“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”- Abraham Lincoln
Becoming a mother isn’t, in my opinion, a biological or a legal event. It’s a choice made with every action. Mothers build us, piece by piece. The tools they use differ. No two mothering methods are the same. Every mother would express what she wants for her children differently. But underlying all these differences remains a simple fact: Our mothers want the best for us.
Often our biggest fans and sometimes our worst critics, mothers tell us truth even when we don’t want to hear it. They are the masters of the teachable moment. For example, my mother warned me that riding a Big Wheel in my favorite dress wouldn’t turn out well. When I shredded it under my plastic tires, just as she’d predicted, she didn’t scold me. Instead, she talked to me about cause and effect, how our actions have consequences and why. Many other such moments populated my childhood. Here are four gifts my mother gave me:
Jenelle Masterson, self-described do-gooder, recently saved a squirrel from a terrible fate.
Her squirrel story begins with a cold. Feeling yucky, she dropped her twin, third-grade boys off at school and looked forward to a long nap. As she pulled into her driveway, she noticed a little grey lump on the sidewalk. Curious, she parked her car and walked over to see what it was. A dead squirrel lay on the busy sidewalk where children regularly walked. Jenelle thought she ought to move it. But then she noticed something else. . . he was still breathing. Continue reading “The Art of Goodness”
At six foot four, broad-shouldered and bearded, Joseph Vasterling looks every bit like the guy who earned a scholarship to play football at a now Division 1 school. At a practice before his freshman year even began, his hip flexor, the ghost of an old injury, screamed. His football career on the line, his coach asked, “Are you hurt or are you injured?” The implication was clear; if you’re hurt, rub some dirt on it and get back out there, but if you’re injured . . . goodbye scholarship. He walked back out onto the practice field under the blazing South Dakota sun only to watch the running back collapse. Joe decided then that football, a game he excelled at with minimal effort, wasn’t for him. He called his parents and boarded a bus for home. On that day and many since, he proved he has more in common with a reclusive 19th century poet than he does with a stereotypical jock. Continue reading “Doing the Little Things Right”
We told you for months that I was leaving for college, but it wasn’t until you were looking through my bottles of shampoo, laundry detergent, silverware, and soap that you finally understood. You turned around and crawled on my bed next to me. “I don’t want you to go to college.” Your six-year-old voice cracks with tears. Then, I had to hug you and let you cry. You didn’t know this but I was crying along with you. Technically, I was tearing up. But I wouldn’t be crying if I hadn’t tried so hard not to. Continue reading “Saying Goodbye (For Now)”
Getting from here to there could be a harrowing journey; drivers honked, tires squealed, and traffic lights were mere suggestions. Angela did’t like traveling in her city. But that wasn’t the only problem. In the 1990s, members of a drug cartel moved into her quiet, middle class neighborhood in Santiago de Cali, Colombia. Someone was assassinated across the lane from her house.
Weeks after the birth of her first child in 1946, Dolores Meurer Reed climbed into the cockpit of the Navy surplus airplane she and husband Bob bought with the last of their newlywed nest-egg. Not long after her wheels left earth, the instruments failed–every single one of them. “I landed it on fear alone.” She promised herself she wouldn’t fly again. At least, not until her babies had all grown up. Flying, her capricious and complicated first-love, kept trying to kill her. Continue reading “What Doesn’t Kill You”
“You know that scene in Runaway Bride? The one where she doesn’t know how she likes her eggs?” Melissa asks me.
“Sure,” I reply.
“I always think of that scene. That was me until last year.” Mel leans in, her black hair framing her face, “I chose never to really make a choice. The path that had been laid out for me, had become ME.”
Get good grades. Do well in sports. Get promoted at work. These were the stars Mel had been invited by well-meaning family and friends to steer her life by. Content to follow this advice for the most part, Mel smiled and maximized whatever life served up. That is, until the layoffs began. Continue reading “How the Threat of Losing Her Job Set One Woman Free”
A little more than four years ago, a leader of his church pulled Doug Timothy aside for a pleasant but purposeful conversation. Doug wondered if he would be asked to serve the church community in some way, perhaps as a teacher or a youth advisor. But the leader had a different, far scarier, role for young Doug in mind. Continue reading “Leadership Should Feel Like This”
In 2012, when a new job, divorce, putting my dog to sleep, and selling my house had turned my life upside down, I had a choice: become an ostrich, head in the sand, or embrace the disruption as opportunity.
Fear of stagnation and regret overcame fear of newness and change; my “Say Yes” phase had begun. But I needed help. A near lifelong practitioner of saying yes, Julia wordlessly offered me mentorship in the art of openness.