My husband and I took our 13-year-old granddaughter to New York City in June. It was a wonderful time. It also gave me a great deal to think about. These are just a few initial thoughts. I plan to reflect upon them more in the days and weeks to come. I hope it will provide things for you to think about as well.
When we were riding the subway I realized viscerally that everyone has a story, just like I do. I don’t know their stories, and they don’t know mine. Even with our friends, we rarely tell our complete story. I think it’s important to respect that their stories are just as important to them as ours are to us.
We visited Ellis Island. It was very moving. It took a great deal of courage to leave everything, and sometimes everyone, to start a new life in a new land. Many things have changed since then, and many have not. It also made me realize how much we have to be grateful for. I packed more for a one-week vacation than many of the immigrants brought with them to start a new life.
It’s important to keep children safe. It’s also important to let them have age-appropriate experiences. One way a child gains self-confidence is through new experiences, experiences that challenge her to a certain extent. Although you want her to be cautious enough that she won’t run into a dangerous situation, you don’t want her to be fearful of everything, you want her to enjoy new experiences. It’s a difficult balance. And we only had responsibility for our granddaughter for a week!
We planned to take an evening tour on an open, double-deck bus. When it came time to leave the hotel for the tour, I did not feel well. All I wanted to do was lie down. I knew it wasn’t anything serious–I had just been eating way too much rich food and my system was rebelling. I thought about telling my husband and granddaughter to go without me, but I didn’t want to miss sharing this experience with them. I decided to go. Every time I started to focus on the negative–that I didn’t feel well–I made a conscious decision to focus on something positive. I focused what my husband and granddaughter were saying, I focused on what the tour guide was saying, I focused on the sights, I focused on how good the breeze felt after a hot day. Each time I focused on something positive, I forgot that I felt bad. Our focus creates our world, our life.
We took a horse-drawn carriage ride in Central Park one evening. Initially, I felt a little sorry for the horses. In thinking further, however, I realized that if they weren’t pulling carriages, they probably would not be alive. Not many people can afford horses as pets. These are working animals, and probably not working as hard as they would have been 100-plus years ago working in farm fields or hauling wagons in the city streets. At least today there are more regulations regarding humane treatment of animals. Sometimes we need to look beyond our initial thoughts.
There are lessons to be learned everywhere, if we just open our minds and think. An aspect of self-empowerment is giving ourselves permission to do so.