Big Toe in the Water

The Little Things…They Aren’t Little!

I thought everyone had seen the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, so I was very surprised recently when I referenced it that many in my audience hadn’t seen it.

Back in December of 2020—remember that holiday season?!—I was watching the movie and came upon the part when George Bailey breaks down and says he wishes he were never born. Suddenly, I heard loud sirens in front of my home. What is going on outside? I wondered.

After a few minutes it dawned on me, and I rushed to the door. Santa was waving from the top of a decorated fire engine in the cold, dark night with streets still covered in snow. I started yelling to my husband upstairs that Santa was here!

And then I began to cry. I could not stop crying. Since I’m not Christian, nor have I ever sat on Santa’s lap, I wondered what touched me so deeply.

I cried because I was overcome with gratitude, with the spirit of kindness. The fire department, after working a long day, still knew how important it was to drive Santa through town to give the children (and adults!) something to look forward to.

I also cried for those I had missed seeing so much, and for the hugs I missed giving and receiving. But I think the reason I cried most is, as someone who has been a nurse for 40 years, I saw light at the end of the tunnel.

I was hopeful, and I still am.

History has shown us that we will get through what is still an incredibly challenging period. How? We will take it one moment at a time. That is how we summit any great mountain, by taking it one step at a time. And it is how we get down the mountain, which people rarely address.

Did you know that more accidents occur coming down the mountain than going up? Imagine running up the stairs and you trip. Usually, you can catch yourself and do not get hurt. However, tripping on your way down the stairs can land you in trouble fast.

It is tricky as we come out of this first global pandemic of our lifetime. Many, if not most, are exhausted and a bit burned out. If you feel that way, you are not alone! Vox relays, “Reports of burnout are getting worse.”

Sometimes people think mindfulness is about being happy. It is not about “being” anything at all, other than being your authentic self.

I invite you to feel your feelings. Cry if you want. Then pause and ask yourself why you are crying. What has this moment revealed to you?

We are now more frequently gathering in person and finally able to clearly see each other’s smiles. Look how far we have already come!

One of my favorite days of the year is the winter solstice on December 21st. Some see this as the beginning of winter and cold, dark times. However, I know that the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere is followed each day by more light.

I invite you to look up to the sky and notice every day how we are experiencing more daylight than darkness.

The little things really are important. Just ask George Bailey!


Mountain Photo Credit: Luke Helgeson on Unsplash 


Harriet Stein brings Mindfulness Programs to organizations of all sizes to transform employee productivity, engagement, and satisfaction.


Mindfulness is now being incorporated by organizations to lower healthcare costs, support employees in staying focused which improves their performance, and reduce levels of stress.



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