison writes, my husband and I “owed (him) the willingness, on our part, to refine and redefine our own idea of what ‘the best’ might really mean.”

It started out with really listening to him, hearing his goals, his dreams, his passion, and his rationale for wanting to leave home, leave his friends, his school, and everything familiar to take a chance on what might be. The more we listened, the more possible it seemed. So we let him take the lead, hoping that everything would work out the way it was meant to be, but ashamedly, holding out some secret hope that it wouldn’t.

We had it all planned out. He would live at home through high school, attending our alma mater just like his sister. It’s right down the street from our house, after all. He would ski on the weekends like he always had, ski race for his high school, and sleep in his own bed every night. He’d do his chores, continue his piano lessons, work hard in school and go to college. Maybe he’d even live at home until he got married…that all seemed so safe. So doable. So planned. It seemed like the best path for him – for all of us.

Jon Kabat-Zinn said that “our children drop into our neat, tightly governed lives like small, rowdy Buddhist masters,” Katrina Kenison shares in The Gift of An Ordinary Day, “each of them sent to teach us the hard lessons we most need to learn.” I think of this quote every time my stomach drops with anxiety, which happens on a daily basis lately. Relying on texting, Instagram and the occasional sc (again, for the teenage-deprived parents, that’s short for Snapchat) to get a tantalizing tidbit of his daily life is NOT what I imagined my life would be like a year ago. I don’t see his homework every night, I only hope he’s using the washing machine once in awhile, and have to trust that he’s eating his vegetables every day. I’ve released the control over his schedule to his ‘dorm parents’ and his stringent ski coach, knowing that now it is they who have his best interests in their minds each day.

My son certainly dropped into my life in the most exquisitely, incomparable, and unexpected ways. I’ve been forced to reevaluate my parenting, my expectations, and my need to control his path in life. I’ve stumbled forward, learning to trust that things will work out the way they’re supposed to, to mother by faith, and that maybe the hard lesson I need to learn is that ultimately, we are the only ones who truly know what is ‘best’ for us. All we really need to do is be willing to listen for it.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

More Posts - Website

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