Emerging From Our Challenges

Being “still” is not my best talent. There’s always a myriad of things that need done and I believe there always will be. How do I catch myself and stop? I say “I’m alive today here in this spot of time, take a breath and be present to the moment.” It’s about being present I want to talk about. There are things I worry about that I have no control over. Are my kids making the right decisions? Does my neighbor need to change their lights out front? Is my dog going to live longer? Is our business going to grow? Is my friend choosing the best place to move to? These all seem like nonsense when I see them in writing, but they fill my thoughts and take me from being present to myself.Anyone I feel a concern for or take on as a project really does not have to be mine, it’s their life.
When I was 12 years old, my mother was home sick from work and while lying on the couch instructing me on how to make potato soup she had a stroke. Her instructions went from sauteing onions to putting the horses in the barn. I knew that didn’t seem right so I called for help. She recovered beautifully and continued on with her busy life of working 2 jobs and caring for my brother, father and I. What it left me with was a drive to help in any way I could. I started cooking every evening meal, grocery shopping and cleaning the house. I didn’t know I could do all this at such a young age but I did. Thus, my gift for cooking emerged. It was something I could do that helped my mom out and made me feel useful.
Throughout my life I have practiced my gift of cooking. When people are ill or down I bring them food. I started a catering business with my daughter who thought she wanted to attend Culinary school. It was a good lesson that taught her she indeed did not want to be a caterer. Whenever my kids brought friends home I fed them. There is always leftovers of something good in my refrigerator. You cannot come to my home and not be fed.
What I’ve learned from this is when there’s conflict or disruption in my life I push forward and usually a gift emerges.
When my last child was leaving home I felt empty inside and a huge disruption of my purpose in the home took place. When I asked God for my next assignment, the opportunity to teach in China arrived.Challenges presented as I prepared to go and I thought “I can’t do this.” Writing a five week curriculum and using power point(which I knew nothing about) was an obstacle. Losing my passport in the mail and driving 2 hours to Tucson for a new one was another hurdle. Arriving in a foreign land with language barriers, unusual food and smells slammed me briefly to the ground. I knew I was called in my heart to be in China but in the brief moments of difficulty I questioned my heart and my guide.
Once I surpassed the challenges I realized I had uncovered a gift . My teaching skills were okay when I arrived in China. People might say I was a good teacher, but the demands I faced there unveiled my true gift as a teacher and mentor. It unfolded like a caterpillar emerging from the cocoon into a butterfly.
My mantra was “stay present to each day’s experience”. Allowing my disruptions to teach me became my teaching tools with the students. Honest with where I was and what I was experiencing gave them courage to take on bigger things as well. I often told them “take on something bigger than yourself” and I did the same. As I did so, my adjustment to the environment became easier. The smells, food, people, accommodations and overall China experience became a part of me. Each day added more layers to the cocoon I was weaving. This happened because I accepted my current circumstances as a growth experience that would teach me.
Some might ask “Did it hurt to be in the cocoon? Was breaking out of it painful? My response is yes/no/maybe. Find out for yourself. Live in today’s challenges, don’t wish them away or hurry them. Learn from each experience and as you do you’ll break free from the cocoon and discover the gift of flight.