The Gift of Presence

The Gift of Presence

It was 4:30AM. I was lying in my bed in France waiting for my alarm to go off. I was nervous and excited about the events that were to unfold. I hoped others felt the same.

I instructed all of the retreat attendees to be up by 5AM and ready to go on a partially moonlit 45-minute walk to a waterfall where, at sunrise, we would all jump in. Needless to say, I wasn’t entirely sure what the turnout would be.

But, to my surprise, everyone gathered at about 5:15AM and we began our walk to the waterfall. They didn’t know what to expect. I had scouted the location before and, since I was in complete awe, I knew they would love it. As we walked a few people came up to me and said, “But we aren’t really jumping in, are we?” To which I replied, “Do I look like I’m joking?”

And I wasn’t. When we got to the waterfall we lined up on the edge, some holding hands, and I counted to three.


And we jumped. We didn’t think about the consequences and we didn’t try to think about the shock of it all. We just did it. We climbed to the edge and we jumped in water so cold it was shocking, but also exhilarating. We screamed and clung to one another and tested our limits. And when we were finished, we felt like we could do anything.

That is the beauty of being in the moment and truly being present in your life. You take each challenge as it comes, and you find yourself more and more grateful for the small moments that make up our life story.

Every moment we have is a gift, and to fully appreciate those gifts we must recognize each one as being unique, individual, and inspiring. No one else can be responsible for making your life incredible. By becoming present and focused on the task at hand, there is less time to talk yourself out of adventures, or to dwell on past events. By thinking presently, we are training ourselves in the art of gratitude.

Life is one big story, and if we don’t choose to live it we are choosing to write the same story again and again. Take a moment today to do something that excites, inspires, or invigorates you. Do something unusual. Do something that you love. And above all, promote your passion, for doing so will write the most meaningful lines of the story of your life.

Image by Jen Brook
Image by Jen Brook

Model: Jen Brook <– Lovebug!

11 thoughts on “The Gift of Presence

  1. For anyone wondering…..I think she is downplaying just how cold that water was. Haha. I am zero joking. I have been in some cold cold water but this was a whole new kind of cold.
    I didn’t hold hands with the group:( Mike Epner and I decided to take a less crowded route into the water for safety reasons. (More like to ensure we could get out quickly if it was too cold!). I went in to about my chest and RAN out. Then I went back in to about my chin for a few moments and decided that was enough. Time for me spent in the water was about 1-2 minutes total.
    What Brooke is neglecting to tell you is that she and a few others stayed in that water for probably 10 minutes or more. I was beyond impressed by not only Brooke but also the few who stayed in with her the whole time.
    Thanks again so much Brooke for the experience of a lifetime and I am forever indebted to you for the wonderful new friends I made during this retreat. It was more than the locations and images I captured. We bottled magic and I hope everyone is able to experience what we did on your future retreats.

  2. Luv it – what a wonderful spirit of adventure!
    Made me smile reading and seeing the photo.
    I’m gonna do something similar I think get my hubby to jump in aswell lol I think the shock would od me good and wake my senses up 🙂

  3. This is France Brooke? It looks like where I live. I could show you a waterfall with two 35 ft drops that fall in to a deceptively cold pool of Caribbean blue, complete with gnarling tree roots. It’s been on my to shoot list for a while Gorgeous photos!

  4. By your faces, the water was very ice cold. Beautiful color that water has. Great spirit of adventure, Brooke. By reading your post and see the photo of the waterfall, I remembered of a very similar waterfall, where I and a group of friends also jumped in to the icy water. Well below zero. What good memories you made ​​me remember. Now I am really in the mood to do something unusual. Have a good weekend, Brooke <3

  5. You’re so right about embracing the moment and finding the spirit of adventure. The more you reach and stretch and try to do things differently, the more you’ll learn and grow and enjoy life.

  6. The colour of the water makes this seems surreal and more magical… She has integrated with the roots, becoming more than herself… seems very symbolic considering your post behind this image. Such an awesome way to force oneself to feel more <3

  7. Amazing location! Your passion for life and new experiences is very inspiring. Responsibilities of every day life can be be overwhelming and this is a great reminder to be present in the moment. Fantastic images!

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