- The importance of connecting with nature and exercising 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.
- It is easy to make friends. While at the park, Claudia immediately made a friend by confidently approaching her. Then 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?
- Mindfulness while eating. While out to lunch and eating her sandwich, Claudia looked at it, touched it, smelled it and twice during the meal (and once later in the car) said 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 smart phone 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?)
- Excessive stuff is a burden. “What is that Public Storage place?,” she asked as we drove by, 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. Oh, from the mouths of babes… Good point, Claudia. Perhaps a good purge of useless crap would free up some space in our lives.
- Play is important self-care. After running errands for a couple 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.
- Music is good for 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.
- Animals are sources of joy and love. Always noticing, loving and giggling at the antics of our pets, Claudia reminds me of 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.) Also, whenever I’m driving down the street with my mind lost in my “To Do List,” Claudia is pointing out the birds, the bunnies and the squirrels with glee.
- Express gratitude for even the small things. 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.”
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8 Life Lessons from My 8 Year-Old