We are motivated when the cost of achieving those things we want to achieve outweighs the cost of staying where we are and continuing on. Most of us stay where we are because it’s easy. It costs us nothing new to stay in the same position. It may be costing us something we don’t like, whether it’s happiness, sanity, or even physical things like money, but if we are staying the same what we are saying is we are comfortable with the cost. Change requires something different. We have to take on a new cost. We have to venture into the unknown, which is a cost. It’s scary. It’s even scarier deciding that we are going to become who/what we want to become knowing that there is a chance of failure. The fear of failure is what often outweighs the cost of staying the same. Although, sometimes it is the fear of success that does it. We feel like we want a change, but if we are truly willing to go through with it then we are admitting to ourselves that we are worth it. We are worthy of the success. We feel like we truly, honestly deserve it. And then we name the things we did yesterday that weren’t perfect. We go back to the times we made the wrong choices. We think about the issues we had and continue to have, and all in an effort to remind ourselves that we really aren’t as deserving and worthy as we wish we were. So we stop ourselves. We stay put. We want to be brave, but we’re not sure we should be. We want to try, but we don’t know if we should succeed or why we should succeed. We compare ourselves to everyone, whether we know them or not. And we remind ourselves that this is why we are staying where we are.
This is the circle. Or really the cycle. We get it in, and we don’t know how to get out. We are right there at the edge, waiting for the cycle to change. We want it. We are pretty sure we do at least. We know we don’t want things to stay the same. So the issue becomes figuring out how to break the cycle. And the answer is simple, but hard – it boils down to choice. To making a choice to change, and to continuing to make the choice to stay out of the cycle. And that’s hard. Habits form deep ruts. Our neurons know how to operate. Their grooves are ready and well-worn, so jumping outside of them and going off-road is not an easy task. Our brains have a whole lot of work that they do each day. They have to perform efficiently. They fight change because they have to do more work now. They have to rewire the way our neurons think, the patterns they move in. They are designed to know what we are going to do next, how we are going to feel next. So when we change that, they’re not sure what to do, but they know it’s way more efficient to go back to the old way and that’s what they try to do. It calls us back. We have to consciously choose not to let it. We have to consciously say, “I know these issues are here. I know they exist. I know why my brain is fighting me on this right now, but I’m going to choose to stay on course,” because staying on course, continuing to make the different decisions is the only way to create a new groove. It’s the only way to provide staying power. Constantly, consistently make the choice. That is how change occurs.
So if we go back to what we have written out now from Day 1 and Day 2, we know who we are and where we are right now and we know who we want to be and where we want to be. So we have to make a map to get from right now to where we are planning to go. We always go one step at a time, so we would work on our top priority first and move down the list from there. Often times starting one change becomes a catalyst for the others. The rules are to keep it simple and keep it focused.
The example I’m going to use is one of the ways I started to change my thinking. I touched on it a bit yesterday I believe. I was always pretty pessimistic and negative. When I was beginning my final semester of my undergraduate coursework I read a book (The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz – highly recommend it to everyone, seriously read it.) and in it one of the agreements is to Be Impeccable with Your Word. Part of this meant only saying things that were of value and true and that would pertain to growing and encouraging myself and others. During this point in time I started to notice how quick I was to judge others. I judged outfits, cars, imperfect speech, imperfect writing, anything I could notice to be negative about I was there. I began making a conscious effort then to replace those thoughts with positive thoughts. So when I would find myself thinking, “ewe look at those shoes,” I began stopping myself to disrupt the thought pattern and replacing it with something positive. It might have been, “we are all allowed to dress however we want to,” or “that is a person who I’ve never met and what they wear is not of consequence to me and I don’t need to judge it” or “I hope she has a good meal and that the rest of her evening goes well.” The last example became the one most frequently used as time went on. Initially it was hard. And it felt a bit daunting realizing just how much of my time I spent being negative. It was easy to try to say, “I must be a terrible person.” But that wasn’t helpful either, nor was it true. I was simply a human who had to work on retraining her way of thinking, and that was and still remains okay. But my way of thinking really did start to change. I became less negative and less judgmental. I focused more on encouragement and found myself a whole lot happier overall because of it.
