Presence and Present

My favorite movie line comes *hehe* from Kung Fu Panda.

“You are too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”  -Oogway imparting life knowledge upon Po.

Oogway

Today in a Jazz class, I was complimented by another student for being, “open, always in it, and present.” That statement fascinates me. I think many of us have heard of the statement, “be present,” but what does that actually mean?

Once, the idea of being present was described to me by several different teachers. Some teachers said that they wanted their students, “to be in the room in body and mind.” Now,  as I have begun teaching dance, I have been discovering a few things.

  1. Coaching is more fun than Teaching
  2. Kids are more interesting than adults
  3. If you’re kids are not focused, you are doing something wrong.

When I thought about this weird concept of “present”, the simplest comparison to make is between being present and being focused. Now, they aren’t exactly the same thing, because in dance sometimes the best thing to do (especially when improvising) is to stop focusing and let your body figure out what’s happening.

However, for teachers of basically any other subject apart from dance, having focused students is imperative. 

Why did I say coaching is more fun? Well, my first year in a leadership position was as a speech and debate coach. The group I was in charge of was small, contained, and did not change a lot. Over that year we became a very tight knit group. I built in time to have games and time to give prayer requests. At the same time, I also loved helping my students through every aspect of competitive speech and debate. We wrote speeches, we practiced debates, we went over preparatory procedures, dress code, everything. 

After that I transitioned to teaching. Believe me, it is way different. When teaching, my students change and I teach multiple levels. My kids are not always there and often the group is too large to have a lot of camaraderie.

But you know what the most important aspect of being a teacher is?

Believing in your students, and being there for them always.

This is very difficult. Of course, as a coach you need this as well, but we have to get out of this mindset: The coach is a friend who demonstrates and supports their kids, then cheers them on as they go on. The teacher throws information and expects the students to get it, then stands by as they struggle through the next problem.

This is not only unhealthy, but it is the teachers and coaches job to break this mindset. As teachers, we need to cheer on our students and help them achieve new heights. We have to believe that they can do it, even when the students do not believe in themselves. 

We all remember that one awesome teacher right? The one who was always there, who was engaging, who was just straight up cool, and they were always present?

For me, that was a coach. This coach.

Mom

This is Colleen Enos, my mom. She runs Resolve, a speech and debate club in Colorado Springs. I love my mom and she has been Mother, friend, teacher, and coach in my life. My biggest thank you is the fact that she gave me such an example to live up to as a teacher and leader.

There is one more coach who has impacted me as well…

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This is me and Miss Maggie. She is actually the coach of another club in Colorado, called Salt. Not only has she blessed me in more ways than I remember, I am actually staying at her house for a dance festival I am attending. The reason I look so excited in this photo is that this was the first tournament I ever won any event at. Miss Maggie was there to hand me trophies, and my mom was there to hug me as I came off stage.

What is it that makes both of these women incredible? They are always present. If they are teaching or coaching, they are bodily and mentally focused and aware. I don’t think I have met anyone else who quite stands up against the example of these two women in my life.

Being present is more than just a state of mind. That is why I talked about my mom and Miss Maggie, because being present is a way of living. Are we actually ‘there’ when we walk into church? Or do we push the button for church face and talk, and then only say “I’m fine” when we really aren’t?

The point is, do we take our spiritual walk as seriously as, say, our favorite hobby? When you walk in are you excited to talk to God and learn more about His word? Or are we just playing the “presence, but not present” game?

I have to ask myself this more often now, as working on Sundays has made regular church attendance difficult. When I walk in, it is so much easier to just clock out and not pay attention. But it’s my choice. I can choose to take the most serious part of my life seriously, or I can not. It’s up to me.

So this is what I do.

  1. Ask God to give me something new that day
  2. Pray that I can stay connected, and even when I get distracted God would pull me back.
  3. I sit.

That last one is my favorite. A hip hop instructor told me yesterday that, sometimes the best thing we can do when it’s really hard, is just to sit on it. Not move. Not run away from the frustration, but lean on it and figure it out. That is how I minds process information.

Are you a presence or present?

Be blessed today.

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