My sunflower, my momma bear.

I woke up today. That is so much more than about 150,000 others can say. If you’re sniffing through this article, you are the lucky one, too!! The truth is, my ceaseless gratitude is blatant plagiarism. I would have SO been expelled in college had I pulled this theft on an assignment! I have morphed into this positivity essential oil diffuser, dispersing optimism into the air via a fine vapor that gently absorbs into your body, frankly whether you like it or not.

This attitude and outlook on life has been a massive part of my upbringing because of one key component: my mother. You might notice a sunflower tattooed on my right forearm. Tattooed. Permanent. Forever. AND ever. I haven’t made this type of commitment since, hmmm, 24 years ago when I came into this world. Thanks for the assist there, mom!

What I want to share has a lot to do with what I think of when I think of my mom and/or any sunflower strolling down the street.

When I look at my mom, I see strength. I see a woman who has faced such terrible degrees of loss in her life, yet still exults in the pure joy of waking up in the morning. I see a woman displaying the type of positivity and zest for life that makes your neighbor need a nap. It’s an organic, contagious energy.

When I look at my mom, I see a woman who would donate her entire physical vessel if it meant giving another person the opportunity to look at a sea turtle or do a 1000-piece puzzle in a poorly lit dining room.

When I think of my mom, I think of the night she kidnapped me from my hospital room, only to take me for a 10-minute wheelchair ride from one side entrance to the other, cafeteria cheesecake in tow. I think of the spontaneity that comes out of her mouth, and the way she keeps a crowd laughing and uplifted without a finger of effort. That’s the kind of person I want in my corner.

When I imagine the woman I want to be, I want to be the woman who rises to the occasion. If there’s an opportunity to sleep on a crappy, uncomfortable recliner parallel to my own daughter sleeping in a hospital bed, count me in. Because that’s the kind of woman who doesn’t just feel love, she expresses it through action. That’s the kind of woman I want to be.

When I look at the pain my own creator has endured, I feel as though I’m standing on the lip of a volcano, looking down at what could come. I am inspired to make the world’s best lemonade out of the world’s most rotten ginger root. If a human being can bear a child, birth a child, and lose that same child some time later and still have the drive to wake up and face her life, then I am convinced we can do just about anything. I mean anything. Except walk on water. Or go to Target without spending $100+.

My mom once made a joke about me favoring my dad more than I favor her. Emphasis on the joke. Looking at the hand I’ve been dealt in terms of parental figures, I couldn’t choose one over the other even if the ice cream market’s existence depended on it.

When I look at my mom, I feel an overwhelming amount of empowerment. I think “WWTD?” (what would Tina do?) and it’s game on. I’ll tackle whatever hand I’ve been dealt with determination, whimsy, and gratitude. You should, too. For example, if you stub your big toe, be thankful you have a big toe to stub. If you say something silly (hourly occurrence for the Wagner chicks), be happy you have a tongue to pronounce the series of words that make you wish there were a fireman’s pole within arms reach so you could swiftly make your exit. There is always a bright side, and while some find that perspective exhausting, it’s all that we know and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When I look at my sunflower, I see healing. I see a reason to find the strength to carry on. I see the beauty in overcoming. I see myself thirty years from now, loving on my grandchildren and reminiscing on the time my mom and I visited my own grandma, playing cards and laughing until we all needed a doctor. I’ll be looking back on the day my mom pushed me around in a shopping cart at Walmart as a 21-year-old adult. Or the night I cried for hours, begging my mom to sleep next to me because my heart was so broken I didn’t know if I would wake up the next morning. And that’s exactly what she did. I’ll vividly recall the days we felt pure joy while eating stale omelettes from the hospital cafeteria, knowing full-well that the eggs were not in fact eggs at all. They were likely some sort of liquidized cardboard, obviously with a sprinkle of pepper.

Mom, I love you. I love that you gave me your smile, your bunions, your humor, and a first name that most always gets mispronounced. I love that you give every thing you have with nothing expected in return. I love that you face fear as if it is just another friendly stranger, when the rest of us want to crawl in a hole for a few weeks until we have no other choice BUT to face it. You’re a sunflower, and I can only hope to bring light into the world like you do one day.

Some X’s, but mainly O’s,
Your favorite daughter

 

Advertisements

BUY THE BELT, ALREADY!

