Should, Could, Would: Life’s Lessons From a Little Girl

Should, could, would. I was in first grade when I learned those words. My teacher was terrifying, and I believed she became a teacher to torture helpless children. She wore a perpetual scowl on her craggy face, and the only time she smiled was when she was berating one of her hapless students until they cried so hard their teeth rattled or they wet their pants. Many (like myself), were known to do both.

One cold winter afternoon, our teacher handed out sheets of paper with the words “should, could, and would” printed on them. She explained what the words meant. She also told us that they were advanced for us, but she didn’t care. She expected us to keep those papers, look at them every day, and learn how to spell them as well as how to use them in a sentence. With one final scowl, she dismissed us for the day.

Clutching my papers in my mitten-covered hand, I walked through the snow, anxious to get home. Suddenly, a gust of wind yanked the papers out of my hand. I watched in horror as my important papers danced in the wind for a moment before they were carried across a neighbor’s yard. I tried to run after them, but the snow was too deep and my legs were no match for the speed of the wind. Holy crap, my teacher was going to kill me! I began to cry as I slowly continued up the hill to my house.

A truck pulled up beside me. It was my father. He grinned at me and opened the passenger door to give me a lift the rest of the way home. “Oh my God,” I thought to myself, “Things just went from bad to worse.” When he saw my tears he asked what was wrong. I cried harder.

Choking back sobs, I told him what happened. “Well,” he said, “Let’s go look for them.” I couldn’t believe it. My father was going to save me from the wrath and imminent public humiliation of a caliber only my teacher could accomplish. For what seemed like hours my father and I trudged through the deep snow looking for the lost papers. I had stopped crying, because at least now I had help.

Finally, my dad asked me how important these papers really were. I shrugged and wiped my nose with the back of my mitten. Then I told him what Miss You-Know-Who had said. My father said nothing for a long moment as we stood on that hill with the snow and the wind whipping around us, but his face got very red. It must have been the wind. He knelt in the snow and put his face close to mine. “If Miss You-Know-Who says anything to you at all, you tell her to come talk to me.”

I smiled and nodded my head. My father was a large man, and could be quite formidable. He also knew my teacher quite well, since she went to our church. Yep–I even got to see her on the weekend. Lucky me. Then my dad carried me through the snow, put me in the truck, and drove up the hill to our home. Nothing more was ever said.

I learned a lot about those three words since that day in the snow all those years ago. I learned how to change my “shoulds” to “coulds”, my “woulds” to “will,” and my coulds to “of course I can!” I learned that we all could use a little help sometimes. I also learned that anyone can be a bully, as long as they can get away with it. And anyone can be a hero, as long as they have the courage to speak up.

 

The Power of Grace….

Grace. It’s such a beautiful word. Just the sound of it brings forth a sense of ease, elegance, and peace. Who wouldn’t want to experience grace? Maybe we felt like we had it at some point but lost it along the way. (I don’t know what happened to it….I know I left it around here somewhere). Perhaps we feel like we have been looking for it all of our lives. It’s possible that we don’t even know what we’re looking for, but intuitively know that something is missing. What is grace, anyway?

In my mind, grace is a feeling. It is a sense of confidence and well-being. It is about having a strong sense of self-awareness, and being comfortable in your own skin. You know how to set personal boundaries and how to cultivate healthy relationships. You respect yourself. You have the flexibility to move through life with an effortless flow, even when the going gets tough.

One of my favorite quotes is from a remarkable man named Moshe Feldenkrais. He said, “What I am after is not flexible bodies, but flexible brains. What I am after is to return each person to their human dignity.” Ahh, grace. It is a lovely word, and a powerful one as well. It’s also a wonderful feeling–one that returns you to your strength, power, and human dignity.

It was through life’s trial and tribulations and the most difficult chapters in my life that I discovered the power of grace. I will admit that it hadn’t always been easy. But I did find it, and I sure like the way it feels. And I hope I don’t lose it like I lose my car keys. Because, there is incredible power and grace in each and every one of us. As well as human dignity.

Age Is a Beautiful Thing

Age is a beautiful thing. Or, at least it can be, as long as you have the right attitude. I recently saw an advertisement for a clinic specializing in “Age Management Medicine.” Yikes! As if getting older is a disease state that needs to be managed. That certainly puts a negative spin on getting older. It’s also ridiculous, and it simply isn’t true.

What we believe is what we become. What we tell ourselves and what we hear from other people is what we eventually believe, even if it conflicts with our inherent belief system. I personally believe that we can all be fit, healthy, and vibrant, in every stage of life. Because what we believe is what we become.

It all begins with the right mindset. Staying positive, and blocking out some of the negative messages we hear from society, the media, even our friends and family is a great place to start. And pay attention to the people around you who are fabulous examples and role models that age isn’t something to be “managed.” It’s a beautiful process to be celebrated and enjoyed.

My favorite ballet teacher and mentor is still going strong and teaching six days a week at 71. Her energy and enthusiasm is boundless. I have a long time friend who bellies up to the barre with me at least four days a week for a professional level ballet class. She is 81, and she is amazing! My vibrant, energetic, and beautiful Aunt Stella was recently featured in her local newspaper for her remarkable accomplishments in bowling. She is 89 years young. Her youthful vitality is delightful to see, and she is an incredible role model. Not just for me, but for everyone who meets her.

Age is a number, not a disease. Getting older is inevitable. Getting old is a choice. At least, that’s what I believe. And, what we believe is what we become.

Build It, and They Will Come….

Build it, and they will come. Who doesn’t remember that famous line from the movie, “Field of Dreams?” All you have to do is have a vision, apply a lot of hard word, and dribble on a healthy dose of faith. Because, if you build it, they WILL come.

I have spent the past seven months working with a remarkable and talented team of professionals, building this new web site. It’s been a long journey, and a lot of work. I cannot speak for my amazing team, but as far as I am concerned, it has been well worth the time involved and the energy invested.

Seven and a half years ago, I launched my first web site. It was terrifying. Just putting myself “out there” was an overwhelming and uncomfortable experience for me. Apparently I got over it, and I have come a long way since then. Haven’t we all? If we aren’t trying new things, and getting out of our comfort zone, we stop growing. We become complacent. We stop learning. And, (dare I say it ?), we become old.

The key to youthful vitality is about putting yourself out there, learning new ways of moving, sensing, thinking, and feeling. It’s about keeping an open mind, and cultivating a spirit of interest and curiosity. It’s about building. Perhaps not a new website, but building new relationships, new connections, and discovering new and fun activities. It’s about never giving up on yourself, even when times are difficult and the going gets tough.

Keep building. it helps to make sure that you’re using the right tools and you have a great team behind you, no matter what you’re building. It certainly comes in handy. So, build it, and they will come.