At my age, I expected that I would be pretty settled down. When I was a kid, 44 seemed soooo old. I never considered the fact that, no matter what age I was, it would still be a brand-new time for me, a time I hadn’t experienced before. I never imagined that I would still be learning and changing all the time.
But it’s true! No matter where you are at in your life, you are learning and discovering new things about the world and about yourself. If this isn’t true for you, we need to have a whole different conversation, so you go ahead and email me and we’ll talk.
Here I am, solidly middle-aged, and feeling more excited about the possibilities unfolding before me than ever. Gathering up new information all the time, understanding things I somehow missed before. Like today’s topic- leading by example. It’s not exactly a phrase I haven’t heard before. But the past few days have shown me a few things to drive home the point that what I do, and the way I behave, matter a whole lot…for better or for worse.
I’ve been on a mission to recreate our bedtime routine around here. Cam has been having some trouble at school, and I realized that perhaps our habits at home are affecting her time at school. So, I did something I haven’t done before. I changed OUR routine- not just hers, but both of ours. When I stop work in the early evening, all devices get put away (Okay, this part is mostly just her, but don’t tell her that.). We make dinner together. We do homework. We read. And we are trying really hard to sleep without the TV on. When you have always gone to bed with the TV on, this is harder than you think. But the other night, I did it. I lay down in my bed, and I fell asleep with no TV. The next morning, Cam said “Tonight, I want to try sleeping without the TV.” Hmm…
Last night, I was feeling grouchy, and decided to meditate before bed. I asked Camryn if she wanted to do it with me, and to my surprise she was eager to. So, I lit candles and incense, and let her pick her favorite crystals from the bowl. We sat together and meditated for a short time. She made it all the way through, though she seemed a little restless at the end. But right afterwards, she said- “I liked that!”
Here’s the thing- she sees me doing these good, healthy things that make me happy, and she wants to be a part of that. When I get off work, flop on the couch, and watch TV all night, not only does she think that’s just a normal thing, but I am losing a valuable opportunity to teach her all these amazing things. The value of cooking and eating a meal together. The joy of a good book. The beauty in a small ritual- lighting candles, saying a prayer, sitting quietly and listening to your own breath. The benefit of lulling yourself to sleep without the glare and noise of a television.
I am not forcing any of these things on her. I am simply doing what I enjoy doing, and she is catching on. The good this is doing both of us, because I am getting so much out of seeing her fall into it beside me, is immeasurable.
It does not have to be a child you are raising. Trust me on this. Although they are, of course, the easiest and most impressionable people in our lives, you can inspire change in anyone when you are living a happy, healthy, full life. People love to see this- they are drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Think back to times when you have seen someone whom you admired, or whose life you admired. It’s human nature to want to emulate that behavior.
Today, I encourage you to think about what your best life would look like, and what things you can do now to create that vibe for yourself. Because someone is watching you (that sounds unnecessarily creepy, but you know what I mean) and your example matters. And even if you live in a shanty on an icy tundra somewhere, you are watching you! You owe it to yourself to create a life that makes you happy at the very least. If you can’t be an example to others, be the best possible one for yourself. Your happiness will increase tenfold. Just watch.