The Meaning of Mistakes: A Guest Post by My Teenage Daughter

When I launched my blog, I told my thirteen year old daughter we could learn the technical stuff together and that maybe she could have her own Thesis blog some day. By the end of the day, she’d written this post for ‘hers’ and shown it to me. Whether you have kids or not, grandchildren or tweenagers, I hope you’ll understand why this made me melt with pride. I haven’t edited a single thing. Please welcome my daughter, ‘JD’; I called this blog Sharing The Journey because of her.

The Meaning of Mistakes by JD

There have been many times in my life, when thoughts along these lines have entered my head:

“If only I could turn back time”

“I wish I’d made that decision instead of that one”

“Why did I have to do/say/act like that?”

“I should have kept my mouth shut”

“I should have spoken up”

If only…I wish…why…I should…

Thoughts following actions and decisions that have caused undesirable effects and situations.

Regret. And more regret.

Turns out human beings can’t turn back time. The thing is, would I, even if it was possible?

Well, from my thought processes the obvious answer would be yes. I would be able to save myself from the pain of my mistakes, be able to make what appeared to be the right choices.

I could put in more time and effort for revising for that test … spend my money on something that matters, rather than that silly impulse buy … save myself from blurting out that nasty thought running through my brain … control my anger and apologise in time, to prevent hurting the people I care about. To have shown so much more love and appreciation. I’d be able fix all these things, and more.

But, as I sit here, I’m wondering if the obvious answer is always the right one. I’m thinking about why the universe lets us make mistakes in the first place. Why do people have to go through such pain and anguish, the feeling of helplessness as they know they can’t reverse the past?

For such a big question, is it possible for there to be a simple and uncomplicated answer?

I look around. Stop typing for a long, silent moment. And I think, yes, there is.

Why do we make mistakes? It’s so we can learn.

You’re probably thinking, “How does that work? Learning? How is that supposed to make up for our mistakes?”

It’s simple. We learn from our mistakes. They are there for us to grow, to look back, to think, “I’ve changed since then. I can change.” They’re there so we can see what we’ve done wrong, and if we are ever faced with a similar situation in the future, we can attempt to make a different choice, to be a better human being. Think back – if you had not made those mistakes in your past, would you be the person you are today?

Our mistakes our part of us. They make us. They symbolise that we are only human, that life is not one predictable, easy stretch. That it has many obstacles and tribulations along the way.

Can we always fix our mistakes? No. But we can always learn from them.

And why?

Because we’re not perfect. Because we all make mistakes.

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 Which ‘mistakes’ in your life have carried the biggest blessings?

Think Like a Black Belt

loribook-copy-231x300Today’s guest post is by Lori Hoeck, author of the ebook Think Like a Black Belt and creator of the website of the same name.

What can I say – I’ve adored this blog from day one! Those of you who’ve been reading for a while will know I love wisdom from Zen masters and the Tao. What you may not know is that I used to do karate, back in the Bruce Lee days. My children now study karate, not just for the self defense, but for the focus and discipline.

Lori, a former volunteer firefighter, is a senior instructor in the martial arts,  a third degree black belt in tae kwon do, a second degree black belt in tang soo do and a contributor to Black Belt Magazine.

I first met her through the wise comments she leaves on other people’s blogs. You may know her as Space Age Sage. When I visited her new site, I loved that she’d brought all of her skills and passions together.

Please check out Think Like a Black Belt  for mental, physical and emotional self defense lessons, especially if you’re a woman or have children.

Who can benefit? Anyone who walks in public, parks a car, has children, works with others, goes out in the evenings… in short, everyone! We’re talking some of the most practical life skills that can be applied to any situation where you need to be sharp, alert, aware and informed. I let my teenage kids read these posts. I’m anxious by nature, but the tips they’ll learn from the  Think Like a Black Belt  ebook and blog will help me breathe a little easier. I bought the book the day it came out!  It covers many topics such as strengthening your inner radar and your psychological and physical defense mechanisms, and teaches us to layer all the skills for greater effect.

I want to think like a black belt; I want to feel poised and strong, confident, alert and wise. I want to have what Lori calls a “determined heart and mind”. I want to feel my skills have been honed, that I’m not spending so many hours in front of a computer that I’m losing my physical instincts and awareness of the world around me.

