Friday, January 29, 2010

Take that, Failure

One of my post labels is "who put me in charge?" Much of the time I feel like I'm winging it, especially when it comes to raising the kids. Emotionally I feel like I'm in my mid-twenties (and that is being generous), so how the heck can I possibly be responsible for these two beautiful little souls? More often than I can count, I just want to throw up my hands and say "Seriously, kids, I really have no idea what I'm doing. Can you chuck out a few suggestions? Like a customer satisfaction survey or something?"

But there are some things I have learned over time. They don't have much to do with how to handle day-to-day life, not really. They won't help me answer a complicated question from my daughter about how gravity works, or what makes people fall in love. Over the course of my four decades on this earth, though, there are some things that I now believe to be true. They are the beliefs I fall back on, like a safety net, time and time again. They come from the people who have traveled the path before me, who have imparted their wisdom on to me:

~ Time heals. No matter how badly I feel at any given moment, it will pass.

~ What other people think of me is none of my business.

~ Fear is at the root of most negative feelings. Anger, insecurity, hate, jealousy, petulance: all born out of fear. Fear of rejection, of success or failure, of being abandoned, ignored or misunderstood. Face the fear and healing can begin.

~ If I rely on other people for a sense of self-worth, I'm going to come up short. It's an inside job.

~ To be a the best person I can be, I have to love myself first.

~ I won't learn a damn thing if I don't make mistakes. On the other side of pain and adversity is growth, if I'm paying attention.

~ No matter how much I want to, I can't change the past. I will never, ever have a better past. The future is out of my hands. All I have is now.

~ When in doubt, choose kindness. Treat people with kindness, even those who are rude to you - not because they are kind, but because you are.

And, finally, a quick story behind my favorite saying. These seven words have given me strength time and again. Last year I was in a strange city, full of fear and insecurity about a difficult thing I had to do the next day. I hadn't eaten in days, because I was so anxious. It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. It was about 7pm, and to pass time I decided to head out to the local bookstore. I asked the concierge where the closest bookstore was, and he gave me some sketchy directions. I ventured out onto the sidewalk, my head swimming with fear, thinking that I could just get on the next plane home and forget about what I had to do the next day. I followed the directions exactly, only to find an old boarded up storefront. No bookstore anywhere . It was just about the last straw... how was I going to go back to the hotel and face a long night of fear?

A man walked by, and he caught my eye - he was just strolling along, whistling contentedly to himself, taking in the city sights. Dressed in an old worn suit, with a knit hat jammed down over gorgeous dreadlocks, he carried a book of some sort in his right hand, stuffed with notations and papers. He stopped to wait for the light to turn green so he could cross the street. I ventured up to him - he just had this content, wise aura about him - and asked him if he could direct me to the nearest bookstore.

He stopped whistling and flashed me a huge smile. "There used to be one right there," he said. "But it closed down a while back. I'm afraid the nearest one is several blocks away." He winked at me and started whistling again.

"Oh, okay, thanks anyway. I just thought I'd ask," I said. He must have seen something in my expression, because he stopped whistling and looked me dead in the eye.

"It's alright, Miss. Nothing beats a failure but a try, right?" The light turned green and he strolled off, whistling, leaving me standing there with my mouth hanging open.

His words rang in my head, and suddenly what I had to do the next day didn't seem so daunting. At least I was out there swinging, right?

Nothing beats a failure but a try.


  1. Fantastic story, Ellie. A good motto.

    I also like "when in doubt choose kindness". I don't think I do that when I am treated unkindly. I am going to try that today. Thanks for a good start to my Friday!

  2. Love this.. all so true.. and jotting down the "nothing beats a failure but a try" keeping that one in front of me! :)

  3. great story! what a wise man..

  4. That is so true and just what I needed to hear today. Now off to submit a story that i was going to delete.


  5. I'm going to steal all of your sayings and apply them to myself.

    Especially this one: ~ If I rely on other people for a sense of self-worth, I'm going to come up short. It's an inside job.

  6. These are great beliefs. I'm going to print them out and put them on my bulletin board as a reminder. Thanks.

  7. Wow that made me cry.its been a rough morning and my insecurity's and fears were making me panic.Thank you for sharing such a deep part of yourself,it certainly touched me.

  8. So true.
    What a gift he was to you. And to us now.

  9. These are great beliefs. I'm going to print them out and put them on my bulletin board as a reminder. Thanks.