Just This

“Here is my own plan for life, the Pathfinder’s plan: ‘I exist in perpetual creative response to whatever is present.'” – Martha Beck, Steering by Starlight

In her incredible new book, Steering by Starlight, Martha Beck writes about a mantra she made up…

“Just this.”

I’ve been saying “Just this” to myself for several weeks.

I say it when I wake up in the morning to my dog’s thumping tail. I say it when the sun starts rising. I say it while I’m slicing vegetables for the dinner salad. I say it when there’s a large choir of the “I’m not enough’s” or the “I messed up again’s” singing rounds in my head.

This weekend I said it to myself throughout the Successful and Outstanding Blogger conference. (I performed on Friday night and participated all day Saturday.)

I know. I know. Conferences are not for this woo-woo stuff. Conferences are where I should be handing out my business card (don’t have one), networking (not my favorite word) and taking notes (I prefer pen and Moleskine).

The only problem is this: when I get too much into that Conference mindset, I forget that other human beings are present. Conference Mindset makes me become more about getting things than about being at the conference. Conference Mindset makes some people “important” and some people “not so much.” (I’ve showcased at a few big music conferences, where most people look at your name tag before they decide whether or not to look at you. Watching someone who is “important” step onto an elevator of people who “aren’t” is priceless.)

Not everyone looks at it this way, I know. But most people would agree that it’s easy to go to a conference and lose the moment completely.

So, throughout this weekend, I put it to the test. I reminded myself to be at the conference with the other people by reminding myself:

“Just this.”

When I could do this, (and admittedly, sometimes I couldn’t) I felt like I experienced the conference. I experienced each person I met. I experienced the speakers. I really saw each person I talked with.

Now, let me be clear. I didn’t get weird or anything. I didn’t look at anyone and say, “I’m experiencing you now.” This would’ve caused mass chaos. “Help! There’s someone from Asheville over there! Grab your laptop and run away!”

You can keep your “Just this” in your own head. No one has to know you’re doing it.

Try it this week. Twitter it. It’s a great little mantra.

p.s. If you decide to get Steering by Starlight, I highly recommend that you click on the Audible.com link in the left sidebar and get the audio version. It’s worth it just to hear Martha Beck read about Cookie the beagle.

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  1. says

    Love Martha Beck she is one of the few Self Help Authors I Can Stand. I think its because she has a great sense of humor and is honest enough to say ‘this will hurt’ or ‘this will be hard’ or ‘Change is unpleasant’.

  2. Nancy says

    Just this –Thank you! Yours is the first blog I read each morning because you are so “real”. It’s a great way to start the day.

  3. says

    Christine, I just purchased the audio edition and look forward to it accompanying me on a few upcoming days of travel.

    Thanks for the recommendation, the chance to see you perform again, and the chat while we went through the lock from lake to river.

  4. says

    m – I was so taken by Steering by Starlight – laughed out loud on several occasions. Yes, authenticity is a big plus when it comes to inspiring writers!

    nancy – thank you right back at you. it’s lovely to read comments as i sit in the charlotte airport waiting for my next flight.

    tammy – it was so nice to connect with you, too! what a great moment on the boat, determining which properties in Chicago we’d buy! :-) I hope Martha Beck will help you with the “play hoops” dream!

  5. says

    I think that hearing a book read by it’s author is an absolute treat. “Eat Pray Love” was so much fun to LISTEN to, even though I was initially daunted by the idea of 13 hours. And if anyone is having trouble getting through any of Eckhart Tolle’s books…HEARING them is highly recommended.

    Today is one of those jam-packed days with more “To-Do’s” than I usually want at one time (which is why I sat down at the computer to escape for a few minutes before the wild rumpus begins)…I’ll try to keep “Just this” in mind and actually enjoy each event as it comes….

  6. c. says

    Interesting timing on this. I have been visited lately by a particularly aggressive round of “not-good-enoughs” in my head. In response, I have been trying to come up with a mantra that would serve as a loving response to those thoughts. “I am enough” came to mind, but it didn’t feel quite right. (“Enough” feels like a loaded word sometimes.) “Just this” feels like the perfect response. It seems to come from a place of true presence. I will definitely be picking up this book. Thanks.

