Now that my daughter and I are three weeks into this college shopping trip, a friend asked how I’m doing on choosing my attitude. (See That’s quite an affirmation ya’ got there…”). While our pace has been brisk, I’m happy with my attitude, and more importantly, with the tranquility I’ve been able to maintain in these strange environments. What’s my secret besides good planning? Gratitude.
By being grateful for small things, I’ve been able to keep upbeat and serene. Here are a few of my favorite moments.
After long days of hiking up and down hills and stairs in the subways and on college campuses, I sunk appreciatively into soothing hot baths. Why are colleges almost always on a hill? And why are the elevators hidden in the subway stations?
Following several gray days, I savored the sun peaking over the rooftop of the house across the street over morning coffee.
In Pittsburgh, I was grateful to find sweatshirt weather after the cold of Boston. While the grass had not yet turned green, we could see the grass – no snow! Spring birds cheeped loudly, and I saw my first fat robin of the season, just four feet away. My Grandmother and I had a long tradition of calling each other when we spied our first robins, and this moment brought treasured memories of her rushing back to me.
I was also thankful to stop watching the news. This one simple step expanded my serenity immensely. At home my husband watches the local news, the network news, the BBC, and the PBS news. This after reading the Wall Street Journal. I don’t know why he watches; he’s usually yelling at the TV when he does. I don’t miss all that drama – his or the coverage of the ills of the world. In fact, we haven’t turned on a TV yet. While my daughter watches anime on her computer; I am content to read. The books I choose feed my soul, something the news never does.
Last night my daughter and I stayed up late talking in bed, mostly reminiscing about her grade-school days. We giggled into the wee hours. I was touched when she asked me to sing her the lullaby I had sung to her every night until we moved, The Irish Blessing. I don’t remember why we stopped; maybe because my family moved to Hawai‘i two months before me, while I finished work projects and packed up the house. By the time I arrived, new patterns had set in. We thought back to the last time we and her sister sang it together – at their Grandpa’s funeral. Sweet comforting memories.
But my deepest gratitude and serenity came from making new memories with my daughter; seeing her eyes shine when I said yes to going to the Boston Ballet, hearing long-held confessions when we whispered late into the night, witnessing her excitement when she connected deeply with one or another of the schools we visited. For these moments I am grateful. They touched me and left me joyfully tranquil.
Underlying all of these moments is being present to them. So the next time you are feeling less than serene, take notice. Be present to things for which you are grateful, and your own ability to sooth your stress through gratitude. Treasure, savor, cherish, appreciate, giggle, remember, comfort, feed your soul.
And while you’re at it, smile – it’s free and calming.
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