Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lesson #36: Live Like Somebody's Watching You

Growing up the 11th kid in a family of 15, it was easy to blend. I think it's probably part of the reason my siblings have such unique and interesting personalities -- we're definitely not cookie cutter people.

But because of that, I have noticed that throughout my adult life, I forget that other people can actually see me as I go through my day. You know, like those people who pick their noses in the car, thinking we can't see right through that clear glass. Sometimes, words just fly out of my mouth, not always realizing that people can hear them. I've made decisions forgetting that it could impact others and, while I'm not always proud, I've reacted to moments thinking it all remains internally within me.

Just a few months ago, I was going through a very difficult period of my life. Jacob was finally diagnosed with autism -- sending us into an overwhelming world of assessments, IEP meetings, behavioral therapy and constant reading about everything autism related -- from vaccines, diet, treatments and controversy. I had no skills when it came to responding to Lucy's need to get into everything she could get her hands on and Brady was having regular tantrums, yearning to be heard. Jeff was working long hours and I felt like I was living on an island, wishing there were a beach and frou-frou drink nearby.

Little did I know, I was being watched.

One day, after dropping off at school, I was walking with a mom of a classmate I've known since Jacob was in preschool. While talking about nothing in particular, she stopped, placed her hand on my arm, and gently told me that if I needed anything, she was here.

That moment was a turning point for me.

I was stunned that someone saw the stress and concern I carried around with me 24/7. I was moved and embarrassed and thankful that I wasn't so alone after all. It struck me that the island I created was done solely by me and that if I wanted to change it, it was within my power. It was that morning that I began to let go of the things I can't control and try to get back to the positive, often optimistic person I used to be.

Then, there's the whole Internet thing. It's a little funny that it rarely occurs to me that that my world reaches out beyond myself, my husband and children, considering I write my personal thoughts and feelings via several blog, using my real name. I guess I just assume, on the Internet, that I'm either writing for myself or whoever signs the check -- nobody actually reads it, right?

Apparently I'm wrong.

Last week, I received two separate messages - both from people I absolutely admire and respect, not just because they've reached an incredible level of success in the entertainment industry, but because they're good people with kind hearts, integrity and self-respect -- something not all that common in that business.

While I don't want to turn what they intended to be private messages into my public slap on the back, knowing they read what I write, appreciate me for being myself and believe I can achieve whatever I set out to do has created the kick in the pants needed to go for it.

So I leave you with this, my friends...

My Life Lesson #36 
While we all may feel anonymous, somebody is always watching. Behave accordingly.


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