When I was in eighth grade, my English teacher assigned a poem to memorize and recite in front of the class. I was a shy child, shy to the point that in elementary school I remember crying when my name was mentioned in a generic story the teacher was reading aloud to the class. By eighth grade, I had emerged from my shell, but only slightly. This assignment felt like torture. I asked my teacher if I could complete an alternate assignment, I’d write a 10-page report or offer my time to volunteer for an organization. I was willing to do anything to avoid reciting this poem for the class. It wasn’t about the poem; I loved poetry, and this poem in particular. Her answer was no. I’d fail the class if I did not complete this assignment. Earning an F for the class wasn’t an option for me. I wasn’t too pleased with this situation and felt the teacher was being very unfair to insist upon such an assignment that caused me to feel so uncomfortable. In fact, I felt quite angry with her.
Thirty-one years later, if you ask me to recite “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley, I wouldn’t skip a beat. I am so grateful for that eighth-grade assignment and my English teacher. Now, I look at her as an angel of sorts. I may not have been so open to public speaking had it not been for her.
During my first year in college, I took a speech class as part of the General Ed requirement. The instructor offered a sure A to anyone who joined the speech and debate team for which she was the head. Being a glutton for a high grade, I jumped on the offer. How hard could this be? After all, I was able to stand in front my eighth-grade peers and a stubborn English teacher and recite a poem verbatim, and I didn’t pass out. With that terrifying experience behind me, I took this new endeavor on in stride.
This eventually led me to so many various speaking opportunities throughout my life. Would that have been my path had it not been for “Invictus”? I don’t think we can ever know any of these answers for sure, but what I do know is that an experience that I tried my best to get out of, the one that stirred up anger and anxiousness, and one I wasn’t sure I could withstand, ended up being one of the best things to happen to me.
I call those people who show up in our lives, angels. You know the ones, sometimes we love them, and they "save" us in some way, and then there are those who show up to push us, to activate something within us which we may not have likely seen otherwise. Perhaps it’s a situation, person, or circumstance we don’t expect. Maybe it’s an event that took place, an unexpected life change. If we begin to look upon all people, events, and circumstances in our lives as offering us an opportunity to grow in some way, how might this enhance our perception, our health, our overall experience of life?
It’s not always so easy in the moment to open up to the possibilities and unexpected blessings, but what we can do is begin a practice to build up the habit to pay attention to the lens we view life through. There’s a saying—the way we choose to see the world is what creates the world we see; paying attention to the daily signs that life is working with us and for us is how nature is forever adapting and flowing. Seeing how the sun always rises, surrendering to a plan beyond what we can see, recognizing the serendipitous and synchronistic moments, and noticing that it is only when we are open to receive that we allow all that is being offered to us.
As we embrace the turning of the seasons, and the rebirth that springtime brings, we can be reminded that there is wisdom to be gained from all of our life experiences, and like the seed unseen beneath earth during the winter months, we see the blessing of the flower come spring.
Love & Blessings! -a xo