Back to School for Big People

We’re in the last days of the summer holidays here in Nova Scotia and I feel like I’ve had one of the best summers of my life. Partly, it’s the sheer amount of time I can take off (as a self employed person) to really enjoy nature and the weather. Partly, it’s the delight in being able to give my daughter experiences that I know are important and I’m hoping she’ll always remember. And partly, it’s this wonderful feeling that I am back in school and doing the most important learning of my life.

It’s the school of learning how things really work and I’m loving it. The universe is a fabulous teacher. There’s no one slapping a yardstick down on the desk or throwing chalk at my head. It’s just steady, gentle, and responsive encouragement. It’s learning by doing and experiencing.

One of the biggest things I’m learning about is how our state of mind affects the world around us. There is so much that I want to write about this over time, but for today, I want to focus on something specific and small. Something I have found to be immensely do-able (not to mention magical and fun).

I first wrote about the topic of appreciation a few months ago but since then, I feel like my learning about this powerful practice has deepened.

In a nutshell, here it is: The more I appreciate, the more there is to appreciate. Also, the deeper my sense of appreciation. From what I’m witnessing so far, this beautiful cycle just continues to repeat and grow and gain momentum.

Here are some recent examples.

I saw one of the most beautiful sunrises of my life last week. As I watched the sun appear over the edge of the horizon and the huge red ball broke the surface of the ocean, I noticed hundreds of birds take to the air from the trees that line the shore. It was like the people who leap to their feet in a Baptist church and begin singing and praising. I could feel their excitement. “The sun!” they seemed to be shouting. Even though they knew it had to return, it didn’t stop them from celebrating the beauty of it.

Standing still in the first warm rays of the sun that morning, I felt a wave of intense gratitude pour right through me and I began to cry. In the past, I might have appreciated the beauty of that sunrise; I would have probably said it was a nice moment. But now there were tears of utter joy and a liquid euphoria that caused an entirely unplanned and spontaneous prayer of thank you to ripple through me. Thank you for this sun, for this earth, for this beauty, for the ocean, for these birds, for my body, for this moment, for my life, for my daughter, for my family, for my friends, for this wonder.

A few days later, I am outside on the deck writing in the early morning. I hear a great whoosh of wings and look up to see an eagle landing on the top of a tree directly in front of me. I have never seen one so close and feel a thrill of energy thrum as it looks down and seems to acknowledge me. A few moments after it flies off, a hummingbird buzzes in to hover at face level, also appearing to see me, and also deeply thrilling me. There are no tears this time, just a deep sense of appreciation and an inner knowing that the universe is communicating with me

Later in the week, as I’m celebrating my birthday with friends, someone gasps from the edge of the water, and we look and see the most magnificent double rainbow arced right over the ocean. The light was perfect. The rain fell softly. And as I stood there, with my daughter and my friends, I sent the silent thank you, thank you, thank you out again.

I’m telling you these stories because I am convinced that these moments feed off of each other and multiply. I think when we notice things to appreciate and we send out these silent thank you prayers, the universe supplies us with ever more things to appreciate.

I’m talking about abundance. And in this new school that I’m in, I am learning that there is more available to us than most of us ever even get close to glimpsing. More beauty, more connection, more love, more light, more peace. More of everything we want.

My experiences are showing me that this abundance is right there, literally under our noses, and yet most of us live with a scarcity mentality. Appreciation brings us closer and allows us glimpses of what is really going on.

So, be intentional and realize the choice that is yours in every single moment. Complain or praise. Criticize or compliment. Ignore or be present.

The next time you have the opportunity to praise someone do it. The next time you have the chance to give a compliment, don’t hesitate. And the next time you wake up early enough to see the sunrise, do it. As that life force rises up again on another day, be like those grateful birds that get so excited about the sun rising again that they fly out into it, over the ocean, singing and soaring.


Originally published on my blog “This Sweet World”

Author: Renée Hartleib

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