Tagged: Reflection

Loss Learning…Powerful and Positive!

My heart was racing. My eyes were wide. The crowd around me was blurred. I could hear the shuffling and the chatter, but I was laser focused. 

Our eighth grader and our sixth grader were ready to play in their first tennis match of the season. This was our sixth grader’s first match ever. I can’t think of much I enjoy more than watching my kids engage in activities they’re passionate about. 

Watching them gets me into a flow. I don’t think it’s about vicarious living. I’m just so proud of them. No matter the outcome of any activity or event, I’m so proud. 

We have four. In this moment they’re thirteen, eleven, ten and eight years-old. I’m forty nine years-old, and while I still have goals, a wonderful career and an active personal, professional, spiritual, social and intellectual life, most of what I do is set on a foundation of my kids’ joy and well-being. 

I want them to be happy. I want them to achieve. I want them to know they’re loved. I want them to have courage, give themselves grace, learn how to balance their lives, feel calm, and find meaningful pathways through the triumphs and the challenges they have and will undoubtedly continue to face. 

The first set was underway. Our eight grader and his doubles partner were hitting every shot. Serves were on point, feet were shifting and shuffling, the ball was an obscured yellow blob rocketing back and forth with purpose. 

They stretched and they leapt. They pulled each other along with fist pumps and racket taps. They were steady, calm and patient, and they made quick work of it, excusing their opponents after a 6 – 2 win. 

It was as if I blacked out while they played then came to after the set. I was standing next to the mom of my kid’s partner. We exchanged smiles. A great result. After taping rackets and thanking his opponents, our kid looked up to where he knew we were watching with a wide grin and a thumbs up. I returned the gesture. One down and one to go. 

Our sixth grader, in his first match ever, was playing with an eight grade partner in a points match. It was a big deal and he was thrilled. 

That week we talked a lot about playing one point at a time. No matter the score, every point is a new point. Before long he and his partner found themselves down 4 – 1 in the set. I’ve seen many middle school tennis matches. This is typically where the opposing team wins two more games and runs away with it. Not here. Not this time.

The kids were hitting shots and moving fluidly around the court. They were simply off by a flick of the wrist here and a stretch of the arm there. As they crossed the court to switch sides at 4 – 1 our sixth grader flashed me the same kind of genuine and enthusiastic grin I got from our eight grader after his win. I knew in that moment he was nowhere near done, and that he was holding a winning attitude. I knew that no matter the outcome, this was a great experience for him. 

The guys won three more games, going down to their opponent 6 – 4. It was a great set! When he came off the courts he told me he felt shaken at 4 – 1 and realized that some deep breathing and mindfulness would help him get back in it. Even thought they didn’t take the set this time, he was beaming with pride at having won three more games after that trying moment. I couldn’t have wished for a better outcome! Sometimes loss learning is just as good as winning.

Coach tells the boys they either win or they learn. There is no losing on this team. Our kids take it to heart and live that paradigm as a young athletes. It’s wonderful to watch. 

After the match, coached asked if anyone had anything to say. Our sixth grader was the only one to speak up. He said, “I just want to say, whether you won or learned today, I think everyone did a really good job!” 

That moment will stick with me forever. So important to remember. Wining is great. Learning is great. With a growth mindset and a positive attitude it’s all great! 

When we listen to our kids, let them guide, celebrate their efforts and support them in processing the unique paths they tread, we help them build resilience. 

Loss learning can be powerful and positive when we make it so!  

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks.

I Fell Into A Dumpster (Nothing But Blue Skies)

It would be reasonable for someone to use the idea of falling into a dumpster as a metaphor for hitting rock bottom. I could see someone saying something like, “I fell into a dumpster” to address some sort of loss, misgiving, or feeling of defeat.

Well, I actually fell into a dumpster. On Friday afternoon, in fact. 

