Friday, August 28, 2009

My Homework Assignment

I'm headed to a 2 1/2 day "customized consulting services, training, and personal performance coaching for sales, service, and underwriting professionals in the insurance industry" seminar next week.

Prior to attending, we were assigned a book to read, a questionnaire to complete, and an essay to write. The essay was My Life...In 500 Words Or Less. But for Pete's Sake, if you're only going to give me 500 words, you might as well only give me 50! 500 and I'm just getting started.

So anyway, I wrote the essay once, probably going over my word limit, and lying awake for awhile unsatisfied with my summary. Too dry. Too negative. Sure I've had some less than picture-perfect times in my life. Times I can be embarrassed about and ashamed of. And sure I can spin those times to show how they have naturally contributed to my personality and maturity, made me stronger, humbler, yada yada. But it isn't so much what has happened to me as who has happened. And so I wrote this instead and I was much happier:

My Life…In 500 Words or Less. Take 2

There are the events of my life story, and then there are the people of my life story. My childhood included my 2 young parents, a younger brother & sister, both sets of grandparents and many aunts, uncles, and cousins. All were nearby enough for big family gatherings and attendance at school programs, softball games and track meets. I was surrounded by a big group of loving and encouraging people.
My grandmothers were both positive influences in my life. One was the traditional sweet older grandmother, fantastic cook, gentle, and patient. The other was the younger, creative, and beautiful grandmother, who let us paint and sew and swim to our hearts content. I have an immense admiration for their faithfulness, strength, loving kindness, and down to earth spirituality. I credit their prayers for so much of the grace in my life.
My mom gave me a love for reading and quiet solitude. My dad pushed me to be a better softball player, throwing catch over the house from front yard to back. They shuttled me to practices and games and attended band concerts. When teenage angst and the accompanying bad decisions ruled my life, they patiently waited as I struggled through and they welcomed me with open arms as I returned the prodigal daughter. They are loving grandparents to my children and supportive in-laws to my husband.
My grandfather encouraged me that I had a beautiful smile and that “I could do anything if I put my mind to it.” He taught me to play pool and how to plant a garden. He taught me that tomatoes, avocados, and Hershey bars are some of the best stuff on earth. He pushed me to learn as much as I could and make the most of my mind. When I was about 10 years old, he raced me in a foot race on the beach and didn’t let me win. He told me wonderful stories of his childhood adventures and encouraged me to be adventurous, too. Just try!
My brother and sister were my main playmates at home where the small semi-rural neighborhood was scarce of other children. We played barefoot all summer. We had fun times when we were younger, but I’ve enjoyed our adult years together even more. Now I can better appreciate them for the great people they are and for the crazy sense of humor we all share.
My children and husband are the biggest part of my life and I feel like I’ve hit the lottery when I think of how incredible they all are. My husband is my best friend and my partner. He is the entrepreneurial spirit and I am tactical support. Being parents is our biggest responsibility and our biggest joy. We only need to share a knowing look to understand what the other is thinking. From large to small, they have all made me a better person: more giving, more patient, more appreciative and more humble. And I still have so much to learn!

The End.

So again, the 500 words weren't near enough, but I think I may continue the essay in the same vein adding all the folks I couldn't pack into those couple paragraphs. Give it a try yourself. I think you might like it.


Michelle Johnson said...

Your story is great, kind and strong in family roots. You carry some fond memories of childhood with you and are well grounded in the family you share with your husband and children. Hope everything stays as happy and strong as this for a long time to come. Have a great night.

Camp Papa said...

Yours is a life to be celebrated. You are obviously a blessing to your family and, less obviously, to people you've not even met. I once heard a eulogy sum up a man's life with these words, "He came when he was called on. He helped where he could and he did it all with love." If you can say that about a person's life, all the rest is detail.

Michele Renee said...

As someone who has enjoyed reading about your current life, this overview was really nice to read.

Jen said...

That was beautiful! You had me a bit teary-eyed here:)

You sound like an amazing woman.

OsageBluffquilter said...

What a great story! what a blessing to have all those grandparents. Mine (I only got to meet 3) we old it seems when I was young. the kind where you were to be seen and not heard. If you were good you got a piece of horehound candy out of Grandma's linen drawer!
Have a great weekend.

honeypiehorse said...

Very nice. In my fantasy childhood I too ran around barefoot with siblings.

Emily said...

You're a brilliant writer. Well done. How about Dan and Donn? lol. Love.

Ma said...

How beautiful.You see you and your siblings never knew this but I will tell you now.I was allowed 3 wishes but I could only use them every couple of years. That's why you are all different ages. God blessed me with the exact kids I wanted.

Annette said...

Beautiful, Sara.

Amy said...

I love your writing, Sara. And I miss those barefoot days, too!

Becky said...


I will not be attempting this. TOO HARD. Plus yours is hard to beat.

Anonymous said...

Ooooh, I loved this. I'm with Michele Renee - it's so fun to know some of your back story! What wonderful people you've had around you in your life - and can I say, I love that your momma reads your blog!!