When I was a little girl, I begged my mom and dad to take me to the annual Easter Egg Hunt in Recreation Park. The thought of running wild through the park, scooping up brightly colored Easter eggs sounded like heaven. I was even certain that I would be the one find the coveted Golden Egg with a special prize. Attending large public events wasn’t in my family repertoire, so I remember doing a fair amount of convincing before my parents said yes. When Easter arrived, we were off to the Easter Egg Hunt! I was so excited. It was my mom, my dad and me. My sisters were just about graduating from high school at the time, so this hunt held little interest for them. We finally arrived at Recreation Park and parked the car. I was wearing my Easter dress complete with a tulle petticoat, white gloves and my Easter basket in hand. We walked to the grassy area where the hunt was taking place. As we began the approach I began to feel a knot in my stomach. There were hundreds of kids. Scooting closer to my parents, I began to feel less confident. The field was huge! I took my mother’s hand. The other kids were in groups or families or somehow knew each other. I knew no one. I felt the sting of tears in my eyes and looked up to my dad. Go with me, I said. Probably feeling a bit out of place himself, he told me no. My mom in her Easter best, including high heels wouldn’t be accompanying me either, I even didn’t ask. While I’m certain my dad was trying to instill character and independence in his youngest child, I was paralyzed. I was expected to go it alone. I was alone. That day in the park, was so disappointing. Everything I imagined the hunt would be, didn’t happen. I walked a few feet into the park trying to muster the courage to join in. Kids were running wildly around me, yelling and squealing with delight as they uncovered the treasured eggs and even swiped them from each other! They were so brave! I tried to join in but simply couldn’t start. While I have long recovered from this experience, watching kids in my neighborhood park gather Easter eggs in the annual hunt brought it back to mind.
The hardest part is starting. Once we get that out of the way, we’ll find the rest of the journey much easier.
~courtesy of Garry Ridge, a wise friend
Recently I’ve been listening to the audiobook, Braving the Wilderness, by Brené Brown. It’s the way I get to and from work these days so I don’t go mad in traffic. In Braving the Wilderness, Brené talks about this feeling of being alone and how to brave it. It’s a timely book for me.
In September, my oldest sister was diagnosed with a severe memory disorder. While we couldn’t yet call it dementia or Alzheimer’s, since then her symptoms have progressed. We are now fielding outlandish thoughts and fantasies of hers that surprise and often shock us. Most recently this included a call to the police when she thought her daughter missing.
As a family and individually, we’ve felt alone. We’ve faced many hours asking questions but getting no answers, attempting tasks without completion, experiencing frequent set backs and worry; a failure to launch type of scenario.
Personally, I’ve re-started so many tasks, so many times that its fair to say I’m a bit indignant and resistant to the start. Working through this resistance, I considered my own advice to my patients. If you make a bad meal choice, I say–call a Mulligan. This is a term our family uses to request a do-over. We use it in ping pong, mini golf, disc golf, even that 4th of July Dan and I were the reigning champs in beer pong. Calling a Mulligan is asking permission to start again. I think that’s why this quote speaks to me. It feels like permission to start as many times as I need to. Given that today is Easter and we just experienced a full moon, the opportunity feels ripe for another start.
The start is the place, the act, the moment that can create change. There’s no guarantee that it won’t be hard or unpleasant at times. It will be. Or that the journey will be short. It probably won’t be. You’ll need to agree to small victories. Agree to some help. Agree to show up. You might feel alone.
Make your start today. We can do it together, right now. No need to wait for a full moon or the break of a new dawn. Take your first bite of healthy food. Take your first jog down the block. Make that phone call to help a loved one—no matter how futile it might seem. Just start and the rest of the journey will get easier. And if need be, call a Mulligan.