A Lesson On Gratitude

This past weekend we took a mini vacation to the Seattle area. It was a fun break as well as an opportunity to see a close friend who was visiting from the East Coast.

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One of the best parts of our trip was exploring Whidbey Island.

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Jeffrey, as well as most children I assume, loves to stop and look at everything when we are out and about. It’s a constant “come on Jeffrey, hurry up, let’s go, come on buddy.”

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As we headed toward the beach we passed through an area covered with dandelions. Jeffrey kept stopping to look and pick them – but we hurried him along so we could see the next thing – and besides, they’re “just weeds”.

DSC_0533Fast forward to our return home…

On a walk yesterday afternoon, with a combination of being tired and hot, Jeffrey didn’t stop to look at anything around us.

Within a day he went from finding joy in the dandelions to being totally unaware of his surroundings.

A wave of sadness hit me, I became aware of how fast my “baby” is growing up and how his young toddler curiosity will one day be gone.

Then it hit me – flashbacks of all the times I rush my little boy.

And I realized – every stop to look at a weed, pick up smooth colorful rocks, or point out a water fountain in a neighbor’s yard – is an expression of gratitude. He is actually “seeing” the beauty in everything and is present in the moment – completely aware of what’s around him – which does not hold true for myself.

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It is so easy for me to hurry along life – even with no pressing demands. Because of my inability to stand there, wait and see new things for myself, I am teaching my children to stop looking for the beauty. I am training them to be like me and so many other adults – those of us who don’t see the loveliness in an abundance of bright yellow dandelions, pink and purple pebbles in someone’s yard or the many black sprinkler heads peeping up through the grass… the things that matter so much to our little ones!

I don’t want my children to lose this wonderful quality – gratitude – the ability to really “see” everything.

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Immediately I started pointing out things for Jeffrey to look at – things I would normally miss myself – flowers among weeds, the cool breeze brushing against us, a decorative teal bike hidden in the bushes of a creative person’s yard.

We need to embrace and affirm the wonder of our children and how they perceive the world around them. To consciously slow down and let our kiddos take the joy of life, living in the moment, and “seeing” beauty into their adulthood.

DSC_0525 “Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing…. Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.” – Ann Voskamp, “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are”  

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