May 30, 2018

How One Simple Question can Remind us to be Grateful.

Do you know what you have?

As a yoga teacher and a mom of 14 years, this is a question I ask myself quite often.

10 years ago my husband and I relocated from South Florida to a small town that sits along the Hudson River, 15 miles north of New York City. At the time, we had a four-year-old daughter and an eight-month-old son. I was hugely in the weeds trying to take care of two small children while working to get settled and learn the ropes of a new town.

I didn’t know much, but what I did know was that I wanted to get back to teaching yoga—as soon as possible. Teaching keeps me mindful and present, not just in my yoga practice but in my personal life too.

In order to get back to teaching, what I badly needed was a babysitter. I went on SitterCity—essentially a dating site for babysitters.

I “dated” a couple of sitters that didn’t work out before I stumbled upon a profile that seemed promising. I immediately called her. After a brief conversation, I just knew. I told her I was going to hang up and call her reference and then call her back. I begged her not to accept another position in the meantime. She laughed and told me she wouldn’t.

She had worked for a divorced father and his two boys as an au pair and as soon as that father answered the phone and I explained why I was calling, he asked me a question that I will never forget. He asked, “Do you know what you have there?”—and I said, “I think I do.”

Over the years I have thought about that question often:

“Do I know what I have? Do I even realize how lucky and blessed I am?”

Sometimes the question just pops into my head for no apparent reason, like a little reminder to be grateful. Sometimes a major event reminds me to ask. Last week, one of my daughter’s friends’ mothers passed away and that question came to me again.

This mother had left a husband and three beautiful children. She died of a disease she had been fighting her whole life; a disease her two sisters had both died of. She watched her sisters suffer and pass before her, and I believe she was grateful for the extra time she had to be with her family.

No matter what we have going on, we can still remind ourselves to find gratitude by asking that simple question, “Do I know what I have?”

In my classes this past week, I asked my students to let that question be their practice both on and off the mat and to use the practice as a chance to probe deeply and realize the depth of their blessings. As we moved and flowed, it was with that spirit: gratitude.

We took the chance to focus on the gifts, the blessings both on our mats and even more importantly, in our own lives. We explored some challenging poses to help us with the practice of gratitude; letting go of what isn’t available, and instead remembering—and being thankful for what is.

10 years is a big marker for me, a decade.

It is twice as long as I have lived anywhere since I was 18 years old. My adorable four-year-old daughter is a 14-year-old, amazing almost-woman, and that tiny baby just left my house this morning to walk to school on his own.

The little village we moved to went from being new to being ours as we became part of a very special community. And that “babysitter” is part of our family—forever.

One of the most powerful things I have gained over this last decade is perspective.

Through loss and trauma and joy and introspection, perspective is what brings me back to gratitude. Back on the mat, as my students came into savasana, I reminded them to let go of the physical practice and release the appreciation for what they had available in their bodies.

It was time to go deeper into the mind and ask that very important question, “Do I know what I have?”

I hoped they would each be able to find the answer clearly and gratefully, “Yes, I do.”


Author: Allison Waguespack
Image: Author’s own
Editor: Sara Kärpänen
Copy editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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