Pay Your Rent

I was watching her. She was small, maybe three. It’s possible that she was attempting a cartwheel, but in the sand, it was hard to tell. Her face was determined, and so expressive, it was like I could read the words that were going through her mind like a scrolling computer screen on her scrunched up forehead.

I looked around from my beach chair and found her parents nearby. They were engrossed in what I’m guessing was the little sandy gymnast’s brother. He was tiny, and his big accomplishment was blowing bubbles. So it makes sense that they weren’t watching the older girl, who was doing such a great job of entertaining herself.

Entertainment, though, soon turned to complete frustration. It was a quick trip, as it often IS when you are three (or 43). My inner teacher, who taught kids this little girl’s age on up for about fifteen years, woke up from the beach vacation.

I kept my gaze steadily on her.

Soon, her eyes met mine, after a particularly hard tumble. Tears would be coming soon, as evident as a dark raincloud in the sky. I smiled my best keep going smile. There are at least two hundred different smiles available to any human. Any teacher knows the keep going smile. You might know it, too. It’s a cross between Oh honey, I know it’s hard, and But I know you can do it by yourself.

The girl looked at me with interest. I raised my eyebrows as if to say, Well? Whatcha got up your sleeve?

She read my expression perfectly. What a smart little cookie.

She popped up the short distance from the sand and was concentrating hard. She bit her little lip and took off at a run across the white sand littered with shells.

One pointy shell in her tiny little Flintstone foot took her down.

I waited for tears and a possible screech, but it didn’t come. She looked back at me. I smiled my Oh dang it, sweetheart. Ouch! But keep going!

This little girl evidently spoke fluent SMILE. She smiled her best thanks but I’m tough smile, popped up in a flurry,  and went again.

And again.

And again.

Between every try she would lock eyes with me.

And we would both smile.

All of the sudden, the little bubble blower, that was her brother, (I’m assuming) had evidently had enough of the beach. The mom packed up towels and balls, and teething rings as the dad looked up to see the little gymnast. He called for her…ahhhh…so they were FRENCH. She answered back and went running to him, but not before giving me the most beautiful Thank you so much for watching me smile.

I waved to her over her Dad’s shoulder. She beamed. And as I waded out to the water to cool off, I thought about my lovely encounter with that gorgeous little Earthschooler. 

I’m a person who works really hard to light not only my own inner motivation fire, but others’ as well. I post stuff like this all the time.

outside influences

But there’s always exceptions to every rule, I think. I’m remembering all the crazy ideas I’ve had in my lifetime. All the things I’ve wanted to try. Many moons ago, when my kids were little, and I had just stopped teaching for a bit, my friend Krissy and I started an organizational system for Homeschooling parents. She and I were Montessori teachers,  and had a lot to offer in the way of setting up a school. We traveled to quite a few houses, and worked with a number of people. I even spoke to a couple of groups, which landed some of my words into a chapter of a book that one of the women wrote about Homeschooling small children.

It didn’t go anywhere, that job. It ended, and I wish I could remember the details, but I can tell you the words my Mom had for me when I had wanted to start the whole thing: OH honey, that sounds really neat! You will be amazing at that!

And Krissy and I were, but owning our own business wasn’t in the cards for as at the moment.

Over the next few years in between kids and teaching, I tried my hand at refinishing furniture (a profession that nearly ended my 20-something year marriage)**, faux painting (I mean I figured it out in MY house, how hard could it be?), until I had a moment of clarity and realized I really didn’t want to paint other people’s walls because it wasn’t nearly as fun, and I also tried my hand at  flower design in a wonderful flower shop in our town.

To all these things, my Mom’s words were very similar: You are wonderful at everything you try. Why would this be any different? I also had a handful of close friends echoing the same sentiment. ***

Every single time.

It’s gotten me to thinking: Just how much Outside Influence should we be dependent on?

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As I felt the waves crashing in on my shins, I came up with this:

We are, of course, responsible for ourselves. In the end, if we, ourselves, do not approve of ourselves, whatever it is we are trying to do won’t really work the way we want it to. So much of any kind of success is an inside job. There are a million quotes that you could find to back that up.

But there’s also this other part, the part that we don’t talk about as much, and that’s our responsibility as fellow Earth Schoolers. I have a belief that the way we care for and encourage others is the rent we pay to live here on earth.

And it’s so cheap.

One kind encouraging word. One SENTENCE. One or more keep going smiles.

Going home from our Mexican vacation, our family was totally split up. I ended up chatting with a professor from Canada. She was so interesting, and I loved hearing about her life. She asked me what did, and I told her that I had taught for many years, and did a lot of different things, and now found myself as a Life Coach.

Her eyes got really wide, and she asked a lot of questions. She was a wonderful listener. When we had landed back in the land of REALITY, and were gathering our bags, she said, You are a brave soul. I love the way you’ve tried things. It’s very inspiring. And I bet you are an amazing Coach. Good for YOU!

I immediately felt like the little French girl in the sand, trying to do cartwheels, with a perfect stranger smiling at me. I love the magnetics of the Universe. It’s impossible to give anything without receiving something back.

Today: Pay your rent. Smile. Ask questions. Give an encouraging word. You will probably never know how much it means to the receiver.

 

Quotes-From-Elizabeth-Gilbert-Big-Magic

Footnote**Part of my refinishing job was going to auctions and finding furniture to well, REFINISH. I loved that part. Our garage was full to the brim with what I liked to call, diamonds in the rough. My husband could only so many diamonds, evidently. I guess garages are meant for vehicles. Whatever. Shake it off, Lis. Shake it off.

***Krissy, Lorri, Dawn thank you from the bottom of my heart for believing in me– no matter what. I love my girls.

 

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