Jennifer Sneeden, PhD(c), LMFT, first connected with Sunflower two years ago, and is so grateful for the experiences she and her children have had through Susan and Sunflower. In addition to hunting for dinosaurs with her kids, she’s a psychotherapist in private practice in Boca Raton. She shares her experiences as a mom and a therapist on her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JenniferSneedenLMFT.
Taking advantage of a picture-perfect summer morning in South Florida, my kids and I took the short walk to our community pool for a morning of swimming and splashing. When I walk to the pool, it takes me about two minutes – just a short stroll down the path. When my kids and I go together, it can take anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes. (Mostly depending on my patience on that particular day.)
For me, walking to the pool is simply about getting from here to there. I want to accomplish this “task” so I can get to my final destination, swimming with my kids.
However, for my children, the walk is about the walk. The walk is an adventure, just as much a part of the fun as the swimming itself. My two-year-old daughter is inevitably scouting for flowers that have fallen to the sidewalk so she can collect them. She usually amasses a decent bouquet during the walk. My four-year-old son has found a stick or other suitable weapon in case we encounter Storm Troopers or hungry dinosaurs on the way. (Thankfully, so far we haven’t run into either; but it never hurts to be prepared.)
My children have taught me so many invaluable life lessons in such a few short years. But the one that they continually teach me is that it’s about the process of life – the enjoyment of the current moment – where the true joy is to be found. We adults tend to get so focused on the mission of life – what it is we’re trying to accomplish – that we often miss out on the pure beauty of our days.
So much of my work as a psychotherapist revolves around this issue. People come to me with a script in their heads of “how things are supposed to be.” They are comparing themselves to this preconceived plan, and invariably they come up short in at least one of the areas. This makes them fearful of the future, frustrated with the present, and worried about the past. These problems can become all-consuming.
My goal in therapy is to help them let go of that script. To free themselves of the notion that life is supposed to be one way or another at any particular moment. Because as soon as you begin to compare, you remove yourself from the beauty of the present moment.
I often wonder at what point in our lives we make the leap. The one that takes us from enjoying the present moment to a sense of life as a series of tasks that must be accomplished.
My son begins kindergarten in the fall and my daughter will be joining Sunflower’s Seedlings program. I chose Seedlings because of all the programs in our area, this is the only one I found that really seems to “get it.” There is no set curriculum, nothing specific for the children to “achieve” or “learn.” They are allowed to immerse themselves fully in the precious moments of childhood. And I want them to hold on to that gift as long as possible. Which is why we’re off to hunt for dinosaurs.
© Jennifer Sneeden and Sunflower Creative Arts, 2012