Let me set the scene for you. You’re a 24-year-old, averagely sized, healthy-in-the-thigh-arena, adult… if you will. You prefer to wear jeans that a mouse could NOT crawl up the leg of, hypothetically, if the environment presented the opportunity. The modern jean market is saturated with the type of fit that’s fit for a 10-year-old who lacks the free reign to eat ice cream whenever she wants (Unless her parents own an ice cream shop all while she’s growing up… @mom @dad). What I mean is the thigh-to-waist ratio is a little off. So, you sacrifice the snug comfort of a tight-waisted pair of jeans in order to squeeze yourself in, although a dance, or a wiggle/shimmy/90s-aerobic-bouncing-squat is still 100% required to get ’em on.

This 24-year-old is me. If you’re a woman who also prefers to avoid the mouse thing, you know what I’m talking about! If you’re a man who feels this doesn’t apply because you have no fear of mice, read on. I’m almost done with the jean fixation. If you’re a person who simply doesn’t wear pants, please reach out to me privately because I’m interested in a lifestyle change.

With a skewed thigh-to-waist ratio comes a daily struggle of the fear of exposing an area of your body most don’t in any given common daily activity. Except plumbers, I guess, if you’re into stereotypes.

The solution would be to buy a belt. Or a different pair of jeans. Or wear long shirts for the rest of your life. But for the last few years of my adult life, that’s been too easy for someone like me. I prefer to take the most illogical, resistance-filled path in life. I also measure my maturity by whether or not I own a charcuterie board. And whether or not I can spell the word charcuterie. I aged at least five years by swiping my card at Target yesterday. As it turns out, you can buy wisdom!

Here is the kicker. I BOUGHT A BELT!!!! I understand this means very little to any one of you reading this, but there’s a message that I taught myself by finding a cute little black belt for $8 on clearance. I promise the message is NOT about pants. But I will tell you, my life was changed by this belt.

Think about the little things in your life that you’ve been putting off. The things you wake up thinking “today is the day I knock this out” … and then you don’t. It could be as dreadful as filing your taxes, as consuming as cleaning out your closet, or as simple as responding to a freaking TEXT.  Seriously, I need to get my sh*t together on that last one.

What is holding you back? Time? Capacity? Fear? Doubt? Shame? Do you not have a closet? Is that why you can’t clean it out? Because you don’t have one?

Just – DO – THE – THING. Take the trip. Send the email. Say you’re sorry. Get rid of the nasty, dusty clutter. Get a tattoo (if it’s meaningful and you’re not under the influence). Break up with your significant other (just kidding, but if you need to, then now’s the time). Get a dog. Get one for me, too! Name him Harvey.

Or, if you’re like the old me, living a life full of lower back draftiness, buy the belt.

We subconsciously fill our days with unnecessary fear or dread associated with a certain thing. And then, it comes to fruition and we realize we wasted some really precious time not feeling the joys of life. And trust me, I know about the joys of life. I had a staring contest with a deer on my way home tonight. I think he even winked at me.

Speaking of precious time, thank you for reading. Go get that thing knocked out. WRECK IT, gently. I believe in you!

XOXO
Ciarra

“if you r reading this it’s too late”

Last Sunday, I made an emergency trek to the store for a basic and common household item I was running low on. My wine rack, which provides shelter and support to four wine bottles at a time, was down to three bottles. Three.

I had zero intention of having a Sunday-Funday-Drink-Wine-And-Nap-Day, but ask any OCD-fueled individual and they will concur — you cannot equally proportion three of anything within four plots. The options were: drink a bottle or buy a bottle. Talk about finding yourself wedged between a rock and a hard place!

I threw on my winter coat, slid out the door, down the stairs, and into the damp. I rounded the corner to my garage, and came to a screeching halt at the site of something that gave me the equivalent to the combined feelings of accidentally stepping on your puppy’s paw and calling your significant other by your ex’s name: a sweet, soft, infant rodent, huddled against the building, frozen to death. It is a cruel, hard world.

Obviously, I called my dad immediately. I asked him if he’d support my decision to take Nibbles, the mouse, into my kitchen and thaw him out in the microwave. Apparently, that’s not how freezing to death works. You cannot rewind that Netflix show,  “undo” that typo, or recall that email.

Understanding my own endgame: a restocked wine rack, I hopped in my car and turned on some Khalid, who dropped the words of “And all the things that I know, that your parents don’t,” and all I felt was a burning responsibility to call Nibs’ mom and break the news to her. WHY couldn’t he have just burrowed in the snow for warmth, or knocked on my door? I have a spare bedroom and room for at least 208 Nibbles + friends.

