We exchange Valentine’s gifts with our beloved and Galentine’s with our girlfriends. We send flowers on Mother’s Day, and we all struggle with what to get Dad on Father’s Day. We recognize these moments, these spaces in time that highlight and honor our loved ones and our love for one another.
September 27, 2012, marked my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Fifty years of job changes, houses, children, travel, family, friends and adventures. Five decades of excitement, joy and love melded with times of difficulty, fear and challenge; all fluid elements in their river of life.
Our favorite local bluegrass performer, Howie Banfield, set up stage with his band on the porch, and we sang along to old favorites while my (then) 4-year-old son played along on the tambourine.
My Mom, as we now know, was beginning to dodge the shadows and unnerving anxiety of Alzheimer’s. She claimed she didn’t want a big party, but we knew her heart. We understood that her knowing about the party and guests in advance would cause angst for weeks leading up to the event, so we kept it secret.
She loved that night. She loved the surprise and the band, and relished in sharing the evening with her children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors.
That evening is a treasured memory for my dad and our family. Like many of life’s special moments, it was a milestone worthy of celebration and I’m grateful our secret turned into a cherished delta of my parent’s river.
Like many families, that anniversary is but one of many milestones and achievements we’ve celebrated. We celebrate graduations and marriages. We honor retirements and engagements.
But what about the millions of other seemingly mundane moments? Can we acknowledge and honor the small decisions and crossroads that shift our lives in unexpected ways? Moments that turned out perfectly as planned, as well as the cataclysms that send us on a perfect new path we never anticipated.
In 2008, I lost most my life savings in the stock market crash. I was single, and pregnant. And then I lost my job.
With few job opportunities, a little money and a newborn son, launching a luxury brand in a down economy didn’t seem logical. But I did it anyways. My options seemed limited, but without a fallback for raising my child, failure simply wasn’t one of those options. I found strength within myself that I never knew existed.
It seems strange to say that losing my job was a gift, but sometimes a fork in the road leads us in another direction, and BAM… there’s destiny waiting with an unexpected surprise. That moment led to me launching Faceplant, the opportunity to work from home while my son was young, and to meeting my husband.
Thomas Edison once said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Those first few years of Faceplant weren’t easy. Family and friends cheered me on, while they simultaneously expressed concern over whether I was making the best decisions. And it was difficult to see this new adventure in life as a gift.
Opportunities dressed as adversity are perpetually presented in our lives. The question is this: Can we do a better job of recognizing them as gifts when they’re offered?
- Maybe we need a greeting card to say, “Congratulations for not marrying that guy who made you cry at your sisters’ wedding”.
- How about a flower arrangement with, “We’re so glad you don’t have enough money to retire so you’ll keep working with us”?
- Instead of a ‘Going away party’, maybe we could throw a ‘Staying-Put party’ when the potential job transfer doesn’t work out.
The drive to celebrate life’s triumphs is beautiful and time-honored. The magic is recognizing that there are endless moments worthy of celebration. We should celebrate the great anniversaries, but let’s not forget the peripheral moments that lead us to greatness.
Don’t miss the moments worth celebrating for yourself and those that you love. Find new ways to honor the adversity and challenges that lead us to being our best selves. Celebrate in small ways; leave a note on the pillow, a card in the lunchbox, a cupcake, or a simple hug and a whisper of support.