It all started with a broken yellow shovel. I forgot to throw it away after the plastic handle cracked, so it came on to the lake on vacation with us. I was about to toss it when my four year old began to play with it. She walked out into the water and started throwing it out in front of her and wading after it. (She doesn’t yet swim.) As the morning progressed, she went out deeper and deeper, until the water was just over her shoulders.

At one point, a small wave came up and splashed her right in the face, almost knocking her over. Her father was right there, ready to grab her, but she stood up, smiled, and threw the shovel again. She spent much of our morning at the lake chasing that shovel, and then she did it again the next day, and then again today.

This from a child who has been terrified at her swim lessons.

Oddly enough, the key was the shovel—a broken piece of yellow plastic. It gave her something to focus on other than how much she can’t stand her swim lessons or her fears and anxieties about what might happen in the water.

That is what mindfulness is all about.

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