Unpurchased towels and taking stock of where you are


A couple weeks ago, I took my son to his college orientation at Baldwin Wallace University, near Cleveland.

I had two major victories at this event I’m pretty proud of:

Victory #1

I did not cry. I DID NOT CRY.

Admittedly my eyes did well up a few times, but I threatened those tears within an inch of their sorry, short lives not to escape over my lower lids and on to my cheeks. In my eyes they remained.


Victory #2

When we took his stuff to his room (he stayed the night in a dorm for one night), he said, Oh no! I forgot to pack a towel!

Let me tell you how much I wanted to say I’d go buy him one at the local Wal-Mart. I’ll go get you one right now! was right on the tip of my tongue.


Going to college is as much about your mother not being around to bring you towels as it is about going to class and getting good grades.

And also about mothers letting children be dirty the next day and finding comfort in the fact that children will not forget to pack towels next time.

So victory #2: I did not buy the towel. IT BROKE MY HEART BUT I DID NOT BUY THE TOWEL.

We sat through a lot of presentations (a lot of presentations), and they were informative and helpful, but one of the faculty members (or deans or provosts or somebody that worked there) said something that really stuck out to me: that what they really wanted students to take away from their four years here was to know how to ask, and continue to ask, these questions:

What do you know?

What are you learning?

I love these questions as a check in for ourselves, not only as life-long learners (which is what this guy meant), but also as people who are on a path to live our fullest lives.

We may not be exactly where we want to be, and instead of feeling disappointed and frustrated by that, we can ask ourselves these questions.

What do I know? Where am I in relationship to where I want to go? How far have I come? I think often, when we’re honest, we can see that we’ve made progress and that we know a lot more than when we started.

What am I learning? How am I moving forward from here? What are my options? We can let go of black and white, can or can’t, do or die thinking and use our creativity to come up with alternate solutions and paths.

When you find yourself stuck, answer these questions.

Then let me know whether you cried or not. 😉


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