Having two parents as teachers didn’t exactly set me aside from other kids, but learning was something that always seemed to be in the forefront. When I was younger, most of my lessons (like yours) came from text books while sitting in a classroom. As kids we are taught to learn subject like English, Math, Science, and History. In most cases, we take electives on subjects we find interesting or fun like Art or Spanish. In our school district, two of my sons were able to take classes in their field of college study — one took classes located at one of the local hospital and the other took classes at our zoo. That kind of experience and small class size allowed them to do things like be CNA certified before entering his senior year of high school and testifying in front of state senators about an issue to prevent mistreatment of animals.
But learning isn’t something just taught in the schools.
It doesn’t end when you walk across that stage or you move your tassel from your cap.
It doesn’t end when you get your first job, move into your first place, or when you get your first bill in the mail.
No, learning is something that never ends. It is on going.
“If you are not willing to learn, no one can help you. If you are determined to learn, no one can stop you.” – Unknown
I never believed I knew more than anyone else, but something happened to me six years ago and from it, not only have I learned a lot about myself, but about life in general. Some truths were easier to admit than others, but each one of them took me to places I had never been before. These lessons challenged me more than any Chemistry or Algebra 2 tests ever could, no matter how much studying I did.
One of the most difficult things I have ever had to do was to not run from a friendship I really wanted.
One I really needed.
I just didn’t know it at the time.
In some ways, I was forced to spend time with this woman I hardly knew and yet something inside told me to trust her.
Something told me that she was different…
That I was ready. (Seriously, I didn’t think so.)
Never did it cross my mind that her presence in my life would change my view on everything I knew (or thought I knew) about myself or alter the direction I would take from that point forward.
Never did I think that she would teach me more than I would have ever learned on my own.
Never did I believe that she would change my life for good.
These assessments are not in any particular order, but bear great importance to me for many different reasons. Perhaps you will find a lesson or two for yourself also.
- Staying safe prohibits true growth. If there was an award for the most careful, cautious girl EVER, I am pretty sure I would have won it. I did my very best to live behind walls I had spent years creating. When I felt uncomfortable, I would retreat into my own self until the uncomfortableness disappeared. I turned down opportunities I should have taken. I never allowed anyone to get too close to me. I was silent — even in my observations, I shied away from the spotlight. I let fear decide for me. For over 40 years, I ran from everything. I was really good at hiding who I really was and when you spend that much time building walls around everything you are afraid to show people, it takes some time to take it all down. Spending time with her made me go outside a comfort zone and as much as I hate to admit it, I tried to push her away. I tried for a year and a half. In the short time we have known each other, I have allowed myself to be more vulnerable than ever before. I am not so guarded that people never see my heart — in fact, they see it more now than ever. I love the person I am — the person I have always been — and am not afraid to live my life on my terms. Feeling optimistic, being positive, and seeing life with a new perspective has allowed me to replace my fear with excitement…my thoughts into actions…my dreams into reality. It has allowed me to embrace who I really am and allowed me to go places I could have never imagined. Fear can be overcome when someone is willing to step outside what they know.
- Every failure is one step closer to success. For years, I was afraid to be anything less than perfect. If there was a chance I would fail, I didn’t even try. I believed that the chance of experiencing a failure and someone seeing me stumble was a worse fate than death. The expectations I set for myself were nothing short of exceptional — no excuses allowed. I was afraid that every trip I made would be remembered forever and would someday come back to haunt me. Now, I understand that a single step — even if it turns out it is in the wrong direction — can eventually lead me to the path I seek. That with that mistake, I gained valuable knowledge I otherwise would not have. I needed to allow myself to stumble and trip so I could find my strength and courage. I began to view my blunder as a stepping stone that would eventually get me where I wanted to be. Now, I understand and accept that in order for me to achieve anything, there is a chance I will mess up. I have to forgive myself when that happens and get back up. Take the step towards your goal and
- Following my heart leaves no regrets. If I wasn’t winning the award for “the most careful and cautious girl ever”, I certainly would have won the trophy for “the biggest over thinker in the world.” I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I liked the stability. If the agenda was changed, I had a very hard time adapting to anything new. Most of the time, it wasn’t anything I could change either. I would be very angry at not being able to control the situation. I didn’t just need the road map — I wanted to be the one to draw it. And manipulate it on my terms. Little did I know that the best thing about when I stopped listening to what my mind wanted, I started listening to what my heart needed instead. And, boy, did I hear what it was saying! I had spent so much time protecting my heart, afraid of letting someone care for it tenderly, that even my trust in it had waned over the years. But asking your heart to speak for you when it never really has before is very intimidating. And I will admit it, VERY scary. This was brand new territory for me, yet I quickly learned that letting my heart speak was one of the best things ever. It prevented me from over thinking and instead allowed me to be in every moment. I began to feel more alive than ever before. Now, when I listen to my heart and allow it to be seen, I am not afraid of someone taking it and tossing it aside. I am committed to sharing what my heart feels and in doing so, my vulnerability to be exposed and open has (even inadvertently) given permission to others to do the same.
