It is amazing the lessons you can learn from the most unlikely sources and from the most mundane situations. For me, today’s unexpected lesson came while cutting my front yard and my backyard. It was a gentle reminder that those “light bulb” moments are usually not accompanied by a swell of dramatic music, an earth shattering event, or an emotionally charged conversation with someone. They tend to come when you least expect it, but when you need the “light bulb” to turn on the most.
As I confessed in my “Are You Sure Those Are Weeds?!” post, I do not have a “green thumb” at all, but I do excel in the art of cutting the grass and raking the leaves. There is something almost meditative and relaxing about both activities, and I usually lose myself in music and thought, much like I do when I run, when I engage in both of these outdoor chores. Today, I only had my thoughts to keep me company, as my iPod needed to be recharged, and I was pleasantly surprised what good company my thoughts turned out to be, especially after letting negative thoughts overwhelm me earlier this week.
Thanks to the heat and lack of rain this summer, the grass has not been growing at its usual rapid pace, so, the last time I cut it was three weeks ago. The lawn didn’t look bad, but I really wanted to cut it this weekend while I had the time and before the remnants of Hurricane Isaac moved in today. So, this morning, I woke up raring to go, but as I looked at the forecast, my motivation and enthusiasm were dampened by both the dark clouds lingering in the sky and the increasing rain percentage chances being bandied about by the local and national meteorologists. After looking at the evidence before me, I dejectedly decided not to cut the grass, but this nagging feeling wouldn’t go away. So, I decided to forge ahead with my plan to cut the grass. What was the worst thing that could happen? That I would get wet? Well, I could change into dry clothes and be no worse for the wear. That I wouldn’t finish cutting the grass? Well, I could finish at a later time and, at least, I would have gotten some of it finished, which is better than nothing.
As I cut the grass, I felt a sense of pride, as I do every time I do a task that used to be done by ex-husband, and a sense of accomplishment for getting this task, which has hung over my head all week, under way. With positive thoughts bouncing around in my head and the drone of the lawn mower ringing in my ears, I noticed that the clouds gave way to partly sunny skies, and a nice breeze cut through the heat and humidity. I finished cutting the lawn without a single drop of rain in sight, and I even was able to rake up the already falling leaves for an hour. After finishing the yard work and moving my work indoors, this momentum continued to build and allowed me to decimate my “things to do” list. It also kept the anxiety which has stalked me this week at bay and made me feel good about my decision to proceed, even when the weather odds seemed stacked against me. As I wind down my day, I am happy with what I accomplished and feel very satisfied and at ease indeed.
The greatest lesson from this seemingly innocuous task and threat of inclement weather is that it caused me to reflect on how often I let odds, percentages, statistics, etc. from experts, family, and friends derail the plans I have made and deter me from reaching my dreams and goals. I like to think that I am a fairly motivated person who is committed to both talking the talk and walking the walk, but I also know that too often I seek the approval of others and/or expert advice to support a decision I have made or a dream/goal I am pursuing. I am not suggesting that every decision should be made in a vacuum, as wise counsel and further knowledge sometimes are warranted to make an informed decision or to know how to proceed effectively and efficiently. I am referring to something else that is less tangible.
Have you ever had a goal or a dream that resonated with you to the very core of your being, even if it seemed impossible and was not widely supported by others? Maybe, I am alone in this, but I certainly have. Throughout the years, I definitely have had a number of goals and dreams that I achieved that defied the odds, and if I had believed the odds and/or the expert advice and opinions of others, I never would have taken the risk and subsequently succeeded.
Some of the most poignant examples of defying the odds involve my daughters. My oldest daughter was conceived after five years of extensive infertility treatment, and although the odds were with me at first, due to my young age and good health, they quickly plummeted with each passing year and with each failed medical intervention. By the time I decided to do my 5th in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle, I knew the odds were slim that it finally would work, and based on the low odds and mounting failed attempts, my Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) and I agreed that this would be my final IVF cycle. It was a tough decision to make, as I was emotionally, physically, and spiritually bankrupt at that point. Yet, something told me that I had to try one more time, and on September 30, 2000, my RE called with the news, “You are pregnant!”.
Because of our infertility issues and everything it took to conceive our first daughter, my RE told my then husband and I that we had less than a 0.5% chance of ever conceiving a child on our own. So, you can imagine our surprise and excitement when we were able to get pregnant without medical intervention and for free! From the moment of her conception, our second daughter has defied the odds, and she continued to do so upon making her grand entrance into the world when she arrived 8 weeks before her due date. All of the experts prepared us for a child who would have significant developmental delays, and we were so thrilled to have our second miracle that we did not care about any challenges that she may have had and knew we would address them and help her grow and thrive. We simply loved her. Again, she was not aware of the odds, as she reached every milestone either early or on time, and her heart condition was treated successfully as an infant, leaving her with no chronic health issues. After this impressive start to life, you can understand why I NEVER doubt her when she shares a goal or dream she has. She may change her mind, but no odds and no-one will ever discourage her!
Of course, sometimes, the odds, percentages, and statistics of the experts in our life are absolutely correct, which depending on the circumstances and your perspective, can be positive or negative. I certainly have not beaten the odds every time I set out to challenge them, and my intuition definitely is not always spot on, as I have had to acknowledge recently regarding one dream in particular. That said, if I had not at least tried to reach the goal/dream I had, I would not have known if it were possible or not and would have missed out on the lessons and opportunities that only “failure” can offer. Sometimes, a failed attempt is just a first attempt, and a failed attempt is better than a missed opportunity to make an attempt.
The first of a series of rain showers arrived late this afternoon, and because I had completed what I set out to do and then some, I was able to enjoy both the storm and my achievements. The best part was my youngest daughter’s discovery of a rainbow and our conversation that followed about the magic of rainbows and what lies beyond the rainbow. Had it not been for her keen eye, I would have missed it altogether, as I was focused on the next task at hand. I was reminded of the opening lyrics from the beautiful song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”:
“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
There’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream,
Really do come true.”
That’s another story . .
Categories: That's Another Story