The thing about being motivated to change our lives and take the steps we somewhere inside know we want to take is that we have to be willing to be honest with ourselves. We have to respect who we are enough and value who we are enough to say that this is who I am, this is who I want to be and I am willing to try to fulfill it. That first step is hard, self-worth is essential… and the journey is usually a lot longer than we hoped it would be. We have to be open to the fact that we are human. At some point things are going to get hard, people we hoped would help us won’t, things will probably get confusing and we will probably question why we made the choice in the first place and it is here that we have to go back to our map and remember where we really want to be and that there is a way to get there as long as we keep trying.
**** I know these were long and I apologize. It was hard to condense them, but it’s an issue people ask about a lot. The answer isn’t short, so thanks for reading them and I hope they helped. 🙂 and if you want a longer answer, you can look here…
Truth is something that can appear to be quite elusive these days. It’s very easy to find half-truths or outright lies, misconceptions, misunderstandings; they are all sitting at our fingertips. So when I find truths that speak to me, that resonate within me in a way that I know in my core this is truth, I try to pay attention.
Maya Angelou was someone I had heard of in high school. We may have read a poem or two, if so I honestly don’t remember. It wasn’t until college that I took more of an interest in her, and in reality it’s probably because I saw her on Oprah. I have a tendency to cringe when speech is seemingly deliberate. When I can tell someone has thoroughly thought through what they are saying and they say it in a very matter of fact manner. I don’t know why. But I typically disengage. So to watch Maya Angelou speak and find myself literally on the edge of my seat feeling as though I am being pulled in a little bit nearer to her with each word was extremely unexpected. She spoke in a very deliberate manner, she knew what she was saying, but this time it was different for me. She was speaking in truth. Every word was one I wanted to hear, and I was glad she spoke with such clarity both in pronunciation and in point. And since truth, as I stated can be hard to come by, I wanted to make sure I shared some of it here, by way of Dr. Angelou.
1.“When people show you who they are believe them (the first time).”
I have found this to be true time and time again. Whether it is in a relationship romantic in nature, a friendship, family members, whomever we have in our lives, people will show us who they are. If someone tells you they are mean, believe them. If someone tells you they don’t care, believe them. If they say they just want to have fun, believe them. If they cheat on you, ignore you, make it a point to hurt you, believe them the first time. They are showing you who they are, and they are making it clear they have no intentions of changing this for you. Once a person shows us what they plan to do, and we stick around, then that is our poor choice. They will easily have the chance to say, “well you already knew” and use it as an excuse. And sadly, they won’t be entirely wrong. We have to learn that being a savior is not supposed to be the same as being a victim. So staying somewhere that is harmful to us to stick it out, to be strong, because we love them and we know they love us if we could just get them to change just one more time is never an excuse. We are saving no one and in trying to do so are only creating inequality within the relationship. We must pay attention to what people tell us about themselves and have enough worth about ourselves to be willing to let it go.
2. “…and if the future road looms ominous or unpromising, and the roads back uninviting, then we need to gather our resolve and, carrying only the necessary baggage, step off that road into another direction. If the new choice is also unpalatable, without embarrassment, we must be ready to change that as well.”
This quote comes from her essay titled New Directions. And it continues along very well with the previous quote. Many times we don’t leave a situation because we’ve planned out a future in our heads. We have something, and maybe we are only holding on by a rapidly fraying string, but we are holding on. There is something in front of us. But when our vision of the future does not match the reality of our future, there is a problem. If we truly stop and look down the road ahead, which most often will look like the road behind and it in no way is a path we should continue down, we must be willing to stop and change directions. We have to let go. We have to imagine a future that is different. We must be willing to try, and not only once, but as many times as it takes to get us to where the future we are imagining has the capacity to line up with the future coming to life in our reality. Whether it’s a career change, a relationship change, or even family that is harming us, we must care enough for ourselves to forge onward towards better things.
3. “It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.”
And on our path to our new places we must let go of the past, lighten our load and forgive. We must be willing to admit to ourselves that we acknowledge what has happened, we understand that we were deeply hurt whether emotionally or physically, whether from and outside source or something we did to ourselves, we must look at the moment for what it is and find a way to release it. It is the only way to move forward successfully. We cannot let those moments define us. We know that they exist. They aren’t likely to be things that we forget. But they are things that we can move forward from without allowing them to control us. Forgiveness is truly one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves.
4. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
In life we all have choices that we make every day. One of the most important choices we make is how we treat others. None of us were immune to people coming into our lives and making us feel bad. As children someone hurt us. Well, in all likelihood, multiple people. Children can be cruel. Adults can be cruel. We are all humans exposed to other humans, and that means life isn’t always going to be pretty. So each day we must make a choice to treat others the way we truly want to be treated. So we must believe ourselves worthy of the treatment we extend to others. We must know that we have the chance to grow a person, to encourage them or to bring them down, and it is essential that we become growers of others. We know how people made us feel. It lasts. We remember being scared, we remember being hurt, we remember being outcast, feeling alone and desolate, that no one else understands or cares. We remember these things because they made us feel like we didn’t matter. And that is not acceptable. We cannot continue a culture of people whose only goal is to make people feel this way. We must do what we can to acknowledge and accept our own worth and love ourselves enough to recognize and grow this in others. To be encouragers and walk in light so that others may follow. So that we can all know truth.
This is an excerpt from one of my favorite parts of her Master Class with Oprah: “to be the best human being you can be” (in every situation)
The first time I ever read the entire “I Have a Dream Speech” I was in my senior year of college. I had read excerpts and seen clips my whole life, but I had never read it all until then. I did so because I had this professor (in this class that happened to help change my life) who gave us an assignment for our first holiday weekend back at school. Our first holiday in the Spring is always the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. And the assignment was to consider the purpose of the holiday – because he felt it wasn’t one that we should just ignore the meaning of simply because we were off- and write about what we decided on in our journals that we kept as a part of the course. So since I really wanted to do well in this class, I decided to do the research I hadn’t in the past and uncover my feelings on the subject. This began with reading the “I Have a Dream Speech” in its entirety.
I grew up as a white female in the south. I’ve lived here (in this state) my whole life. But as a child of the 80’s, I never experienced life prior to the passing of the Civil Rights Act. I’ve never been in a class without a mixture of races in the classroom. I grew up watching The Cosby Show, Good Times, A Different World, 227, Amen, The Jefferson’s, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (I watched The Brady Bunch, Saved by the Bell, and Full House, too). And as a child (by this I mean pre-adolescence), I was naïve enough to believe that this was the norm. This was the way things had always been.
I hadn’t paid attention to the fact that even though there was always diversity in the classroom from my point of view, I was also never, ever the only person of my race in my classroom. I was never a minority. I never stood out. I spent the majority of my time blending in so well that people failed to notice I was even there. And I could do that because I didn’t stand out.
I understand how easy it can be to be revisionist in recalling our own personal experiences. As far as I knew growing up everyone got along for the most part. People all had friends. Some of the lines were sort of divisive, but growing up people tend to be clique-y anyhow. It’s easy to write off that most of the white students ate lunch with other white students, and most black students ate with other black students. We tend to gravitate towards those with whom we feel the most comfort. But looking a little deeper, even though everyone for the most part outwardly got along and everyone was able to coexist peacefully, my perspective, I found was not the only perspective.
As I read over the speech, it made more and more sense that my experience would have been entirely different had I been born a few decades earlier with a slightly darker skin tone. Today I think about what it would be like for me, the mother of a young boy to have to worry about what might happen if my son accidentally tries to play with one of the white children he sees as we are walking down the street. Or as he gets older, if someone will choose to arrest him in the middle of the street for looking at a woman of a different race. I don’t have to worry that his rights don’t exist, that he can be beaten, executed, hung, made a spectacle of for sport simply because of his race. I don’t have to worry that he is truly considered less than human, less than equal, less than anyone else who is around him simply because of any genetic factor. I don’t have to live in fear because my country treats us as less than human in its laws and in its actions, and thus encourages its citizens to do the same for fear they may become ostracized themselves. My personal experience has never known anything of this type of fear, but that is not the case for everyone, and it is essential that this notion is understood and remembered.
