How to Cultivate Awe

Riddled with insects, itch-inducing weeds, and general discomfort, the out-of-doors often feels uninviting.  With children, a nature adventure often develops into muddy, painful, or even dangerous escapade. When alone, it seems almost wasteful to spend so much unproductive time gallivanting through the woods.

Who has time to stop and smell the roses, observe a wildflower going to seed, or listen to the varying calls of a bird?  What about our perpetual to-do lists? Work? Laundry? Dinner? We have things to do.

Yet, time in nature never falls wasted.  Observing seasons slowing passing or a bee jumping from flower to flower soothes our hurried minds.  Fresh air and light exercise invigorate our weary bodies.  Moments appreciating beauty, intricacy, and variety are a balm to our distracted souls.

Still, working up gusto enough to put down our current task and bundle-up certainly requires self-discipline, but rarely will I regret the effort.  On the contrary, how often to I regret spending an abundance of time on an relatively unimportant household tasks? Or on social media?

Oh, and children! Children surrounded by nature rise above all.  Each detail fascinates their little minds. After all, they’ve only seen the summer swirl into a mess of colorful leaves a handful of times.  Even to an adult, a bumble bee’s delicate work should be enthralling.  We ought to constantly be in a state awe when we consider a tiny seed growing into a tremendous tree or delicious tomato.

The awe of a child deserves to be cultivated, in adults, but particularly in children.  We owe them the joy of observing the firsts: first robin of spring, first fruit of summer, first crimson leaf of autumn, first snowfall ushering winter.

So, I went.  I put on an extra layer, brought my camera, and each child grabbed a bag to collect their findings.  We explored, gathered, and appreciated.  It didn’t magically fix our day. I still snapped out of frustration and they still balked about picking up, but our day wasn’t marked by those errors.  Beauty, adventure, laughter, and exploration will be our memories from yesterday.

Today, our plan is to begin our nature journals in earnest.  Each day, I hope to have us each draw, write, or paint a little entry into our special nature notebooks.  If I aim for well-done, they will never be used, but if I aim for consistency, I have a feeling well-done will eventually occur.  Perhaps this will get us intentionally in creation a little more frequently.

Where can you fit a little more nature into your day? Into your children’s day?

Danielle Geri Long


Selected top Minneapolis newborn photographers, Danielle provides award-winning lifestyle photography, photographing stories throughout Minnesota. Danielle often longs for the loveliness of the Twin Cities, while savoring country life just outside Buffalo, MN.  Specializing in newborn and family photography, she adores watching families grow. Danielle and her husband are raising two delightful kids and attempting to reign in frequent over-committing, so they can do important things (like see each other and watch Netflix).  Danielle travels to Annandale, Minneapolis, St. Cloud, Plymouth, Maple Grove, Andover, Buffalo, Monticello, and more. Contact  her today at 763-670-7657.