Lower School Reflections: From the Desk of Dr. Gosnell

Published On: December 1st, 2021 | Categories: Food for Thought |


On our first day back from Thanksgiving break I asked a student how his break was and he responded that his original plans were decimated. He and his family had planned to travel to see extended family and instead learned that several of those family members had contracted Covid and he would not be able to travel. Thanksgiving with his immediate family was still enjoyable, yet different from what he had hoped.

For me, Thanksgiving break was a time to occasionally pause and reflect on the year so far, while also embracing a very different holiday experience. In a quiet moment (there are few these days with two four year olds and a dog that has an abundant amount of energy at eleven years old), I stumbled upon this article: Opinion | How to Enjoy the Moment. The theme of the article centers on appreciating the joy you can find in ordinary moments. That often we look toward seemingly big, defining moments for joy (holidays, life changes, etc.) only to have to adjust our perceptions to match how these moments realistically unfold. It can be difficult to manage our expectations, our emotional experiences, and the stories we tell ourselves about how things “should” be during these times. While it is often a challenge, we can shift our focus to seeking out gratitude and appreciation for the ordinary, even while we continue to anticipate and hope for what is to come.

As many are aware, Carol Sing is a tradition for our school. Our last “normal” Carol Sing was in 2019, and this year we plan to try a different version of this event in order to safely bring our community together. In doing so, we have an opportunity to resist the urge to compare or get too caught up in how we feel things should be and instead embrace and celebrate the moment as it is. This is true of a lot of realities of this current time: the school year and the holiday season, which in many ways are familiar and in other ways quite different. We have an opportunity to acknowledge the challenges that come with the very real losses many of us have felt, while also practicing acceptance, and making a conscious effort to seek joy in ordinary moments.

Not only does embracing the ordinary and looking for opportunities to practice gratitude help our mental well-being, but doing so allows us to lead by example. We can share wisdom with our children about the significance of small moments and everyday connection. Our children do not have a long history of reinforcement about how things should be around key moments of the year. We set the tone. We help them to find joy in how things are rather than how we believe they should be. That is not to say that we have to ignore the sense of loss we might feel or the hope we might have for greater familiarity. However, in accepting the here and now, we might consider the following question: “What is one thing we can do each day to lean into and celebrate the here and now with one another and with our children?”

~Dr. Gosnell
Lower School Director

Helpful Resource to Check Out:

The Happiness Lab; Brené Brown’s Life Advice  

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