To quote from Dr. King’s speech, “And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”
We are all human, all equal in our humanity, and all deserving of our rights in this country as humans. To accomplish this we have to figure out a way to stop being divisive on our own. To look at one another and recognize that no matter who we are seeing, that person reflects the same human qualities that exist within us. We are all different, each unique, but we are also the same, and it is those similarities we must start accentuating. We are not perfect, and it is easy to judge and look for reasons that others are less than, reasons that make us feel like, even though we aren’t perfect we still have a chance, because we are better than this person or we aren’t doing what that person does. But comparison in that format is never beneficial; we only tear ourselves down when we seek to tear down others.
“They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”
We will never experience true freedom as long as we are living in a way that serves to prevent others from experiencing freedom. As long as we are judging and condemning based on the superficial, we will never rise above as a whole. We have to look within, we have to confront those things that scare us within ourselves, we have to move past our own revisionist attitudes and search for truth. And from truth we will find a place where our own inherent worth is uncovered. And with each step we take we move closer and closer to seeing the dream of Dr. King realized – a dream where humankind learns the value of humankind, and has the courage to live out those values.
This is a copy of the whole speech, in case you haven’t read it:
All day long I see people, including myself, with something to complain about. We have a problem. We need someone to blame. Life, everyone’s life, is full of imperfections. It is full of unforeseen bumps, walls, bruises, breaks, tragedies, etc. And it’s full of readily known, easily seen bumps, walls, bruises, and breaks, and in some cases tragedies, as well. None of these, however, are easy for us to deal with. Not on a deeper level. They are things that require time. Sure some are easier for us to process, but to deny that they affect us, to deny that there are residual scars, is simply as stated, denial. It is ultimately unhelpful for all of us.
One of the things that I’ve seen numerous times recently is this statement, “I wish we could return to the morals on which this country was founded.” The statement seems well enough at first glance. But ultimately it is pining for something that never existed in order to blame everyone else for the problems in existence today and tag them as different. It is different, we are different, and that’s why things are the way they are. In reality, we are not all that different. In fact it is how much we have stayed the same in many cases that causes the issues that we have. See, our country was founded on the premise of religious freedom…if you were a protestant. It was founded on morals that included drowning, hanging, and burning females who might be perceived to be a witch. It was founded on denying any human rights, respect or decency to anyone who wasn’t white – as was obvious with slavery and the treatment of native Americans . And to denying a majority of rights, respect, and decency to those who were white, but happened to be poor or a female. You were allowed to murder someone for stealing from you with almost no civil process. It was common practice to allow abuse and mistreatment of women, children, and anyone who wasn’t a powerful (not in the physical sense here) white male. It was founded on the idea that anyone who strayed in any way from the ideas set forth by the males around them could be considered a heretic. It was a time when they believed and practiced the idea that God felt them to be the only worthy members and it was okay to kill, steal, and manipulate their way into power. And the law of the land was much more in line with “an eye for an eye” than a democratic justice system.
Maybe we should go back to the times before this. Perhaps the Renaissance, that was a good time right? Sure our country wasn’t founded then, though it was “found” by a tyrant. Back when we (a human we, here) were crusading around, killing people who thought any differently than us. Taking their land, their money. “Screaming convert or die.” Burning people, hanging people, raping women and children. No? What about the Dark Ages? Should we go back there? What time in history is it that we should return to so that we can find these uplifting morals that I’ve heard so much about?
In truth, those morals are present at all points in time. There are people, probably the majority, who want to do good. Who want to be good. What do we measure a life in once it’s gone? In love? In hate? In blame? What do we measure it in while we are still living? With what do we measure our own lives? If it is not love, then, this is what we have to blame for the way that things are going. If we aren’t learning to love, ourselves, others, and teaching ourselves and others to be better people every day, helping one another rise up, then today will remain just as it was, yesterday, and last week, and even back in the good ole days when this country was founded. It is those who adapt who survive. It isn’t the strongest, or even the smartest, it is those best able to adapt. And it starts with a drop. Just one. One person to start measuring the year, the day, the minute in love, and this ignites the spark.
–It’s been a long time, and this was a bit long – my apologies.
I really don’t have much to say, but I guess since the world didn’t end today, I should really get a move on Christmas shopping. Lots of people will be getting gift cards this year!
