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May 30, 2016
July 29, 2013
Sometimes we find gratitude in places where we least expect it. I love Wendy Mogul’s book, “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee.” In this book, Mogul says that parents should allow their children to experience the world in its entirety, including the difficult, sad, and disappointing stuff. The consequences of their own decisions teach children better than anything else could. Little did I know, that there are actual blessings from actual skinned knees. Even for grown ups.
Tonight, I had a little mishap while riding my bike. A young boy, probably 10 or 11, cut me off and his bike and my bike collided. I went flying across the bike path, praying the entire time that I wouldn’t fall really hard or seriously hurt anything. Once on the ground, I saw my left leg bleeding with a serious case of road rash.
I was covered with sand (It was the lake path, after all) and my bike was on top of me. The boy ran over, clearly feeling terrible, and pulled my bike off of me. At this point, I was annoyed and in pain. I barked a little at the boy about not cutting people off and barked a little more to get him to move my bike out of the way. I was ready for a pity party because clearly, my injuries were a big deal. And I was in my 50’s! Even more reason to pity me.
I did decide to finish my ride, which meant continuing forward a few more miles before turning around and riding home. Once I got to my turn around point at Navy Pier, I took a little break. And as I stood there at the drinking fountain, scrubbing my hands to get the grease off, what happened next completely reframed my thinking. A young man saw my leg and expressed concern. He was so kind and warm and encouraging. I eventually told him, “If this had happened to one of my kids, I would have said, ‘You are fine! Buck up!'” So he looked at me with an impish grin and said, “Well, then. Buck up!” He was right. I needed to end the pity party and get over it.
The entire bike ride home I found myself reviewing what had happened after I had fallen, and realized that I had many more things to be thankful for than angry about. So, in that spirit, here is my list of observations that have inspired gratitude in me and given me a new understanding about “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee.”
By normal standards, tonight was not my best bike ride. I fell off my bike, have some nasty road rash, swallowed one bug, and got another in my eye. And in a few minutes, I will go in the shower and wince at least a little bit as I clean up my injury. What I have learned, however, is that I move perhaps a little too quickly in difficult experiences to anger and thinking negatively. I am going to challenge myself to reframe my thinking during these moments. Because, as I discovered tonight, there is generally much more that is positive in most experiences (certainly with some exceptions) than negative. And when I focus on that, I am a much happier person.
April 15, 2013
I just received an email from Illinois PIRG, (Public Interest Research Group) a consumer interest group. They do some great work and serve as terrific consumer advocates. So I was excited by this email that suggested we all band together and flood Bank of America’s Cayman Islands P.O.Box with postcards today, April 15, tax day. It is a brilliant idea to connect millions of Americans paying taxes with large corporations dodging taxes with offshore accounts.
However, once I clicked on the link to participate, I saw that I had to make a donation to Illinois PIRG to do so. Sadly, they have this all wrong. If I don’t contribute, they lose me as a willing participant in this great idea. But by participating, they increase their numbers, and thus, the credibility of the initiative. And, large numbers of us who would participate would also post that we did so on social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. I have a large network, so there is great value in having me do that.
I understand the need to fundraise. I also think associating fundraising with this idea is not all bad. But Illinois PIRG should have done it as an add on after I participate, not as a requirement. It is a lost opportunity for them and for me. And instead of singing their praises, I am frustrated with them and publicly venting about my frustration.
C’mon organizations. We really can do better than this!