After I got past the selfish confusion around what transpired leading up to Nibs’ downfall, I made it to the store and felt ready to dive into my fermented grape hunt.

Realizing I was ignoring my own desire to go to the bathroom, I made my way into the stall to fetch a sense of relief whose very existence I was questioning at this point. I looked up from the task at hand, and read, “If you r reading this it’s too late” written in chisel-tip Sharpie on the door of the stall.

Honest, I about gave up on humanity right then. I felt so bombarded by societal misfortune that I pondered the price of a ticket to Mars. Though a part of my soul felt that perhaps this was written with a lack of sincerity or due to the exposure to some depressant-like drug or by a big Drake fan, the reality is, it’s far too likely that a poor, suffering soul wrote this in a time of darkness and surrender.

I wish with all of my being that I could seek out this individual, seemingly left-handed by the upward angle of the text, and wrap her up in a hug so tight she’d forget her pain.

The lack of time and space between these two “encounters” gave me a Whiskey-stiff dose of reality and grounding. It drives home a key point in a book I am reading, “Resisting Happiness”, that suggests everyone is fighting a hard battle that we know nothing about.

The idea that every single beating heart is struggling through something, whether it’s an ant trying to carry a heavy blade of grass up to the entrance of the anthill, or a 24-year-old girl struggling with loneliness, rejection, confusion or an all around “f*ck it” mentality, is beyond my own words. We cannot just think, “that’s the dog-eat-dog world we live in.” It’s a testament to the fact that something is missing. Perhaps something as simple as kindness. Understanding. Open-mindedness. Empathy.

Neither myself or you reading this can solve world-hunger, chronic depression, or midwestern tundra temperatures. The perceived problems are far beyond one being’s own power. BUT, the mere fact that life is messy provides an opportunity for each one of us to act upon it. I don’t care if you tip someone an extra dollar, shovel your neighbor’s snow, or offer a freaking smile to a stranger. Just do it!?! There’s no one holding a gun to our head forcing us to act with selflessness or pure kindness, but we should be holding our own metaphorical standard-raising-weapon-of-choice to our body part of choice… this is getting wordy and confusing. Just be a kind person. I am talking to myself, and I’m talking to you. Your mom, my mom, and both of our grandmas would want the same.

Be kind, be gentle, and don’t exhibit a lack of regard to any person in your life. Please also don’t let your wine supply get below a level of comfort!

Thank you for reading.
Ciarra

 

When Single Girls are Left Alone…

When I started my first job out of college a few years ago, I found myself with a newfound, overwhelming amount of freedom.  I often wondered, “What do adults do after work?” given I felt no pressing desire to spend life after 5PM with my nose in a textbook.  I’m proud to say after nearly three years of research and case studies, I can answer that question with confidence. We adults wear onesies and eat sushi with our roommate, find logical reasons to treat Tuesday’s 5PM as if it were Friday’s 5PM, and vacuum incredibly straight carpet lines.

With that said, the curiosity never ends. After excelling in one area of your studies, it’s only natural to proceed to another. Last week, in true Ariana style, my brain was like, “Thank u, next” and I challenged myself to explore my own thoughts around romantic independence.

This next bit of research is raw and should provide overt evidence to anyone out there looking to understand the hamster wheel that is a single woman’s brain. The subject is yours truly, of course.

So, what goes on in that brain?

  1. The most affection I’ve received lately was the Target cashier’s hand brushing mine while he handed me my receipt last week. Decent frequency.
  2. “Woohoo it’s just me, myself, and my high standards, my imperfections, my lukewarm tea and I. Solo ride until I cry.” Is that how that G-Eazy song goes?
  3. Another friend engaged… Well I am engaged, too. To Netflix, beer sampling, and squatting. Is it really that different?
  4. Maybe if I expose myself to a new crowd of people, I will expedite the alignment of fate. OUR fate. Ugh, we sound so cute together!
  5. Am I crazy? I might be crazy.
  6. I should organize my Q-tips…Elicit some tranquility in the evening.
  7. Hey Siri, is organizing Q-tips a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder?
  8. I could just go to bed..
  9. Well shoot, it’s only 7:30.
  10. Will I sleep on the left or the right side of my bed tonight? Or the middle? Or upside down? This is liberating.
  11. Sideways it is.
  12. My feet are cold… So is my heart. I’ll put on some socks.
  13. This Ed Sheeran song is catchy. “The club isn’t the best place to find a lover so the bar is where I go.” Do we even have clubs here?? Club sandwiches, for sure.
  14. I’ve been told healing from a breakup takes time. It has only been like 31 months since the split of Branjolina. I need more time.
  15. I wonder if Ed Sheeran is still healing, too.
  16. He’s probably writing a song about it right now.
  17. I could balance my checkbook.
  18. I haven’t written a check since March of 2016.
  19. My succulents are looking a little thirsty.. I bet they think the same about me.
  20. Honestly this is just too much responsibility. Artificial plants are the way to go.
  21. I’m sure Target has a decent selection.
  22. Cashier hand-brushing… round two BABY!

