Lessons Learned from the Small Things

Since the end of a year usually gets me thinking and reflecting, I asked the munchkins a question on the last day of 2016 to get them thinking and reflecting: What did you learn this year?

They answered me with blank stares and full mouths (it was dinnertime), so I tried to help them out a little.

“You guys learned to swim!” (Which was nothing short of a miracle for two kiddos who had never intentionally put their heads in the water before this summer. Now they race to see who can jump into the pool first!)

“We learned how to knit.” (Thank you, YouTube videos.)

E finally swallowed and added, “I learned algebra.” (Simple algebra in 4th grade? Craziness, I tell ya.)

I turned to C and reminded her, “You learned how to do a handstand!”, to which she enthusiastically nodded.

Wow. What a year.

These were some major milestones for the kids, milestones I wish could be captured in more than a few words or sentences.  Saying, “You guys learned to swim!” doesn’t do the experience of learning how to swim justice. Five words aren’t enough to describe the endless hours it took for E and C to overcome their fears enough to trust us to hold their hands when they gave up their swim floaties. To trust that their goggles would keep the water out of their eyes (and still go underwater even when they didn’t). And to trust that the fun of jumping into the water would be worth the butterflies they felt in their stomachs as they stood on the edge of the pool. Learning how to swim was a culmination of years and years of patience, perseverance, courage and faith for all of us, especially the patience part for hubby and me. 😉 Even though it seems like the kids accomplished this achievement in 2016, you could say they started learning how to swim 10 and 7 years ago.

Isn’t that the case with a lot, if not most, of the lessons we learn in life? Learning something new takes time—minutes, hours, days and years of time.  And the little mundane things we are learning today are necessary and important lessons we need in order to accomplish something bigger in the future.

That’s what I was thinking about the other night when C and I were wrangling some yarn. You may think the word wrangle would apply better to a herd of cattle or horses, but believe me, this yarn had a mind of its own. It was perfectly coiled when I bought it, but over the course of a few weeks, it had become a crazy tangle of a mess. And before I could use it again I had to tame the wild beast.

This beast has a cute name though: Cupcake Sprinkles. 😉

So that’s what we set out to do. I found one end and began wrapping it around my hand while C picked it apart and released its knots. She kept exclaiming, “This is going to take hours!” to which I replied through gritted teeth, “No, it won’t!” Truthfully though, it did take most of the evening to unravel. But through it all, we persevered. We cheered when we could pull more than a foot of yarn at once and booed when we encountered a knot. I was impressed with C’s patience and complimented her on it, especially when we traded tasks and I got the hard job of untangling the knots. When we traded back, she told me with confidence, “Watch and learn!” as she masterfully tamed that yarn, inch by inch. It was a wonderful sight (and a relief!) when we were all done.

Lesson learned? The task of unravelling the ball of yarn may have seemed mundane and a waste of time, but it was much needed and in preparation for something bigger. Like being able to knit this cute hat for my niece.

As you can see, I did a lot of knitting over winter break. 🙂 I also made a hat for C to match her cousin’s, as well as a bag for her stuffed chick (not pictured here).

So, yup, as we start this new year, I’m reminding myself to take baby steps as I set my goals. Sure, I’d love to be able to write more books than I did last year, but what’s important is that I just show up and write. Word by word, sentence by sentence, and paragraph by paragraph. Because all these small steps will add up and come together to form something beautiful  … just like that crazy ball of yarn did.

Here’s the song C and I listened to on repeat(!) while we were wrangling the yarn. It’s called, “Up, Up and Away” and it’s from one of the American Girl movies, Grace Stirs Up Success. The main character in the film also learned the importance of taking small steps (ie. cracking an egg with one hand) in her quest to become a Masterchef Junior baker.

What small steps are you learning today that will help you to accomplish bigger things in the future?

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