Lessons from a 1 year old.

A couple weeks ago I got to spend a few days with my nephew in Seattle. He’s the best. I hate living so far away from him and not being able to see him grow every day, but I cherish the time I do get with him. He’s so fun and it is fun to see the world through his eyes and all of the ways he continues to grow. I was there the week or so after he really started walking, so that was a fun time too to see him learn this new skill and take the world by storm in a new way.

Today is his first birthday (!!) so I figured it was appropriate to dedicate this post to him and what he has taught me. When I was spending time with him, I realized there’s a lot we can learn from a 1 year old. Since I love to make lists, I decided to make a list of life lessons from a 1 year old.

  1. Sometimes we just need to fall and trying to help can hurt more. Since he was just learning to walk, he fell…a lot. As someone who loves him and never wants to see him hurt, of course my reaction was to reach out and catch him or try to soften his fall, but I realized after awhile that, often times, that made him fall harder. (Sorry Jake and Em). Usually when he lost his balance and caught himself he was fine…he popped right up, ready to keep on walking like it was no big thing. I realized how often we can try to help someone or try to break their fall or fix it when they really don’t need our help. Sometimes helping can hurt and sometimes people need to fall on their own.
  2. Joy can be found in the simple things. My nephew and sis-in-law were in Michigan recently at her grandparent’s house and he loved this spoon he found so he got to take it back to Seattle with him. He loves a spoon…he also spent a lot of time entertained by my little shampoo bottle. These are not big, flashy, or expensive things, but simple, every day items. I think too often we get sidetracked by thinking that life is meant to be big and flashy, when joy and beauty is often found in the simple and every day.
  3. When in doubt…turn to wonder. Babies have so much to learn. Have you ever thought about all the things that we learn throughout life? That at one point you had to learn how to walk, learn to talk, to eat by yourself and learn how the things around you work. Sometimes I would see him look at something or hear something that he wasn’t sure about and then he would toddle over to check it out. Babies don’t have all the answers because they don’t know much yet, so they’re constantly turning to wonder and to curiosity. At some point in life, we lose this, we think we have all the answers or shouldn’t have any doubts, but that’s not reality…what would it look like if we turned to wonder more often? If we let ourselves do the work to figure things out and if we can’t figure them out, just turn to wonder and rest in the fact that we don’t have to know it all.
  4. Sometimes all the people in your life want is for you to show them love. He is a very active 1 year old…he isn’t about the cuddling life. Em would sit him on the edge of the couch every morning to wake me up and I just wanted to cuddle him, but he pushed away and wanted to be off exploring. I mean…I get it, there’s a lot to see out there! He doesn’t know any better, but it made me think about how much we want the people in our life to show us love, so are we returning the favor? Go hug someone. Go tell someone you love and appreciate them. It matters.
  5. Trust in who you follow. My nephew adores his mom and dad. He doesn’t hesitate to take their hand and walk around with them. When we put him down the slide, whoever was at the bottom would catch him and he hasn’t learned yet that maybe that person down there won’t catch me. He trusts in his parents and the people who dearly love him. I follow Jesus, but I don’t think I always trust him…not like a child trusts his mom or his dad. It’s a lesson I have to continually be reminded of.

So Happy Birthday buddy…you’re only 1 and you’re already teaching the world so much! I think we all need to strive to be more like little children and the world may become a more beautiful place.

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     Seriously…is he not the cutest? Such a cool kid. 🙂

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Painting.

I really don’t like to do things I’m not good at. My long-running involvement with sports coming to an abrupt end, my ability to get out of any required art class through school, playing it safe rather than taking the risk, the list could go on with examples of things I quit, didn’t even try or managed to avoid just because I reached a point where I didn’t feel like I did it with excellence, so what’s the point in trying? I thought it was best to just stick with what I’m good at and the terror I felt with the thought of failing was crippling. This is something I’ve been trying to unlearn the last couple of years.

Yesterday, I went to one of those places where you paint pottery and I laughed at myself about how much anxiety this used to cause me. Because for real, I’m not a very good painter. I’m just not the best artist. I am too impatient to wait for the paint to try, my hand shakes a little when I try to write words and I eventually get bored so I lose concentration and go from wishing it was perfect to if it’s good enough, that works for me. I would get so irritated that my piece didn’t turn out how I thought it would. I would stare at everyone else’s pieces and get annoyed that they looked great and they were so creative. Yesterday was different though.

I knew that painting wasn’t my strength, I knew this wasn’t something I was excellent at, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t enjoy it. I decided to just put any expectations away…except for the expectation that my piece would probably not turn out how i wanted it to, and enjoy the process. It was a completely different experience. Come to find out…I really enjoy painting, I really enjoy doing something artistic, yes, I might get a little impatient, lose concentration and my final product is not something I could sell on etsy, but it doesn’t matter because I did it. I enjoyed the process of creating something.

How would our lives look if instead of always aiming for perfection we trusted the process of growth and didn’t make perfection the goal? How would our lives look if instead of always playing it safe and sticking with what we’re good at, we took a risk and put ourselves out there to figure out that even if we’re not great at something, we may still enjoy it? How would our lives look if instead of looking at the people next to us wishing we were as successful as they are, we appreciated their work and their excellence and celebrated their success?

I think a lot of freedom can come from letting go of perfection and a fear of failure and replacing that with the truth that really no one and nothing is perfect and we’re all going to fail at something.

Freedom comes from trusting in the process, from finding the courage to take the risk, from celebrating others successes, and from realizing we can still enjoy something even if we’re not good at it. I choose freedom.