I went on a walk yesterday morning for the first time in months. It may not sound like the biggest achievement in the world, and in reality it probably wasn’t. It was a very short walk, barely thirty minutes long, but it was quiet and I was by myself. No kids. No stroller. No distractions. Just pavement, my favorite music, and a gorgeous golden sunrise. It was the crack of dawn, which so far is the only time I’ve been able to scavenge for some real alone time. Still, it was my time. My thirty minutes of peace. And surprisingly enough, it led me to have a very personal eureka moment.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, we recently moved back to the Bay Area after five years in suburbia isolation. We miss our big house, our friends, and our spacious backyard, especially for the kid’s sake, but I can’t really complain. We chose to relocate to the same area we lived in before. A little hidden gem called Brisbane. It is a very small city a few miles south of San Francisco at the feet of the San Bruno Mountain State Park.
Back when we first lived here I only had one kid, my oldest daughter. She was young and napped twice a day. I was still working from home, but boy did I have more time in my hands. I used to go on walks, sometimes runs around the neighborhood, and it was during those short spurs of alone time that the idea of writing a book first sprouted in my mind. I was reminded of this exact moment yesterday as I revisited the same streets and familiar surroundings.
This seemingly insignificant flashback made me realize how far I’ve come, and how grateful I need to be for the little growth steps I’ve been able to take, not only in my writing journey, but also in my personal life. It’s funny how most of the time we get so caught up in doing the next big thing that we forget to look back at all that we’ve accomplished. I don’t know about you, but if my future self had traveled back in time five years ago to tell me that by 2014 I would have published two short story collections, I would be working on the publication of a third, along with the publication of my first YA fantasy book and other collaborative projects, all while raising three kids and keeping a part-time job, I think I would have probably laughed it off as a joke. What’s even funnier is that I probably wouldn’t have considered all of this if I hadn’t been reminded of the moment that started it all.
This whole experience made me question how we treat ourselves and how infrequently we give ourselves a pat on the back for things we do or achieve. I think more often than not we tend to criticize ourselves for things we aren’t doing or achieving, instead of celebrating the little accomplishments in our life. What a messed up approach, don’t you think? I wonder how different our personal perceptions would be if we did the complete opposite.
When I help my daughter with her homework I always try to be positive and encouraging in spite of her reading struggles and crooked letters. I know positive encouragement will build her first grader confidence and help her progress faster. It’s somewhat ridiculous how we completely dismiss this technique when it comes to ourselves. I guess it’s easier to reproof our progress and focus on our shortcomings, which reiterates the importance of looking back every once in a while to consider the opportunities we have been given. Each one helps us remember that our journey has been great and worthwhile, that every accomplishment is worth celebrating, and that no matter what the future holds our growth is far from over.