The Practice of Observation – #1

Quickly!  Describe 10 things you saw on your way to work this morning!

If you’re like most of us, you can come up with  maybe five or six – but the rest of the trip is probably a blur.  After all, you’ve done it so many times that you could do it in your sleep, right?  You put yourself on automatic pilot and, before you know it, you’re sitting at your desk.

But what did you miss in the meantime?  Are there signs of the changing seasons?  Is there new construction?  If so, is it anything you might want to check out in the future?  Is that panhandler who’s usually on the corner there today?  What’s his story?

How might these observations affect you day – and even your life – compared to driving on automatic pilot, while drinking coffee and talking on your cell?  You might feel invigorated by those first signs of Spring – and this translates to your entire workday;  or you might decide to take the family out to dinner at that new restaurant once it’s open;  or, you might make sure to have a dollar handy the next time you pass that panhandler.

Often we’re on automatic pilot when we parent our children:  we respond the way we always have, and probably the way our parents did before us.  We’re clueless as to what’s really going on.  But what might happen if we took the time to really observe our children:  what they’re doing, what they’re saying, how they look?  What might we learn and how might that change our actions?  It might be something as exciting as discovering your child has learned to read (a trip to the bookstore this weekend?), or as simple as noticing that a button is missing from his sweater (time for a “lesson” in how to sew on a button?).

This week’s practice:  Take 15 minutes each day and simply watch your children.   Write down something you noticed about them that you didn’t know before.

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