A Moment For Gratitude

Saturday I was up early to drive my fourteen-year-old daughter to band practice at the school.

Image credit: Stephen Bowler, Creative Commons
Image credit: Stephen Bowler, Creative Commons

On our way, the pink fingers of clouds were stretching hellos from the eastern horizon, misty clouds were rising from the fields and ponds, and my daughter was rubbing makeup on her pretty complexion while she peered into the sunshade’s mirror.

When she was safely dropped off, I came home and sautéed onions in an iron skillet, and scrambled in some eggs and cheese. After breakfast, my wife Missy and I went for a seven mile bike ride to the park and back. The wind was cool, the sun bright, and the day was young.

I spent the rest of the morning in housecleaning chores with our youngest two while Missy met friends to brew pots of chili for a Fall Festival tonight. My oldest daughter had online tutoring and then drove to her community college to take an exam for one of her concurrent classes.

All these “little” moments of life are sometimes the parts we call drudgery: taxiing kids, exercise, cleaning house, studying–they may seem like the “must do’s” of life that keep us from the “want to’s” of relaxing or having fun. But sometimes the “must-do’s” ARE the places to find small joys.

And the same applies to school. State reports, ballgames, observations, evaluations, faculty meetings—all of these can be drudgery. Sometimes these moments are just plain work and unavoidable, but other times, we can take time to enjoy the moment and try to find the joy in it.

I spent most of my week working on our state accreditation report. It is tedious data entry–kind of like an internal audit of the information we maintain on every student, employee, course, and section taught during the school year. At times I thought I would go stir crazy with boredom.

As I was wrapping up the last of the report, one of my students stopped by my office to say hello. He is a student with special needs, and he was proud to show me his yearbook photo where he managed to wear a headband while smiling with the most devilish of grins. I laughed and laughed when I saw the photo, and it made me remember again why I enjoy students.

I don’t know what stage of life you are in right now, but I would safely guess your days include busyness. While in the middle of it all, however, don’t forget to take time to soak in the good moments sometimes hidden in the mundane or routine.

No matter what kind of chores or duties you must complete, smile at the silliness that makes students both annoying and enjoyable at the same time, take time to notice the beauty in the autumn colors, hold hands with your spouse or loved one, or steal a moment to read a book with one of your children.

At the end of the day, your list of to-do’s will still be long, but if you mix in some gratitude along the way, you may find the must-do’s feeling a little more like want-to’s.

Now It’s Your Turn
What are some ways you can approach your to-do’s with fresh perspective today? Take a moment to consider people or situations for which you have reason to be thankful.

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker