Independence Day Rewrite

Independence Day

I was seven years old when my parents divorced and my mother went from being a housewife to the main provider in the home while battling her first stage III diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Disease, a lymphoma.

I got a clear message from my mother at that time, not sure if it was said, or simply implied, or both, but she was determined that her three girls would not be dependent on anyone, they would be independent women! Even after she remarried, her theme was clear and consistent, you will learn all the skills and capabilities you need to not be reliant on anyone.

True to form, when I got my license, like any teenager, I was anxious to take the car out and feel my newfound freedom. My mother had no problem with that, but of course, I first had to demonstrate that I could remove and replace a flat tire if need be.

This is one of the many examples of the teachings that I received. Being raised to be independent has some great freedoms with it; I know I can do anything I need to do to get where I want to be. Unfortunately, I can no longer change a tire, because of those darn air guns that put the lug nuts on so tightly I don’t have even enough weight to jump on a crossbar to get them off! That said, I am rarely left stranded in a situation because I was raised to rely on myself to figure it out and get it done.

The other message that I never quite picked up on clearly enough at the time was that in life you’ll get further by building a team and asking for help, or even just comfort when needed. While battling her illnesses over the years, my mother had regular trips into the city for radiation, chemotherapy and numerous appointments. She was often too weak or tired to cook or maintain the home and of course there was the time spent in the hospital, complicated by single parenthood and what to do with the kids!

Everyone that knew my mother recognized her as a force! She was well known in our community as a “get it done” and independent woman. She was smart, driven and capable, however these traits did not stop her from accepting kind gestures of meals being prepared, driving trips into the city or even carpooling so us kids could get to where we needed. It took years for me to recognize this skill is not only important in life, but makes the journey better.

Let’s face it, the human race was not meant to exist alone. We are community-based creatures with need for connection and interaction. So many people are trying to “do it on their own” this relates to everything from work to entrepreneurship to life’s trials and celebrations.

It took me such a long time to figure out how to reach out for help, accept or invite assistance with anything I was trying to do – even when it was just trying to survive! All this has taken even longer to put it into practice, and let’s face it, I am still working on it, but I am convinced inter-dependence is the one of the keys to happiness.

As wonderful as independence is, our lives are more fully lived when we have connection and inter-dependence. The feeling one gets when they help someone is a gift we give to each other. The distance we can go when we work together is much further than what we can cover alone.

I’m not saying not to develop your own talents and skills, nor am I saying rely on others for everything. What I am saying is that you don’t have to know it all, do it all and manage it all alone.

I encourage you this month to look at what you want to accomplish over the upcoming month, and see where you might reach out for assistance or develop a team. One of the beautiful benefits I see each day as a coach is what can be accomplished together.

I know there are amazing dreams, big goals and everyday tasks that are on your plate, I wonder how much easier, faster and enjoyable they will be when you stop trying to do it all yourself and ask for someone to join your efforts.



Mother’s Day Musings

I remember hearing a quote from Phylicia Rashad a long time ago (note this is paraphrased based on my memory).  She was expressing her gratitude that by being a parent she had been granted a front row seat to the development of this little life, and how blessed she felt.  I had never thought about parenthood in quite that way before.

At the time I was a very young mother, and although thrilled by being a mother, did have my good and bad days as we all do.  I knew I had a very important job; I was to protect and care for this life, teach it values and impart whatever wisdom I could to it.  I did not, however, recognize all that it would provide me.  This viewpoint of being gifted with the opportunity to watch a little being learn and create themselves was a new one and something I’ve kept with me throughout the years.

At this time, my children are both now grown and in their 20s (well, my son turns 20 this year).  I have tried to enjoy and appreciate each stage of their lives, from the discoveries of basic everyday items, to things that were new to them that directly affected them in unexpected ways, to their developing opinions about the world around them.

I do have moments when I look back and think, I was so busy just trying to get through day-to-day I missed some very important moments  or rushed the children through those as we did not have time to discover the ant on the sidewalk because the grocery store was closing.  How many more moments might I have missed without those wise words?  Being a young single mother struggling through those early days, I can imagine many more would have been overlooked; I am immensely grateful for receiving those words of wisdom when I did.

At times when I disagree with my children now, I still hear those words from Phylicia and am learning to reframe my thoughts to be able to recognize, it is my honor to be in this front-row seat.  To hear the actual theory that goes behind the decision or comment is a gift regardless of my opinion.  To be able to listen, with immense pride, to the exciting and important issues my children have chosen to give their time and energy to is an incredible opportunity.

The greatest joy in this journey of parenting for me is to see who children become.  Which lessons had the most impact on their future?  What did they absorb from what I did and not what I said?  How much are they like me, and how much are they different from me?

I have never received such a gift as that of a front-row seat in the development of a child.  It is a gift I will cherish forever, and some day hope to have the opportunity to have a second-row seat in the next generation.