The Memories of the Stars and Stripes

Today we have a national holiday. It means we have the day off, the banks are closed, and we are able to enjoy time with our family. All this is only possible because of the people who have served and are serving in our military. Many thanks to those who have dedicated their time, energy, and life’s work to protecting our freedom. 

No matter how many words I write, they cannot express my gratitude for those who have paved the way for this important national holiday. Thank you, thank you, thank you…and again thank you. 

The Hats of Life

This is a hat store at Ponce City Market in downtown Atlanta. What I love is that it was crowded with patrons buying hats. People having fun trying on different options – fun, festive, formal, sophisticated. Everyone had a smile on their face and was enjoying the shop, the hats, the experience. The employees were helpful and fun, inviting and truly cooperative. If you are looking for a hat in Atlanta, this is the place to shop. 

The shop made me think about all the different hats we wear everyday. Parent, child, spouse, friend, employee, owner, artist, coordinator, organizer, planner, implementer, cook, cleaner, team member, facilitator…and the list could go on and on. The number of hats we wear is only limited by our own choices. Choices that we actively choose and choices that are thrust upon us. I have a friend who had a grandparent pass away, and they were the one designated to take care of ‘things’ around that new circumstance. It has taken her months to handle it all, and some of the new hats were overwhelming. Some she was used to – cleaner, organizer, coordinator, grandchild. Other hats were new to her repertoire- funeral planner, estate disposal, family representative, bank account closer. She has learned a great deal, and yet hopes she does not have to utilize her new found knowledge anytime soon. 

I have another friend who had her first child, talk about new hats – mother, parent, diaper changer, burper, child care provider. She is enjoying the additional hats and sees where some of her old hats have changed. She moved from being a couple to being parents, from being a child to now also being a role model. What was a couple now includes parenthood and protector. And as their son grows up they will add the hats of negotiator, teenager handler, grandparent handler, education coordinator, puberty survivor, education partner, and the list goes on. Adding someone to your life changes so many hats. 

Sometimes the hats we wear themselves change. We move from a simple, clean hat early in life to a sophisticated, elaborate hat as an adult. We will always be a child as long as our parents are live, yet as we grow the hat we wear takes a different form. It moves from a passive form to an active contributor, from one we are given to wear to one we choose to wear. Our hat not only reflects our personality but the relationship we have with our parent. Some parents allow our hat to change as we grow up, others still treat us like children and can only deal with the hat they gave us to wear. They do not know how to deal with the new hat we have chosen to employ as an adult child. Who knew that changing hats could cause conflict, challenges, disruption and maybe even disconnection. 

The hats we wear tell people about us, tell us about ourlseves, and allow us to move in and out of the cycle of life. When you look at the hats you wear, which ones do you want to spruce up? And which do you want to retire? Are there new hats you have been wanting to try on? Or hats you have always wanted to own? What is preventing you from trying out a new hat? What is preventing you from getting rid of an old hat? Maybe it’s time for Spring cleaning and time to give up a hat or two to let someone else enjoy it moving forwrad. 

As you go through your day, think about the hats you wear and how the people in your life expect you to behave because of the hat. Is it time for the hat to change into a new form? Is it time for that hat to be put in storage? Maybe it is time for someone else to wear that hat? No matter which way it is, being aware of your hats and the role you play while wearing it simply gives you more insight into your own world. Hats off to hats!

Savor the Opportunity to Fail

We have all had that moment in life when we simply want to hang our head in shame. We want to avoid what is coming or what has hit and pretent that all is still right with the world. Like an ostrich we bury our head in the sand to pretend nothing has changed. But no matter how we try, change is coming, the horrible thing happened, the mistake was made or the disaster is at our door. Circumstances are beyond our control. We cannot avoid it anymore. 

If you work hard to avoid failure, this is a problematic moment. You have failed – you know it and the world knows it – yet you pretend and hope it will pass quickly, like a fleeting rain storm. Failure does not always mean the end, often times it is the beginning of something new. Lyrics from one of my favorite songs (Through Heaven’s Eyes) asks the following:

If a man loses everything he has, has he truly lost his worth – or is it the beginning of a new and brighter birth?

When I failed, the time I spent licking my wounds, shedding tears and truly feeling worthless served an important purpose. They allowed me to face the emotion of the failure – the devastation, the pain, the disappointment, the rejection, the feeling of unworthiness, the dull sense of regret – and wallow in all that was happening. Sometimes you need to throw your own pity party and invite ALL of your emotions. Let everything from grief to sorrow attend and party hard. Let everything hang out. When I feel this way I often turn to sad movies to help ignite the tears. I already feel horrible and the movie gives me an outlet for weeping beyond control. I remember once crying myself to sleep to wake up to a soaking wet pillow and a sense of release. 
Too often we see failure as the end instead of an opportunity to begin again. Some of my best life lessons have come from failure. They are lessons I will never forget nor will I choose to duplicate. I failed, licked my wounds, hung my head in shame…then picked myself up, dusted things off and got started again. I may get up slowly or it may take a while for me to get back into my usual swing, yet I got back up. Failure is not the end, it is part of the process. Show me someone who has never failed, and I will show you someone who has never really tried. Anyone who has tried has failed. 

I want to be around people who have failed. I want to be around people who are willing to put it all out there and do whatever it takes, even if they land face down in the dirt. I admire those who are willing to get up again and again, and keep trying. I want to know what they know, learn from their disasters and become a better me for listening to their tales. I want to talk to them after they dig their head out of the hole of shame and listen to what they have learned. If I am smart I will learn from them, and learn how not to make the same mistakes. I will have plenty of time to make my own errors along this journey called life. We can choose to learn from failure, or we can fail to learn.