Lessons in listening: Unexpected joys

The chill of winter has settled firmly in my bones. My daughter, Ellie, plays U12 girls’ hockey, so much of my leisure time is spent standing in various hockey rinks around the state. Even with hand warmers duct taped to numerous parts of my body, I likely won’t thaw out until March.
This past weekend they skated in their first tournament of the season, tying two and losing two for a bottom of the heap fourth place. As might be expected, there was some disappointment after the final game. The girls were tired and the parents voices were hoarse. The car ride was quiet initially and then Ellie shared, “I’m going to miss my team this week.” Confused, I reminded her that she had three practices and two games coming up in the following week. Interestingly, though, that didn’t provide much solace to my backseat passenger.
That gave me pause to reflect — was hockey the only reason we were in St. Albans all weekend? What was the ordinary wisdom to be gained from this experience?
Connection was the win.
The platform for our weekend was hockey, but the connection was the outcome. For the girls, this happened on and off the ice. It was cannon-balling each other in the swimming pool. It was having their own table and getting a glimpse of adulthood at the local Italian restaurant. It was goofing around with their coaches as they watched other teams play. It was the pride of being part of something larger than themselves as the walked into the rink donning their MAHA jackets.
For me, the connection was in both the exuberant and quiet moments of the weekend. It was playing charades with the other parents and laughing until my stomach hurt. It was an impromptu lunch date with another parent who is also a healthcare provider in our community. It was a throat soothing ginger tea at an unexpected and delightful coffee bar. It was chatting with parents from the other team, recognizing that no matter which side of the ice they are on, they are all our children.
It strikes me that for both children and adults alike, the magic of the weekend occurred in the unplanned moments. These are the moments of seeming inconsequence, but that are nonetheless, the most engaging.
My daughter’s age and interests shape many of the arenas in which I find meaning. I find that I’m best able to do this by first, leaving my phone in my pocket, and second, by looking people in the eye and giving them my full attention. When I manage to do this, regardless of the score at the end of the game, I consider my life a true win.
Where do you find magic and meaning in your life? How do you cultivate a sense of knowing and understanding that is larger than yourself? I invite you to open fully to the experiences of your life in this new year, leaving room for the unanticipated delight and joy.
Laura Wilkinson is a Nurse Practitioner and Health Coach at her new practice, Village Health. Learn more about Village Health at www.villagehealthvt.com.

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