For the first time ever, Jaime didn’t come home for Christmas. My daughter had just moved out west, and taking a week off her job was not really possible. So her Dad flew out and spent some time with her, and we skyped and talked and laughed while opening presents. Jaime sent her presents home with her Dad, and it wasn’t until a few weeks later that I opened my gift from her.
It is something small and elegant. A leather journal, handmade in Victoria, B.C. My son, Rory, told me Jaime had explained that she had actually seen it being made. How remarkable. And how perfect for me…the keeper of lists, of ideas, of many little journals, calendar books and note books. This was something unique in which to capture my most special moments, given with love.
I decided that this special journal would be used as a place to record wonderful things. In fact, I decided that each day, I would purposefully look for something wonderful to include in the journal. It might be something that I had seen, like colours in a sunset or a message from someone I love. It might be a moment in time, a conversation that brought me joy, or anything that makes me pause and be grateful.
I decided I’d share with you, friends who read my musings, 2 of my entries that have taught me something, and ask you to ponder on them and how they relate to you.
January 20th – Rory was not blessed with a natural sense of direction. In fact, one of his first important tools upon going to university was a GPS to make sure he made it home from Waterloo without getting lost! With two parents and a sister who all seem to have an internal compass, Rory was unique, and we assumed he’d always need that GPS to get around. But we should all know the fallacy of assumptions.
Rory quietly made it his purpose to learn how not to get lost, and understand directions. How lucky for me. Because last week, when we were meeting for coffee, I missed a turn in the great void of Mississauga, and got lost in a never-ending series of parking lots. I drove in circles trying to escape, and finally made a frantic call to Rory for help. Once he knew where I was, he was able to calmly talk me out of the parking lot, back on the road and over to the Starbucks.
I never thought I’d turn to Rory for directions. But look what happened when I did?
January 25th – “Don’t you want to talk to me?” It was my birthday, and yes, I wanted to talk to people I love. Like Jaime. But I had crushing deadlines and was taking the entire day to simply write, write more, and finish writing. I needed about 10 hours of staring at my computer. Then Jaime called. I was clearly distracted during our conversation, and she finally said “Don’t you want to talk to me?” Well, actually, I’d rather talk to Jaime than do almost anything else in the entire world. Those 7 words made me pause…and to remember what was important in my life. “Yes, I do” was my response. I stood up, left my desk, sat down on the couch, and settled in for a wonderful talk with my daughter.
I decided, in that moment, what was most important to me was the person I love, not the work.
Both of these little vignettes hold a message for me. And maybe for you, too. Rory knew his weakness was his sense of direction, and he worked on it. Had I not asked for help, I would never had known that he is no longer directionally-challenged; that he is someone who can help me, instead of me helping him. (And I would still be driving in circles in that *^#$@ ing parking lot!). He reminded me that in life, in business, in everyday, to never underestimate or assume things will be just so. Alan Alda has some advice that applies here: “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” Rory reminded me to abandon my assumptions and let the light in. And get out of the parking lot!
Jaime also helped me remember, in just a few words, what was truly important. My work, regardless, will always be there. But the time I get to spend with my daughter will not.
So I answered her question with an open heart and open mind. What resonated most for me was that when I returned to my desk, after laughing and listening for about a half hour, I was ready to tackle my work with focus and drive. In the end, I got to talk to Jaime, and was refreshed and reinvigorated for work. I know we can’t all have the luxury of doing that, but perhaps the message here is to look for those opportunities and seize them when we can.
Jaime’s gift of the journal is now being filled with my life’s gifts. Making faces through the window of an airport hotel last week; seeing a purple finch perched on my bird feeder; picking up a used Tim Horton’s cup, and then looking at how beautiful the road looked after that the litter was gone – these are all gifts. I spend my days actually looking out for those incredible moments, and sifting through them to decide what fits best in my journal.
I challenge you to get your own journal and for one week, write down one thing each day that amazes you, that brings you wonder, or brings you joy.
Perhaps you will find, like I have, that every day is jammed packed full of incredible moments.