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“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”—Anais Nin
Perspective. It alters everything.
I have this sad, heavy heart feeling as my daughter returns to college for the remainder of her spring semester. As I clean up the house, I can’t help but smile, thinking of how I will miss seeing her coat hanging over the dining room chair (no use for a closet!) and her belongings strewn across the couch. I like the tidiness of the house when she is at school, but miss the vibrancy that she brings. She has come a long way in the last few months….correction: WE have come a long way in the last few months.
The summer before college was a difficult one. She was 18 and ready for independence and adventure. And I was ready for her to have those things…somewhere else! We both spent the summer in waiting….and I didn’t realize how stressful it was, until she was safely tucked away at school and I could begin to sleep soundly through the night again.
I vividly remember her first visit back home. She was eager to be at home and sleep in her own bed; a shift from her pre-college days of being allergic to home. When she first entered the house, she threw herself on the couch, and sighed. “This couch is soooo comfortable….and the TV…is so…tvish.” Suddenly, my cooking had improved and even taking a shower was “amazing”. The best though, was when she came down the next morning and genuinely shared “I think the carpet in my room…..has gotten ….SOFTER!” Of course, nothing but her perspective had actually changed.
While things aren’t perfect, I think the distance and concurrent new experiences have allowed us both to see each other differently. I genuinely enjoy her company and look forward to our time together. I can more clearly recognize her strengths, including her wonderful sense of humor, compassion, and love for life. And, as the country song says “how can I miss you if you won’t leave?”, I have learned to appreciate the perspective shift that her giant steps towards independence bring to us both.
The question is not what you look at, but what you see.
– Henry David Thoreau
“You can observe a lot by just watching.” —Yogi Berra
I love to watch small children, especially since mine are nearly grown. They serve as a reminder of so many important principles.
Here are just a few:
- Enjoy the journey, literally. As adults, we are often rushing from one place to another such that we hardly notice where we have been or how we got there. In contrast, young children can’t seem to just walk from one place to another. They must hop, skip, sing, walk sideways, and/ or touch everything on the wall as they move. They are less concerned with where they are going and more engaged in the trip to get there. They notice things that we overlook. The other day, I overheard a conversation in a parking lot between a mom and a 3 or 4 year old child: “Must you pick out a stone every time we walk to the car?” the mom asked in exasperation. The child bent over to carefully pick out a rock and nodded vigorously “YES!”. He saw nature’s treasures where I had seen nothing.
- Hugs and kisses solve a lot of problems. It’s true. Ask any young child; they know. A small kindness or affectionate touch from the right person can make a world of difference when you are hurting. Enough said.
- Young children truly are in the present moment: mind, body and spirit. They are completely attuned to what is happening RIGHT NOW, sometimes to the frustration of a waiting parent. Overtime and with age, we learn to plan ahead, engage in multiple tasks at once, and of course, to worry about all sorts of things that may or may not happen. And then, as adults, we take workshops, practice meditation, and read books on how to regain the ability to be in the present moment so that we can again focus on….. RIGHT NOW!
- We have five senses and it is great to use them all! Children know this. Watch them eat. They often eat slowly, examining the food as if it were part of a science experiment-noticing the texture, smell, color, taste, consistency and of course, it’s “flinging” ability. How often do you stop and just eat–no TV, texting, or working? Fully engage your senses. They are fantastic.
- Children have a marvelous sense of wonder and curiosity about the world. They soak up new information with a smile and without judgment. What would it be like if we approached each day wondering what new thing we might learn—about the world, ourselves or those around us? What would happen if we opened our hearts and minds to incredible possibilities (without judging ourselves or others)?
- Children laugh—a lot! In fact, research has found that a five year old laughs more than four hundred times a day. FOUR HUNDRED TIMES A DAY!!!! But, according to Loretta Laroche, stress humorist, adults laugh only 14 times a day—or LESS! This, according to Loretta is because adults are told to “get serious” and “grow up”. We all know the feeling we get from a good laugh—and to top it off, laughter boosts our immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces the levels of the stress hormone (cortisol), and results in the release of endorphins. In sum, laugh often and deeply. It’s good for your mental and physical health.
“While we try to teach our children about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” (Angela Schwindt)
To contact Christine DiBlasio, Ph.D., call 654-7607 ext. 2 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.