As unique an experience as it seemed at the time, I did it. I actually fell into a dumpster. Then, as I was lying on my back at the bottom of said dumpster, nestled in and around multiple bags of noxious trash, breathing through my mouth to no avail, and the only thought I could muster was, “I just fell into a dumpster…I actually just fell into a dumpster.”

It was how you might be imagining it. It was the result of a brilliant idea, of which I have many that I must admit result in less than fortunate outcomes. I do lot’s of learning (or not, some might say). To my credit, I would still speculate that it had at least a 75% chance of working out better than it did. 

You see, I was throwing a mat away. It was a really big mat. It was a mat so big, it didn’t fit into the dumpster. Picture it, I fashioned this really big, dusty and damaged old mat into a giant Little Debbie’s Swiss Cake Roll replica, dragged it to the dumpster and hulked it in like a humongous, floppy javelin. I issued a flawless tough guy grunt as I released the mat. Super proud of myself. Very satisfying.

But…it didn’t fit. It was sticking out a good several feet on a diagonal from the other end of the dumpster. 

Ironically, as my brilliant idea hatched it was accompanied by the knowledge that Lorelei would have, in no uncertain terms, denied me the opportunity to put this plan into action. 

She would have insisted that I didn’t step on the center of that half sticking out of a dumpster mat. 

She would have told me it would not have folded cleanly, giving me the ability to easily step over the mat and out of the dumpster after generating a precise fit with my engineering prowess.  

She would have confidently outlined impending disaster without blinking her eyes. She would have let me know that instead, I would end up on my back at the bottom of the dumpster. 

Ha. Lorelei doesn’t know everything about everything. Besides, Lorelei wasn’t there. It was just me, my thoughtful analysis of the situation, and my imminent glory. Also, Lorelei doesn’t have to know about every great idea that pops into my mind. Frankly, I don’t think she could handle it. 

Well, as you (and Lorelei) now know, I ended up on my back at the bottom of the dumpster. Hindsight. Maybe she makes some good points occasionally. 

Regardless, after I rested for a moment I took a picture. For posterity. It’s the picture above.

I climbed out fo the dumpster through the sliding door on the side, brushed myself off to the best of my ability and went inside to take my lumps. My colleagues and I had a few good laughs over it. 

One of the teachers I work with said, “You know what, Seth…when you’re lying at the bottom of a dumpster, looking up on a day like today, all you can see are blue skies.” 

I think he would have patted me on the shoulder but thought better of it because of the stench. 

Anyway, he was right. We face many challenges. Each of us has our share. The more we do so with a positive affect, an optimistic viewpoint and grounding in the beauty of every moment, the better off we may be.

Sure, I fell into a dumpster. When I did, all I could see was bright, blue skies. 

Through the triumphs and the challenges, life’s pretty darn good…and I’m filled with awe and gratitude. 

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. 

The Amazing Human Being – Truly a Miracle!

I was walking with our eight year-old the other day. We were downtown in Detroit. It was sunny. Winter was almost behind us. It was one of those Michigan moment when the coats come off and you’re compelled to be outside.

Loads of people were taking advantage of the beautiful day. I remembered these moment from my childhood. Walking around the city, feeling the connectivity and the rush of energy these streets so effortlessly provide.

He looked at me and asked, “Hey Daddy?”

I answered, “Yes, Sir?”

He said, “I was thinking…”

I replied, “Uh Huh.”

He continued, “It’s amazing that human beings exists and that we are what we are.”

I dug in, ”What do you mean?”

With thoughtful enthusiasm he told me all about it. Turns out, the kid views our existence as miraculous. He made some sense, too.

Albert Einstein said, “Live your life as if nothing is a miracle or as if everything is a miracle.”

I think the latter might be the way.

Our eight year-old is a thinker. He’s incredibly reflective. This isn’t the first time he’s opened my eyes. Every little thing. It is pretty incredible.

Why, then, is it so difficult for me to be grateful all the time?

