Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines
When I write about life lessons, I think that every experience in life can be somehow written as a lesson. It is almost as if everything that happens to us is meant to teach us a lesson that will guide us on our way forward.
The word “lesson” makes most people see themselves sitting in a class with a teacher talking at the front. Many times, it brings up extra homework and fear about being tested on subjects learned. What a shame, because life is a long lesson, with lots of work (at home and outside of home) and daily tests!
Believe it or not, about 20 years ago, I managed to get a group of kids (1½ to 4 years old) to think that life can become a great lesson if only we ask the right question. For them, there were no failures in life, only opportunities to learn. They were so young and uncorrupted by life’s heartaches, I could convince them to think whatever I wanted, so I did!
Later on, I traveled around the world with my program and realized that our perception of life depends on our definition of happiness, knowledge, curiosity, success and failure.
What have I learned today?
If you want to know how those kids felt, look at every experience as fun and learning. Instead of asking “How was it?” ask “What have I learned from it?” Try this every day before going to sleep and allow your mind to extract the learning from the events, thoughts and emotions of the day.
We learn many things all day, every day. Writing down your learnings is a good way to remember them better. Keep a notepad next to your bed and write down your answers to the question “What have I learned today?”
Today, I want to share with you (some of) my notes from this month. I wrote them on notepads not only next to my bed but in the car, in my bag and in my diary. I hope my notes contain some useful learnings for you too:
- Every time my son (Tsoof) performed, every time he wrote music, every time he played his guitar or practiced for his big audition, I learned that pride and satisfaction are my rewards for waiting such a long time for him to be born.
- When I went to give a talk at the festival my daughter (Eden) helped organize, everyone came to me and told me “You have the most wonderful daughter in the world”. I learned that, although I did not need other people to tell me that, it made me feel so proud!
- When I went this month to meet the teacher of my youngest daughter (Noff), I discovered her class would not have enough time to cover all the required material for the national exam and I learned (again) that the responsibility for my kids’ education was, is and will always be mine.
- At the same meeting, the teacher asked me if we were coming to see Noff dancing with all the year level and I said “Of course!” She said she wanted to make sure, because Noff would receive a special dance award. I learned that she asked it because many parents just don’t come. We would have gone anyway.
- After discovering my husband (Gal) had a skin cancer and having a stressful month, I learned (again) the importance of emotional strength and good attitude. I learned (again) that life throws many tests at us and we are much stronger than we think we are. Every time we get up in the morning, we have passed that test.
- During the surgery, time in the hospital, doctors and more doctors, I learned to appreciate the value of health insurance. Thank God money was not an item on our worries list.
- While Gal was recovering from his surgery and friends came over, I learned how important it is to have friends and how valuable they are in times of joy, but also times of trouble.
- Every second I worked with “Together for Humanity” to promote living in harmony, I learned how much I love being around kids. I learned they give me strength and I love them so much, I probably get from them more than I give them.
- This month, we met a new family. They came over for dinner and we had a wonderful time together. I learned that I love meeting new people. I had a chance to meet so many new people this year, it has made me very happy.
- Both of my sisters were pregnant. One was in hospital for more than 8 weeks, counting hours and days to keep her precious pregnancy and avoid having a premature baby. The other was suffering pain and sleepless nights and considered herself lucky. I learned that when I see someone going through bad things, it makes it easier to pass my own tests.
- I learned that worrying about my sisters from far away makes me feel helpless and I am not very good with feeling helpless. How can I help if I feel so helpless? I need help myself!
- In over two months of worrying about my sisters, I learned that my own scars never disappear. I could feel the tension building up in me and all the demons ran loose again. I needed to meditate a lot!
- I learned that being on Skype two to three times a day with my sisters makes me miss them badly and questions (again) my decision to live on the other side of the world from them.
- After a year of not using our Jacuzzi, we wrote the yearly goals with the kids and Eden wrote she would love to fix the Jacuzzi and use it more often. With her encouragement, we did! We used it move than 10 times in the last 2 months. Now, every time we do this, Tsoof brings his guitar and plays and we sing and we are so happy, so I learned that asking the kids to share their goals and desires with us contributes a lot to our relationship as a family.
- This month, Gal and I decided to buy Tsoof a music editing program and to hide it from him until we got it from overseas. I learned that it is very hard for me to keep a secret, but it was well worth it just to see his reaction when we showed him our gift.
- It took me over 3 weeks to organize a professional development training day, but it was very, very successful so I learned that I’m really good at this!
- I did a presentation about acceptance and stereotyping at the Ideas Festival in Brisbane for 220 kids with two of my team members. The kids were so cooperative I learned that my work helps me live my purpose of making a difference every day. I learned (again) that education is a great way to make a making difference.
- I managed to tell jokes on stage at the Ideas Festival and I hoped my kids could hear me. They think (and I agree) that I am not funny at all. I learned that I can be.
- I received a notice about fees for my kids’ activities at school. I compared what I needed to pay to how happy my kids were at those activities and I learned that I am lucky and happy to be able to allow them to experience so many wonderful programs at school.
- My laptop is now one year old. This month, I discovered it cannot burn CDs (though it should be able too), but since I had never tried, I did not know how long it had been like that. I learned that, I need to use all the functions of everything I buy in the first month.
- Just planning our camping for the school break made me so happy I have learned that looking forward to something fun can be a great motivator.
- Every time I get into the laundry room and look at the shelf unit we have built, which makes the room look so clean and organized, I am happy and proud. From the long quest to organize the laundry room, including attempts to paint the doors, bring in another closet and use a screen wall, I learned that trying one more time and then one more time is the right way to find solutions.
- When I sat next to a group of people talking about the hassles of having the kids at home during school break, I learned that, although there are challenges to working at home, it provides the huge advantage of looking forward to spending time differently with your kids during the holidays.
- We watched our kids’ videos from 11 and 19 years ago, which showed the kids themselves, as well as their little sister, what they were like as young kids. I learned (again) the importance of making videos of your kids. The memories of every smart thing they did and their first words do fade and videos are a great way to bring them back to life. I also learned that it was an awesome experience for 7-year-old Noff to see her siblings, who are 7 and 12 years old older than her, in diapers, taking their first walking steps.
- One of my sisters’ friends, who is 38 years old, decided to have a baby without a partner. Her family is not talking to her and her siblings and mom keep minimal contact with her for fear of her dad’s anger. She asked her mom to come and help her after the birth and her baby, but her mom said she could not come. When my mom heard this, she called my sister’s friend and told her she would come for the first few days and help her out. I learned that my mom, who is 70 years old, has a heart of gold (and I am so happy).
- This month, I finished writing my best book yet, called “Reflections”. It is a book I have been writing for over 25 years. When I signed it with a sense of achievement and accomplishment, I learned the importance of allowing myself time to grow and evolve. I learned that some of my lifelong projects require purpose and persistence and that in hindsight, everything that happened to me, good or bad, contributes to my life story.
- From reading the many supporting comments on “Family Matters“, I learned that making an effort to write and share every day is certainly worth it!
My learning list for this month was as big as the one from last month and I learned that my learnings are the result of the challenges, successes and joys I experience. To survive a challenge, I ask myself “What can I learn from this?” To maintain and leverage success, I ask myself “What can I learn from this?”
Not everything in life is beautiful and easy, but everything holds a lesson – a message of encouragement or a warning. When circumstances speak, all you have to do is listen.
Until next time, I wish you great, empowering lessons.