It was the morning of my 8th birthday. I was in the 2nd grade and my life was shaping up to be pretty much the best in history.
I was lucky enough to have a teacher that was wonderful and fun. My favorite thing she did was dedicate every second Thursday afternoon to learning a cooking skill. We prepared and shared treats right in the classroom. I was always so excited to see what we would make!
I was also a Girl Scout in the local Brownie troop. We gathered in a church building across the street from my house on Thursday evenings and learned about growing flowers, the town’s history, and crafts. It was so my jam. And my favorite classmates were there with me so we always giggled and talked.
And every day after I walked home from school, Full House was on. I would sit on the couch enjoying the show while I smelled the most delicious dinners being prepared in the kitchen by my mom.
And it was my birthday. It was going to be the best birthday ever… because I had convinced my mom I was sick (with the old thermometer on the light bulb trick- sorry mom!). I was so proud of myself for thinking up such a scheme that morning. I was going to be comfy all day watching TV and I wouldn’t have to practice cursive or do any word problems!
I watched from under a blanket on the couch as my siblings got ready for school with a secret grin on my face that I masked with a cough every time my mom walked past. I was a genius!
After the first school bell would have rung and before The Price is Right started, I remembered with regret that not only was it my birthday, it was also the 2nd Thursday of the month! It was cooking day at school! And it was Brownie meeting night- where they were going to celebrate my birthday! And there I was stuck at home watching Bob Barker talk about neutering pets.
I was missing out on two of my favorite things because I thought being lazy and ditching out of responsibility would be better. Let me tell you, the anguish I felt that day was acute. Even watching Full House was a hollow moment.
That evening, one of my classmates knocked on my door. She had just come from the Brownie meeting across the street. She had brought me a cupcake from the party and my assignments from school. Word problems. Ugh. And a beautiful cupcake to hint at the joys I had missed out on. What a foolish choice I had made!
Learning to make good decisions and gain foresight is part of growing up- like my 9 month old who this morning learned it was not such a great idea to take a bite out of an onion he stole from the pantry- but as adults, do we still make these kinds of poor choices?
Do we allow ourselves to be lazy, or procrastinate, and miss out on the really great things in life as a result- things that are maybe earned with hard work or putting ourselves out there?
Do we postpone the things that could fill our lives with joy because actually doing them is scary, messy, and imperfect?
Anne Lamott has put it this way: “What if you wake up some day, …and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life?… It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.”
If you find that you are sitting comfortably on the couch of life, armed with the excuses that keep you there, I challenge you to get up.
Define what you want out of life and don’t let yourself make poor excuses. Trust me, life is a great adventure- you don’t want to miss out.
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