I do have gratitude. It’s just that it tends to show up around majestic, magnificent moments. Beautiful sunsets, the birth of my children, huge, life changing events like when the Spartans make the Sweet Sixteen, and so on. Great moments indeed, but at closer examination…aren’t all moments miraculous?

What about every time we interact with one another? What if every time one human being had an interaction with another human being they both considered it miraculous? What if each time we connect we do so with intentionally, savoring the moments we get to spend together, listening with open-minded curiosity, and seeking to learn?

April is Autism Awareness month.

As the principal of a school with a categorical AIA program I’m keenly aware of the incredible impact children diagnosed with Autism can have on the learning, growth and strengthening of a community. As we move into April I think we can take the very important lesson our youngest taught me to heart.

Human beings are Amazing. Tall human beings, short human beings, musical human beings, athletic human beings, neurodivergent human beings, neurotypical human beings, human being who are shy, human beings who are outgoing, and every human being in between.

This seems like a really good time to be thoughtful and intentional about living our lives as if everything is a miracle. In fact, maybe it’s always a good time!

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks!

The Write Thing

All four of our kids had the flu a few weeks ago. When they finally got back to school it was difficult. Our oldest struggled in the morning. He dragged himself out of bed and wrestled with the emotions associated with returning after multiple sick days. He did put one foot in front of the other, reluctantly making it happen. 

After school he reflectively told us he realized something during the day. He realized the challenge wasn’t school itself (something he actually enjoys), but rather the notion of returning to something he’d stepped away from. Change is challenging. Change is loss. Change is…well, change. 

It’s incredible to see him mature. We learn lessons from our kids al the time. This time, it felt like we were learning from a thoughtful young man. Of course, we are well aware that change is difficult, the learning is in reframing it through a new leans. Being able to share this experience with our teenager and engage in conversation about it caused me to think about where I struggle with transitions. 

I love to write, yet I haven’t written a post on this blog for several months. It’s been tough even to put my fingers on the keyboard again. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe it has something to do with my separation rom the process. Each day is another day away. Change. Transition. Returning to the practice. Ironically, as I type in this moment it feels as though I haven’t left.

I know that the write thing is the right thing for me. 

I write because it’s a part of my reflective process. Writing is a form of mindfulness for me, and in turn, I believe it enhances my well-being. 

This platform is meant to be a place I can embed myself in learning and growth, and it’s also meant to be an archive, specifically for my kids. 

Thinking about getting back to the practice of writing and publishing on this blog was challenging enough that it took me months to do. Turns out, doing it is easy and fulfilling. Something to remember before, during and after transitions in general. One foot in front of the other. Things generally tend to be ok when we move forward with courage, resolve and positive attitudes. 

Live. Love. Learn. Lead. Thanks.

A SQUIRREL IN OUR CAR

We didn’t plan to have a squirrel in our car yesterday morning. Regardless, it happened. 

Sometimes things we don’t plan for happen anyway. For parents, caregivers and educators this is a relatively constant phenomenon.

I was riding in the “way back” (mini-van language) with our oldest. The two “littles” were in the middle seats and our 11 year-old was shotgun with Lorelei driving. We we’re about halfway to Sunday school when I heard a strange, scrappy noise coming from just behind me followed almost immediately by a strange sensation on my right shoulder. 

Believe it or not, a squirrel sprung up onto me, brushed past my right cheek, leapt into the air, ricocheted like a parkour athlete off my son’s leg, scrambled through the middle seat and up onto the top of the dashboard, where he (or she) proceeded to run frantically back and forth in front of Lorelei’s face, stopping every once in a while to lock eyes with her. It was a strange and awkward showdown, and remember, she was driving. I can’t quite describe the energy shift in the car during this unique squirrel-related event. Time slowed down and reality shifted. Out of body, for sure.

I was impressed at how calm everyone stayed. We decided that rolling the windows down, pulling over and eventually opening the doors was the way, and it worked. When the opportunity presented itself, our squirrel stowaway exited the vehicle with urgency. 

