Appreciating The Ordinary


Lately, I have been making a special effort to notice and appreciate things that I normally wouldn’t … things that are everyday occurrences that we come to take for granted.  I have also been making an effort to look carefully at things I see so frequently that I often overlook, like all the photographs all over my house.

Last week, I was raking and noticed a tree root partially above ground that had three new green leaves growing from it.  It seemed a little out of place surrounded by a sea of yellow leaves that had already fallen to the ground.  I saw it as being symbolic of so many things … life is constantly evolving and is full of surprises, there is always hope for a new beginning, and so on. The week before that, I sat and watched a beautiful blue jay that was sitting on top of my hedges for a bit calling to other birds.  I found myself wondering what the bird was trying to convey. Sometimes I have discretely observed my kids doing their homework or something else that they do on a regular basis.  In the process, I noticed some things I hadn’t before, like how my one son runs his hands through his hair frequently while doing his homework and that he smiles when he understands what he is doing.  These are just a few of many examples I could share.

It’s too easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of life and lose track of what’s really important. Being more mindful of my surroundings has made me feel more appreciative of the little things that I often overlook.  It has also helped me not to be so lost in thought sometimes, which I tend to do.  My thoughts sometimes wander to thinking about the things in my life that I wish could be different than they are now. So not letting my mind wander helps me to be more in the “here and now” and think about all the positive things for which I am grateful.  I recently learned about how being grateful positively affects how well our brains function, which is always a plus!  I will continue to try to be more mindful of my surroundings and be thankful for even the most ordinary things, as it seems to be having a positive impact on me.  I hope you will do the same.

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Being a Good Role Model and Setting Standards

role modeling

This is so true, but it seems to me that there are a lot of parents out there who don’t understand this and/or who don’t see how their own behavior is so different than what they expect from their kids.  I’m certainly not a perfect role model, but at least I am aware of when I occasionally do something that is the opposite of what I am trying to teach my kids.  The one example that comes to mind is losing my cool when I am always trying to get them to stay calm and not overreact to various situations.  I do talk to my kids about that when it happens and let them know I am aware I have not been setting a good example and at least try to explain why.  Then I tell them I will continue trying to improve.

I can think of plenty of other examples that I have witnessed where parents say one thing to their kids and then do the opposite themselves.  Lying and being deceitful is a big example in my house. Continue reading

Appreciating the Beauty and Wonder of Nature

AE-natureI don’t know how many people will venture out and observe the super moon lunar eclipse this weekend, but I plan to.  And hopefully, I can get my kids to join me.  It seems to me like these things have become less and less impressive over time as we can do more and more with our electronic devices.  Too many people are glued to their screens and don’t make time to venture outside and enjoy their surroundings.  My kids can’t put their phones and iPods away long enough to enjoy a campfire anymore, which makes me sad.

There’s something very peaceful and therapeutic about listening to the crackling of a campfire along with crickets chirping and other sounds of the night while watching the flames of the fire dance around.  The same can be said for listening to the sounds of the ocean, hearing the water hitting the lake shore,  looking at fall colors, smelling fresh flowers, watching animals interact with one another, and so many other things.  At least that’s the case for me.

Who doesn’t feel more relaxed after spending some time at the beach or taking a vacation to take in some beautiful sights?  That’s always relaxing, not only because we are taking a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but we are often reconnecting with nature.  The sights, smells, and sounds do us good.  There are plenty of scientific reasons for that, such as the fact that looking at the color green causes a release of serotonin, which helps our brains regulate mood, appetite, memory, perception on pain, and our sleep schedule.  Think about how much of nature is green.  I’m sure there are a lot of psychological and physiological benefits as well.

The problem is, most of us don’t make enough time to do this the rest of the year when we are not on vacation.  Taking a walk outside on a lunch break or finding things to do outside every so often, or even just looking out our windows would be a good start.  Getting our kids to spend more time outside and appreciate nature, whether it’s just enjoying it or taking it a step further to getting them to help preserve it, is always a good thing.  Nature can be very fascinating and intriguing as well if we look more closely.  There is obviously a lot of science that can be observed, but there is also a whole lot of math.

So not only should we be more mindful of our surroundings when we happen to be outside and really notice all the little things nature has to offer us, but we should make a point to experience the wonders of nature more frequently as well.  It would do us all some good.

Comments are always welcome!  Clicking on the “Home” page tab will allow you to scroll through other posts, or you can select a category or tag word to find similar topics.  If you would like to read future posts, please follow the blog or my Facebook page.

Intentions and Being Mindful

My kids frequently get on each other’s nerves.  Often times when I am asking one of them to stop doing whatever it is they are doing that is annoying their brother or sister and to not do it in the future, I get the response, “I wasn’t TRYING to bother her/him.”  My reply to that is usually, “Yes, I know, but I am asking you to try NOT to.” In other words, I am asking them to be more conscious of what they are doing and how it impacts others around them and then make decisions accordingly.

A good analogy would be when we are driving, we are supposed to be aware of all of the other drivers around us and how our actions will affect them and vice versa.  If we were to suddenly change lanes on a highway during rush hour without signaling, that might cause a chain reaction of people hitting their brakes and maybe even cause an accident, so that’s probably not a wise decision.  Obviously, there are those people who do not drive defensively and think they own the road.  They probably live the rest of their lives that way too. (I think how people drive definitely says a lot about them as a person, but that’s another topic.)

Unfortunately, I think a lot of people have difficulty navigating through life thinking about how their actions impact those around them.  It’s a whole mindset that some people have and some people don’t.  And it can involve everything from not picking up after oneself to making someone else be late to how we speak to one another. Often times we don’t intend to hurt someone’s feelings, insult them, make them feel frustrated, cause them stress, etc., but we do.  When this happens, we need to try to understand things from the other person’s point of view and see that we may have done these things even though we didn’t intend to at all.

Once they are brought to our attention, we need to try acknowledge that and then try not to do them in the future. It is even more frustrating and hurtful in my opinion when I have brought something to someone’s attention that bothers me or hurts my feelings, and that person continues to do that very same thing repeatedly.  I know people can’t change overnight, and I don’t expect anyone to be perfect, but even making a little effort to consciously NOT do things that they know will bother me is appreciated.  It shows that they care about and respect me enough to at least try to do things differently and are conscious of how their behavior affects others around them, which I think is an admirable quality.

I don’t expect my kids to develop this skill or mindset on their own because kids tend to be self-absorbed.  It is something they can learn over time though if it is modeled for them and brought to their attention.  Adults who have this mindset always impress me and catch my attention, so I hope my kids will eventually be able to impress others with this quality too.

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