Tag Archives: appreciation

I enjoy taking photographs.

I love taking pictures of my two daughters and capturing their larger-than-life personalities along with their beauty. I love taking pictures of my pets (2 cats, a black lab and a ferret, in case you were curious). I love taking pictures of my partner and my other family members. And pictures of my friends and their families.

I love capturing moments. Frozen in time. That when I look back on those pictures years later I can recall exactly what was happening in that moment long ago.

I love capturing feelings. Of joy. Of surprise. Of happiness. And even of sadness and sorrow. Because those feelings are genuine and, even in sadness, are beautiful in their unique ways.

But perhaps one of my favorite things to photograph is nature. And the tiny details of life that, if we’re not paying attention to them, we miss. These pictures remind me that sometimes all I need to do is slow down, to take the moment and appreciate all of the little things, the beautiful, amazing things, that I might have otherwise not seen.

A very small selection of little things I captured this year:

Focus on Success

Some days are filled with frustration. With waiting. With anger. With lack of movement. With lack of change.

Some days, despite our best efforts, we don’t receive the things we need and require. We don’t accomplish the goals we set out to reach.

And we don’t hear the words we need to hear.

On some days, this is due to our own inability to hear them. Those around us are speaking words of praise, acknowledging our accomplishments and our successes. Providing support and encouragement in continuing to succeed and offering constructive criticism in an effort to encourage our growth in those areas. On some days, we are lost in our own minds, our focus elsewhere, and we do not hear all the positive feedback that we receive.

On other days, there is no one speaking words of praise. On these days we must speak praise to ourselves. We must acknowledge our own accomplishments and successes, encouraging ourselves to continue moving forward in our goals. On these days we must be patient with ourselves and realize that despite the lack of outside support and encouragement, we are doing a “good job.” We are doing the best we can and we will continue to do better. We must be kind to ourselves and speak positively of our accomplishments, noticing our strengths and weaknesses while weighing them equally.

At times I become frustrated as I continue to look for praise & approval from those who have never given me such. From those who continually choose to overlook my strengths and instead focus on my weaknesses.  I am not perfect. Neither are you or anyone else. We all have our own strengths and our own weaknesses. To focus solely on either, in ourselves and others, is neither kind or productive.

We must try to focus on the strengths in ourselves and others.  Constantly receiving negative feedback (about our weaknesses, our failures, our mistakes) while neglecting any positive feedback (about our successes, our accomplishments) doesn’t make us feel good — whether the talk is coming from another person or ourselves. A focus primarily on negatives (even if the goal is improvement) brings our thoughts to “I-can’t-do-it” and provides supporting examples of such beliefs.

Identifying and acknowledging strengths provides a foundation on which we can build on. A focus primarily on strengths provides examples of times we have been successful, allows us to examine how we were able to succeed and empowers us by identifying methods that have previously resulted in success.

I know when I’m told that I’m, “doing a good job” I tend to not believe such. What does “doing a good job” mean? How is it defined? Statements like that are generic and don’t provide any supporting “evidence” that I, or anyone else, really did a good job. In acknowledging success we must be specific. For example, “You did a good job at setting the table. You really paid close attention to where the forks needed to be placed.” Not only did I offer praise but I gave focus to a specific aspect of success and used “you” statements to show objectiveness, rather than “I feel…” or “I think…” statements, which show my subjective view.

We could all benefit from an increased focus on strengths. While there is a space and time for constructive criticism, we as people also need to hear what we are doing well. We need to hear praise and acknowledgement of our accomplishments. We need to hear support and encouragement. We need to hear these things from ourselves but we also need to hear them from those around us.

Can we try to not only focus on the positives, but also communicate them – to others and to ourselves? I truly believe that we are all doing the best we can in this moment, given the knowledge, resources and support we currently have. Let’s tell those around us that we see the accomplishments they’re making and the things they are doing well. Let’s help them build their foundation for continued success and build upon our own in the process.

Regaining My Voice & Perspective

I lost my voice. For almost four days there was no talking from me, save for scribbled down notes, text messages and vague resemblances of whispering. Today, I’m beginning to regain use of my voice. I can talk, though not in the same voice I used prior, but none the less I can talk.

Not being able to talk and thus effectively communicate for the past few days was frustrating, not only for myself but for those around me. I found that my lack of speaking led way to a great deal of miscommunication and confusion. Apparently while the hand jive is (in my opinion!) an awesome component of dance and ’50’s culture, it’s not an equally awesome manner of communicating. Along with mistaken communication there was also a great deal of intentional miscommunication, mainly on the part of my lovely daughters:

What mom? We can have 3 pieces of candy?!?

*I shake my head no*

Yes? You said yes?

*I shake my head no again* and quickly write N-O in big letters on a piece of paper, which is ignored as they each eat their 3 pieces of candy I “said they could have”…

I’m also baffled by the thought of how other’s who have lost their voice prior to the age of technology handled communication. With the  assistance of the internet/my smart phone, I was still able to communicate. I was able to email a professor to let her know I couldn’t attend class, text message information that needed to be relayed to my partner and even post an update on facebook letting people I know (many who live near me and who I see daily) what had happened, so they wouldn’t try to call to contact me.

Having regained limited vocal ability today (and just in time to video record a mock counseling interview for school this morning!) I realize how many abilities are taken for granted on a daily basis. Talking. The ability to walk. The ability to read. The ability to hear.

Flickr: Snoshuu

Today I am taking the opportunity to pause and reflect on how fortunate I am for all the abilities I do have, instead on focusing on any I may be lacking in.