I’m weary this week. Not tired, not needing sleep, not worn out, just weary. This will not be a news flash to any living person. From what I can tell, we are all weary. When I feel this way, it helps me tremendously to find little things to celebrate or to think about. Once I remember to look, I usually notice little things everywhere.
Last week, the weather warmed up for a couple of days and one of those warm days happened to be when Ben was here, so he and I decided to head out to see Shirley. Our friend, Shirley is a retired teacher. She and I taught together for my whole career. She lives on a beautiful farm not far from where our children grew up. I’ve been taking Ben to visit Shirley since he was able to walk. With his fascination of all things with wheels, her farm is a perfect place to explore. Although Shirley doesn’t farm the land herself anymore, she has a wonderful team who rents it and keeps it operating. There is always something exciting to see when we go.
Each time we wander out to the workshop to ‘see the guys’, we walk up the lane, past the few cows and a couple of barns. Shirley pointed out the little modification the guys made in the fence that lines the drive. Where there once was a corner, there is now a diagonal piece of fencing. It doesn’t sound like much of a change. I might not have noticed it right away if it hadn’t been pointed out to me. But this little change opened up the corner dramatically and has made it so much easier for big rig trucks and huge farm equipment to navigate as they enter the busy farmyard. Shirley is thrilled with this change. For years and years (and years), this corner was a tough one to manage. With some ingenuity on the part of the ‘guys’ it has taken the stress out of maneuvering around.
While the actual physical fence is lovely and very well built, what has impressed me even more is Shirley’s appreciation of it. This is one of those things that could so easily be looked at once, admired and then simply incorporated into the daily landscape. Shirley has not allowed this to happen. She understands its value, acknowledges, and admires it each time she passes by. She has taken a little thing, stopped long enough to really see it, and has chosen to appreciate it every single day.
Oh, such a little thing.
Last month we celebrated Ben’s birthday via Zoom. We had planned for a little outdoor skating party but a stomach bug the day before the big event caused a re-plan and we ended up on Zoom. Incredibly, this was exactly what Ben wanted. I have to remember that last year Ben had his party on Zoom, and he isn’t old enough to have experienced any other kind of party. It makes sense this is a good memory for him, and he would want to repeat it. The wonderful thing is we were able to have some people there who could never have been there for the in-person skating party: his Grammie and Grampy, his great Grandma and his great Aunt and Uncle. Great Grandma, Jim’s mom, who is 92, shone a light on the importance of little things that day. As we sat in front of our screens enjoying Ben’s joy as he opened Lego sets and other wheeled objects he’d been eyeing, Great Grandma said, ‘I just can’t believe I can do this. I never would have believed we could all be together for this. And able to see each other. It’s miraculous.’
I’ll admit, it took me a moment to really process what she said. After all, I, like so many others have been Zoomed and Zoomed and Zoomed. We’re weary. It’s not ideal. And yet, through her eyes, it somehow revealed its magic. The ‘party’, the forty-minute party, which once felt like second best, suddenly became a gift to all of us. We were lucky to have paused long enough to have her remind us of this wonder we have come to take for granted.
Oh, such a little thing.
Our little Andy, now learning to really crawl, has, in the last couple of weeks spent hours mastering the stairs. Up only. He has worked hard at this and is thrilled with himself. He’s also increasing the number of sounds he can make. For now, his favourite one is saying, ‘Oooohhhh’, when we point out something to him. He molds his mouth into a perfect oval and really creates a dramatic effect. We of course, all turn our mouths into ovals and ‘Oooohhhh’ right back at him. I was delighting in these little exchanges, and also at myself for taking time to really appreciate such small moments when Ben shared his interpretation of the ‘Oooohhh’ with me. As Ben and I were getting ready to drive to his house after our day together this week, he told me Andy likes to say, ‘Oooohhh’. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I do know exactly what Ben said next. He said, ‘When Andy is saying Oooohhh, I think he is really saying ‘I love you, Ben’.
Oooohhh, such a little thing.
As we slog through these last weeks of winter, which in Alberta could turn into months, and through the final weeks of this fifth wave of Covid, may we each take time to notice the little things. The ones that can, if we only stop to witness them in their true beauty, make us purse our mouths in just the most precious way and exclaim, ‘Oooohhhh!’ They change everything.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘Where is the Oooohhhh in this moment?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. She has expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations and for conducting leadership reviews. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to notice and appreciate the little things.