Stopping to Recognize Live Out Loud Joy As You’re Living It

brush-happiness-joy-22221While our children were in grammar school, I waited with them for the bus every morning on a corner directly in front of our house.

That corner was not their original bus stop. As the school year approached for our brand new kindergarten student, a post card arrived in the mail assigning her to a bus stop a few blocks from our house. After the first few weeks of September, I realized the bus had to pass “our corner” to get to her stop, where she was the only pick-up. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I asked that her stop be moved to the corner closer to our house. Given her young age and the fact that we weren’t adding a stop or changing the route, my request was granted.

For nine years, our children were the only pick-ups at that corner.

As I stood waiting for the bus with them, we worked through the sweet sadness of letting go, if only for a few hours a day. We collected acorns and pebbles from the ground to put in my daughter’s pocket as reminders throughout the day that I was always with her. As the years went by, she didn’t need the acorns as much, but last August when she went off to college she took a small token of mine that fit discreetly in her backpack for the very same reason.

Speaking of college, we talked about it at the bus stop on one of her first days of school. (The year escapes me now.) After a long summer together, she was especially upset about going off to school and leaving me. It struck me then that this was the first of many such separations. I took a risk and told her that one day I would be sending her off to college but, just like today, she would be able to handle it and I would always be there for her no matter how long or far our separation. It was both poignant and reassuring to remember that conversation when we left her on campus the first day of freshman year.

My son and I collected tiny pine cones, which still fill a bowl in my front hall. We talked and laughed and made jokes. I kissed him goodbye and held his hand for as long as he would let me. Finally when he entered the fifth grade, he lobbied hard to stand alone on the bus stop. I didn’t want to give up our time and was nervous he’d bounce and play right off the sidewalk and into the path of the bus if I wasn’t there, but I finally let him go. For the rest of that year, I watched over him from my kitchen window until the bus safely whisked him away.

Why am I telling you this now?

Every day, at approximately 8:13 a.m., I hear that same bus round the corner and I remember those moments with my children. I said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s the little things that give us joy. For just a few minutes we got to stop the madness of school mornings to notice the little things, like rocks and acorns and pine cones. In the process, we were sharing joy and learning to trust that we could let go and and come back together again.

When I look back now, did I stop to recognize the joy of those moments in the moment?  Did I know then how much I would treasure them now? Was I aware that living life out loud was often at its best with very little noise and fanfare?

I’m sure there were mornings I was in a hurry or not in the greatest of moods. That’s why I was inspired to write this post by a video I discovered on Gretchen Rubin’s website, The Happiness Project. You can watch the video, The Days are Long But the Years Are Short, here. This is one of my favorite websites and I’m happy to share it with you if you haven’t yet discovered it.

If the video resonates with you too, please let me know in the comments how it inspires you to stop and find joy in the little things.

Survival > Existence,


Related Post:

10 Little Things to Do With Mindful Awareness

The Gift of Julia Child & a Broken Hot Plate



Helen's picture

Thank you for sharing that

Thank you for sharing that site and video. Beautiful thoughts. I have definitely had some moments that I think I may call heart-stopping (in a good way!). Sudden appreciation of things that almost hit me in the face and I’m forced to stop and appreciate them. Often very tiny things, usually to do with the children. I wish I had more moments like that – and that I could remember them all! 🙂 These have definitely heightened since diagnosis, maybe because of the times when I’ve been physically forced to stop and had time to think and just “be”.


Debbie's picture

I Love Those Heart-Stopping Moments Too!

Hi Helen:

That’s great that you’ve been able to find more “little thing” moments since your diagnosis. It took me some time, but I eventually realized that there were some gifts among the ruins of cancer. Being more aware and appreciative are definitely among them.

Have a wonderful weekend.



Lisa Valentine's picture

Indeed, it is the little things

I appreciate this post Debbie and the link to Gretchen Rubin’s video. I appreciate any reminder to slow down and stay present in this day, in this moment. That is where true joy resides and I don’t want to take that for granted. Gratitude practice helps me stay mindful of the daily gifts in my life. Thanks!


Debbie's picture

Expressing Gratitude for The Little Things

Hello Lisa:

Gratitude practice is a wonderful way to stay in the moment! All the support I received from family, friends, professionals and other survivors filled me with overwhelming gratitude and jump started my gratitude practice. Expressing gratitude has become so important to me that I wrote my first eBook on the subject.



patricia's picture

small moments

Thank you for reminding me today to take time and recognize the little things. In the years since diagnosis, I have really strived to take in all of the small moments in my life. But when life was without cancer and I hurried through each day, ticking off all of the items on my to-do lists, I remember the joy I found in the little things then too: the smell of freshly cut grass, the way the sun kissed my skin that first real summer day, the taste of those little honey suckles along the path to my grandparent’s…. I love your blogs…thank you! I love Gretchen’s site and her book and she inspired me to begin my own HP!
Our oldest son is graduating high school tomorrow and it seems like yesterday we were standing outside his kindergarten classroom that first day where he never even looked back and I walked home, tears filling my eyes. When I picked him up he said “Mommy, when will I be able to walk to school all by myself?” I was so surprised by this and could only say “We can talk about this more when you get older!” Well Friday night was Prom and he said “You know, Mom, you never let me walk to elementary school alone…thank you!” I knew what he meant. We shared many, many small moments on those walks.
Have a wonderful Sunday!


Debbie's picture

You Did Talk About It More When He Got Older!


Thank you so much for your comment. You have obviously been aware of the little things for years and beautifully handed on your appreciation to your son. Have a wonderful day tomorrow at the graduation. I know what it feels like to watch the baby I took to day care and sent off to school graduate from high school. All my best and enjoy your Sunday too!

Survival > Existence,



Michele Visco's picture

your latest blog post

it’s beautifully written, Debbie! a sweet reminder to live in the moment and appreciate the now…


Debbie's picture

Thanks, Michele!


Thank you so much! Great to see you on Friday; hope you’re having a relaxing weekend enjoying the little things.

Survival > Existence,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.