Last weekend my family and I were enjoying breakfast at one of our favorite local restaurants. It was Christmas Eve morning. The restaurant was full of people in a festive mood, enjoying each other’s company. As we finished, our waitress approached the table. Our bill had been paid by an anonymous patron whose Christmas tradition was to pay for another table’s meal. We were so surprised, saying “thank you” didn’t seem adequate. We called our waitress and her manager back over and told her we wanted to pay it forward. We left her with the cash equivalent of our bill, to pay for someone else’s meal. After my husband posted the story on Facebook, the manager later commented the gesture had continued throughout the day and was paid forward many times over. We were all touched by this beautiful example of kindness, caring and compassion. It is also a powerful example of how the initial action of one person set into motion a chain of events that brought joy to so many. Chances are that person has no idea the ultimate impact their gesture had - how beautiful is that?
Five years ago, I decided I was going to write a parenting book. I knew nothing about writing a book. I had read a lot of books, I was a parent and I had a unique perspective, so I felt I was qualified (being naïve was a blessing). I wrote casually for about six weeks before I sent my first few chapters to my three best girlfriends. I’ve known these ladies since we were kids, so I figured they wouldn’t hold back in giving me honest feedback. They didn’t respond immediately. The next time we were all together, I asked them point blank and assured them I could handle it. They didn’t dislike it, but one said the concepts and activities within “seem like a lot of work.” Not the response I was expecting, but I was not discouraged. I knew these concepts were important, but I certainly didn’t want it to seem like “work”. I kept the book on the shelf for a couple months as I tried to figure out the next best action. Then one day after work I was at happy hour with a colleague. She was talking about starting a blog. She had all the details planned out, but while listening to her, I knew she would never follow through with it. As I drove home, I realized I could take pieces of my book and convert them into small blog posts. I knew I could spend a lot of time researching different platforms, names and designs, but I didn’t want to end up like my colleague, so I pushed myself to set it all up within 24 hours. One blog turned into two and then three. I spent an hour, maybe two a week, with a goal of writing around 600 words a post. These small, weekly actions all added up to the picture above - 220 pages and over 125,000 words - more than enough for an easy-to-read book for parents that won’t seem like a lot of work.
Often, we think we need to do something big to make a difference. We make resolutions to lose weight, cut out caffeine or sugar, exercise, quit smoking/drinking, get a new job, save more money or spend more time with family/friends and in the end, we don’t follow through. We try to do too much too fast. When we get off course for a day or two or three, we think all is lost and stop all together. When it comes to action, bigger is not always better. One small action of buying a stranger breakfast, leads to a handful of others doing the same. One small action of writing one blog a week, can lead to a book. Break it down. Keep it small. Most of all, go easy on yourself. Celebrate the small victories and they will add up to more than you ever imagined.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.