List the difficult moments in your past that have shaped you for the better:
- Not really a “moment,” but rather a life course, is being put to work as a child. I thought it was cruel and unreasonable, as soon as I was old enough to think about it. I was a lazy child and wanted out of house work and garden work, helping with the babies and little ones and helping my younger sisters and brothers with their school work. Mom used everything from flattery and cajoling to threats of the willow switch and extreme guilt to get us to do our jobs. I swore I would give my children an easier childhood, and I did. Looking back, there was never a doubt in my mind that I was an integral and necessary part of the family. I don’t think my brothers – who had a much shorter list of obligations – ever felt that way, and I don’t think my children did, either. My daughters knew they were important because I loved them, but not because they were needed. It’s a slight, but important difference. In addition, I grew up with a good work ethic, the capability of doing many different things, and the knowledge that no job is beneath me.
- Giving birth. Motherhood in every aspect challenged and shaped me. I can’t imagine who I would be if I hadn’t had children, but I can’t believe it would be any shadow of the person I am.
- Divorce. It was forging new ground in many ways, but it stretched my ideas of what I was capable of and made me more aware of my own thoughts and motives.
- Returning to college. Learning isn’t easy whenever you choose to learn as opposed to just showing what you already know. It is always worth it.
- Death. When friends or family or loved ones die, I always learn something of value. Sometimes it is the clear knowledge that I can survive heartache that seems unbearable. Sometimes it is the awareness that a kind word or a casserole dish make a big difference when a family is grieving, and it’s worth the effort. Sometimes, by example, it is good information about how to make that particular passage when my time comes, with charity toward others, dignity and strength.