When We’re Brave Enough to Risk Falling

Her teacher walked her out of school looking slight distraught, while Brenna sported a spot on her face that was bumped and scratched.

“She fell today,” her teacher explained apologetically. “We feel so terrible about it. I don’t even know what happened; she was running around, and then she was on the ground, crying and bleeding.” And that night, she messaged me again to check up on Brenna, saying the fall scared her.

But I told Brenna’s teacher, “When she falls, I think of it like this: she is taking risks, trying new things, getting stronger. She didn’t move for the longest time, didn’t walk until she was 2, didn’t crawl until she was two-and-a-half. Movement has been so slow for her…

“When she falls, it is hard to see her hurt in that second, but it feels victorious to me that she is being brave enough to do things that come with the risk of falling.”
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You have a much better chance of falling when you’re on the edge, high up, moving fast – in other words, when you’re taking risks. I’m not sure there are many who learned how to take off, soaring, without a trip, a stumble, maybe even a fall, first. Our falls can only define us when we measure them through the scope of failure – and failure is only failure when we refuse to gain from it.

I’m convinced  that in every piece of our life – even the most difficult, the most embarrassing, the most declining – we can still reflect upon, learn from, adapt within and grow because of. The victory is much more triumphant when we have tasted the struggle, the disappointments…when we understand wholly the risks because we have succumbed to them, and then overcome them.

If we never take risks or push our perceived limitations, how can we know how electrifying it feels to stand back up and continue after a trip or tumble, to push up and improve and learn and create again?

Risks looks different for each of us, and overcoming looks drastically different for each of us, too.

But the fact is that we will never know what is our fastest, our highest, our best, our fullest, our biggest…until we try. And yet, we can also never know what we are capable of until we fall and rise once more.

031My oldest was struggling a bit with swim lessons over the summer, and it became a battle of mind over matter.

He wanted to swim across the deep end, but first had to conquer jumping from the side of the shallow end and swimming to the pool’s entry steps without stopping to stand up. Several lessons went by where he fought against this… And after each lesson, he expressed his frustration about just wanting to go straight to the deep end. He wanted the full pool at his disposal without needing to work for it – the success of swimming without learning how to first breathe through the strokes.

“It’s too hard,” he would complain, and I finally told him that not everything will come easy to him, but that will make it even more exciting when he masters it,  because he worked so hard to achieve it. Finally – after all of the gulping and sputtering week after week piled on opportunities to try yet again – the day came when that perseverance took hold, all of those “falls” transformed into the new skill of swimming laps across the deep end.

You know, our kids can do difficult things, big things. However, we need to be willing to let them. Maybe even push them a little. Empower them.

I find myself almost automatically delivering a repetitive cautionary reminder whenever one of my kids is going a little too fast, climbing a little too high. “Careful! You might fall.”

“I won’t fall!” they say confidently. And you know what? Most of the time they don’t. And in the rare instance when they do, it was worth the risk, because they’re learning what it means to have the courage to try again.cimg_5754

My book, A Different Beautiful, is now available for order!

Want to raise kind kids who appreciate differences? You can download a guide to the best children’s books on differences and disabilities when you subscribe to my monthly email newsletter!  Follow me on  Facebook and Instagram.

My Favorite Books Read in 2016

Reading is such an important part of my life and something that I absolutely love doing. Learning from others’ experiences and imaginations feels like such a gift. For me, the only other things I’d rather been doing when I’m not spending time with my family are reading or writing. (And when I’m reading with my kids – best part of my day!)

I set a goal of reading 40 books this year and surpassed it to reach 58! You can see all of them here – not including a couple releasing this year that I got to preview. (You can also check out my favorite reads from 2014 here, and my favorites from 2015 here!)

Here are my favorite books read in 2016, in no particular order:

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Nonfiction

  1. Deep Work by Cal Newport. This book argues that we as a culture have let distraction take over our lives, to the detriment of deep attention and in-depth work. It came recommended from a friend, and it continues to challenge me in how I spend my attention each day.bookdeep-work-cal-newport
  2. Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch. This book contains some wonderful stories and a great overall message about allowing our kids fail in order to learn how to stand up again and be responsible and accountable. I pre-ordered this one before it came out, and I’m really glad I own it, because I’ll be referring back to it in the years to come.
  3. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. Probably my favorite book read this year! I happened to be chatting with a community leader about local issues, and she recommended this to me. I was captivated by it, and have been recommending it ever since.bookhillbillyelegy
  4. The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. This book made me cry, laugh, and want to read everything in sight. A very touching story of a man who began reading books with his mom while she was undergoing chemo treatments.
  5. The Legacy Journey by Dave Ramsey. I’ve read several of Dave’s books, but this one is probably my favorite, because it focuses on your wealth legacy – how what you do now with your money can have an extremely beneficial impact on your family and others for a very long time.
  6. Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. This book transformed my soul and opened my eyes. I didn’t agree with everything (I rarely do in a book!) but Half the Sky has truly heightened my awareness and compassion about world issues regarding the oppression of women in the developing world and deepened my resolve to doing what I can to aid in some of these international problems.bookhalfthesky
  7. Grit by Angela Duckworth. I found this book to be more exploratory than results-based, but there are some key points that have continued to stay with me. It makes the case that while our culture loves people who are “naturals” – those gifted with athletic talent or extremely high intellect, for example – no one really achieves high levels of success without passion and perseverance.
  8. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. This book has changed the way I think about getting old and confronting death. SUCH a good read. This is the second book I have read by Atul Gawande, and I love his thoughtful writing style.bookbeingmortal
  9. On Fire by John O’Leary. This book recounts John’s experience getting horribly burned in a fire when he was nine years old, and what his pain and experience taught him about the will to live and what it means to live a life of great purpose and passion. On Fire is an uplifting and powerful read.

Fiction

  1. 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I’ve recommended this to several people, who then say “Oh, I don’t like to read horror.” But this isn’t a typical Stephen King book (I don’t like that genre either!) It’s a well-researched novel with a fascinating storyline, and even though it’s more than 800 pages, it goes quickly for the most part. I couldn’t put it down!book11-22-63
  2. The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay. I almost didn’t read this because if I’m being honest, I think the title is terrible and the cover is terrible. But it was highly recommended, so I gave it a chance, and pretty soon, I was wrapped up. It’s a YA novel, and though it moves a little slow in some parts, it explores some tough themes with likable main characters and has a fantastic ending.
  3. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. I got on a Young Adult kick last year, which has continued. I listened to this on audio during a drive to Nashville for a writing program and really enjoyed it. A compelling story with an unexpected outcome.bookeverything

We’re a week into the new year, and I’ve bought about 10 new books on my Kindle and have been keeping the library busy with my requests; there are so many I can’t wait to read this year. (Which is positive momentum to have, since I’m aiming for 75!) I’d love to hear what has been on your favorites list or what you’re looking forward to reading next. Any recommendations for me?

My book, A Different Beautiful, is now available for order!

Want to raise kind kids who appreciate differences? You can download a guide to the best children’s books on differences and disabilities when you subscribe to my monthly email newsletter!  Follow me on  Facebook and Instagram.