We’re still processing. A range of emotions persists. We’re mostly laughing now. We weren’t entirely comfortable driving home but we did. 

Sometimes things happen. Some things happen that we would have never expected or imagined. Some things happen that generally seem unlikely, even in hindsight. When we face whatever comes our way with love, respect and grace we tend to do ok.

Having our squirrel in the car experience reminded me, in spite of the many winding roads I’ve traveled,  how fortunate I am to be Lorelei’s husband and dad to our wonderful kids. How did that happen? Probably just about as unlikely as the squirrel in the car, but here we are…and thank goodness for that. 

Maybe our well paved paths and surefire plans aren’t the keys to happiness, but rather our ability to appreciate the twists and turns along the way. 

If you ever have a surprise squirrel encounter, may it be a catalyst to reflection, joy and gratitude…as this one has been for me.

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks.

One of my Daring Days

Our 12 year-old recently said to me, “Today is one of my daring days.” I don’t remember the context.

There was something to overcome and he overcame it. It might have been an orchestra concert to perform in or a tennis match to play. It may have been connecting with a new friend or sharing thinking in class. Regardless, “One of my daring days” stuck with me.

At 12 years-old he understands and can articulate that some days are daring and others are not. He knows that courage isn’t at the ready all time, but a character strength we have to understanding and intentionally enlist. He know’s even thought is’t not always available, that daring is accessible to him. He had access to it on that day and he recognized that access. I believe this sensibility will allow him to have increasingly more daring days, along with more automatic access to them as he grows. He seems to like the feeling. I was thrilled he mentioned it.

In mentioning it, he reminded me that while daring days are wonderful, some days are not daring days. Some days are cautious. Some days we get stuck in fear and find ourselves unable to move. He reminded me it’s ok to live some days within our comfort zones. Even to live some days regressed and motionless. Sometimes I feel like I can conquer any fear and travel any distance. Sometimes I feel locked in place. Human. 

Change, while essential and inevitable, requires daring. Even positive change. Change is wonderful and exhilarating. Change is also loss. Even when we change for the better, the better replaces what was in its place. Whatever was there before the better might not have been as good, but it may have been comfortable. 

“Better,” even though it’s better, can be scary. When we change for the better it often feels like we are then responsible for maintaining. Can we be expected to be our better selves indefinitely? What if we mess it up? There’s lots of pressure in change. On daring days, the motion of change, the growth that accompanies it, and even that pressure can be exciting. 

Our 12 year-old knew he was having a daring day. The possibilities were boundless. After the first daring thing he decided to do more daring things. He told me it was a daring day while we were driving toward home. After he told me he mentioned he was going to write when we got home. If you’re a writer you know it can be a daring thing to do. He was teaming with ideas and enthusiasm. He enlisted the daring he found access to. He maximized its benefits while they were in front of him. 

It’s ok to have days that are not daring. When we do have days that are, we should harness them. We should take action and make plans. We should specifically plan for open-hearted self love and for grace in the knowledge that we will continue experiencing many types of days, and that each one it gift; days we soar, days we doubt, days we show up, and days we hide. Each is a gift. Each has value.

We should ground ourselves in reality by being intentional about identifying our daring days, taking advantage of them, and settling in comfortably to the notion that our moods, our energy and our capacity to engage courageously in the world, both inside and around us, is subject to ebbs and flows. 

It is said that happiness does not come to the person who has the best of everything but to the person who makes the best of everything. We should consider that as best be can, forgive ourselves when we can’t, and dare to keep putting one step in front of the other with every bit of strength we have in every given moment.
In it together for the kids. 

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks.

A Massive Stroke of Genius

I have five brothers and sisters. Our mother had a massive stroke on Friday. While it was terrifying, I was in crisis response mode in the first moments and hours; listening and learning, answering doctors’ questions, providing comfort, contacting family members and friends. Thankfully we were at the hospital when it happened, waiting for our mom to come around after a successful procedure. 

