As I get older — and hopefully wiser! — I have found to my own surprise that my emotional life has grown more intense. Instead rushing to every possible opportunity, meeting, event, and experience while stressing over every last detail of what I am doing and what is happening to me, I am finding myself pausing — for a moment — to take everything in.

While I am maybe not “sweating” the small stuff like I used to, I am enjoying and appreciating the little moments much, much more. Even the experiences that in the past would have been negative or anxiety provoking, I’m finding enriching.

Whether it is the smell of a newborn baby, or the warmth of my wife’s hand, or my daughters singing raucously around the piano, or my brother’s bad jokes, or the voice of my father who at 83 still wants me to know he’s the boss … I’m finding it all increasingly more poignant and moving.

Ok, I’m not losing it here. Maybe I’m finding it.

Looking back, it feels like the news this past year has been singularly awful. The recent barbaric massacre of 145 innocent school children and teachers by religious zealots in Pakistan is appalling, despicable, ignorant, and frankly beyond words to describe. Insane.

Closer to home, we had a totally senseless murder of a beautiful woman who was meeting friends for a nice night out in downtown Decatur, only to be gunned down by a sick individual who also was killing random homeless men with his 45-caliber handgun.

Maybe in this crazy world, we need to stop more frequently and take some time to appreciate each other. And make sure we soak up the gift that we have been given of the natural world, which we are part of despite our efforts to dominate, exploit, and separate ourselves from it.

When was the last time you smelled the pine-scented woods on a cold morning? Heard the wind whisper through the autumn trrees? Or felt the warmth of the low, winter sun on your face?

How many sunrises or sunsets have you seen this year? And how many will you see next year?

It is the “holiday” season, when the calendar forces us to stop and give thanks, celebrate our religious beliefs, and show appreciation to each other. Which makes it a beautiful time of year, and needed. Despite our lists and rush to make others happy, everyone seems a little warmer, nicer, and happier.

So, though I feel this way all year, I want to thank all of our great clients, many of whom are true friends, who have believed in Lenz and supported us, as we have worked very hard to support you.

Your resources given to Lenz don’t go to our off-shore bank accounts; they go to the wonderful individuals and families here at Lenz and have a major positive impact. Not only do you sustain us with food and shelter, which should not be taken for granted, but you also help us to provide healthcare and education, and support the hopes and dreams of many. So thank you today and every day!

Happy Holidays to everyone and Peace on Earth.

-Richard Lenz