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From our archives

Dear Friends

When my 5-year-old nephew, Austin, and his family recently came to visit, we lined up theme parks, trips to the beach, children's museums, and fun places to eat out in anticipation of making it a visit he would never forget (this being his first trip to Southern California).

From the moment he arrived, Austin fell in love with our place -- he loved Willie (my goat), the cats and dogs, the garden and yard, the horse corral and barn. He loved 'exploring' all around the property. Each morning when we talked about that day's planned adventure over breakfast, Austin just didn't seem all that excited. Once breakfast was finished, he would ask permission to go outside. While the adults got ready to go, Austin was usually deeply involved in a conversation with the dogs, looking at all the bugs under an overturned rock, building a little stick fort out of tree branches, or picking some flowers in the yard. Reluctantly, he would stop what he was doing and come with us for another day of 'fun.'

One day when I went to get Austin for our trip to a marine theme park, I found him crouched in the yard watching snails. Fascinated by the way they moved, he had built little obstacle courses for them to see how they would get around a stick or leaf. When he found one on the sidewalk, he carefully picked it up and carried it over to the garden. At that moment, I realized (finally!) that Austin didn't need us to make 'fun' happen for him. He loved nature, animals, exploring, and being outside. He was having the time of his life, and we were actually ruining it by dragging him all over town.

So often we think we need to schedule every minute of the day for our children. Not only does this not leave any down time for them to tap into their natural curiosity and feed their own interests, but often what we adults come up with is way off the mark as far as what truly feeds their souls. We assumed Austin wanted to be entertained by our planned activities, when he was doing just fine, keeping perfectly happy with the help of a few snail companions.

Next time he visits, I hope we have the sense to refrain from getting swept up in the 'entertain Austin' syndrome. His ability to amuse himself is such a precious gift, a gift all children have and which we adults can nurture by simply standing back and celebrating their innate and marvelous interest in the simplest of things.




Other Issues:
From our archives -- Taking Ourselves Off Automatic

Early Summer 2014 -- Embracing our Dormant Times

From our archives -- Taking Time to Listen

Late Spring 2014 -- Seeing More Clearly

Spring 2014 -- Savor What Makes Your Heart Sing

Early Spring 2014 -- The Power of Quotes

Holiday 2013 -- Taking the Time to Listen

Holiday 2013 -- Open our Hearts to the Good Around Us

Fall 2013 -- How to Cope in Tough Times

Late Summer 2013 - The Priceless Gift of Friendship

Midsummer 2013 -- My Luck is Pretty Good Luck

Early Summer 2013 -- Slow Down Enough to Smile

Late Spring 2013 -- Recognizing Gifts

Spring 2013 -- Doing the Best We Can

Early Spring 2013 -- Know Where You're Going

Holiday 2012 -- Our Power to Adapt

Fall 2012 -- Gratitude for What We Have

Early Fall 2012 -- See the Beauty in Front of Us

Late Summer 2012 -- Modify So It Works for You

Summer 2012 -- Finding Balance

Early Summer 2012 -- Go Ahead and Take that Risk!

Late Spring 2012 - Trusting Your Gut

Spring 2012 - Living Life to the Fullest

Early Spring 2012 - New Year, No Excuses

Winter 2011 - A Thoughtful Tip

Holiday 2011 - How Did I Get Here?

Fall 2011 - Giving Thanks for What We Already Have

Late Summer 2011 - Taking Ourselves Off Automatic

Midsummer 2011 - Friends Through Thick and Thin

Early Summer 2011 - The Power of Nice

Late Spring 2011 - The Gifts of Spring

Spring 2011 - Worst Case Scenario

Early Spring 2011 - Break Away From the Herd

Winter 2010 - Lessons From Feral Kitty

Holiday 2010 - The Art of Imperfection

Fall 2010 - When the Student is Ready...

Late Summer 2010 - Saddle Up

Midsummer 2010 - Hurry Up and Wait

Early Summer 2010 - Don't Just Stand There. Do Something!

Late Spring 2010 - Gifts From My Mother

Spring 2010 - Taking That First Step

Early Spring 2010 - I Think it's Time

Winter 2009 - Choose Love, Not Fear

Holiday 2009 - Paying it Forward

Fall 2009 - You're Not Alone

Late Summer 2009 - "Searching" for Peace

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Holiday 2008

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