The stroke team leapt into action and were laser focused for the next few hours. They kept me informed every step of the way and I kept in close contact with every doctor I knew, working to process and communicate with my siblings in realtime. We’re a close knit group and we’ve needed to share thinking a lot over the past 72 hours. Ironically, any one of us would typically be calling our mom to help make the decisions we’ve been making on her behalf. My hand is still reflexively going to the phone for her wisdom and feedback. 

Once things were relatively stable and we were through the initial response phase, waves of emotion began to wash over me. Family and friends were good to have around for this. I’ve lived long enough to understand a bit about grief, and there it was. Relieved with that assurance that our mom wasn’t going anywhere I began to grieve the initial deficit picture. Some loss of movement, questions about expressive and receptive language, and even wonderings about chewing and swallowing. 

If you’re reading this you most likely either know my mom or have heard me talk about her. My mom is a life coach. She has a PhD. She’s an expert in human development, she’s a problem solver and she’s helped a multitude of people find pathways to progress through challenging situations. She’s strong and she’s stubborn. She’s a fighter. In the preface of her book, “I Don’t Want To Be Anyone But Me”, she points to her own transformation, connecting the ideas that, “the first step to positive change begins with self awareness” and, “only you can empower yourself to choose your own destiny.” 

So, a massive stroke. It was shocking and surreal. You can’t be talking about my mom. This can’t have happened to the life of the party. This is the same woman who wakes up to thirty minutes on the elliptical machine every morning, the one who does the New Your Times crossword every day (the Sunday puzzle too), and the scrabble champion who can’t be beat. This is an international speaker who has inspired crowds all over the world. She’s the mother of six and the grandmother of twelve. Every person who meets my mom, from grocery store clerks to United States Congressmen, becomes her friend. Moreover, she doesn’t distinguish between them with regard to her outpouring of kindness and compassion. My mom gives tirelessly and loves without limit.  

She had a stroke, but when I think of my mom I think of a different kind of stroke. I think of the kind of stroke that an artist takes to create a masterpiece. I think of lines and colors on a canvas that I could stand and stare at for days. I think of beauty and imagination. I think of creativity and innovation. I think of eloquence, I think of determination and I think of grit.

During the past three days we’ve seen so much to be thankful for. After spending the weekend with my mom in this way I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that her recovery is going to be nothing short of a stroke of genius. No, a massive stroke of genius. My mom is using this opportunity to once again show us all what it means to take hold of life and control your own destiny. She’s already doing it. Every minute we’re seeing more engagement with smiles and laughter, hand holding and connected, knowing looks that might say, “This is frustrating,” but also say, “Give me a minute to work this out…we both know I can.”

Yesterday I asked her if she was ready to talk. We’re a teasing family so I told her, “O.K. mom, let’s give it try…say, banana pancakes.”  Her beautiful smile stretched into her cheeks and traveled up to her eyes, which she was simultaneously rolling at me. She’s here. She’s working. She’s resting. She’s problem solving. She is figuring this out. I have no doubt that my mom is already on the path to a full recovery so that she can get back to that elliptical machine, the crossword puzzles, Scrabble, her 12 doting grandkids, the 6 of us who need her so much, the sister she’s joined at the hip with, her extensive network of friends and family, and a world of people being washed over by waves of trauma that need Dr. Micki Berg’s comforting presence and sage wisdom. 

If you’re reading this and your a person who knows and loves my mom (two inseparable things), you can rest easy in the knowledge that she’s doing great. It looks like we have a journey ahead of us, and over the past 3 days she has shown us in no uncertain terms that she’s ready, and already carving a path. As always, she’s an inspiration. I cannot fully express how much my siblings and I are moved by the outpouring of love that’s come our way, and how important it has been as motivation for my mom. I know this goes without saying, but keep it coming.

