I am the only child of two magnificent parents and always have felt very well taken care of.  I remember in high school when I was just beginning to drive on my own, Mom would often “hide” twenty dollar bills in the car in case I needed money while I was traveling around town.  My friends began to call these gifts “Ashtray Twenties” due to the location they were often found stowed away.

My parents have given me so much through the years.  Part of me feels guilty for that.

Like I didn’t do enough to earn the abundance I enjoy.

I’m thinking of this more than usual because I’m visiting my folks who live in the country by Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

I decided to go down to the Falls of the Sioux River, on a whim. The Sioux Falls, and snap some photographs while I’m here.  No sooner had I made this decision than I almost talked myself out of it.  Maybe I would just visit and reminisce instead.  Who was I to capture its beauty?  It’s not like I have fresh eyes.  I’ve been going to The Sioux Falls since I was a little kid.  It’s an old hat.  Besides, it’s probably one of the most photographed things in Sioux Falls, what perspective could I possibly bring that can’t be found with a hashtag search on Instagram?

Regardless of whether I even showed the photographs to anyone else, how was I going find any fresh angles or experience the Falls in a new and interesting way that would impress me?  There was no way this trip was going to be worthy of my ambitions.

So, I get to the Falls and give myself the assignment of capturing five passable photos.  I worry even that will be a stretch.  Well, almost thirty photos later, I force myself to leave so I’m not late for dinner.  I could have immersed myself in this this beautiful place and lost myself in photo after photo until the sun was no more.

Here I thought I would just go through the motions of another visit but instead I wound up falling in love.

Sometimes, our minds convince us that we know something so well that we stop exploring it.

In writing this, I now see very clearly that my Mom loved putting those Ashtray Twenties in the car for me in high school.

It’s easy to let the assumption that we are not worthy of abundance hijack our mind and create havoc.  Especially when that abundance isn’t something our mind recognizes as us having slaved, toiled and bled over.  

Sometimes I think our minds just like to argue with what’s going right.

In reality, the abundance of this life is well beyond anything we could ever earn.

Like the Falls of the Sioux River, appreciation is a powerful force.

We can doubt abundance, feel guilty about abundance and deny that we are worthy of abundance until the cows come home.  And let me tell you they come home much sooner in South Dakota than they do in California.

Or we can repurpose the way in which we view the abundance in our lives, holding it in appreciation instead of in doubt, guilt and fear.   How much would it have hurt Mom’s heart if I carried her beautiful actions through life with guilt and remorse, never allowing myself to experience the nurturing love behind their intention?  I’m feeling now that I have been somewhat selfish in the face of my Mom’s selflessness.  In acknowledging this, I no longer wish to add self-guilt to the equation, but rather allow the breakthrough in receiving abundance.

Oh, appreciation is a mighty force indeed.  Right now, in this very moment, I’m feeling those ashtray twenties anew.  I’m experiencing the love embedded in them.  At last, I understand their abundance decades after they’ve been spent.  My emotions are welling.  I sense I’m healing a deep rift within me.

With all my heart, thank you Mom!  Until today I never knew the gift you had actually given me.

JASON FREEMAN is a Professional Speaker and the proud owner of a Speech Impediment.  He is also the author of “Awkwardly Awesome: Embracing My Imperfect Best” and a Perseverance Coach.

He excites and encourages his audience to break through the barriers of their own limitations using a method he created, called “doing your Imperfect Best ™”.

His Imperfect TEDx Talk can be viewed here.