Sometimes I have to pinch myself! I feel so blessed to get paid to do what I have always loved doing! That gift, however, does not come for free. I struggled to find a healthy balance between work, family and health. For years I felt disconnected from the world around me as my mind was always so occupied with work and mommy chores.

My friend knew I had this dilemma and recommended Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. I downloaded the audio version so I could listen to it on my walks. I have to admit to walking and crying a few times as some of his words really hit home!

Tolle says, “Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now!”

Wow! That’s so sad! I want to be more present but clearly Tolle has not seen my “to do” list! How can I be “fully present” when I am caring for three young kids, a mother with Alzheimer’s who lives with me, a home, two dogs, three cats and running a busy portrait photography business? The “to do” list in my head is endless and never shuts off.

It dawned on me that I create that “to do” list, and it’s up to me to shorten it!

We all know the years with our children really are precious and fleeting. I am also painfully aware of the fragility of my own mother’s condition as I watch her slowly slip into the grips of Alzheimer’s, especially since recently losing her older sister to it as well. I can’t help but wonder if I’m next and ponder the idea that nobody is promised tomorrow.

I decided that changes needed to be made before it was too late. Here are some of the steps I have taken so far–with more to come!

  • I began by surrounding myself with amazingly positive and empowering friends who feed my mind and soul. They helped me on my journey of self-discovery that has led me to take action!
  • I am simplifying my life by organizing my home, reducing commitments and redefining personal and professional goals.
  • I started taking better care of myself by seeing doctors to address health concerns. I’m also working on changing my diet and exercising more to start to lose the weight I gained sitting at my computer so much. I even started taking yoga and I love it! I’ve got a long way to go but at least I’m headed in the right direction!
  • I listen to the birds and the wind in the trees as I walk my dog, fully embracing the beauty of our town.
  • I cut down on social media by leaving Wilton CT 411, a Facebook page that I created and dedicated myself to for two years. I even closed my personal Facebook page after six years of excessive daily use. It was hard to do but so worth it and one of my biggest steps toward being present!
  • I continue running my business, Moments by Andrea Photography, but I limited my hours and adjusted my business model. I love helping other parents take a moment to celebrate and connect with their children while I capture the moments for them. I also get great joy from creating headshots for women to help empower them in their professional lives and show them how beautiful they are. That’s something I’m not willing to leave but I can finally limit it for my family and me.
  • Most importantly, I finally shifted more of my attention to my children instead of always working. I’ve made it a goal to say, “I’m coming,” instead of, “Mommy’s busy,” when my children call out for me.

If you are like me and are concerned that you are not living in the moment, or that your life is out of balance, think about what you can do to change things for you and your family. Every little bit counts!

Whether you are a stay at home mom or work outside of the home, find ways to be present when you can. Put down your iPhone, iPad and computers. Cut back on volunteer activities. Take care of your health (put on your oxygen mask first) so you are better able to care for your family. Be true to yourself and stop trying to be everything to all people.

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.” – Eckhart Tolle

In honor of Mother’s Day, enjoy these images and feel the joy of these moms being present and in the moment with their children–a gift for them both!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Andrea Topalian is the contributing photographer for GOOD Morning Wilton.  Her successful, Wilton-based photography business is Moments by Andrea Photography, which has set the bar for telling amazing, emotional stories through portrait and family photography. All photos courtesy Moments by Andrea Photography/Andrea Topalian.