Being Present

I can still hear my 6th grade teacher clear her throat, then ask, “Susan, where are you? The rest of us are on page 26.”

My mind snapped into place as Mrs. Easley asked me to continue reading where the previous student had left off. I paused, giggled at the thought of students and teacher physically sitting on page 26, did a quick mental rewind of the last words I heard, then focused on the inked page, and started reading.

After class, my friend Shelley congratulated me on my quick come-back. “Day-dreaming again?” she asked, tapping me on my shoulder.

“Floating, but I was here.”

“How do you do that?” Shelley asked.

Today I’m reminded of how “being present while floating” has guided me through the maze of my amazing life. Paying close attention to details of each breathing, living moment, my gut instincts, clairvoyant thoughts, and telling dreams, I focus on the present and allow my senses to go with the flow and collect important information.

While living in Israel in 1968, I visited the zoo in Haifa. Noticing a sign outside the elephant house, I stopped and studied it. It looked like the head of an elephant with a big ear, an eye, and a trunk. Great image, I thought, drawing the pictograph in my travel journal. A student of Hebrew, I knew that the sign was in fact three Hebrew letters forming the word for elephant in Hebrew—-Peel. Marveling at the elephant house sign, I said to myself, “If I ever write a book about an elephant, I’m going to name him Peel.”


Living in Frankfurt, Germany in the late 70s, at a low point in my life, a singing elephant appeared at the foot of my bed singing a song of encouragement in a dream.


I sat up in bed, rubbed my sleepy eyes and listened.

An elephant won’t forget you when you’re happy.
An elephant won’t forget you when you’re sad.
‘Cause an elephant knows the secret is remembering it all—
Learning from the good times, and the bad.

Suffering from pneumonia and feeling drained emotionally, I was indeed sad. The next day, I couldn’t get the song out of my head. I sang it aloud often. And every time I sang it, I felt better and stronger. So I wrote it down, music and words,

A few weeks later, the singing elephant appeared again and we started conversing, always in rhyme, about learning from life adventures. I made notes in my dream journal and soon realized I had something important to share.

Years after the elephant appeared in my dreams, and after some wonderful synchronicities, “Peel, the Extraordinary Elephant,” my first children’s book, was published in 1985. It’s still in print today.

Being present is being in touch with ourselves, focusing on each moment (happy or sad), and going with the magical flow of life.

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