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For the past 15 months, I’ve walked nearly every morning and evening with Billie, my family’s sweet and feisty Pudelpointer, who has brought so much joy — along with a fair bit of chaos! — to our home. In rain, in snow, in heat, we’re out and about to burn off as much of her energy as we can. And she has a lot of it.

These daily jaunts have not only gotten me outdoors, they’ve also reconnected me with nature and the seasons. Or so I thought.

As we crunched through some leaves on a recent fall morning, Billie exploring every step of the way, I felt a sense of warped time: Wasn’t it just spring? It seemed like yesterday that she was sniffing at the tufts of green grass that were beginning to poke through the melting Minnesota snow.

I had a similar experience as we strolled by a lilac bush: Wasn’t it just in bloom, its vibrant purple flowers popping and intoxicating scents permeating the air?

In both instances, I had this strange feeling that I had missed something — as though I had somehow skipped the entirety of summer and gone straight from spring to fall.

It’s the same feeling I often get when I look at my daughters, now 12 and 9: Weren’t they just 6 and 3? And how is it possible that my husband and I have been married for 15 years? Where has the time gone?

In always doing, I’m missing some of the subtle (and not-so-subtle) changes in the world around me.”

The reality is, life is full. And like many Americans, I tend to operate in high-productivity mode. Most days, my schedule is booked from morning to night, and doing is my way of being. But in always doing, I’m missing some of the subtle (and not-so-subtle) changes in the world around me — not only in the seasons, but also in my family, friends, and myself.

Over the years, I’ve regularly written about my desire to be both more mindful and more present, and these recent observations from my walks with Billie remind me that it takes consistent practice. Being present doesn’t just happen; it requires intention, as well as the commitment to keep trying in spite of all the busyness and to-dos.

It also means practicing acceptance of how and where I am in any given moment. Let’s be honest: Sometimes we just want certain experiences — whether it’s a project, a tough conversation, or a phase of life — to be over, so we do everything we can to avoid or speed through them.

I’m beginning to realize, though, that between my busyness and eagerness to move beyond certain circumstances, I’ve been taking the finite resource of time for granted.

So, as we approach the end of another year, I’m recommitting to my mindfulness practices: setting aside a few minutes each morning and evening — as well as in times of overwhelm — to take some deep breaths and get grounded (see my column on this at “Right Here, Right Now“); spending more screen-free time with my family, friends, and colleagues; and reviewing my calendar and saying yes to what truly lights me up versus all the things that add to the constant doing.

And on those walks with Billie this winter? I plan to notice and appreciate the beauty of the season — the crunch of the snow under our feet, the angle of the light on our streets, and, yes, even the bite of the Minnesota cold. This season may pass by quickly, but it won’t go unnoticed.

Jamie Martin

Jamie Martin is Experience Life’s editor in chief, Life Time’s vice president of content strategy, and cohost of the Life Time Talks podcast. Follow her on Instagram @jamiemartinel.

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