The Tiny Gifts that Matter

“Mommmmmmmyyyyy,” my three year old called to me to come into my bedroom. I was in a hurry, showering quickly, sighing as I put my hair up in a ponytail yet again, and worrying about getting out the door. In the first few seconds, I was annoyed she called me. But half way through her saying “mommy,” I heard it:

“This is it, Lisa,” a voice from within me said, “This is what matters. There’s delight in in her voice. Don’t crush it or hurry it. ”

“Mommy,” she said, as I walked out into the bedroom…exhaling, softening my shoulders, relaxing my body. The first thing I saw was her little face filled with love and delight.

“Did you know?” she started in a sing songish voice, “some times we hide pwesents for people we wuve and they have to find them!” She had made gifts and hid them while I was in the shower. “Now you have to go and find them!” Bubbling with anticipation, eyes fully on me, inviting me to join in her delight, she started to lead me to her hiding places for my “gifts.” One was on the altar next to a candle and a statue of a woman deep in prayer reminding me that I need to pause there more often. One tucked in my nightstand, on top of the box of notes I’ve kept from Brian over the years reminding me that we used to send love notes to each other all the time.

She tiptoed to the hiding spots and carefully, delightfully, gave my my gifts. They were wrapped in gently crumbled/folded stationary from my former position at Georgetown – with all my credentials and title.


Two plastic bracelets. “Your favorite color, mommy! Turquoise!”

Fairy stickers – her precious fairy stickers.

And a picture. “I drew this for you. See, mommy, it’s you and you are smiling” she said as she pointed to the picture, looked up at me, and back at the picture again, showing me how it so closely resembles me.

“Thank God I didn’t yell,” I thought, as I stood there once again on this holy ground. A three year old – my flesh and blood – full of generosity, full of tiny gifts filled with one desire: to delight my heart.

“Thank God she drew me smiling,” I thought next.

It has taken me many years to realize what small stuff you don’t have to sweat and what tiny stuff you focus on, linger in, and treasure. I mess up. I yell. I come down punitively instead of building up positively. I get super stressed and myopically focus on, harp on, and dwell on stuff that doesn’t really matter.

But this past year, I made time to really sit back and see our life. We decided to make some big changes based on what mattered most to us. And I realized something: I needed spaciousness – in mind, heart, day and schedule.


So I left my awesome, designed-for-me position at Georgetown University. I had tried to make it work — I analyzed, I got organized, I reorganized, I adjusted schedules, I listened to soothing podcasts in the car to try and make my commute more tolerable. I did everything humanly possible – for me, for our family. And then we faced the fact: it wasn’t working.

That’s when I surrendered to the truth within me that I could no longer deny. It was a huge risk. It was terrifying. But there comes a moment when you know what you have to do. So you do it.

And six months later? It was the best decision – for my own well-being and my family. Georgetown called and wanted me back – I reduced my hours so minimally that it is doable, nourishing, and I love what I do. I’m still amped up at times. I’m still getting that commute out of my nervous system. There are times I get overwhelmed and react.

But, dear friends, I tell you honestly – I have spaciousness. I have a clearer mind. I have the energy to really SEE my children and be present with them. I’ve started to ease up on myself – and that means easing up on my dear ones. We have created a nourishing spaciousness that enables me to let go of harping on the small stuff and embrace the tiny things that matter.

batgirl letting go

The truth is that when we are always amped up and stressed out, we live in a constant state of fight or flight, ready to explode, implode or numb out. Our attention is myopically focused on what’s wrong. The small messy stuff looks gigantic. We see the snow boots blocking the door, coats discarded and dropped on the floor, paint from art projects on the faucet knobs, clothes stained, rooms unorganized…and it makes us flip our lids. And the beautiful, quieter, delight-filled stuff…well, gets trashed, dismissed, hurried and overlooked.

I kept seeing it time and time again in my own life and in the lives of my clients, friends, and acquaintances. We hear it on the playground, on playdates, at dance class, on the sports field, and in the music lesson. All of us living with amped up nervous systems, hurrying, lonely, sweating the small stuff, and missing the tiny miraculous stuff.

This tells me how stressed and under resources we are, mamas, and how deeply we need to be nourished, renewed and replenished. When we are resourced, we make decisions with the executive functioning parts of our brains instead of constantly reacting from and getting amped up by our reptilian “dinosaur” brains. When we are resourced, we have abundance to offer instead of morsels of patience, presence, and kindness.

