Saturday, August 4, 2012

Celebrating our first small steps

My adorable goddaughter is nearly eleven months old, and she has recently begun taking her first steps. Her mother, my dear friend Robin, has been sharing news of this exciting development on Facebook and through text messages and phone calls. Talking on the phone with Robin as her daughter took a step, I heard her clapping and celebrating every upright movement, counting the number of steps as they occurred, and rejoicing in each new milestone. “She’s taken seven steps in a row now!” Robin exclaimed with pure joy and enthusiasm. Her love for her daughter and pride in this new accomplishment were evident.

What a wonderful model for all of us! Rather than reserve our enthusiasm exclusively for babies and young children, why not extend our jubilation to older children and adults too – for everyone who dares venture into new territory, courageously, one step at a time?

My friend also reminds me of the importance of having a cheering section. How much easier is it to continue moving forward, continue taking risks, or continue practicing some new skill, when we have at least one person who sees what we are doing and relishes in it? It is deeply meaningful to know that there is at least one person in our lives who is rejoicing wholeheartedly when we achieve an important milestone, someone who notices and applauds each tiny step along the way.  

Not only can we be that cheerleader for others, we can also give this gift to ourselves. If other people fail to notice or applaud our small movements forward, we can still give ourselves a pat on the back, cheer out loud, do a “happy dance” to celebrate, and cheer ourselves on in whatever way feels good. Why not? As adults, we can become far too serious and task-minded, waiting to hit large milestones before giving ourselves any credit, and missing out on prime opportunities to exclaim with glee, “I’ve just taken four steps in a row!” We DO have the power to change this. We CAN celebrate each moment and each small step forward. I invite you to begin this practice for yourself – and to become an enthusiastic supporter of the other adults in your life as well.

What small step can you celebrate today?