Lessons From My One-Year Old Niece

There we were, family gathered to celebrate the first birthday of my beloved niece, Tatum. I’m fascinated with this gorgeous little girl and can’t help but wonder what’s going on in that beautiful little head of hers.

With that same sense of wonderment, I noticed everything about her. What she looked at, the noises she made, how she behaved, how she reacted.

And as I studied her expressions, movements and gestures, it dawned on me that although she’s not speaking in sentences yet, through her actions, she’s teaching us all a great deal. Here was her “birthday lesson plan.”

She’s starting to walk with the help of her lawn-mower-like toy. This “walking thing” is new and a stretch for her and as she makes progress, you can see her pride as she smiles from ear to ear.

Lession #1: Take chances, push yourself physically and grow beyond your comfort zone. Your achievements may actually surprise you.

Tatum lives with a gentle and beautiful golden retriever and most times as Tatum is crawling about, she and the dog have the chance to look eye to eye. While parents are cautiously monitoring, the dog licks Tatum’s ear and she does her best to pet the dog in return. There’s no doubt in my mind that the dog would protect Tatum if ever needed.

Lession #2: Reach out to those who are unlike you, beyond your circle for friendship and support. You may wind up with a friend for life and you’ll be reminded that you’re not alone in this world.

Then little Tatum began to get hungry. She was given a few crackers. She grabbed one and for 15 minutes, she nibbled at it, she licked it, she broke it in two, she got one half wet and held the other half seemingly, just to appreciate it for several minutes.

Lesson #3: How many of us appreciate our food today? We shovel food as we’re driving, while we’re running around the house. Enjoy your food. Taste it. Smell it. Research suggests that when we actually sit and appreciate a meal, we absorb more nutrients from that meal, become more satiated and experience more calm and enjoyment. Yup. She did all of that in her own way.

Tatum, in her attempts to walk, fell smack-dab on her butt. Dare I say, the fall was even funny as there wasn’t much space between her butt and the floor and it didn’t seem to hurt her at all. What did she do? She giggled and then got up and tried again. She’ll probably be speed-walking in no time.

Lesson #4: Don’t let a setback stop you from trying again. In fact, don’t make it mean anything other than you just fell on your butt! Imagine if you fell as a child and then thought, “Oh well. I must not be a walker so I’ll just crawl for the rest of my life!” Just giggle at yourself and try again!

For the grand finale, she was presented with a very special birthday cake. She very gently dragged a finger over the icing and then slowly and deliberately licked her finger to enjoy that little taste of sweetness. At a certain point, she was done and had absolutely no interest in any more cake, despite it’s decadence.

Lesson #5: Joy foods are terrific and worth enjoying but there comes a point when it just doesn’t taste that good anymore. You’re done. You’ve had a treat and it’s not going anywhere. You can have more tomorrow. No need to stuff yourself tonight or “clean your plate.”

Lastly, Tatum had a lot of presents. What I loved watching was her appreciation of each present as if it were the last gift on earth. She had no idea there were more. She was excited, thrilled and grateful.

Lesson #6: Gratitude brings joy. Her delight in opening each gift reminded me of a wonderful quote, “When I want what I have, I am deeply satisfied.”

Can you believe a one year old is so wise? Well she is my relative ;-)! Here’s the point. We’re born with the inherent tools and skills to thrive and live healthy lives. It’s just that as we get older, we forget a lot of them.

Coaching, in many ways, is about raising the level of consciousness so that we can separate our social roles, jobs, responsibilities, our stresses, the untrue stories we tell ourselves and get back in touch with who we really are and to remember the simple keys to living a healthy and vibrant life.

In this case, it’s about remembering that:

  • You can physically stretch yourself
  • You can ask for help in this world without making it mean anything
  • It’s o.k. to stop the world, leave your computer and actually eat a meal at a table
  • A setback is just a “step back” and that you can certainly keep moving forward
  • Respecting our bodies to know when we’ve had enough to eat is a gift to ourselves
  • Gratitude is the key to happiness

This week for fun, notice what the little ones in your life are teaching you. As for my niece, from now on, I’m going to have to call her “Coach Tatum.”


4 responses to “Lessons From My One-Year Old Niece”

  1. ben 10 toy Avatar

    Wonderful points altogether, you simply received a new reader. What would you recommend about your submit that you made some days in the past? Any positive?

  2. Maureen O'Sullivan Avatar
    Maureen O’Sullivan

    Hi Ben,
    Thanks so much for your comment! I think you’re asking what I recommend these days? Well, how much time do you have?! A solid piece of advice is to live life in the present moment. When we worry about tomorrow and fret what happened yesterday, we immobilize ourselves. Additionally, we don’t even have the capacity to experience joy when we’re not present in the moment. At the end of the day, all we have is the present moment. Have you ever noticed that present is another word for “gift?” 😉

  3. Carmina Nowley Avatar

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  4. Maureen O'Sullivan Avatar
    Maureen O’Sullivan

    Hi Carmina,
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    Be well,

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