However, I would like to take this time to say that all this talk of the end of days and in light of recent events, it really has become an even bigger priority of mine to make sure that I am staying in a state of awareness when it comes to Jack and my nephews. I want to make sure that there is real attention given, that we are spending not just time, but quality time together. That we are interacting in a way that moves beyond simply just talking, but my mind being somewhere else. I want to make sure that I have focus when we interact. Don’t get me wrong, it’s impossible to constantly be focused in and to have that sort of interaction. But it is important to do so at least for a bit each day.
I tend to look at it as if something crazy was to happen, I want to make sure that those experiences exist in his recent memory and mine. There is comfort in knowing that I’m putting forth the effort. When we do things like that it really makes a difference. There has to be balance, kids need their own time, they need to play outside, and sometimes it is just being in the same room that makes a difference. But just like any other relationship, we all want to be heard. We want to be given that focus and attention, too. And I have to say, this week really has been a good week. It’s been a calmer week in terms of the way we all interact. There’s been less hostility and when you’re talking about two teenagers, a two year old and a four year old, calm is not normally a word used to describe the time! 🙂 But it really has been very nice. And that’s a good reminder that these changes do need to happen. That there are things within my control, our control, that are easy and can make a difference. And that is reassuring in such trying times.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and a very Merry Christmas (belated happy Chanukah) and are filled with love and hope over the end of this holiday season!
This is the Beatles’ first appearance on Ed Sullivan via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHuRusAlw-Y
So, while watching “The Voice” tonight one of the judges commented that this is a “silly, little show.” Not in a bad way, but in a “in the grand scheme of things this isn’t curing cancer kind of way”. And though the show may not showcase researchers in a medical lab, I’m going to very kindly disagree (sort of) with the notion.
The thing about talent, is that it inspires. And inspiration is an amazing thing. There is power in inspiration. Inspiration rarely happens absent of a connection. We connect with something, and suddenly things make sense. We feel what others are feeling. And that gives rise to hope.
One of the main ways many of us find inspiration is through the arts. Whether it’s drawings, paintings, sculptures, writings, readings, and music to name a few. What exists within these forms of expression are extensions of a person’s soul. We use the arts to tell others what lives inside of us. It tells others how we connect, and gives them that same chance. When we make that connection we feel alive in a way that we don’t normally feel without that inspiration. The talents that we have matter. Sharing the talents that we have matters. I love that there are now forums for people to constantly find sources of inspiration any time we want now. It’s an amazing thing. And the show, silly or not, truly does allow for those types of connections to be made. It has the capacity to inspire millions each week. That is an awesome power. It allows people to see that following our passion truly can lead us to somewhere amazing. Somewhere unthinkable. What exists within us, each of us, can truly change lives. It can give rise to inspiration, and give rise to hope. We can bring one another to higher heights by taking a chance and doing our best.
Music is my vice (one of them, writing is as well). I don’t know how to survive without it. When I need to escape, when I need to think, or when I need to just smile there’s a song for it. There are usually multiple songs for it. Music is diversified and designed to make us feel. Even without words, music can move us. I think the universe is inherently musical. It’s how it communicates with us and how we respond in kind. Every culture on earth has some form of music as a component in it. It’s one of the few universals out there.
When I was little the only shows I would watch on TV were ones that had people singing in them. So as you can imagine growing up in the 80s I watched a lot of Kids Incorporated and Jem (who truly amazed me). Billy Joel was my first concert. I was somewhere around the age of 2. And that was quickly followed by the Beach Boys. The music I remember most from when I was really young comes from that era… It was the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Billy Joel and Motown. People find it funny in conversations when the Temptations come on and my response is always that it brings me back to my childhood, because the songs were popularized 20 years before I was born. But that’s the great thing about great music. It lives on. That connection lives on. Great music touches lives forever. Even if it’s on a silly, little show. I’m sure “The Ed Sullivan Show” could be classified in a similar manner, but it had an unprecedented impact on people around the world simply because a band played a few songs on February 9, 1964. And the impact lasts to this day. So in short, Adam and I actually agree. Everything we do matters. Everything we do has the potential to change lives.
