Brave Heart

Adaline, my 6-year-old granddaughter, jumped off the diving board at their neighborhood pool for the first time last Saturday, paddled to the ladder by herself, got out and said “That was awesome! Can I do it again?” And she did, many times. (Her mother was in the water close by.)

She also tried diving a couple of times and, of course, belly flopped. We adults all flinched, but she thought that was awesome, too.

Do you remember that feeling of accomplishment when you tried something new and did it? Maybe riding a bike or roller skating? Hitting a baseball or kicking a soccer goal for the first time? Playing a song on the piano or the the violin?

When was the last time you tried something new? When was the last time you were that excited and proud of yourself?

When was the last time you tried something new, belly flopped, and still thought it was fun?

At what point in life do we begin to censor ourselves? To protect ourselves from embarrassment or judgment? To care more about what other people think than about the thrill of just trying?

Who decides what is success and what is failure?

I don’t have all those answers.

What I do know is that as I’ve gotten older, I care less about what other people think and more about figuring out what feels right for me.

I was the “good girl,” the responsible kid, the rule-follower most of my life. I was teacher’s pet in 5th grade. (Please teachers, don’t ever do that to a kid.) I started to move out of that role in my 40’s and 50’s. I developed a smart-ass sense of humor that not everyone gets to hear. I found a faith that gives me confidence to be my real self. I try new things that feel a bit risky.

When I decided to stop coloring my gray hair in my 50’s, I felt daring and different in a good way. Then a few years later, I got purple and red glasses. They go with my hair. I like to to shake things up occasionally, do the unexpected.

My next challenge to myself is starting a writing group at the local day center for the homeless. I’m nervous, but excited. My friend, Shana, who works there, says I’ll be fine. What I know now that I didn’t 20 years ago is if I’m not fine, I can stop. It’s a volunteer job, my choice.

There is freedom in knowing I have choices in my life. I can take care of myself and be available for others, too.

I like being older these days. I like being a “wise elder” with younger people. After church yesterday, a young dad told me he still uses a suggestion I made at a Parents of Teens workshop a couple of years ago. That feels wonderful!

I hope Adaline always remembers that glow of accomplishment, especially when hard things come along, like multiplication and fractions and fickle friends. If she can jump off a diving board into water where she can’t touch the bottom at 6 years old, she can do anything!

I want to be like Adaline when I grow up.

 

 

 

Published in: on June 6, 2016 at 3:12 pm  Comments (7)  
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