Did You Notice?

Guest Post by Angela Baker

canstockphoto-hideandseekOccasionally, I hear this certain voice. It is a kind voice whose message to me is to notice, to learn, to be mindful and aware of what is really taking place around me.

Recently I heard this voice and what I learned might be a universal principle we can all benefit from.  I’d like to share it with you.

A few weeks ago, my family took a camping trip to Zion National Park.

One evening after a delightful time of roasting marshmallows, telling stories and enjoying the campfire my four younger children went into the tent to go to bed.

Moments later, their chatter subsided and soon it was quiet.

However, there was still a glow of light coming from the tent.

Curious as to who was still awake, I took a peek inside the tent.

What I saw was not just one light. There were my four youngest children ages 13, 11, 9, and 5 each snuggled in his or her sleeping bag.

Each with his or her head lamp or lattern and each intently reading or looking at a book.

In this delightful moment, I heard that kind voice say to me:

“Notice.  There is something good happening in your family.”

We got home from our trip to Zion on Saturday afternoon and reunited with our two older daughters who had stayed home for work and other commitments.

On Sunday after church, as is our family tradition, there was a flurry of helping hands in the kitchen to prepare our dinner.

Little hands and big joined to set the table.

Together, big sister and little brother mashed the potatoes.

Mother and daughter chopped fresh vegetables for a tossed salad.

Big brother and little sister spooned applesauce into dessert dishes adding a healthy dollop of whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg to each one.

I found myself noticing what was really happening—the beauty of being together, working, talking, laughing, dealing with a bit of conflict here and there—FAMILY.

As we sat and partook of the meal we had created together, there was conversation, questions, telling of stories, sharing of things learned, laughing, and planning for the upcoming week.

In this moment I again heard that kind voice say to me:

“Notice. There is something good happening in your family.”

In the weeks since I heard that voice, I have taken notice of the many good things that are  happening in my family. Some of these are:

  • A precious mother/daughter talk.
  • Sons mowing the lawn willingly, cheerfully.
  • These simple words spoken with earnest intent, “What can I do to help?”
  • Bedtime snuggles while Mother reads aloud “Little House in the Big Woods.”
  • Contentious brothers guided by an inspired parent into repentance, love, and caring.
  • Sweet moments of family prayer.
  • A 13 year old son learning to embrace challenge.
  • Big sister (age 18) sitting on the couch with little brother (9), little sisters (5 and 15) gathered near to hear her read from Mowgli’s Stories.

By the world’s standards these good things might seem insignificant and unimportant.

The world might shout that these “good things” are not where it’s at—that these don’t equal success.

But my kind voice tells me otherwise.

Somewhere inside me there is another voice—one that is not so kind.

This voice would have me believe that much is lacking in my home, in my parenting, and in my children.

It would have me dwell on what isn’t happening that is “supposed” to be happening.

It would have me believe that I am not enough and that my children fall short of the mark.

Granted, it is important to improve ourselves, but when we strive to do so from a place of seeing only what is lacking we rob ourselves of the joy and the peace that could be ours.

Focusing on what is lacking breeds discouragement, overwhelm, stress and anxiety.

This negative focus not only infiltrates our thoughts, but it also makes its way into our language and actions.

Then our communications with family members become laden with messages of not being enough.

Focusing on what is good is empowering. It is uplifting and energizing.

It brings us to a grounded place from which we can then continue to learn and change.

This focus extends to our language and as we notice the good we vocally acknowledge and affirm the efforts of those around us.

Simply put, I believe that when we see what is good, acknowledge and affirm it, then we create more good. Positive brings positive.

Negative brings negative.

So…what is happening that is good in your family?

I am certain that there is much that is positive and wonderful taking place in your home every day, just like it is in my home.

There are many good things happening in your family. Did you notice?

Please notice.

**************************

Angela Baker is the mother of seven children ages 5-21.  She and her husband, Roger, live on a one-acre farm in the rural town of Erda, Utah, where their main crop is children.

For Angela, a favorite part of each day is reading to her children.  She delights in clean bathrooms she didn’t clean; delicious food she didn’t cook; hearing the words “Can I help?” and spontaneous fun and laughter.  She enjoys hiking, running, Taekwondo, and refreshing moments of just sitting.  You can connect with Angela via email at angelabakerspeaks@gmail.com or on Facebook.

About the Author:

Rachel is the co-author of Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning and the audio series Core and Love of Learning: A Recipe for Success, and the author of the award-winning educational resource, This Week in History. She is an accomplished musician, writer, literary editor, public speaker, consultant and momschool organizer.

7 Comments

  1. Rachel Keppner June 8, 2011 at 10:33 am - Reply

    Thank you, Angie! This was just what I needed today!

  2. Karina June 8, 2011 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    What a beautiful reminder. Wonderfully written.

  3. Bob June 8, 2011 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    Interesting article. Now can someone please tell me when and where in the world (yes the world not just the US) did we humans start to congratulate and promote mediocrity? More and more I see those around me celebrating the move to being average. For example, one is rewarded for getting A’s on their report card, which was nothing more than regurgitating ones instructor’s lectures and assignments. Where is one truly congratulated for looking at an old problem from a new perspective? Why are we trying to force our kids and the world’s knowledge into the path that has already been traveled so many times before? I believe it was Albert Einstein who said “We cannot solve the problem we currently have with the same thought process that got us to this point. In order to solve these problems we need to think in terms that we have not already established.” In order words doing what we did before will not get us any new answers. THINK PEOPLE. Think and celebrate the new ways of thinking, do NOT discourage this, please.

    • Rachel DeMille June 8, 2011 at 1:50 pm - Reply

      So true, Bob. I think as a people we have all but forgotten that education can have as its objective greatness, happiness, changing the world! Teaching to the test, to the diploma, to the job–these fall so abysmally short of what we can do and be. Our world, our children, need so much more. This is why we often refer to TJEd as “Leadership Education,” and why we dedicate our time and passion to urging people to own their role as self-educators, to seek in the classic works of mankind to come face to face with greatness. I have bright hope for our future because of the quiet diligence of moms, dads, students and teachers that are doing just this.

  4. Amy June 8, 2011 at 2:30 pm - Reply

    Bob,
    Is this the quote by Einstein you were referring to?: “The significant problems of life cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them”

    I’ve experienced many resolutions to challenges through “established” ways of thinking.

    My understanding of your point is that life often challenges us to think in ways that are new to us and require true creativity.

    My concern is that often what we view as “negative” really is us determining what we don’t want.

    To me “positive” thinking is about thinking that leads to growth not limiting ourselves to only what we want or think we want at any given moment.

    In practical terms: as a mother I’ve experienced a great deal of pain in the process of carrying and birthing a child. I don’t view the pain as “negative” just as simply part of the process. Yet how many of us would categorize pain as “negative”?

    My point leads into your statements about mediocrity. Perhaps the experience of mediocrity itself serves the purpose of contrast and as a catalyst for those who desire more? The inner restlessness of those who desire more is a powerful motivator for growth. Not everyone will desire more, is it right for us to assume everyone does?

    I do believe those who do will seek to inspire others because that is part of the nature of true growth and progress. I just hope we’ll be careful in our judgments and assumptions of how “progress” looks.

  5. LCJ June 9, 2011 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    My house is getting much more pleasant, because I am reading lots of good parenting books. I am reading Alfie Kohn’s, Unconditional Parenting now and it is awesome. My kids are already liking the change in my parenting style, and are much more ready to do what I ask them to do now.

  6. Dawn March 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    I REALLY needed this today! Thank you for sharing!

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.