I still remember this moment of deep appreciation for my husband, Brian. It was 10:30 pm in the Atlanta airport. We were coming home from ten days in Costa Rica. Our travel had started early and involved hours of driving through potholes, tending to hungry and tired kiddos, and standing in long lines.
I was tired and practically D-O-N-E. But I looked over at my husband reading to our son as we waited for a connecting flight, while I held our sleepy three-year-old daughter. Brian paused and listened intently with a look of regard as our son wanted to tell him a story.
It’s a look I know well. He looks at me this way even when I’ve interrupted him 20 times in this last week to tell him about my ideas for our new home we just moved into a week ago. He looks at parishioners this way when they come up to him after mass to ask him questions. He looks at our children this way when dinner still has to be made, dishes need to be put away, and bedtime stories have to be read.
It’s a look of “I am totally here.”
It’s a look of “I see you.”
It’s a look of “You matter.”
And it communicates regard, presence, and acceptance.
In this fast-paced, no-time-for-loving-eye-contact world, we can forget to really “see” one another. We can forget to regard one another. We can forget that all of us want to be seen, to have someone’s full attention for a moment, and to be fully accepted. We can forget that each day we are dealing with tender hearts.
Over the last few months of buying and selling homes, I have a new appreciation for the patience and presence that Brian has. While we had our tense moments, I see what a team Brian and I are. He reminds me to pause and be present. He reminds me that we have to pause the hard work to actually enjoy our family and each other. He reminds me to talk and communicate with regard – even when tension is high.
Over the years of loving Brian, I have experienced how “regard” doesn’t actually take more effort than being bitter, blaming, or playing victim.
Just the other day, I was hurrying the kiddos to get to soccer practice. I wanted to be ON TIME. When I am multitasking and people are asking me a million questions and the dog is barking and the clock is ticking, I get unnerved. But then in the middle of it, I caught myself.
“Why am I hurrying?!”
“It’s okay, Lis,” I reminded myself.
The sharp tone in my voice felt ugly. And it didn’t feel good.
So I paused. I regarded myself and said, “Lis, it’ll all work out. It’s okay.”
I regarded my kiddos by softening my tone and slowing down.
Regard feels like true strength. It sounds like kind acceptance.
What would our world be like if we just regarded OURSELVES and each other? The cashier at the supermarket, the person in front of you who walks slower than you, the parents of the other soccer team, your own partner, your own children, your own mom and dad, and the aging reflection you see in the mirror? A little regard can heal a whole lot of hurt and hurry in our world.
This school year, consider pausing for these “moments of regard.” You could look at your children with regard when they wake up. Look at them with kindness in your eyes as they head off to school. You could pause to look at them with excitement to see them when they get home. It really only takes a few moments but it makes a big impact in our children.
The teachers are my children’s school greet each child every morning with a moment of regard. They stand at the entrance to the door of the classroom, look at each child, shake their hand, and greet them. It’s this moment that doesn’t really take that long! And yet it starts the day off with a message of “You matter.”
And …try looking at yourself with regard. In all my work as a psychotherapist and integrative coach, the “hardest” work is learning to regard one’s self. Try pausing at the mirror before you jump into the shower and actually ADMIRE your body. Regard yourself by actually sitting down to eat a meal. And this fall, ask yourself what kind of nourishment you need. Block of space in your schedule for making it happen. Yes, actually schedule your “self-regard.” By December, you won’t regret it!
From such abundance of self-regard, love and regard flow out of us into our interactions with our dear ones. This is how we change our world.
Dear Ones, I want to share with you some offerings that can nourish you this fall:
For the last few years, I’ve offered these poetic wrist wraps with lines of my poetry on them so they can be your touchstone throughout the day – for you, for your children, for your friends and family. Just the other day, I was on the a virtual call with one of my clients, and I saw she had her poetic wrist wrap on! Seeing these wraps around town or online makes me smile! The whole intent of these wraps was/is to be a simple and nourishing reminder to live with love and intention. You can find my wraps on my shop: UPDATE: THESE WRAPS ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE.
I love hearing from people how Gems of Delight continues to nourish readers through every season! “Lisa, your words are soul-nourishment for me every day,” a recent reader told me. You can pick up a signed copy from my shop or you can get a copy from Amazon.
And here’s my latest book, Your Light is Rising, that’s filled with poetry to support you throughout the day.
If you would like personalized support, check out Integrative Coaching. Whether you and I live in the same town or in different parts of the world, we can work together via Zoom. I’d love to hold space for your blossoming.