 

If at any point you sensed sarcasm, always go with your gut. I’m just playing.

(Kind of)

Thank you for reading 😀
Ciarra

 

12/09/2016

I recently purchased a digital copy of a book geared toward self-improvement (also known as self-help, self-code-red, self-dear-God-please-wrap-your-arms-around-me), which reminded me I own an iPad from 2013. After digging through my Miscellaneous Drawer–keeper of all things practical, like a lonely “L” Nike sock, a dry erase marker, a red tie from when I dressed up as Donald Trump, and a used brake fluid corrosion test strip–I found my iPad charger and much to my delight, it is still working like a charm…thanks @Apple.

I felt compelled to explore. After all, it IS my personal property, and God knows I barely remember what I did a week ago, let alone two plus years ago. I opened up the Notes app, and rediscovered a little reflecting I composed shortly after a mini vacation. If I haven’t lost you yet, take a look!

“I flew to St. Petersburg to visit my other half and celebrate her birthday last Friday. Having booked the trip on a whim only five weeks in advance, you can about imagine it felt like Christmas Eve leading up to takeoff. 

On any given day, I am a very passionate girl. To be honest, it gets annoying being me sometimes. Cheap Merlot, new sushi huts for dinner, bubble baths, freshly grilled chicken nuggets– I am easily excitable. 

Is this a bad thing? The more I love life, the more life loves me. Even if it’s all in my head, it is so much fun. 

Back to my story. I was at the airport around 4 P.M., maybe one Southern and Coke deep, and I chose to sit in an empty row of seats because my social skills were in hibernation. After getting settled and pulling out my book, a sweet older couple joined me in my personal bubble torn up about where to sit. After offering to relocate so they could sit next to each other, they decided a Ciarra sandwich sounded good for dinner. How did I get so lucky?

We talked and talked… and talked some more. Born and raised Iowans that reside in Florida four months of the year to avoid the tundra, they enjoy golf and sunscreen 365 days a year.  After 72 hours of resonance, my hindsight is telling me I should have gotten their FL address so I can be a frequent flyer this winter.

Although the content of our conversation was nothing but casual fun, I couldn’t help but feel sad after. I mean heavy-heart-and-a-little-hopeless sad. Alice said she spent her whole life working a job she didn’t love waiting on the day she could retire. WHAT. 

While discussing our roots, she told me four times in a row where she was from, and it broke my heart. This woman has finally reached the point in her life in which she can travel and explore and live, and she has a short-term memory that has given up on her. Having known her for 27 minutes and counting, I am nothing short of certain this beautiful human being deserves the world.

Crying was not in the itinerary for this mini vacation. The Merlot that followed was. The thinking that accompanied my sadness was huge. We are here, in this world, living and breathing and making choices that eventually make us, RIGHT NOW. People, wake up.

For those of you saying the words, “It’s almost Friday!” day after day, please forever stop. Please stop living for the future. Please stop waiting in anticipation for this destination happiness. Please don’t wish your life away. It makes me sad and a little nauseous.

Right now, in this moment, we are doing things that will shape our next moment, and the one after that. Life is just a bunch of moments. So what if there is a little challenge and struggle? If you don’t take on this life willingly and with resilience and determination, you might as well be a gray blob on the Fairly Odd Parents, eating gray porridge for breakfast every morning. Boooooring.

Take this invaluable lesson that Alice has given me, and make time for life before you lose your health and ability to do so. If this means a 3-day trip down south to avoid the polar vortex or dedicating a day to watch Christmas movies that remind you of your childhood, just do it and love every minute of it. Though time is on nobody’s side, our best defense is living to the maximum. Your awareness, proactivity and diligence will keep you young forever, or at”

Guys. If you were as shocked as I was at that curveball of an unfinished sentence, you are not alone and we’ll get through this together. I read this after settling in bed for the night, and to say I was SHOOK is an understatement. You know how it feels when you hold in a sneeze? What was I thinking?!

