A new client arrived at our office this week and shared some very kind words about our space. She caught me off guard when she added, “you even have a view of the pond from the washrooms!”We do? The washrooms in our building are one of my least favourite ‘features’ and I often feel apologetic and even disappointed showing them to new families.
I had definitely never noticed the view of the pond! Strangely, I had walked to the pond with a few clients this same week. I love that we can step out of the office, and in moments be surrounded by nature. I love walking, talking, listening, exploring and learning with my young clients, around our pond.
After this new client left, I went into the bathroom. I stood by the window, and saw the parking lot, the cars, the concrete, the rooftops, the machine shop (the disappointing)… and then, I saw the pond.
I had looked out the window many times before, and I had even intentionally stood there to take a few deep breaths to reconnect between sessions – but I had never noticed the pond.
My gaze fell immediately to what was just in front of me, the undesirable things in my sight and was further hindered by the attitude I always carried in with me, disappointed.
How often do I do this?
I stood by the window for a few minutes longer that day (thankful no one came in to catch me staring out the bathroom window), I smiled, and catching sight of the pond changed my attitude.
Sometimes I only see the worst, the hardest, the frustrating and… the disappointing.
- the chores not done
- the rooms not tidied
- the kitchen left a mess
These are three pretty raw & recent examples for me, let me explain. The chores not done – this was because my kids were playing together after school. The rooms not tidied – this is often because they are in the midst of setting up a scene, finishing a battle or building LEGO. The kitchen left a mess – this is usually because… (this one hurts me!) Dad has made dinner & now they’re playing a game together! DISHES CAN ALWAYS WAIT!
I am so guilty of allowing my gaze to fall short and get stuck. I’m great at seeing what’s not done or what’s out of place. I missed the moment, by getting stuck in the disappointment.
- Where does your gaze fall short?
- How can we remember to look beyond the little things, look past the disappointing things and see what’s just beyond?
My answer is simple, so simple. Breathe. Or as my young clients know, ‘smell the flowers, blow out the candles.’
One deep breath, in through the nose & out through the mouth – somedays, and some circumstances might require a couple! It works. It catches a racing heartbeat. It quiets a busy mind. It brings a smile.
It also reminds me to look up, and let go. It nudges me out of my head & out from under the cues from my body – the gasp & holding my breath when I see the mess, the racing heartbeat, the clenched fists and jaw – all signs that I’m stuck.
I try to catch these cues even before I walk in the front door. My car can be a wonderful place to breathe, to transition from work to home, to let go of my day and to catch my gaze. And so, next time disappointment washes over you, or frustration wells up inside of you, check your gaze.
Look beyond the feeling.
Look beyond the mess.
Look into the moment, and smile.
Jennifer Lynne Walker MSW is the Lead Child & Family Therapist for the Counting Butterflies Wellness Team. With over twenty years of professional experience in Child & Family Mental Health, Jenn is skilled at joining and navigating families to grow and thrive. Her specializations include Play & Attachment-Based Therapy and she is passionate about supporting the social-emotional needs of children aged pre-school through early teenage-hood.