(PS guys I promise I’m going to stop writing about “the voice”…. and you know, buy my book. Seriously, it’s a worthwhile, cost-effective gift for any occasion, and everyone you forgot to put on your list this year! 🙂
You know how you grow up with an idea of what independence is? You know, especially as a teenager, that you will “grow up,” graduate high school and be independent. You will make your own decisions; you will do whatever you want to do. You will be on your own. And it seems like that is what true independence is. After talking with a lot of teens (you know, like) recently who (fine one of whom) asked my opinion on being independent (hey, the others asked my opinion on headphones!), I realized that I didn’t really have an easy answer or even any answer on the subject. At least not that was appropriate in the setting. So I think I stammered off something about the importance of decision-making skills in being independent. But I started thinking, as I have before on the subject.
Independence is viewed differently around the world. Here you turn 18 and move out! You have your own place, your own mode of transportation, your own stuff. It’s yours. You’re officially independent. Your happiness. Your choices. Your life. But around the world, particularly in collectivist cultures, you don’t move out. Not in that way. Families stay together. They live in the same homes or on the same property. They work together to raise the children and grandchildren. They gather often. They celebrate often. Independence is not created by a person’s ability to live on their own. Independence is, in many cases, considered to be when one can contribute to the family through work, through parenting, through assistance, even at a young age. It is responsibility that makes you independent. Because it gives you the ability to make choices.
And I think there is a lot of truth to that idea. That it is our ability to make choices that makes us independent. And whether or not we make good choices, choices that will grow us as individuals, grow us as families, and grow us as communities makes all the difference. Many times the quality of our choices determine whether or not we can remain independent by the definition we have when we are young. Can we live on our own? Not if we make poor choices. Is it in our best interest to live on our own? That is a deeper question, and of much more importance than if we can live on our own. Most of us here live on our own, but if something were to go wrong, an accident, a disaster, a lost job, any unexpected news then many of us wouldn’t be able to sustain ourselves. What makes independence great, is that when we have enough forethought we can truly go where we want to go. The understanding that independence does not necessarily mean functioning in singularity, but instead functioning in a manner that contributes to bettering, furthering ourselves and our passions makes all the difference in the world. That is the only place we can find true independence. And that independence gives us the grace to fall and to get back up, instead of falling without end.
(On a side note you should absolutely give my book to everyone you know this year. It’s cheap, life-changing, fun, smart, great, easy to read, and easy to order. You do it from home, no holiday crowds to deal with. And that’s always a plus! So why not knock those people you have no clue what to get off the list in one, pleasantly fell swoop??)
So, whilst watching “The Voice”… the only singing show I watch anymore, I thought about the different people who will be losing, because there are a whole lot of people with talent in the world who don’t win the competition. And I started thinking about what it means to lose. What difference does it make, as so very often it is the people who lose who end up persevering and rising to the top once the competition is over. So then I jumped to the things that I’ve lost in my life.
What difference does it make for us to lose? It seems like a bad thing. And at the time it’s devastating. But, like many things in life, the devastation (the hurt, or fear, or anger) has the capacity, if utilized to drive us. To push us forward. There are certain things in life that we can all taste. Things that are so close. They are tangibly elusive, and we are continuously driven keep working towards them. They are the things that make us feel alive. When we ignore them and suppress them or give in to the devastation, we find that everything gets harder. We become unsure of any goal. It’s confusing. But when we let those losses move us forward, and fill us with strength, desire, perseverance, we become filled with the things we need to survive and achieve. These are some of the most important tools any person can have if they are to ever truly succeed in achieving their goals. And a contest may be one goal, but it only lasts one night. The person we become, the person we choose to be lasts a lifetime and beyond. And THAT is why losing sometimes is something to be thankful for.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!