I considered finishing the sentence two years later, but I couldn’t. It reminded me that life happens. Short and sweet. We get distracted, interrupted, or flat-out lose interest, and that’s okay. All we can do is keep rolling with the punches, and give some love to Monday-Thursday while we’re at it!

Thank you for reading,
Ciarra

 

Needles, Chocolate Pudding & Wisdom

I recently spent 141 unbroken hours under medical surveillance, where we did several pleasurable experiments with my blood, brain, arteries, and spinal fluid. The need for these activities was identified one Friday evening, when an MRI revealed several small-but-fresh lesions on my brain. Before the doctor addressed the age of these spots, I thought “Huh. This explains a lot: Me mistakenly calling an Aloe Vera plant a Neosporin plant, me thinking “breech” was a child’s name rather than its position during birth, me driving away from the gas station with the nozzle still lodged into the tank, etcetera.” Unfortunately, these spots have only been a resident of my hot air-holder for a few weeks, so the cause of the mentioned events remains a medical mystery, as do my brain lesions.

Although I would much rather toss around light-hearted jokes about the traumatic hospital stay I experienced, I’d like to share some stories that filled me up with wisdom. My hope is that you steal some of it without actually enduring the following.

Let’s talk about facing fears. Facing needles and facing fears.

On Night 1, I had to turn my head, close one eye, and hold my breath as a vial of blood was taken and an IV placed. My past experiences with needles usually ended with me getting dizzy or putting the phlebotomist in a choke-hold. I was thinking “Ok…the foreign object in my arm is temporary. Maybe they’ll pull it out tomorrow.”  And THEN, they slipped me some meds that sent my headache on a weeklong vacation to Mykonos and made my heart and toes warm. The warm toes paired with daily blood tests ended with me watching the needle with both eyes open by the end of the week. Victory is mine.

On Day 2, I learned a new word: angiogram. My survival crew was going to cut into my groin area and use a catheter to shoot dye into my bloodstream so everyone could take a gooooood long look at the situation to find the perpetrator that sent blood clots to my brain (a felony in my opinion, btw). First of all, the pros: more toe-warming meds. The cons: possible heart attack, bleeding out, and making my mom and I disconnect hands as they drug me into the surgical arena. I had to go Full-Blown Coach Ciarra on myself, whispering “show me brave, show me tough” repeatedly, while blinking rapidly to disguise my silent sobbing.

On Day 6, I sat upright in my bed, smelling the coffee in front of me while waiting for it to cool. Honestly, the last thing I needed at that point was a scorched tongue. How would I taste my chocolate pudding with burnt tastebuds?? My mom brought me a latté to distract me from the terror scheduled for 12pm: the lumbar puncture. Something I would compare to maple tree tapping. At 9:40, a knock at the door indicated it was time for me to ditch the coffee and flee the country. The doctor arrived early. The procedure brought me physical pain I did not even know existed. I don’t want you to pass out, so I’ll leave you with this: I wish a lumbar puncture upon nobody, not even the people that choose cats over dogs. Important to note: spinal fluid is clear, like vodka.

Takeaways: Face fear with both eyes open. Feel all of the pain. It’s a sick way to level up in the game of strength. 

Let’s talk about identity crisis. Maybe not quite like Bruce Jenner pre-sex transition, but close.

For the last 1.5 years, I’ve eaten, slept, and breathed fitness. Like take the stairs 18 stories although there are two functioning elevators, park two miles away from the door, eat spinach and Brussels sprouts daily for the fun of it kind of fitness. It is the king of my values, (second to faith, family, and brushing my teeth for two full minutes twice daily). Guess what the first no-no added to my list of daily activities was? MOVEMENT! I couldn’t even go for a walk around the floor in my butt-cheeks-fully-visible gown. To an average human, horizontal television absorption all day could sound thrilling. To me, it sounded nauseating. Mainly because I am used to Netflix where there are no commercials.

Living with chronic goal-setting syndrome, my daily tasks typically consisted of exercising, eating clean and getting a high dosage of sleep. Having instilled that lifestyle into my heart/brain/soul, it’s been a difficult transition into what feels like doing absolutely nothing.

On Day 2, I woke up thinking “I am broken.” I reminisced on my lifestyle leading up to this speed bump and how I tackled every day like the beast I had worked so hard to become. Then, I decided to adjust my goals. I couldn’t go to the gym, prep chicken and veggies, or sleep diagonally on my stomach in my queen bed at home, but I could drink tons of water, stand for a few minutes every hour, and think about all of my blessings when I got discouraged or sad. Those all feel like they lack complexity being three weeks removed, but in the moment, they were just enough to fill my cup and make me feel accomplished. Plus, I am not broken…I am in repair.

