How A Little Girl’s Photo Sparked a Walk to Remember


Every day I get new pictures of my niece – delivered right to my iPad.

It’s the first thing I check every morning.

But this week, when I opened up the day’s new pic – I was struck hard. In awe. Mesmerized. Enchanted.

There she was – in all her glorious perfection . . . nestled in my brother’s arms. Witnessing SNOW for the very first time.

The look on her face said: “Lookie, Auntie Stephie – I’ve discovered the answer . . . to EVERYTHING!”

And indeed she had.

Little did I know that less than 12 hours later this 1 small, sweet photograph was about to rock my entire world — and take me on the most memorable walk of my life…

With sparkling white snowflakes melting silently on her warm pink skin, my niece was witnessing the purest magic there is . . .

She was witnessing LIFE.

Fully present. 1000% alive. Eyes open. Drinking in every drop of truth that twirled and floated down onto her tiny outstretched hand.

— She was not in her head.

— She was not telling herself stories about snowflakes, taxes, or to-do lists.

— She was not wondering where snow comes from (or where it’s going next).

— She was not needing anything (or anyone) outside herself to feel full, whole or complete.

She was ONE with the snow…

The air…

Her fingers…

Her breath…

And it’s in that silent, expansive stillness where everything is available. Where every answer exists. Where the entire Universe comes to a single-focused point in time and space…

Sure, her body was tucked into my Brother’s chest. But she? Well, she was elsewhere…

She was in a land where all happiness resides.

The land that you and I search for our entire lives (but almost no one ever finds).

Am I sounding a bit melodramatic today?

Perhaps. But for good reason.

Because that one smile, on that one child, in that one photo – rocked my world in a deep and powerful way.

I only realized the extent when I woke up early that next morning.

I pulled myself out of bed. Put on my tights. My top. My tennies. And I headed out the door for my daily hike in the hills.

shoesBut as I was leaving my building, something was different.

Everything was …ALIVE.

(And I do mean everything.)

Somehow, as I slept, that photo of my niece crept into my Soul. Under my skin. Into my cells.

And there I was – seeing the world through those “little girl eyes”…

— Soulfully scanning every speck on the pavement.

— Basking in the brown, bundled-up blur of a homeless man on his way to somewhere.

— Grazing the bark of the trees with my fingertips while whispering: “You’re my favorite…” to each one.

— Gazing up at the spectacular, picture-perfect clouds suspended in the crisp blue morning sky…

Nothing was getting past my gaze. Everything was soaking into me.

And that’s when I started to cry.

Not from sorrow. But from sheer and utter joy. Tears slowly trickling from my wide-open eyes…

It was trippy.


There surely MUST have been noise from the cars, trucks, fire engines blowing by me.

But I didn’t hear them.

I just felt the songs playing randomly in my iPod, as my brain buzzed and bounced with each beat, vibration and note.

It was like all of my senses were operating in slow-motion. High-gear. Full throttle.

And a familiar realization swept through my entire body: I have been swimming in this bountiful sea of sensations every flickering moment of my entire life — yet missing most all of it… entirely.


  • I dragged my finger through the dust on the hood of a parked car… merging with this hunk of metal.
  • I picked a yellow flower, whispered “Hello…” and gazed at every detail of its tiny frail form –– realizing there was an entire, infinite universe held right between my fingers –– as I placed it behind my right ear. 
  • I slowed to let an elderly man slide his sagging, stroke-riddled left leg across the sidewalk — as our eyes met, and we both said “Good morning…” in unison. And feeling as if he were an extension of my very own body…
  • I felt the compression of my skin, bones and muscle as my feet hit the pavement as I walked up a steep and bumpy hill — every physical sensation turned up to the loudest level imaginable.
  • I listened to my heavy breath… as if it belonged to someone else — echoing and rhythmic.

[ All the while, tears still streamed steadily and happily down my cheeks… ]

I stopped repeatedly to stand at the base of tree, after tree, after tree.. gazing up at their tallest peaks. Taking them in. Meeting them. Talking to them. And like giant, mighty Earth-elders, I felt their individual energies pouring out of their roots, trunks, and branches…

…I could FEEL them.