It tickles me that we have three black belts among our café regulars – it makes me feel honoured. Please welcome Lori.

7 Ways Blogging and Karate are Alike

by Lori Hoeck

When Janice asked me to write a post, she left it pretty open — “anything that inspires you” — so I decided to show how karate and blogging are similar. At first you may think a physical, class activity like karate and a cerebral, solitary activity like blogging can’t have too much in common, but you may be surprised!

Here we go with seven ways karate and blogging are alike:

You have to do it to understand it

Parents can watch their kids do karate for years and friends may read your blog for years, but neither groups will get it until they jump in for themselves.

Both require lots of work

The old adage is true of blogging and karate: “You get out of it what you put into it.” This is especially true if you want to make money teaching karate or earn a living by blogging. It’s even more work if you can reach a point where you make it look easy.

Feedback is fulfilling

One of the greatest highs in teaching karate or writing a blog is receiving feedback from someone whose way of thinking changed for the better because of something you wrote or said.

Often addictive

Because the depths of the martial arts and blogging have never been fully explored – one is too old and one is too new – both blogging and karate can become all-consumng and addictive.

Challenges

Karate and blogging both demand self improvement. Karate pushes a person physically, mentally, and emotionally to perform at greater and greater skill levels. Blogging pushes your writing, organizing, and time-management skills, as well as your technology, SEO, and networking skills.

Change is required

Just as a karate student must learn to move and think differently to execute karate techniques with both power and control, a blogger will often adapt their writing style, tone, and caliber to make more of an impact on readers.

Transparency matters

At the higher level of black belt, instructors can read students easily. How a person bows into class, what they do when they think your back is turned, or how loudly they kia (karate yell) tells me where their heart is in regards to training. If you’ve read enough blogs, you can probably do something similar as you read the tone, energy, and voice of a blog writer.

I could probably come up with more ways they are similar, but how about you? Can you see other ways karate and blogging are alike?

Sharing the Seattle Journey

This is a guest post by Randi of Foreign Quang. It came about after an exchange we had in her comment boxes. It’s long, it’s lovely and it moved me to tears, something which Randi’s open heart, sincerity and refreshing style often do. Please put the kettle on and savour this. I will be doing more guest posts in the future so let me know if there’s something you’d like to share with our community.

The Journey is No Fun Alone

by Randi of Foreign Quang 

seattle

A couple of weeks ago I was doing dishes when I started to pay attention to a TV show that was playing in the background.  My ten-year old son had been watching something, got bored, and ran outside to play, leaving the TV on as “ignored noise.”

Former gang members, now elderly, were reflecting about their involvement in the 1965-Watts riots.  One of the men stated that most gang members at that time never left a ten-block radius of their homes in their entire lives.  That statistic astounded me.

Traveling for me has always been an eye-opener.  I’ve learned that most people are basically the same, no matter which state lines I’ve crossed. They all want to be happy in their jobs. They love their children. They want to have some peace at the end of their day. And most of them are kind to strangers.

What would life be like for a gang member who got to travel?  I am certain that a person who never leaves a ten-block radius in his life has a skewed world vision.  What if he was able to see that not all people were out to cause him harm? How would his perceptions change?

On my recent drive to Seattle, I learned anew about the wonder of people through those who unknowingly shared my journey. 

The Seattle Mystery Man

On the morning we went to the Space Needle, a man with short dark hair shared our elevator ride. He looked like someone I had seen on TV, so he stood out from the crowd.

Later that afternoon, we were walking to a Mexican restaurant we heard hadspace-needle delicious food.  We walked into a parking area and walking out of the same area was the man from the Space Needle.  I thought it odd, after all, Seattle is home to some half a million people.  What are the odds that we would run into that same man?

After eating, we headed for a Mariners baseball game. I had never been to a pro-ball game of any kind, so I was anxious to go.  Guess who brushed past me in the ball game crowd?  Yup. The same man.  I couldn’t say whether I felt more like I was in an episode of Lost or The Twilight Zone. 

How often do the same people cross our paths and we don’t notice it?  And when we do notice it, what are we meant to know from it?  Why are certain things or people drawn to our attention?

