Unfettered Joy : How a child reminded me what it’s like to really receive

Children make you want to start life over – Muhammad Ali

I went to a child’s birthday party this past weekend. It was nice to catch up with family that I don’t get to see often. Amongst the chatting, laughing, hot dogs and cake, I observed. I watched the birthday girl revel in her day. With her cute button nose and  sparkling blue eyes, she embodied the absolute innocence of a child’s unfettered joy. She was among those who make her happy, safe and loved. This was HER day and she knew it.

Since the party was outdoors at a park, the Texas heat took it’s first and only casualty … the beautiful birthday cake. As a result, we gathered around the cake earlier than normal to sing happy birthday before it fell into a complete lump of melted sugar. The birthday girl approached the cake with anticipation and concern. She also very casually informed her nearby cousin that he couldn’t have any because he was a boy and this was clearly a girl’s cake. He was not deterred in the least and he let her know it.

I positioned myself up close to get some good shots of the birthday girl’s face. The more-than-a-breeze warm wind made it difficult to keep the candle lit, but that was not stopping the focused group of loved ones circled up to sing the familiar birthday tune. As intent as I was on getting the best shot of the whole scene, something else happened as I looked through the lens.

As the song was being blasted into the air above the little girl, falling around her like confetti, that’s when I saw it. PURE JOY IN THE ABSOLUTE RECEIPT OF LOVE. Her face was lit up like a Christmas tree.

None of this is particularly remarkable, as all children enjoy their birthday celebrations. However, watching her be so present in receiving it was so beautiful. I wondered how long it had been since I last felt that feeling … 100% completely deserving of self-celebration and the ability to unabashedly receive it. Life gets in the way, somehow, as we grow and push that innocence to the side and fill it in with fear, worry and survival. When did the celebration of ourselves start to feel selfish, I wondered.

Thank you, sweet angel, for reminding me that I can reconnect to the gift of receiving in it’s purest form, with grace and ease … the way a child would.


Do you know someone who’s shining their light? Contact us and tell us their story! We love to network with people doing things that bring them joy and serve others in the process. We seek out opportunities to shine light on the good works of individuals and organizations! We would also love to hear your story and/or have you participate in our gallery. There’s no one quite like you and we’d like to acknowledge that! THANK YOU FOR SHINING YOUR LIGHT!


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