How do you hold on to first-time awe?

My granddaughter started kindergarten this past week. When she told her dad about her first day in school, she could barely contain herself.

  • “Guess what? We played in the gym!”
  • “Guess what? We had music class!”
  • “Guess what? I met new friends!”
  • “Guess what? I ate my lunch there!”

She had a truly awesome, magical first day.

As I thought about the joy and awe with which my granddaughter launched into school, I realized how seldom I feel that sense of magical awe anymore. When you are five, most things in your life are glorious, untarnished firsts. When you are sixty-five, firsts – when I have them – occur in the midst of days crammed with responsibilities and in the context of a lifetime of experiences that tinge awe with reality.

I know I have so many reasons for joy and awe. Yet, often I rush past them, thinking instead and ahead to the next meeting, the calls waiting to be answered, the blogs to be written, the host of responsibilities that crowd every day. As a result, I look past the moments of joy and awe while they’re happening rather than reveling in the moments.

Part of the answer for me, I think, is to be conscious of the need to slow down, to live, to breathe, to take joy in each moment. Then I also need to spend more time celebrating those precious moments.

She lost her first tooth!

She lost her first tooth!

I can learn from my granddaughter. Before school started, she lost her first tooth. She was over the moon. She wanted every picture I took to show she’d lost that tooth. When she visited this weekend, she had a second tooth on the verge of coming out. She is just as excited. We took pictures of the loose tooth, and I know we’ll take more pictures when the tooth is gone.

The launch events last month for my novel Go Away Home were amazing, joyful experiences. I did have to run from event to event, but after the last event, my husband, son and I went out to celebrate. They were so happy for me – I was so happy for me. Celebrating at the moment expanded the joy – and kept me from rushing right into thinking about the next task on the ‘to do’ list.

Holding on to the joy and reveling in the joy, ensure special moments remain special. They allow me to squeeze every drop of pleasure out of those precious moments in my life.

My wish for my granddaughter is to be able to experience that first-day-of-school, first-lost-tooth, first-time awe many, many times in her life.

My wish for me is to remember that there is joy to be experienced if I slow down and absorb it.

 How about you? How do you keep a sense of joy and awe in your life?


  1. Carol, it’s amazing what we can learn from children when we take time to listen as you have here. Lovely post and reminder to slow down and capture the joy of the moments. The precious picture of your granddaughter captures the essence of this message!

    • Carol Bodensteiner says:

      I think this is a classic example of how children keep us young, Kathy. I plan to frame this picture so I’ll have my precious girl and her reminder in front of me always.

  2. Carol, I so appreciate this message, being a classic “what needs to be done today” kind of person. Slowing down is helpful. So is realizing that I’m never really “done.” Life is for enjoying moment to moment. Thanks for reminding me.

    • Carol Bodensteiner says:

      We’ve been programmed to keep doing more all the time, haven’t we, Diane? It’s how we proved our worth. Recognizing that we’re never really done – and that hardly ever does it really matter if we do a task today or tomorrow – help take the pressure off. Have a lovely day.

  3. I’m writing this surrounded by Chloe (7), Ruby (5) and Lily (3), who are thrusting loom bands and tiny toys in front of me to get my attention. In the blink of an eye the years will pass and it will be me vying or theirs….Thanks for reminding me of holding on to the precious moments.

    • Carol Bodensteiner says:

      You are so right, David. Harry Chapin’s “Cats in the cradle” comes to mind. I see the years speeding by with my granddaughters. Play with your children; the writing can wait.

  4. Elfrieda Schroeder says:

    Today my grandchildren and I went to the city zoo and attended the release of hundreds of monarch butterflies who will wing their way to Mexico. I was one of the fortunate ones to have a butterfly land on my hand. I walked around with it for quite a while. It was an awesome moment for both my grandchildren and me!

    • Carol Bodensteiner says:

      What an awesome moment, Elfrieda! To spend the day with your grandchildren. To see so many monarch butterflies begin their migration. To have a butterfly visit you personally. When I read your comment, I thought, “I hope they took a picture.” Pictures are a way I capture and hold on to moments of awe. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Wonderful post, Carol! I think sometimes we recapture the sense of joy and awe by seeing it in our children or grandchildren.
    Good luck to your granddaughter and good luck to you. Wishing you both magical days!

    • Carol Bodensteiner says:

      Exactly right, Merril, my granddaughters bring me joy every time I see them. She is so happy about losing that tooth, we’ve many pictures. Now we’re waiting to see how her little sister responds when it’s her turn.

  6. Such a good reminder, Carol, of how exciting the world appears when we have “beginner’s mind.”

    And how fun to see this picture and read this story just as Owen is getting ready for kindergarten and has lost his own first tooth!

    • Carol Bodensteiner says:

      We have a granddaughter entering kindergarten this year, too, and she hasn’t lost her first tooth yet. I’m eager to see if she is as wildly enthusiastic about the experience as her older sister was. It is absolutely true that children keep us young.

Join the conversation. Your comments or questions welcomed!