Reach for the Stars

Anne Swayze
Recently, there has been so much focus on the opportunity and ability to "do hard things" to extend our personal growth and embrace our personal journey.
We applaud ourselves and others when we hear of outstanding accomplishments. As soon as one challenge has been met, we are mapping out our next adventure—only to make it more extraordinary, more complex, and more challenging. We write blogs, post on social media, invite friends to a premier slide show or movie, or place trip mementos around our homes to entice conversation and interest. There is also this lingering belief that "harder means better"—Go for the Gold - Climb Higher - Run Faster—and if you aren’t striving to be better, what is holding you back?

Of course, we all recognize that there are essential life lessons and lifelong takeaways when working hard, setting goals, and achieving those goals. But, there are also important life lessons to staying committed, remaining realistic, and recognizing how we measure and applaud our achievements is as important as the achievement itself. What is challenging for one individual may not be challenging for the next. A goal for one individual may not be the goal for another. And the outcome for one individual may not be the outcome for another—this diversity of achievement honors each individual. How a student learns to read or write or decipher a mathematical equation celebrates individuality and highlights the educators who develop multiple avenues to impart knowledge and teach skills. Learning is as individual as the individual themselves.

Learning is complex for our Greenwood boys. Therefore, as they move through middle and high school, it is our collective responsibility to map out their educational journey and do so with a willingness to re-route, re-fuel, and redirect. In the short term, the ultimate goal is when a student leaves a classroom or rides in the back of the family car and exclaims now, “I understand, I am learning, and I am proud of myself.” We are recharging the self-esteem battery, and their road map beams confidently.

On a personal note, I am constantly considering what the future holds and am guilty of living by the adage that the harder the challenge, the more growth we experience. Flipping through old journals, I recognize yearly lists of goals that I plan to achieve: complete the Appalachian Trail, transverse by canoe the Voyageurs fur trade route, build a Tiny House, learn to snowboard, write a book, learn to cook, go back to school. It grounds me to create these yearly goals, and it also disappoints me as I turn the corner on each year, not achieving these moments. So, I pause and consider that these goals are all part of my lifelong learning process, and while they may go unfulfilled, for now, I have many other goals that have been completed. Perhaps the smaller goals are, the more attainable and no less important to my growth as an individual.

End of day wisdom. Stay realistic. Shoot for the stars, and if you make it to the mountaintop, you are on your way. The stars will be there tomorrow.