  7. says

    Christine, it was great to meet you again at SOBCon.

    You did a great job singing, while coping with the rockin’ boat, too – must’ve been this mantra that did it. Hey; that’s not a bad metaphor for those bumpy times in life, don’t you think?


  8. says

    So THAT was the gleam in your eye every time we talked! You nailed it, kid. Thanks for coming, great to see you again, and keep being present, every day, every hour, every second. We’re all better off for it. :-)

  9. Carolyn says

    Mmmm….just this. What an odd comment to read with
    just 16 days, 4 hours, and 30 minutes of school left. Not that this middle school teacher is counting or anything (: So many times I find myself
    counting down to, hurrying through, can’t wait for summer, can’t wait for Christmas break, etc. Just
    this….I’ll try that this afternoon after my 23 minute lunch is over (:

  10. says

    Just this.
    I learned “just this” last year when a friend was involved in a tragic accident and lost his young son. Ever notice how easy it is to say “I can’t wait”? But so much can happen before what you “can’t wait” for and those words can come back to haunt you. It is so important to enjoy the moment, stay in the moment.
    I catch myself whenever I start to say “I can’t wait”. I like “just this”. It does make you focus on the moment. It will go up on my chalkboard wall.
    Thanks Christine!

  11. says


    Thank you so much for your enthusiasm for Martha’s book! I work with Martha and love this book too.

    It is such a small world … I adore your blog, and was going to use it as an example of what to do RIGHT with the Martha Beck coaches that I work with.

    No coincidences, as they say!

    Keep up your beautiful work and thanks again for being such a great example for all of us.

    All the best,


  12. says

    Thanks for the book tip, Christine!

    I like what you said about the name tag bit…

    I met Byron Katie once. She had a long line of people to meet, and I swear to God she looked into me like I was the only person there.

    Something to aspire to!

  13. says

    hey ashville wonder goddess and friend ….i was thinking about you so much this weekend …in this way:

    i was feeling a need to revamp my blog. it’s a wonder that over the past 2 months i started blogging again. but it looks messy, cramped and all the other stuff that says it’s not good enuf.

    i went to your blog. kidd you not. i thought this: christine has a way of always being present in the moment. she also has a way of knowing what’s doable in a day. and i’m certain her reader friendly guild the newbie thru how to use a website efficiently style didn’t just erupt one saturday night or one weekend.
    it’s all about being present in the moment.

    to me, and i’m not putting you on a pedastal. i’m really just hugging you on this: YOU ALREADY HAVE MASTERED JUST THIS.

    keep doing it. b/c it helps peeps like me ‘keep doing just this too.’

    i’m also convinced you came to mind b/c that’s what happens when like minds are yearning for the same substance.

    i’m sure a ton of other women/men bloggers and other folks are striving to do ‘just this’ too…so thanks for the nudge and reminder…but just know too that you already exemplify this to me…sweetly and gracefully.

    and i know that in ways i already do ‘just this’ too….if only i could shut up the hissing meanies (i call ’em blue meanies from the beatles’ flick yellow submarine) that say i’m not working fast enuf. sheesh. what a complete waste of thought those are.

    meanwhile: cool post. and thanks for saying to twitter just this too.

    hugs, tre 😉

  14. says

    great post, christine! thanks for the book recommendation.

    i was recently at an art retreat where i tried to do something similar (stay in the moment in a crowd of name tags) and oh, it was hard. but when i could, i did and it did help.

  15. Sue says

    Love this Christine! I have been using ‘just this’ today at work. It was a very busy day and it really helped me to focus. It helped me successfully move from one thing to the next and actually be in that moment. I avoided my usual wheel-spinning where I half-do about 100 things and have to hurry to tie them all up at the end of the day! I will get the book too. :)

  16. says

    eileen – yes, eat,pray,love was such a good listen. i can’t imagine actually reading it! this is the same way. i listened to it twice, and still burst out laughing at some of the stories! (after i listened to it, i bought the hard copy because i want to introduce the book to people at my retreats.) i hope your day was made easier by practicing this!

    c. – the not-good-enoughs are quite a loud choir at times. (conferences will always bring them out too!) “just this” worked all weekend for me. (except with the occasional road food situation. then, it was more like, “just this??”)

    robert – indeed, it is a good metaphor – and it made me very happy for my pilates practice! it was great to spend time with you too!

    thanks terry! and i, for one, appreciated the one moment when you tried to bring everyone into the present moment. (the wedding metaphor was lovely, really.)

    carolyn – yes yes yes to that. i have lots of teacher friends, and they tend to live for the summer. it’s hard to get out of that habit.

