My mom is a master at claiming windows of opportunity. It’s one of the reasons she is such a great mom and preschool teacher. She used mornings to wake us up with joy and love singing, “Rise and Shine!” She used our mistakes as opportunities to teach us lessons, saying “he who makes no mistakes, does nothing.” (Read my earlier blog, Unexpected Gifts) When we were sick, she was always right there with a fresh towel for our pillow, and a ginger ale and sherbert float, or a warm coke depending on the needed cure. Boredom was an opportunity for her to share the phrase, “boredom is a state of mind,” and step back as we learned to fill the space of boredom with creativity. When I broke curfew, she used it as an opportunity to share with me how my choices impact others. While we hung out as teenagers in the basement with friends, she always found ample opportunity to bring down a load of laundry or check-in to see if we needed any more snacks. As I cried from the heartbreak of missing prom, she was there to hold me and remind me that, “This too shall pass.” Birthdays she always makes special with just the right gift that captures what’s important that year. When people around her are hurting or in need, she takes the opportunity to make a meal, visit or knit a prayer shawl.
Her best moments as a master have come at a place I now consider my happy place. It is a place she went to as a child for vacation every year and then brought our family. While I’m sure she was tired and wanted a real vacation from being a mom herself, she used this window of opportunity to create thousands of precious memories. She always had some silly game or contest to keep us occupied. She shared stories of her past and helped us create new ones. As my own family grew, she continued to find moments to throw open her arms and celebrate the joy of the day.
I still remember the moment in the photo. She and my daughter ran and sang, they hugged a tree, told stories and giggled as they sat in the shade and watched with fascination as lady bugs crawled over their arms. The memories created from the moment and the relationship it built exist because she seized the window of opportunity. She could have stopped and paused to capture the moment to share on facebook (luckily it didn’t exist back then) or said she was too tired or busy. But she didn’t. She took the moment and met my daughter exactly where she was, opened a window and flew through it with her.
Sometimes I catch myself missing the windows of opportunity my mother so expertly opened. While I’m waiting in the pick-up line at school, I fail to find out how their day went or what is important to them. I snap the picture for facebook rather than living the memory for my memory book. When the tears and tantrums flow (from them and me) I forget that “this too shall pass.” I get busy running here and there and doing this and that rather than stopping and helping a sick friend or neighbor. When I begin to notice I’m doing these things, I remember the picture posted here. I try to walk with my hands open and ready to let in the world, and be present for the next window of opportunity.
Currently, I have a window of opportunity. An experience I had teaching, opened my eyes to the impact we can have on children’s lives through these moments. My book, Because of 4, shares the story of what can best be described as a series of windows of opportunity. Starting next month, I plan to begin sharing pieces of this story with you. I hope it will inspire you to claim your own windows of opportunity, to celebrate life and to lift up those around you. I’ve committed this weekly blog to sharing with you my thinking for the week and where I am in the process of preparing to launch Because of 4 in August. I must admit I struggle with finding windows of opportunity to do the hard steps I know need to happen next. I often find opportunities to do anything rather than sit down and edit and make sense of some of the struggles I have with wording, making my story come alive, and learning the process. Deep down, I know my struggle is a window of opportunity. It’s a chance for me to do hard things, to grow, to get clearer on what I value and what’s important to me, and to build relationships and connections with others. I also know windows of opportunity don’t last forever. We have to seize these opportunities and make the most of our skills, talents and time for once they are gone, there is no getting them back.
What’s your window of opportunity?
Open your arms, fly through that window and seize the day!