It’s time, mamas, to be nourished down into every cell in your body, on every level. And yes, it is possible. And it won’t come from trying harder or finding a “better way” to be “more organized.”

~ It comes from surrendering.
~ It comes from learning how to nourish yourself throughout the day. And doing it.
~ It comes from taking ownership over and responsibility for your mood, your “now,” your health, your future, your response, your history, your life.
~ It comes from naming what you need – to heal, to grieve, to have good friends in your life, to have a voice.
~ It comes from doing what has to be done, and often that means making some tough decisions.

And so when your daughter comes calling you – whether she is three or 13 – you can feel your feet on the earth, breathe into spaciousness, know instantly what matters most, and SEE your daughter…and the hidden gifts, the obvious gifts, the not-so-pretty-and-in-disguise gifts, and the beautiful gifts – and cherish them.

on stairs holding c


Dear friends, readers, and fellow compassionate, under-resourced mamas – I wasn’t planning on writing another post before the end of the year. And then my little honey gave me her tiny gift: her delight-filled presence. I knew I had to share. So I hope this posted inspires you, mama, soulful friend, to start 2014 out by nourishing YOU so you have the eyes, energy, heart, time, and presence to see the tiny gifts that matter – already here in your everyday life.

Many blessings,

Lisa A. McCrohan
Mom. Compassion Coach. Lover of Delight.

barefootideaslogo ** Friends, I’m glad you are a part of this community. If you’d like to receive Gems in your inbox, click “follow.” I hope today you are inspired to live with more delight, compassion, and connection in your everyday life. Visit the Barefoot Barn for more information or contact me about mindful/compassion coaching, psychotherapy, workshops and retreats.

16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jo Finnie Jones
    Dec 20, 2013 @ 16:34:01

    Lisa, thank you for sharing this experience with us. Your posts always make me stop and consider how I am doing as a parent and a wife. Since signing up to your blog, I am beginning to try and slow down with my children and really listen to them. 2 days ago we were running late for school when my son ran into the room all breathless and asked me if I would help him make a jet pack to help his Teddy fly. I just melted at his hopeful face. So left my hair a mess and makeup undone and we made his jet pack and flew Teddy downstairs. Keep your posts coming when you can, you help many of us all the way in the UK. With warm regards to you and your family for the holidays, Jo x


  2. Julie H.
    Dec 20, 2013 @ 21:27:56

    What was that discussion about how obvious her love language was? Even at age 3, it is sometimes as clear as day. ;-)


  3. Jodi Aman
    Dec 20, 2013 @ 21:51:46

    So beautiful! Merry Christmas! Xoxoxo


  4. brendamarroy
    Dec 21, 2013 @ 07:42:38

    You hit the jackpot with this one, Lisa. Your words of wisdom apply to all areas of life. I no longer have children around me but I have a husband, neighbors, a family, animals, and friends. Making time for what really matters is a gift we can give ourselves and others when our spiritual coffers are full.
    You are an incredible, beautiful soul and I am grateful you are blogging . I am going to share this on facebook and reblog and trust many will see and read.
    Hugs to you dear one. Brenda


  5. brendamarroy
    Dec 21, 2013 @ 07:45:02

    Reblogged this on Streams of Consciousness and commented:
    My friend and fellow blogger wrote this heartfelt, meaningful post. I share it with you because it contains a gift to soothe you and enrich your life. Enjoy.


  6. shannoncurtisblog
    Dec 22, 2013 @ 09:25:29

    Thanks Lisa again for helping me to clarify and recognize what is important in my life. As I am currently working full time as a teacher, my Monday to Friday is super busy and stress filled. I often say, I have nothing left for my family during the week and I often have to nap on the weekends. I am quick to anger and then full of remorse,
    My daughters are 19 and 21 and yet they need me now as much as they ever did. The problems that come up now are much bigger. Over my last 24 years of teaching I have adjusted my work schedule to allow me to be more present both physicall and emotionally. I have only been working full time for around four years now and thought I could do this until retirement. Lately I have become short, crabby and just plain old miserable to live with. It rubs off on my family and I see my daughters treating each other in this mean way. Crabbiness begets crabbiness.
    It is time I worked less to create more spaciousness in my life. I pride myself on excellent self care and believe I cannot take care of others if I have not first taken care of myself. Yet, when I get immersed in the chaos of work it is sometimes hard to see how it has become all consuming and is taking the best parts of me and leaving very little for my family.
    Thank you for another thought provoking post.


