Nothing makes me happier than listing the things for which I’m grateful. The simple reason is that, as I notice things that make my life wonderful, the Beauty of the thing GROWS. Why is this?
Focus brings clarity.
So I’m beginning my gratitude month with photography. I have a cadre of photographer friends who have brought new Light into my life.
My first photography friend/mentor was Haley Kay. I traveled with her to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary where we both held kitties and walked dogs. The scenery there is beyond gorgeous and Haley encouraged me to take off the auto focus and simply trust myself to do the seeing.
“They began to change when I allowed myself to decide what was the central focus,” said Haley. I know she was talking about photos, but to me I was drinking at the fountain of Zen. “They” could mean my kids, my clients, the meals I cooked. I used the camera to drink in a Life Tutorial.
While I was swallowing, my son served up some mud. He recently helped a friend of ours who was raising money to combat child abuse. The two of them headed into the woods of the ski area above our house to build an obstacle course and I was one proud Mama. I was also out of breath.
The first 4 minutes I ran up the hill I’d spent the winter teaching people to ski down. Then, while people sprayed me with something the size of a firehose – oh, but lightly – I crawled on hands and knees down the muddy slope, through a tunnel and up and over a 15 foot slippery log ladder.
Because my son and I were a team and the rules of the race stated team members needed to remain in sight of one another, the announcer, in this moment was saying to my son, “Logan you need to wait for your mother.”
About this time Sue Rodda, famous local photographer, snapped this picture of soggy me, simultaneously cheering me on. “You go girl!”
All parents who take the family photos will know how few representations there are of my face in the albums on the shelf. It bolstered me for the hard stuff that lay ahead. As I waded in water more than waist deep, and failed to scale the 30 foot mud hill on my first attempt, I kept thinking about that photo. I was seen.
My son is 16. He runs the mile in track and places well. I turn 47 this month and I hate running. But I love my son. I love the muddy mess of parenting.
He’s at the age that he chooses other people far more than he chooses me. He wanted me to be his teammate that day, even though I questioned his choice and told him I’d slow him down. The course was imaginative and grueling and he wanted me to see it. He wanted me running (and sometimes walking) in the steps he’d carved.
This is when I realized profoundly and again (we’re always learning the same lessons aren’t we?) the value of seeing people. To see and then be seen, this is the goal with a clear focus.
What focuses your joy? Who has made you feel seen in life? When has being muddy given you a clean feeling?
Here is my (first!) gratitude video. I’m hugely grateful for the fun class I took with Abe Cajudo who taught me not to fear technology and simply make it my own. Abe assumed that I would know where the “on” and “off” buttons were. The mom in me had to refrain from editing out my son’s forehead when he comes in at the end to help me. November is certainly a time to be grateful for technologically inclined teens. PS: I promise not to cry in all the videos I make.
I hope you will join me for this month of soulful gratitude. Leave a comment and tell me what small thing is bringing you happiness. And come talk with me Monday November 12 @ 10am PST/ 12 CST/ 1 pm EST when we’ll be chatting about the power of focus, photography, and the wonders of recording gratitude.
To be a part of that call simply dial (805) 399-1200 then enter your *secret code* 208594#
*Long distance rates will apply, but otherwise the call is free.