I rewatched my mom’s TEDx talk today. Take a look for yourself: “Ageless Wisdom – Explore Your Untapped Potential” – Dr. Micki Berg. This is a woman who can’t be held back. She’s got this. Those of us who are with her are seeing my mom do what needs to be done to figure it out. Again, I am supremely confident that her recover will be nothing short of another massive stroke of genius. 

With my deepest love for my incredible mom. We got this, mom.

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead.

Maturity, Autonomy and Independence

We’ve been working with our 10 year-old on a decision for the past couple of weeks. There’s a summer opportunity we’ve been excited about for him. He has not been excited with us. In fact, he doesn’t want the opportunity. He tried it last year and found that, for him, the cons outweigh the pros. 

We believe the challenges involved would help him develop increased maturity, autonomy and independence. We think the experience, cons and all, would help him build strength. We wanted him to try it one more time. When we told him that’s what we wanted he told us he felt like he was being forced to do something he didn’t want to do.

This was a tough spot. This is the type of decision parents talk about not having access to instructions for. Do we insist that our ten year-old engage in a growth opportunity because we know it’s good for him, or do we give him space to make the decision for himself because we trust that he knows what’s good or him? Maybe the decision itself is the opportunity. Maybe it’s a chance to let him make a decision and live with it. Maybe it’s a safe way to give him a taste of responsibility. 

We decided to exhaust the dialogue with him. We decided to give him some space and time to think and reflect. We hoped he would see things our way after a while. We worked through thoughts and emotions with him for a couple of weeks. We shared our thinking and our feelings and encouraged him to do the same. We told him it was his decision, and we also tried to try to persuade him. We did our best to keep it guilt free, but we could see him struggling with not wanting to disappoint us. 

We gave him a timeline, at the end of which we sat on the couch together, put forward our closing statements and asked him to make it official. Would he take it on or not? He was energized and lighthearted. We could see he knew the decision was his, and we could see he gained strength from that. I started to see the irony.

With a smile he asked if he could use one of our phones to text the other phone his decision. He asked us not to look until he was clear from the room. He texted and left. This is what we saw when we turned the phone over: “I appreciate everything you’ve said but I need to make a decision, so I’m going to say…um, uh, I don’t want to – but I love you:).”

A demonstration of maturity, autonomy and independence. This experience has me revisiting the balance of goal setting and decision making with my kids as they progress toward independence. Turns out there’s more than one path to learning and growth. Once again, the kid opened my eyes. 

We can’t know for sure what’s right in any given situation. When we provide space and time, when we listen with compassion, and when we allow ourselves to consider other people’s perspectives, I feel like we’re on the right track. 

Thanks for reading…in it together for the kids!

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead.

Spending the College Fund on a Pony

The other day our 8 year-old daughter approached me and began with, “Daddy?”

I asked, “Yes?”

She continued, “Are you and mommy saving up money for me to go to college?”

I answered, “We sure are. We’re saving up money for you and your brothers to go to college.”

She said, “Great! How much is it going to cost?”

I told her, “Sweetheart, between the four of you it’s going to cost tens of thousands of dollars.”

“Wonderful!” She said, followed by, “I have an idea.

“Let’s hear it,” I prompted.

With an altogether straight face and not a hint of hyperbole, she introduced an option I had not yet considered. “Instead of sending me to college, you could use that money to buy me a pony.”

I realized she and I have very different perspectives on the matter. I also understood that we both have a stake in the outcome, that we were going to have to agree on a meaningful path forward, and that the meaningful path should result in fulfillment for her. After all, it is her life we were talking about.

Maybe, she would be happier with pony ownership that she would with a college degree. Maybe, if we end up spending her college fund on the purchase of a pony, she would end up becoming a pony farmer. Maybe pony ownership is something she feels strongly about and something she could find joy from. Maybe she would raise the first pony to ever win the triple crown or start a pony-pulled sled team that would eventually compete in the Iditarod. Maybe, if we deny her the pony we would be denying her the opportunity to live out a dream.