Free Parking

It has been awhile since we have lived in a big city. For the last twelve years we have lived in secluded rural America. We forget about things like having to pay to park somewhere.

When we planned our trip to Seattle, we neglected to budget for parking places. Our first trip to downtown Seattle was a shocker. We had planned on being there most of the day between the Space Needle, eating lunch and visiting the fascinating museums.  The $20 price tag on our parking spot though, caused us a little deliberation.

Our discussion ended when a very nice woman pulled up and asked us if we were going to be spending the day in Seattle, and if so, had we paid for our parking?  She told us that she had already paid  $20 for a full day and was not going to be able to stay after all. Would we like to use her parking spot?  For free?  Hmmm…that was a no-brainer!

Accident? Co-Incidence? Someone looking out for us?  What do you believe?

To the lady in Seattle who gave us the very generous gift, we say “Thank you.”

Even Children are Customers

Snoqualmie FallsWaterfalls, I am sure, are among the most majestic sights in the world.  There is something about the power of falling water that intrigues even the most jaded among us.

When we pulled into our parking spot at Snoqualmie Falls, we could already hear the roar of the falls and feel the rumble under our feet.  We followed the crowd toward the lookout points. Most people stood in silence, whether from awe or because trying to hear your companions was pointless anyway, I don’t know.

I could have stayed all day, watching the water as it pounded into the river below and created a mist when it crashed onto the rocks. 

My son was anxious to visit the gift shop. It was the second day of our trip and he still had money to spend.

He found a display for polished rocks. The shiny blue, purple, orange and black rocks felt smooth and cool in his hand. On the display were small leather bags of varying sizes, but no prices. The store was very crowded and the only clerks available were the ones at the checkout stands, so Jeremiah waited patiently in line so that he could ask the price.

When it was finally his turn, he asked the blonde cashier about the rocks. She smiled and told him the prices of the bags and said to him, “Whichever bag you choose, make sure you pack that bag full. Get as many rocks in there as you can, OK?”

He went back and chose the smallest of the bags so that he would still have money to spend later. Again, he waited in the long line for his turn.

When he got the same cashier, she again smiled at him and made a show out of feeling his bag. “Yup, you did a good job. I don’t think I could have gotten any more rocks in there.”  He felt pleased that he had done well.

To the cashier at Snoqualmie Falls who took the time in a busy day to treat a child with respect, I say “You rock!”

Positive vs. Negative

At my first professional baseball game I learned something about baseball fans.  They are…um…emotional.  

The Mariners started off well the night we went. I thought for sure they would beat LA. After the fifth inning though, things turned sour. The Angels came from behind and surpassed the Mariners. The fans also turned sour.

mariners1All around us we heard people shouting and muttering negative rants against the Mariners.  Disgruntled fans started leaving. My son asked me why people were leaving when the game wasn’t even over and I said, “Because they’re poor sports.”

One young man stood out as a ray of light. He was about twenty years old, sitting with his family.  As The Mariners did worse, his loud chants got more supportive. “C’mon, baby, you can do it. Show us what you’ve got, my brother!”  He was laughing and getting all of us around him laughing too. His mom laughed and shook her head, acting a little embarrassed but he just replied with a loud, “I love you, Mama!”  Every time a new batter went up, he cheered and hooted. He stayed until the game was over.

To the African American young man at the May 18 Mariners game in Seattle sitting in the nosebleed section between home and first base I say, “Thank you for showing my son what it means to be a good sport.”

 A Fork in the Road

My step-daughter, Naomi is a huge fan of the Stephenie Meyer Twilight series.  When she decided to go with us to Seattle, we knew that Forks, forksWashington would be a mandatory side-trip for us. Apparently, according to Twilight legend, when Stephenie Meyer was writing the novel, she wanted the story to take place in a dark, dismal, area, conducive to vampire activity. She searched on the internet for a place in the U.S. that had the most yearly rainfall and came up with Forks.  Instead of being familiar only to Washingtonians as a good fishing spot, Forks is now known worldwide.  (Pay attention budding novelists: Take a small town and make it famous.)

It takes a day of driving to get from Seattle to Forks and back, but the trip was well worth it, thanks to the residents of Forks.