  7. shannoncurtisblog
    Dec 22, 2013 @ 09:26:44

    Reblogged this on Simply More .


    • Lisa A. McCrohan
      Jan 27, 2014 @ 22:26:18

      Shannon, somehow in the craziness of everyone being sick in December and then xmas being here, I missed your comment. What loveliness to read tonight. I’m glad you are here! I see in my work as a therapist how “being there” for our kiddos – even when they are young adults like yours – is soooo very important. That never ends, does it? I hear you, too, about how with bigger kids come bigger problems — and consequences. You are truly a lovely mom to “make time” to SEE them and be present to your daughters. They are very lucky to have you.

      I HEAR YOU about how we have to tend to ourselves — when we get crabby, when we haven’t been resourced — that rubs off on to those around us. TOOOTALLY. I just recently started to not only think about “everyday” kind of “getting resourced” but to SCHEDULE/PLAN out quarterly time for self-care that goes deeper — cranial sacral therapy, a massage, time with friends, an over night with my mom and sister. I’m starting to schedule these. They are something to really look forward to!

      Many blessings, Shannon. I’m really grateful for your comment and for reblogging this — back in December!



  8. Trackback: Wait a Minute, did you hear that? | randomthoughts
  9. Professions for PEACE
    Dec 31, 2013 @ 11:16:26

    You have been in my thoughts and heart often of late, and I am delighted to have carved out some time (at last!) to come here, relax, and read on. This is yet another inspiring piece Lisa! Such truth, to remind of the importance of nourishing ourselves. We all need to be ‘nourished, renewed and replenished’ and every visit to your beautiful barefoot blog helps!
    With loving friendship and deep appreciation, Gina xo


    • Lisa A. McCrohan
      Jan 05, 2014 @ 06:33:03


      Somehow I am just getting to your comment. Gina, thank you. I hear you about carving out time. I’m grateful for your kind words, Gina. YOUR insights and images and posts and nuggets of wisdom inspire so many. I am glad we are in this world, Gina!!! The other day, a friend and I were talking about this word — nourish. To be nourished — in deeeeep, healing ways. It’s such a “rich” word and yet our daily life seems sooooo “un-nourishing” — even for folks who trying to go about their day in mindful ways. I want 2014 to be a year of deep nourishment — for myself, my family, and those that I accompany. Our world can heal through such tender care. Love to you, Gina. Lisa


  10. IdealisticRebel
    Jan 27, 2014 @ 21:43:20

    Reblogged this on idealisticrebel and commented:
    A delightful and excellent blog. Your little one is so sweet and wonderful. A really lovely story. Hugs, Barbara


    • Lisa A. McCrohan
      Jan 27, 2014 @ 22:21:15

      Barbara, it is my joy to write! I’m so glad you are here! Thank you for sharing this on your blog and with your delight-filled readers! I left a comment on your blog, too! Blessings for us to be connected! Lisa


  11. Gede Prama
    Jan 27, 2014 @ 23:20:48

    Thank you for sharing and greetings :) :)


  12. Linne
    Jan 28, 2014 @ 01:36:26

    Reblogged this on A Random Harvest and commented:
    I felt on reading this that it holds something for each of us, whether we are active mothers or not. Small stuff . . . what lives are made of . . . and joy! I’ll be back soon; I’m mending. ~ Linne


  13. Crowing Crone Joss
    Jan 28, 2014 @ 05:20:21

    What a beautiful post. When I read this “We have created a nourishing spaciousness that enables me to let go of harping on the small stuff and embrace the tiny things that matter. ” my heart sang for the awareness you have and the wisdom you are sharing.


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Copyright. 2013. All rights reserved. No portion of any post may be copied without written permission from the author. The advice offered herein does not constitute a substitute for professional psychological treatment, therapy, or other types of professional advice and intervention. The self-help contents are solely the opinion of the blogger and should not be considered as a form of therapy, advice, direction and/or diagnosis or treatment of any kind: medical, spiritual, mental, or other. If expert advice or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought.

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