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2020 Feb

A Crooked Path

Life’s detours teach us lessons. Teach your children.

What’s eating you today? If you’re like me, something’s bugging you, a gnawing feeling inside that’s making you feel less than satisfied with life.

Maybe you’re upset that you didn’t do your best at a recent task or you didn’t show enough affection and encouragement to a family member who needed it. We do tend to beat ourselves up when we don’t achieve perfection in our daily lives.

Well, I’m here to tell you there’s no such thing as perfect. We will never be perfect parents or perfect employees or perfect wives and husbands or perfects sons and daughters. My husband’s favorite saying is “We do what we can do as we’re able to.” Peter is so chill. I don’t know how he does it.

I think the sooner we can accept that we aren’t perfect, the sooner we can love ourselves as we are and recognize that where we are in life is where we are meant to be. I like to think of life as a series of stepping stones, each one taking us closer to a more fulfilled state of being.

These stepping stones might not seem like they are taking you anywhere (or maybe it seems they are taking you farther from your goals), but in fact, every single step is a learning experience, teaching you a skill or helping you understand something you didn’t before.

Another way to look at it is that we are all on our own paths. Sometimes the path can be crooked, necessitating a detour. But eventually—and sometimes with great effort— we will find ourselves moving forward again toward bigger and better things.

A crooked path is a good metaphor to share with our children, who as you know face all kinds of challenges as they grow up. Talk to them about the challenges you faced when you were younger and how you learned from your experiences and grew into a more capable person, thanks to those detours you took.

When you stop and think about the challenges we all are facing in life every day, a feeling of compassion takes over, reminding us that we are all the same people, trying to find our way in the world. At church last Sunday, our pastor said to give gifts as often as we can. It can be a smile, a hug, a home-cooked meal, or a lift for someone who needs it.

I don’t know about you, but when I smile at a stranger and he smiles back, I feel like I’ve connected with the community of people that we are all part of. Be kind to the people you meet. Teach your children to be kind. It’s the best gift you can give them.

And remember to be kind to yourself. You are amazing—and I’m not just saying that—you are! Be everything you want to be, starting now! And don’t forget to smile.

Peggy Sijswerda

Peggy Sijswerda is the editor and co-publisher of Tidewater Family and Tidewater Women magazines. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Old Dominion University and is the author of Still Life with Sierra, a travel memoir. Peggy also freelances for a variety of regional, national, and international magazines.

Website: www.peggysijswerda.com

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