This is an old post, and actually from my book, but it is perfect for today because it begins to embody what thanksgiving is supposed to be about. Truly being grateful for those things that we have, even the most minute details. The walls of the homes, the streetlights that light our way home at night, the sheets, the bed, the food, the trees, the people, the love, and the potential that exists within all of us. It’s all there, it’s all real, it all matters. So here’s the post:
One day when I was driving home with my son in the back of my car, he started to cry. I tried music. I tried talking to him. I tried getting out and giving him juice and snacks. I checked to make sure he didn’t need anything else. I tried everything I knew to convince him that it was going to be okay. I gave him everything he could need. As he continued crying we began again with just a few more blocks to our house. I remember sitting at the stop sign and saying to him, “If you could only see, my love, we’re just a few minutes from being there. Just a few more minutes. It’s almost over. You don’t have to worry. Everything will be just as you want it to be soon. ”
In that moment I began to realize just how similar that sweet little baby and I were. I thought to myself:
How many times do I sit there wondering, crying, ‘God why isn’t this happening yet? Why can’t I see what’s going on? Why isn’t it the way I want it to be? What can I do to make things different? I can’t use what I have, I don’t even want this stuff I’ve got. I want something different, something better. Why can’t you just give me what I really want? Why is it like this? Why can’t I see the way out?’ and all the while God is sitting there saying, ‘It’s okay. I’ve given you everything you can possibly need. It’s all right there. Everything is waiting for you to arrive. You’re so close. You don’t have to cry. You don’t have to worry. I promise it’s all right there. If you could only just believe me, it would all be okay. ’”
I spent so much time worrying about why things weren’t right, that I failed to understand everything that was right with where I was. I didn’t appreciate it. I wasn’t thankful for it. I just threw it aside thinking I didn’t really need it. What’s the use in all of this stuff? I let myself get to a point where I couldn’t see past the hurt, the worry, the fear. It consumed me. And so it consumed everything I did for the most part, as well.
When we got home that day, I turned on Oprah, and there was a woman who had survived the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11. As I watched, she talked about all of the things she goes through each day just to get up and going. She had been burned over a large portion of her body. She could no longer hold her children. Up until recently, she couldn’t even open the peanut butter jar to make a sandwich for her children’s lunch. While watching, I realized all of the things that I had to be thankful for.
I can hold my son. I can touch his face. I can hug him. I can pick him up. I can see him smile. I can hear his laughter. I can play with him. I can drive him anywhere he needs to go. I can feel him breathe. I can run and jump with him. I can teach him to play sports. I have so many things to be thankful for, especially when it comes to him. He and my nephews make me smile every day. They fill my heart with joy every day. They let me love them every day, and I feel so honored to be able to do so. And I am so thankful to have the chance, all day every day to try again.
Even when I get things wrong, I have learned to be thankful that I have the chance to try again. And one of the ways I try to show my gratitude is by trying to make the right choice after I’ve made the wrong one. If it is something that can be undone, then I try to undo it. If the chance has passed, then I make sure to try not to make the same mistake again. With gratitude comes the possibility for change. If we recognize that it is possible for us at any moment to show that we are thankful, somehow, some way, we can seize the opportunity instead of allowing it to pass us by.
Jack fell asleep unusually early tonight, and somehow I ended up watching Toy Story 3 alone, and not changing the channel. You can call me a sap, but everyone I know cried during the movie, so I’m comfortable with it. I normally don’t watch it, because it does make me sad. And today was a cleaning day so we were already cleaning up rooms and clearing out old toys and putting aside a few to save, so the movie came right on time.
Anyway, I was watching tonight, you know, 10 minutes ago at the end, and I started thinking about how hard it is to let go of those things that have meant so much to us. Whether it’s a toy or a trinket or something big, like a friendship or a relationship. We like to be connecting to things that make us feel happy. Things that give us a sense of knowing. We know who we are when we play with those toys… or with Jack I know who he was when I look at some of his old toys or outfits from the past few years. It serves as a reminder of something familiar. Something strong. Those things embody the things that we want to continue in our lives. And I think when I look back over today and I think of the toys I had when I was younger, I can remember my Cabbage Patch doll (I had a preemie newborn one, she had a crib and at Christmas time I would put her by the fireplace we used to have in my old house.) and I remember how happy I was. There was a lot of hopefulness for what would come. Even though there were lots of issues, the future seemed to hold a lot of possibility and that time when I played and entered into my own little world it was even better. I had an escape and I had a connection. And I think that’s what we hold onto. Those things that helped us escape or those things that hold the possibility for a future that we want. The things we were able to connect with in a way that gave us help and hope.
But the help and hope are always inside of us. And those things, even though they hold special memories are just things. Even when those things are friendships or relationships. Sometimes we really do just have to let them go and let them move on to a place where they can be more beneficial. Whether it’s donating toys or clothes or letting go of someone in our life, we have to let those things evolve. Our roles in one another’s lives grow and change. And even though it can be sad, it’s good to let go. It’s the only way we can move forward. And moving forward is something to be thankful for. 🙂