Oh, the powerful wisdom that comes from the mouths of babes... If we pay attention, children can remind us of the important aspects of life that many of us have forgotten.
I had the honor of spending some quality time alone with my 8-year-old daughter, Claudia, today. The following are the life lessons of which she reminded me:
1. It's important to connect with nature and exercise for fun. Instead of checking her emails first thing in the morning (like her Ma-Ma,) Claudia opened the door to assess the day. "It's cool outside, but sunny -- a perfect day for a cozy sweatsuit. I want to ride my bike today," she said. Later, we biked together through the neighborhood, around a geese-filled pond and to the park.
2. It's easy to make friends. While at the playground, Claudia quickly made a friend by happily and confidently approaching her. A moment later, they were joyously laughing while going down the slides together. As adults, we often don't see the point in making the effort to connect with strangers who we may never see again. What experiences, insights and joy are we missing by averting eye contact and small talk with strangers?
3. Be mindful while eating. While out to lunch and eating her sandwich, Claudia looked at it, touched it, smelled it and said twice during the meal (and once later in the car) how delicious it was and how much she enjoyed it. She was taking in her meal with all of her senses, not mindlessly scarfing it down while preoccupied with her smartphone, as many of us grown-ups do. I also notice she eats when she is hungry and stops when she is full (radical concepts, huh?).
4. Excessive stuff is a burden. "What is that Public Storage place?" she asked as we drove by the facility, ironically on our way to Target to purchase more stuff. "It's a place where people can pay to store their junk," I said. "Like our basement? And garage? And attic?" she replied. Ouch... Good point, Claudia. Perhaps a good purge of useless crap would free up some space in our lives.
5. Self-care is essential to reboot the mind and body. After running errands for a couple of hours, Claudia said, "Mom, I've enjoyed shopping with you, but when we get home I want to play Legos and have some down time." I took a cue from her and practiced one of my favorite forms of self-care -- a luxurious bubble bath -- and noticed my mind and body soften.
6. Music soothes the soul. While playing with her legos, Claudia sang to herself. I always say that music was my first therapy -- so expressive, cathartic, soothing, healing and connecting. Surrendering to the connection to music is a form of mind-free meditation.
7. Animals are sources of joy and love. As I hear Claudia laugh at the antics of our pets, I'm reminded this is the reason I went a wee bit overboard and adopted a few too many critters (we have a Chiweenie (chihuahua-weiner dog rescue), a tabby cat, two guinea pigs and a beta fish.) Never having had a dog before, I am grateful that my love for Claudia inspired me to get a dog and to experience the power of having one to love for the first time. There is nothing like it.
8. Gratitude creates positivity. After changing into some new things we picked up during the Target run, she said, "My new jammies are so comfy. They feel soft against my skin yet loose and airy. I feel great."
"I love my life," Claudia said later. Is there any greater expression of gratitude for the precious gift of life we have all been given? Let us all take a cue from Claudia and connect with the joy of life that is inside and around all of us. She must be doing something right, the girl frequently belly laughs in her sleep, causing my heart to explode with love and my soul to rejoice. I give thanks for her and all she teaches me about life and love.