I was working with my oldest daughter the other day. She’s three, and I’m slowly exposing her to random things with letters being our current feat. I’ve written all the letters on her chalkboard wall, and when we review them, I give her a check beside the ones she can name. She appears excited, and she smiles during the process. The other day, after one round of naming her letters and still not knowing all of them, I asked her to tell me the names one more time. I was automatically met with “No, mommy. I don’t like learning”.
Okay, as a teacher, I was shocked, dismayed, and felt like an utter failure. How can my child not like to learn? Already?!? I mean, it’s blasphemous, right? I responded with stunned silence, and as she turned and walked off, I just accepted it. I accepted that she’s three and it’s okay for her to walk away right now from a concept I was shoving down her throat. I accepted that this would not be our last academic struggle…or struggle in general. I also accepted that even despite her feelings in that moment, she will continue to learn everyday.
We all learn everyday, right? Maybe this is my attempt to give myself perspective, but I’m noticing that there are little life lessons that come into play on a daily basis, and each day brings a new lesson to learn, even if it’s an old lesson that we’ve learned more than one time.
Thinking specifically about today and with the understanding that every day brings new moments of clarity, this is what I pulled away. Today, there are many things that I learned, and I know each day I will learn something new.
1. The only person you can make happy on a daily basis is yourself.
I am 32 years old, and the hardest fact that I have learned (and still learn every day) is the only actions I can control are my own. I have no control whatsoever on my neighbor. I can’t control what my neighbor thinks, what my neighbor likes, how my neighbor responds to me, or what my neighbor says. And the harder lesson is applying the concept of “neighbor” to the people I really want to influence, like my boss, or my friend, or my husband.
Daily, this lesson re-presents itself in random ways, and the hardest part is knowing that I am only able to change the way I approach something. It’s so easy to find fault in exchanges on the other half, but that’s not the point, is it? Just the other day, I witnessed a conversation one of my bosses was having with a student, and it was made very clear that while it’s easy to walk away thinking fault lies on the other person, the understanding should be I had ownership in that situation too–meaning something about what I said or what I did caused the other person to react in a way I didn’t like. How profound. Not sure if the student walked away with new understanding, but I did.
And I don’t think is a one and done lesson. This is a lesson that will be learned every day in a new way each time, making each time we learn the lesson unique and profound all over again.
So, today, I know that the only person I can make happy is me. I can try my hardest to make another person smile, but I have no control over it. It doesn’t mean I should stop investing time in doing nice things for others; it just means that it’s worth remembering things that I can smile about and finding reasons to smile more often.
2. The sky is always beautiful if you just take the time to look up.
With each day, there are so many random happenings that occur that it’s so easy to stay focused on the list in front of you. Even if the list isn’t exactly tangible, I spend my wheels trying to check off as many things as possible, and it still feels as if the list continues to grow rather than the other way around. Today, in the middle of checking off an item, I looked up. The sky was remarkably blue. It was incredibly serene. There were no clouds. It was so peaceful. I found myself saying, “wow” aloud, which prompted the student I was working with to look up. This is the same student who received the same speech that I referenced in my number 1 above, and I can’t say that she completely understood what was so impressive, so I took the time to explain how pretty the sky is and how it went unnoticed until that moment. She looked up with me, and we shared a moment together before getting back to the grind of ISS work, but it’s true. The sky is always beautiful. Even in a gloomy array of rain and fog. Even in serene, crystallized glory. Especially in those moments where it’s realized all over again that there are so many reasons to be thankful if I just take the time to look up.
3. It’s a blessing to have a mom and dad I can depend on.
I mean, this goes without saying, right? It’s so easy to overlook, especially when it’s always been a constant in my life. How awesome is it to know that if I have a long afternoon meeting planned, I have the support of my parents to help me out? How great is it to see excited grins at the mere mention of granny and papa visiting? How nice is it to spend time together smiling at the sweetness of my two little girls over dinner? What a blessing. Again, this is such an overlooked, taken for granted factor of my life, but today, I know that it’s a blessing to be able to depend on my parents, knowing that if I am ever in a bind, they will pull up right behind me only to push me forward.
4. Social Media is a black hole.
Where do I start? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Yammer, dubsmash, YouTube, Yahoo, email, blogging (!), it’s everywhere, and of course, it is the future. It’s unavoidable, and it’s so easy to immerse myself into this wave of the future and lose relevancy of time, moments, and conversations. The demand to stay “in touch” with everyone through social media really makes you question the reference of the “social” part. Wouldn’t “social” require some form of reciprocal exchange? So often, I find myself scrolling mindlessly through random posts that are monologues without the intention of being “social”.
My New Year’s Resolution this year was to put my phone down more in order to pay attention to my surroundings. I realized I was failing at this goal when my daughter picked up her toy phone just last night, sat beside me and pretended to “scroll” through her phone. She had it all right. She was holding it like mommy, scrolling like mommy, staring at it like mommy, and quiet like mommy…meaning unengaged with those around her…like mommy. How ridiculously sad was that moment?
Reverting back to my number one for today, I can only change my actions right? I refused tonight. Tomorrow is always a new day, but tonight I refused which of course prompted me to blog instead. My mind is congratulating me because at least it’s not passive scrolling and re-scrolling, reading and re-reading of the same happenings that don’t pertain to me or impact me in anyway. Instead, I am here, obviously a different platform of “non”social media, but writing rather than posting, which has always been a pastime of mine. How nice would it be to post a new blog daily or weekly? Given the social media time I put in, I could’ve written a novel by now. Just sad.
So, I have now officially dubbed social media a black hole. It’s hard to get out of, it sucks me in, and it’s almost like a force of extreme gravity when I feel the urges to check-in.
5. The workload will never end.
There is always something to do and something left undone. There will always be some form of hidden anxiety (at least in my world) related to the workload list, but it doesn’t help the list disappear. As long as I am not considered a lottery winner, I will constantly have some form of work or list to do, and my goodness, that is exhausting. Especially when the workload finds a way into your dreams, making restless nights, which of course are not conducive in decreasing the stress that coincides with the never ending workload.
But guess what? It will never go away. As long as I have a job, I will (thankfully) always have a list of things to do, and that list will always grow larger and larger rather than smaller in size. And I’m learning this is a hidden blessing as well. I’m challenged everyday. I learn everyday. I step outside my box everyday. I problem-solve everyday. I accomplish tasks everyday. I give 100% everyday. I am doing the best job that I can everyday. And it’s enough.
Today’s lessons aren’t prolific, but they are relevant to today in my world. I’m learning that each day will provide new lessons to learn (or re-learn), and I’m also aware that tomorrow’s lessons might conflict with the understandings that I pulled away from today, and that’s okay. My understandings may change, like the appearance of the sky, but as long as I look up, reflect, and reevaluate my approach, all the learning is worth it. My hope is that my daughter will “learn” on her own and take joy in those moments in her life beside me.