Takeaways: Have adjustable goals. Don’t put all of your Identity Eggs in one basket. Cut yourself some slack. 

Let’s talk about humility. Like, the opposite of the way I felt when I peed my pants at Karate practice in the third grade.

On Day 2, after transitioning to a room in the Neurology unit, I went to get up and go to the bathroom, only to be asked to remain lying down as I was on bed rest until further notice. Having the world’s smallest bladder, I wondered what humiliating challenge lied ahead. Turns out, there’s really not a great way for females to use bedpans, and 11 times out of 10, you will end up lying in your own urine. There is nothing uncomfortable about it, except everything. If you’re like me and stuck in Ciarra’s World, you need to take a biiiig step back and understand that a little bit of urine exposure is better than causing a health catastrophe while on the toilet (See below).

After my Angiogram around noon, also on Day 2, I was assigned six hours of horizontal lying, after which I could stand up and use the restroom if I felt ambitious. Well, news flash, Ambitious is my middle name, also sometimes spelled A-n-n, so when 6PM hit, I buzzed in my nurse, Ian, and proudly announced to him that I would be standing up to use the restroom, meaning: no bedpan needed, thankyouverymuch. I stood – wobbled to the bathroom – sat – handled things – stood again – got very lightheaded – heard very loud rock music – my vision went black – my body got hot – I felt like I was 396lbs, and I fainted and fell into the arms of my nurses.

I came fully conscious back in my bed with sweat dripping from my entire body and the nurses fanning me. My mom stood next to the bed and pleadingly said, “This isn’t a deal breaker, Ciarra. You’re okay.” Meanwhile I thought, “This is a deal breaker. I told Ian I was going to do this and I failed. He’s never going to let me pee on my own again. Also, did I wash my hands??”

Ah, the humility of fainting, failing, and peeing on yourself. We’ve all been there.

Takeaways: Don’t let anything discourage you. Let failure and embarrassment fuel you.

For the first full 23 years of my life, I’ve felt pretty untouchable, dodging health challenges like a parkour athlete dodging the sidewalk. Nothing has brought me down off my pedestal quicker than an unexplained brain injury. I am so grateful for the support I received throughout, and I’m incredibly lucky to have a full recovery waiting for me somewhere up ahead, along with lots of blue skies and the best days ever.

Thank you for reading,
Ciarra

Failure. It’s for the birds.

While driving home from work one evening and listening to a song exclusively fit for a solo pity-party, I reflected on the major happenings of the nine hours prior. I tackled a handful of tasks with confidence, assertiveness and intention. I squeezed in a few laughs and even practiced discipline by refusing a generous cupcake offer.

I also managed to let a ball drop — I might even say the ball crashed, broke my grandma’s hip, caught fire and burned down a village. Though the several successes I experienced throughout the day went unrecognized internally, the one less attractive situation was not received well by the bully-like voices in my head (that I think just lounge around sipping tea all day waiting for my imperfections to drop a new single). My initial thoughts were something like, “How do I take two steps forward and then one step backwards? It seems I am getting nowhere.”

Mid-reflection, I witnessed an eye-opening event involving a complete stranger (The stranger was a bird – a sparrow, perhaps a petite robin, and for the sake of this story, a male).

While keeping both eyes on the road, I watched this poor bird flap its wings harder and harder and get absolutely nowhere. He didn’t stand a chance in the strong winds. He literally stayed in the same spot for what felt like an eternity, despite putting in his best effort. While witnessing this bird fail publicly, I suddenly felt a strong surge of empathy. Here is a bird, simply trying to get from Point A to Point B, flapping his wings at full capacity and failing.

 

Haven’t we all been there?

 

Failure. It’s the ugly, annoying and unwelcome creature that sneaks into your agenda without a formal meeting invite — like the gnat that crash lands in your ice-water the moment you go to take a sip.

Instead of ceasing the flapping, surrendering the fight, and falling dramatically to his death, this bird kept at it. Though the wind pushed him backward, he persevered because he had a goal–perhaps a worm-related goal. A goal is a goal.

My brief moment of bird-watching reminded me that life will not always go the way I want it to. There are going to be days full of strong winds. There are going to be public failures. There are going to be steps backward. And that’s OK. Fail humbly. Don’t succumb to the strong winds. Put a death grip on your confidence and keep on flapping.