Open Mind Without Inserting Foot

The only source of knowledge is experience.~ Albert Einstein

Oh, this quote could take me down so many roads…from watching new parents struggle with the new normal in their lives, hearing stories of success from the families I help support in the education system, guiding my own children as they journey to adulthood. To me knowledge is hard-won through experience. You can read books (an experience), become involved in something (more experience) or try something new (experience). It’s all in the perspective.

I wonder sometimes if the quality of the experience affects the value of the knowledge. If my school teacher (read college professor) hasn’t worked directly with elementary age students in over 10 years, how valuable is their experience today? Does the new influx of information add or detract from previously learned knowledge? That’s probably too philosophical and abstract, which means it’s best filed under keep it in my head for now.

Tomorrow, I will present my knowledge, gained through research and personal experience, to an individual who may or may not be receptive to the information. I’m no professional in the field I’m presenting and the individual is. My task is to make this information palatable so the professional can see and think from my perspective. Am I the only one who plans out these things?

I doubt it. When the message is near and dear, we all think about the best way to convince others we have at least part of the answer. For some, it’s a matter of pride. For others it’s seriously questioning the established “chain of command.” You need look no further than your news casts or social media platforms to see this playing out on an hourly basis right now.

I’m just hoping that if I leave big enough breadcrumbs, this professional will follow the trail and consider what I’m saying. I’m hoping the individual sets aside the need to be right and recognizes that I am the most invested person in the process and therefore the most devoted to the outcome. I’m hoping the individual’s prejudices can be set aside long enough for my message to be heard. That’s a lot of ifs and hopes to expect.

The next time you find yourself trying to present information, think about your audience. What can you do to make sure your voice is heard? Take the time to prepare. This applies to school, work, recreational activities and social lives. Give some leeway in your interpretations to provide an opportunity for the other person to be heard. You can be strong in your convictions, but opening yourself to new ideas can help you understand that there is a wide spectrum of ideas and some just might make sense.

A Letter to My Son

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Twenty years ago, I was a young, scared parent who had a 10 month old and found out another child was on the way. Those remaining eight months were stressful. I was sick, we moved, my husband started a new job which created the possibility of a deployment and my unborn boy was thought to be at risk for birthing complications. Yes, we knew from the multiple ultrasounds that our baby was a boy. The only easy part about this time was picking out a name.

My son arrived 19 years ago today. It was a messy delivery, ending up in an emergency C-section to deliver a baby that weighed 11 pounds, 15.6 ounces. We round it up to 12 pounds for storytelling purposes. My husband had to go to the store and buy diapers because the nursery didn’t have any to fit him.

To my It-Man:

You came into this world ready to tackle anything, literally. Doctors asked if we were ready to sign you up for a football team. You blew all the growth charts out of the water. Running around at 10 months. Charming everyone with your smile. Being taller than your sister and loving it. When you grew taller than me, you were so proud!

We faced challenges over the last 19 years, but I have seen how those challenges shaped you as a young man. I wouldn’t trade one minute of our past. Those bumps just made our lives more interesting. Sometimes, I think other parents could learn a lot from our experience. Our path was definitely not the well-travelled road that so many of your peers followed.

I hope you remember all the people who helped you become the man you are now. The camping trips, the reunions, Boy Scouts, Robotics, teachers and friends that helped guide you along the way and most of all, your family. There was an entire village that helped you reach this point. I’ve forgotten some of the names, but I’m truly grateful for their presence in your life.

As you celebrate this weekend, keep all of us with you. Look to the future, but never forget the past. It’s time for you to try out those wings we gave you a few years ago. Your tree is firmly rooted in the ground, but your path is now yours to forge. I know you can find your way back if you want or need to. Soar…take in your surroundings…enjoy the journey. Find your own path, knowing your village is extremely proud of you.

Happy birthday, It-Man.