Our first stop was in front of the “Welcome” sign at the town entrance. The second place we visited was the town information center.  The two women working there were a credit to their town.

From the moment we walked in, Twilight memorabilia surrounded us.  The lady at the counter had Naomi sign a Twilight guest book, and told us that over 5,000 visitors came last month just because of the book.  They had a truck similar to the one Bella drove in the movie and had signs available, such as “We Love Edward and Bella,” to have in your photographs. We stayed awhile just listening to the stories the ladies had to tell about meeting Stephenie Meyer and their involvement in Twilight activities. 

The next stop was at a store called “Dazzled by Twilight.”   The store of course, carries only items related to the Twilight series.  The employees were totally jazzed when we walked into the store. They had their own Twilight stories to tell, especially a blonde clerk who spoke with a foreign accent.  She and Naomi traded tales and later they traded $100 in return for Twilight merchandise.

The restaurants in town won’t be left out. We saw signs for “The BellaBurger” and “Bellasagna.”

To the residents of Forks, Washington, “Thanks for making our journey worth our time.”

Being Green

Tim’s sister and her husband own a copy shop in Monroe, Washington.  It was a frequent stopping point during our trip. 

I was impressed to see that on the way out, there is a rack full of various sizes and colors of spiral bound notepads, all for free.  The sign there tells us that the notebooks are made of scrap paper that would otherwise be thrown out, so please take one.  If they were to charge for them, they could easily get $1-$3 apiece.

I also left with a full box of unlined index cards in various sizes. Again, these are scraps that the store bundles with like sizes and has available at the front door. These are perfect for flash cards and note taking.  Such generosity is recycling at its best.

To the Monroe Digital Copy Center we say, “Thank you for being green!”

I felt her there

Your friend and mine, Janice Hunter, was with me in spirit on my journey. Before I left, Janice encouraged me to smell the sea breeze. I couldn’t wait to comply! 

On our trip to Forks, we drove along the Washington coastline. Our view of the ocean from the highway was obscured by trees most of the way.  Finally, we saw snippets of ocean and decided to stop at the next rest area.

Behind the restrooms was a short trail leading to a lookout view of the Pacific. Sunlight glistened off the wet rocks below as the surf pounded the shore. The men were kind of sleepy, so Naomi and I decided to follow a different steep trail down to the beach so the kids could play.  I was so glad we did.

seattle-oceanAs I neared the end of the lush fern riddled trail, the most delicious smell greeted me-a combination of sweet greenery and ocean mist.  Sea breeze, I thought to myself. This is what Janice was talking about. 

Toward the end of my stay in Washington I happened to check in at my blog and found more words from Janice, asking me to sip some Seattle coffee for her.  Tim’s kids, Naomi and Nathan love coffee. I have never been a fan, but the challenge was there!  On a couple of outings we searched for the right place to take a picture of me sipping coffee for Janice. Alas, due to time constraints we never did have the cappuccino-fest that I was hoping for. Sorry, Janice. We’ll just have to go there together some time.

To Janice, “Thanks for sharing my journey.

Line of Duty

memorialOn the way home, we stopped at a rest area for…um…a rest.  Tim pointed me to a sign, a memorial to an officer killed in the line of duty.  Trooper James S. Gain was killed on the same day that Tim’s youngest son, Nathan, was born. I was touched, both by Trooper Gain’s sacrifice, and by the evidence of the circle of life. A man gives his life protecting others, and an infant enters the world. 

To Trooper James S. Gain I say, “Thank you for touching my life, twenty-two years after your death.”

Lately I’ve realized that the happy news–the news that makes us excited to walk outside our door instead of lurking inside, frightened– the news that shows us that we are all really sharing the same journey, can be found on blogs.  Through blogs we share the unbelievable coincidences, the unexpected miracles, and the moments of euphoria that mark our human existence.  We are not alone. 

Make sure the impression you leave with others makes them delighted that you shared part of their journey.

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Randi, I can’t express how touched I am that you chose to share your journey with us.  I hope you’ve moved other Sharing The Journey readers to do the same. This site is here to be used and enjoyed by everyone who visits – to share life journeys and real journeys.