On the other hand, it seems to me that lot’s of kids talk about wanting ponies. Maybe it’s a passing fancy. What if depleting the college fund in favor of the pony is the wrong move. What is insisting on a college degree is actually the sound decision. Maybe it’s too soon to turn the long-term planning over to our 8 year-old. Besides, I can think of multiple degree that could potentially lead to any farming. Maybe we take it one step at a time and expand her options. 

Maybe there’s a middle ground that would be suitable for all involved. We could send her to college while supporting the pony dream, and help her understand that there’s more than one way to achieve a goal. We could impart the valuable life lesson that not having something today doesn’t mean you’ll be without it down the road. Maybe insisting on college over a pony would help her understand that sometimes in life, “first thing’s first” is a good way to move about. 

Either way, she had obviously done the research (thank you internet). We want to encourage that exploration. We also want her to know that we value her voice. We want her to know that her perspective matters, and we want her to feel good about the journey she’s on.

In the end, whatever happens, it’s clear to me that whatever we decide we need to work as hard as we can to understand her perspective and stand behind the vision she has for her own life. Kids don’t have a ton of life experiences they can draw on for long-term decision making. While that sometimes causes them to want to spend their college funds on ponies, it also causes them to have open minds and open hearts, and to believe in a wonderful range of possibilities. While steering them in “right” direction is critical, we should simultaneously seek to support them maintaining that magical perspective for as long as they can. 

Thanks for reading…in it together for the kids!

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead.

Not As Bad As I Thought It Would Be

Because of the snow days I was able to take our daughter to the orthodontist to get her expander out. She’s had some form of corrective equipment in her mouth for a long time now. This removal represents her first opportunity in a while to chew gum and eat taffy.

You would think she’d be excited. Instead, she was worried. She was worried about the procedure. She was worried about how it would feel and that it might hurt. She was worried that it would be a bad experience. She invited one of her brothers to come along for emotional support. He graciously accepted and comforted her along the way. 

When she was finally in the chair she found it difficult to go through with. She had trouble letting the doctor’s assistant wiggle the expander out. She resisted. Her brother and I sat with her, encouraged her and reminded about the benefits of not having an expander. We promised to stop on the way home for bubble gum. I asked the doctor’s assistant if she could simple show the kid what it would feel like to have the removal device latched on to the expander without wiggling it. She agreed and we moved a step forward. 

We went through those motions two times before it was agreed that we would give it try. Still, she maintained a worried expression and kept her hands clinched together. She was facing the moment she’d been afraid of. I told her I was proud of the courage she was showing…and I was. Regardless of the praise or the outcome, she was still worried about the process. A justified worry for an eight year-old. 

As difficult as it was for her to allow it to happen, she sat still for what seemed to be an inordinate amount of time as the doctor’s assistant had trouble making it work. During the procedure there was even an equipment shift. It wasn’t working for while, yet she stayed with it through the worry. She enlisted additional courage with each clamp and each pull. She started something that she was going to finish. She didn’t give up and eventually, the expander was out!

Afterward, I asked her how bad it was. With a contemplative look on her face she replied, “Not as bad as I thought it would be.”

Most things aren’t. We each face challenges every day. Some are momentous and some are relatively inconsequential. Of those I’ve faced, the great majority have not been as bad as I thought they would be. Some take considerable time and effort to navigate, some come along with intense struggle and some seem to tough. Sometimes, when we’re in the midst of grappling with a challenge it’s hard to visualize a positive outcome. Even when that’s the case, time pulls us forward. 

We don’t always see our way through challenges to outcomes we want, however, when we face them with courage and conviction we’re better positioned to be able to learn and to grow from them. As we continue putting one step in front of the other during these challenging times, we’re all well served to remember that with hope and courage we have the capacity to overcome what sometimes feel like insurmountable obstacles. I believe that in this way, we can carve pathways to joy and balance, and we can find the light at end of any tunnel. 

Thanks for reading…in it together for the kids!

Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead.