The Character Movement

My Daughter, My Path to Reflection

By Joe Cavanaugh, Founder and CEO

Before my daughter Tess was born, I was always running from here to there, trying to accomplish as much as possible in what felt like as little time as possible. Sitting quietly, reflecting or meditating do not come naturally to me. Even when I would try to pause, far too often, the everyday pressures and daily grind would begin to creep in, swiftly ending my attempts to slow down and breathe.

From the day she was born, Tess opened a new path for me. When she was a baby, I would get up early in the morning to do the 5 a.m. feeding, when the world felt still and quiet. I would just sit for an hour in that stillness with this newborn. For the first time in my life, I was able to begin my day with purpose, quiet meditation and prayer instead of hitting snooze five times and then rushing out the door in a mad dash to get to work.

This quiet ritual became one of our most sacred and protected times of day. (To this day, we still practice this.) Tess is 10 years old now and still, most mornings during the school year she comes downstairs and we sit together and we talk. Sometimes we talk about what is coming up for her that day. Sometimes she asks me for advice. Sometimes we laugh about silly things. Sometimes we just sit in that stillness and listen to the birds come awake and watch the sun poke through the trees. It’s our way of greeting the day, of pausing to take a deep breath before I head to work and she heads to school.

I’m grateful for the calm that this purposeful pausing brings me. It is upon this peaceful foundation that the rest of my day is built. It’s the greatest gift I’ve been given in my life, starting my mornings in the company of my daughter with a sense of peace, reflection and quiet. My truest hope is that as Tess grows into adulthood, she will also continue this practice and use it to reflect, to pause and to face the world, and all of it’s challenges, from a place of peace and calm.


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