On Monday I saw my thirteen year old daughter. No - this is not another story of loss; rather a brief touch of the clairvoyance every parent experiences from time to time...
En route home from the airport after a weekend away, I looked into the rear view mirror and saw a reflection of a sullen scowl that will undoubtedly make more frequent appearances in the years to come. The look matched the feisty attitude and defiance I had been battling all weekend long, and I breathed a weary sigh: I'm not ready for this...
Because while the creative, spirited soul emerging from my daughter more and more each day fills me with unparalleled joy, the challenging moments have never been more intense. Don't we get at least a few more years of sweetness before the eye-rolls, selective listening, and sass take over?!?
But as I stole a peek at her future self, I experienced a paradigm shift. The battles of will that are becoming more frequent are not merely the antics of a toddler, they are all part of the character she will develop and a hint of the independent woman she will become. And as infuriating as the behavior can feel in any given moment, my response will influence how she sees the world - and her place in it.
While I wish I could claim this realization transformed me into the model of patient parenting, I am at best still a work in progress. But that brief glimpse into her future self reminds me of the consequence of each moment and the opportunity to sew seeds of grace and compassion along the way.
Sometimes we are blessed to stumble upon a new angle, but more often we have to be intentional about shifting our point of view. Can you re-frame a challenge you are experiencing by seeing it in a new way? How might your perspective change?
Perhaps the only upside of my husband's occasional business travel is the shift in my morning routine. Instead of an alarm clock informing me it is 5:00am (already?!?) and time to prepare for my first client of the day, I awake to the pitter patter of little footsteps, a giant smile on a tiny face, and the best hug of the day.
So when my husband headed to New York yesterday, I was looking forward to some extra morning time with my favorite girl. But instead of the leisurely awakening I anticipated, I instead heard an urgent call from her room, "Mama, I'm going to be sick." I rushed down the hall and waited with her for what (fortunately) turned out to be a false alarm. I returned to bed, only to have the scenario repeat itself 20 minutes later. The third time I heard the call, I sighed. "Sweetheart, you aren't sick. Let's both get some sleep, and in the morning you can..." But before I finished the thought, she did, indeed, become sick...
Not only was my vision of a perfect morning spoiled, I was hit by a wave of guilt. If only I had responded to what was really happening rather than what I wanted to see, I could have provided comfort. Instead I now have a sick kiddo AND a big mess.
It happens to all of us - parents and non-parents alike. We have in our minds a certain vision of how things will unfold, and when circumstances don't conform, we try to convince ourselves we were right - even when the evidence suggests otherwise. And when confronted by reality, we often suffer the loss of more than our best laid plans...
There is no harm in planning and looking forward with anticipation, but when we allow ourselves to become attached to that outcome, we set ourselves up for disappointment - or worse.
Next time life begins to unfold differently than you planned, can you pause and be present with what is happening? Can you let go of your attachment to expectation and instead respond to what lies before you?
I love a good challenge. Give me a puzzle that can't be solved - a task that seems prohibitively daunting. Show me a reason why something can't be done. Then stand back and watch. I am neither superhuman nor exceedingly talented, I simply derive great satisfaction from getting things done.
Hard work and I - we go way back. I grew up in the "pull yourself up from the bootstraps" Midwest, where I was taught there are few things that can't be solved by digging in and working hard. Over the years, that philosophy has spilled over into many areas of my life. When marathon training plans suggested our longest run should be 20 miles, I convinced my training partners we would feel better about our readiness if we completed 26. In college I couldn't imagine why I shouldn't take the maximum number of credit hours each semester - why spend four years waiting for what's next when you can do it in three? And why waste that extra year traveling across Europe when you can get a job?
So when our family fell sick over the weekend, it didn't occur to me to take a break. While I did reschedule my clients to ensure they didn't walk away with a virus in addition to their post-yoga glow, I kept the rest of life's trains running on track. Appointments were kept, errands were run, the babe was shuttled to and from every activity, and the house was in order. I was able to bail out friends who found themselves stranded without childcare and coordinate the delivery of a meal to a new mama in our church.
But if I'm being honest, this flurry of activity would not have made my Midwestern family proud. Because they also taught me to be kind - and that value was in short supply. Every one of my interactions in recent days has been transactional at best. At worst, I was downright crabby - and the burden fell, as it most often does, on those nearest and dearest to me...
We all have a great deal to do. We have full plates and full calendars. We have responsibilities at work and at home. But our loved ones, our communities, and our nation need our kindness far more than our hard work - perhaps more than ever..
As you go about your day, can you look up from your efforts and really see the people for whom you claim to be doing all these things? Can you focus less on the work and more on the kindness? Let's give it a try...
Most people who are able to transform a personal passion into an incredibly successful business are content to stay on the same path. But Pleasance Silicki knew there was something more in store for her. In this Trailblazers interview, she shares how she followed her heart, where it led, and what exciting adventures are on the horizon...
Last year I decided I wanted to learn to play the guitar. I had no delusions of recording contracts or stadiums packed with fans - I simply wanted to be able to amuse the babe and occasionally accompany our impromptu singalongs.
I purchased a guitar and found a teacher. As the day of my first lesson approached, I grew excited. I was pleased to discover I recalled more than I expected from childhood piano lessons and a short stint playing the drums in my junior high jazz band. My instructor was encouraging and I walked out the door feeling energized. This is so fun! I thought. Why did I wait so long to get started?!?
I practiced faithfully throughout the week and quickly mastered the material. When our second lesson rolled around, I performed the assigned pieces and received more positive reinforcement. The pattern repeated itself for our third lesson, and I was hooked. I'm really getting the hang of this!
But when we met again, my instructor had something different in mind. "Give this a try," he suggested. "I'd like to see what you can do with it."
Feeling confident and relishing the idea of new horizons I sat down to play as soon as I returned home. But after 30 minutes of utter frustration, I put down my guitar and walked away. I declared the new assignment beyond my ability.
As the week went on, I found myself making excuses not to practice. I really should go through the babe's closet and take out the clothes she has outgrown. Maybe I should bake a pie...
The morning of my lesson, I did my best to force the information through my brain and into my fingers, but much like last a minute cram on the eve of an exam, my efforts proved futile.
I was embarrassed as I sat down to play, but as I fumbled through the piece, something amazing happened. My instructor didn't ridicule me. He didn't banish me from the studio. He didn't say I was wasting his time - or my own. Instead, he helped me accomplish what I had dismissed as impossible.
At various points between then and now, this scenario has repeated itself. While the easy lessons have been gratifying, I have learned far more in the weeks that have proved most challenging. And isn't that usually the case? To transcend our own (self-imposed) limitations and exceed our (narrow) expectations, we often need guidance from someone who has traveled the path before us.
Next time you feel you are facing an impossible challenge, consider whether a friend, mentor, or teacher can provide the encouragement you need. Allow a fellow traveler to help you reach new horizons...