Pain and Progress

I guess I’m a little preoccupied with time these days, how I spend it, where it goes, how to get the most out of every minute. As I stood watching Lauren’s beach practice this morning, I counted my blessings that I still get to do what she’s doing, in some form, with a few more aches and a lot more warm up necessary. Sometimes I’m hard on myself as I try to grow my writing and coaching business but instead I am headed out to play. I should be writing, learning, looking for new coaching opportunities. I stop myself though. Volleyball brings me so many things… joy, connection, new neural pathways, challenge, and all of this equals sustainable growth and energy to stay consistent with the work it takes to find the next step to deep meaning in life, and then the vocation comes from there. 

Lauren introduced me to the grad assistant/player on their team… a real human, newly engaged, 25 year old athlete, and we chatted about her major and what she wants to do in this life. As she walked away, I glanced at Lauren, looking almost as mature and the same as this player…

“I was her age when I had you.” I said, filled with disbelief. 

At that age, I was filled with so much naive optimism, and looking back on it, so much desire to control outcomes. I lived carefully thinking I could keep it all on track with my good deeds and carefully assessed plan of action. I didn’t know at that age that the freedom I was looking for lies in surrendering to the outcome in any situation and committing relentlessly to my process.  

And now we’re sitting here, twenty years passed in a flash and my life looking so different than I had envisioned at 25. It blows my mind. My confidence has wavered over the years and my sense of urgency has been challenged as I build a business realizing I have spent the better part of these last 20 years being “just a mom”.  But then, in this moment, sitting here with her, I am filled with the biggest sense of meaning and accomplishment. She’s confident, coachable, real, and has a strong sense of herself. She makes mistakes but doesn’t let them define her, we talk about them openly, she has empathy for the situations going on around her, and she trusts her gut first.

One of the greatest gifts of parenting is to see qualities in your kids emerge that took you a little longer to figure out. 

After spending a day in Seattle on Friday with Compete to Create, I’m chewing on the wisdom that I have gained over the past five years listening to the Finding Mastery podcast and seeing the threads of that podcast be stitched together over this amazing eight hour conversation how the best version of ourselves is grounded in a mindful life . 

Awareness is the double edge sword of tragedy and challenge. We learn much more about ourselves when the going gets tough than when everything is coming up roses.

The mindful life is full of reframing, and one of the silver linings I have found is that as much as we don’t want to see people in pain, especially our own children, there is a genuine reality that comes through a person’s eyes when they have been tested and emerged stronger. I spent most of my young life, definitely the part when I was Lauren’s age, thinking I wasn’t tough enough to handle hard, waiting for the shoe to drop, maybe even looking for someone to take care of me because I wasn’t so sure I would be able to do it myself. I’ve worked through a lot of guilt having put my kids through a divorce and watching them navigate pain, of course with guidance, but it’s difficult nonetheless. What I see emerging, from my optimists perspective, especially out of my two oldest who are so close to adulthood, is an empathetic understanding that people struggle and yet are also capable of so much. They see what it takes to surrender what they can’t control, acknowledge their feelings even when it’s hard, and work from what is. Although they are still teenagers, the capacity I have seen them gain to meet people where they are will serve them for the rest of their lives.

I’ve said it before, I wish there was something that inspires growth the way pain does, but to date I haven’t found it. So even though I fight loneliness on this road that I’m on, and the fear that I won’t find the deepest connection that I am looking for, the real meaning, and the example I want to live is found in the surrender to my story, trusting my gut and seeing where it leads, and knowing that through pain, I am proud of what has emerged. So today I resolve to keep spending my time the way I have been and stay committed to my process, I’m proud of what I see.

Life is messy, but so good in so many moments. Be present, lean in, and trust the process.