- Real love is worth fighting for…no matter how long it takes. Let’s just say that growing up I didn’t really know what love was, but somehow I knew what it wasn’t. Other than my husband and sons, I didn’t know what it was like to fight for love. To appreciate it for everything it was and everything it could be. To have a kind of love that you can’t forget, let alone try to live without. Especially once you have had it. For most of us, once in our lives, we have had our hearts broken. That feeling of rejection can make us feel less deserving of true love when it finally comes our way. We question it. We doubt it. In some ways, we might even fear it, wondering if we are truly deserving of such a love. Real love is patient and understanding. It is forgiving and absolute. It doesn’t change — no matter the distance or the time hearts spend apart. That kind of love is the where you refuse to walk away…when taking the “easy” road isn’t an option…when running and hiding from that love just isn’t allowed. You know what you have to do to fight for it. It means saying how you feel and allowing someone else to hear the words you can barely hear in your head, let alone leave your lips. It means going “all in” and trusting in each other to know that this kind of love is enough to get you through “anything and everything.” If that means you “block the door”, then you “BLOCK THE DOOR.” Once you fight through all the nervousness and fear, you end up better than you were. The love you now have is even more connected, more committed, and deeper than anything you have ever known before. Fighting not just to receive someone’s love but fighting for someone to receive mine has made your relationship stronger and you realize you are grateful for the willingness and choice to not let go.
- Life still has some plans for me I don’t know about yet! I like being in the “know” and I ask a lot of questions. It made me feel more comfortable to have something explained to me — even if it didn’t make sense to me, it kept my mind at ease. I like knowing the rational behind actions that are taken and the reasons behind them. (Remember…I was an over-thinker.) It helped me feel more connected to the ways things work. Without any warning, my life decided to test me in ways I never dreamed of — things I couldn’t explain. No matter how hard I tried to make it make sense, I just couldn’t. I felt pulled in one direction with no real justification about why I needed to go in that direction. The questions seemed to come out of nowhere and once again, I was left with no answers. Things have happened that cannot have an explanation that will make sense no matter how many times I share the stories. More recently, the smallest of gestures seem to be telling me something and because I believe that everything happens for a reason, I have to learn to accept that I may never know the reason and I am okay with the not knowing. Instead of not knowing what will happen next, I choose to be surprised by life now. I throw my hands up and “love the ride” as it takes me on the twists and turns life has for me.
Throughout my almost 48 years, I have learned a lot of things.
However, in the last six years, I have learned things that will allowed me to live my life inspired:
To be humbled by my continued yearning for growth.
To be grateful for the struggles that led me to my strength.
To be blessed by the words my heart wants to share.
To be courageous when fighting for real love.
To be excited for the life yet to unfold itself to me.
Life doesn’t choose what we learn…only we can do that. No doubt these lessons had made me feel more alive, be more engaged with the people I care about most, and shown me who I really am. These moments have all guided me when I have felt lost, reminded me of what really matters, and quieted my uncertainty.
These lessons have given me a sense of belonging and solidified the purpose I live with every day…to be better than I was the day before.
Michelle A. Homme 2016 ©