Appreciating the (Very Very) Small Things

It may be a cliché, but taking time to appreciate the little things is therapeutic. And after my struggles of the past couple of weeks I seem to have regained the ability to see things more optimistically. Thank goodness. There’s nothing like a peek into the blackness to make you run screaming back toward the light, proclaiming gratitude for everything you see.

As I was mowing the yard this weekend I noticed some tiny yellow “weeds” in one area. I realized that I hadn’t played with my macro lens for a while, so I went back outside and took some photos of them. As often happens with macro photos, I was amazed at what I saw. Just look at this — and it’s only about a tenth of an inch across!

This little flower is only about a tenth of an inch across.
This little flower is only about a tenth of an inch across. (I think it’s called Black Medic.)

I can’t count the number of times I’ve yanked these things out and tossed them away without a second thought. But just look at that. And here’s another tiny treasure from the yard — this is common clover, the kind the bees love:

Clover flower, maybe a half inch across
Clover flower, maybe a half inch across

And speaking of our yard, I’ve begun to see our two acres in a new light as well. After our frustrations with the neighborhood came to a head recently, we started browsing the real estate listings for a larger property to cushion us from further construction (aka “progress”). In addition to looking for more acreage, our search was limited by the usual things: commuting distance, budget, type of road (no more dirt roads for us). We found a few promising listings and did preliminary drive-bys to check out the neighborhoods.  Boy, I had forgotten how a real estate ad can neglect to mention the downside of each property. There’s some very creative marketing going on out there, believe me.

Certified Wildlife Habitat sign for our yard (605x800)All of which served to remind me that, even considering all the things we don’t like about our neighborhood and our road, we’ve got a pretty rare treasure here. Two acres of woods in the middle of a crowded and busy suburb, with lots of wildlife and plenty of privacy. Sure, it’s easy to get frustrated and complain about all the negatives. But I’m attempting to have more gratitude for the positives. And it seems that the closer I look, the more positives I can find.

You know that saying that “what you focus on expands”? If you’re always thinking “I hate this place,” your subconscious mind will work overtime finding more reasons for you to hate it. But just today I proved that it works the same way if you tell yourself, “I really love this special place.” Your mind suddenly starts showing you why it’s special. Like this:

Two inch-long tiny toad
Two inch-long toad, another little thing.

And this, a not-so-tiny thing:

Fawn eating my flowers

And this:

House Wren

And this:

Northern Flickers in early breeding season

And this tiny feather:

Feather macro

Every time I try to write about gratitude I feel like people will read it and think, “Yeah, yeah, gratitude journals, mindfulness, count your blessings, whatever, life still stinks.” It’s true that life can be very difficult, but I’m learning that I have the power to control how I feel about some of those things that upset me and how I respond to them. And using my mind for gratitude instead of complaining seems like a no-brainer to me.

And did you know that you can instantly lift your mood just by smiling? Whether you’re with other people or alone, try it now and see for yourself. It really works. And it works even better if you look in the mirror when you do it. You’re welcome. 🙂

Thornton Wilder quote on my photo