  17. says

    (geez, i’m getting a little wordy here. must be the repressed creativity from twittering only 120 characters!)

    thanks barbv – i’m touched by your story … and i’m glad for the gifts you found in it.

    pam – thanks so much for visiting! yours was one of the first blogs i was introduced to – so i’m happy to “meet” you officially! and of course, i’m honored to be used as an example…

    mark – i love what you wrote about byron katie. so great to know. you’ll love this book!

    tre – AU CONTRAIRE! i have not mastered “just this.” (ask my husband for a full report!) but thank you for your observations and kind words. and you be nice to tre!

    leah – i spent a good part of today on your blog – and your art is so beautiful! thanks for the note.

    sue – hooray for you! that’s great to hear. (or, read.)

  18. says

    Just this… just this…

    Thanks, Christine, for passing this along!

    I wish I’d known this succinct pearl when I was a park ranger leading hikes in Denali a few years back… I used to start my hikes by gently challenging visitors to try to stay present, that silence is okay, that they spent a lot of money to fly to Alaska just to be Right Here, Right Now, so why not leave your mind off the office and Be Here Now…

    I think “Just this…” would have helped take the woo woo out of it a bit, and maybe made the message easier to hear…

    Still… going to give it a whirl tonight as I help my sweetie prune the apple trees in the last light of day…

    Thank you!

  19. Carrie says

    I will add “Just This” in between my typical morning prayer “Whatever”
    and night time prayer “Oh, well.” (Picked that up in a 12 Step meeting once upon a time and has helped ever since.) Thank you.

  20. says

    This is what I needed to hear at the beginning of this week. I may have to write it down so I’ll see it (and remember it) more often——- Thank you!

  21. says

    i will read that book fo’ shizzle.

    funny you mention the twitter thing because after our convo on Sunday, I updated my twitter state to “Just this.”

    I didn’t know you were a twitterer…now I’m a follower! :)

  22. says

    You know Christine I think it was the kind of event when you could have said “I’m experiencing you” and we’d all have replied “yes!” :-)

    It was great to meet you, and thanks for the songs… perfect start to the event


  23. Emily says

    I’ve been reminding myself “just this” for the last two days at work in therapy sessions with kids. The feel of the sessions are starting to change and become more grounded…it’s great! One of the kids even looked at me today and said, “you’re different today.”
    (And I’m pretty sure he was referring to how I was being with him and not on how weird I was–although, that is probably as equally possible…)

  24. says

    carrie – yes, i’m always searching for the perfect grounded language for these kinds of things too! it makes such a difference.

    carrie #2 – glad you can add this to your list of acceptances!

    thanks back, gladys!

    amylia – well, following me on twitter could prove to disappoint. i don’t think i’m all that great at the in’s and out’s! it seems a little – uh – distract-y?

    joanna – maybe some people would’ve said yes – but some would’ve totally run away! :-) there were definitely the huggy-touchy folks there, that’s for sure. it was like a love fest at times! i loved meeting you!

    thanks shama – i’ll find you back on twitter!

    thanks janice – i so appreciate sonia linking to me. I’ve been a subscriber of her blog for a while. i’m glad to find you too! i love your blog!

    emily – that’s that great thing that happens when you shift the inside – and the outside just completely changes automatically. great to hear. (being different is a good thing – even if it does mean you’re weird!)

    thanks back, leah.

  25. says



    I met you at SOBCon08 and introduced myself on the boat. Thought you were great even though I couldn’t hear the music or the lyrics. Your “energy” up there was marvelous.

    Great article – “JUST THIS” was why I had a great time at the conference. I had no agenda other than to be myself (authentic), learn some things and make new friends (which I made a ton of).

    With no agenda (i.e. “conference mindset”), people are drawn to you and want to get to know you versus run away with their laptops. I had a glorious time and I’m grateful for it.

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