Some had delicate energy. Some blasted streamers 20 feet out from their base. Some oozed energy is soft puffs. Some in thick beams…

treeThat’s when I noticed my own energy expanding out in a horizontal ripple – as far as my mind could imagine… 30, 50, 100+ feet out from my body.

As I moved through the streets and canyon trails, I realized that I could FEEL the energy of every person, plant, stone and object I passed – as they moved THROUGH my own energy field… sending fluttering waves through my system.

“Crazy…” I thought to myself, with a smile.

And the more I focused on each person, I began to notice another subtle distinction: there was a gray cloud of energy around most people’s heads – some dense and thick; some light and translucent. Some large; some barely even a whisper…

My brain was in awe:

“OMG: I’m actually looking at people’s BELIEFS!”

Walking past person after person, I noticed that the people with no (or hardy any) clouds around their heads were the ones who looked me in the eye. Beamed a smile. And connected heart-to-heart with me.

But the bigger, thicker and darker the cloud… the more those people diverted their eyes. Looked at the ground. Broke their gaze when I got too close.

And men’s clouds were different than women’s clouds, too…

I saw that many of the younger men had clouds containing strange, heavy beliefs about what was required to be a Man. (And hard, rigid beliefs about women, too.)

I could feel people looking at me through their foggy gray lenses — some so dense it was if they weren’t even seeing ME at all.

And the thicker these clouds, the more difficult it was for me to stay in my own blissed-out awareness. When some would get close, I immediately jumped back into my brain (as my body went rigid, and shoulders tight in solid defense) — waiting until they had safely passed… Then I relaxed back into my expansive, tripped-out state once again.

I was witnessing both of our wounded selves colliding… Two people cut off from one another. Two people lost in their own mental clouds. Mine, and theirs…

I have no idea how long I was wandering the streets. I have no clue when I slowly slid back into my own mental cloud-bubble…

But by the evening, the magic had worn off.

I was back to my mostly-checked-out, typical human existence.

Team Solution and business partners success by cooperating as a financial unit coming together to create industry innovation with two people and a group of gears and cogs and a magnifying glass focused on a red one.

Yet the ripple effect has stayed with me for days. Even when I’m lost in my thoughts, I’m aware that I’m there. I’m aware of the loss. I’m aware of the whispering wind and leaves and trees and stones – all calling my name like soulful sirens… beckoning me back to my TRUE home.

Back into my own heart.

Back to the here-and-now.

But make no mistake: this isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve had MANY trippy moments like this in my life. But not recently. (And not like THIS.)

It made me realize how much I still find myself living in my head. Not in my LIFE.

And how much more there is available to you and I — if we’re brave and bold enough to live with hearts (and minds) wide, WIDE open!!!

And I tell you all of this simply to remind YOU of this simple… yet non-easy… fact (even if you’d heard it a million times before).

It’s a message that longs to be repeated. Endlessly. Like a strong, guiding hand on your shoulders – pointing you back to center.

But make no mistake: the LAST thing you should come away from reading this is: “Oh, I wish I could be like Stephanie!”

(Gag. Hurl. Barf.)

I am NOT special. (At least not one lick more special than Y-O-U.)

ANYONE can do this…

It is who you ARE, too — when your head’s not up your sweet lil’ bum.

So this week, in any way… for any amount of time… take a deep breath. Look around you. Gaze at a flower. Or stop to make friends with a cloud.

  • Delight in the texture of your own skin.
  • Revel in the sound of your own laughter.
  • Gaze at a leaf as if you’ve never seen one before.

smiley2Not only will that bring you back – into your body. Your life. Your Soul. But it will also open you up to other realms. Other realities. Other magical layers of mysteries beyond your normal comprehension.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to feel anything less than bliss when you’re out of your head, and into your life. 

You can NOT feel pain while being present.

And you can NOT suffer if you are right here. Right now.

Even second of presence is 1 priceless moment more than you had before.

And each second is all you’ve ever really got, anyway.

Because suspended within each nano-second, you will find your entire life. That’s where reality resides…

Always has, always will.

As obvious, and easy (and mind-boggling) as all that.


© Copyright 2015 Stephanie McWilliams LLC

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One Comment

  1. Carrissa Girbert
    Posted November 29, 2015 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your Moment upon Moment of Present Awareness. I was with you as you share about being One with everything –the trees, the flowers, the homeless man, the Breath…our of our head & into LIFE!

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