Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

A dear friend of mine is in the midst of a  crisis, and it is heartbreaking. It’s the kind of crisis that leaves the rest of us helplessly asking if we can bring snacks.

There are many kinds of crises in our lives. There are the kinds that happen unexpectedly; there are the kinds that aren’t really that bad but that we turn into a big deal; there are the ones that happen entirely in our own minds without any help from the real world (I’m especially good at those). And then there are the ones like my friend is facing—those ones that seek to shatter all that we take comfort in. But all crises take a toll, and often leave us pondering the meaning of life and all that is in it: How stunningly fragile it is. How stunningly beautiful and how stunningly hard. It is in these moments that I, like many of you, start to remind myself not to take a single day for granted, to be present and grateful for every moment, to laugh with my kids and not be impatient, to let go of the things that are weighing me down.

The thing about that, though, is that it is all very hard to do in real life.

Because here is what happens:

I will sit down with my kids and declare myself present and ready to laugh and play, but then five minutes into that one of them will hit the other or start to throw a fit and all the sunshine and magic will disappear and we will once again just be our messy grumpy selves.

I will tell myself to see the beauty in every moment, and then I will go out to shovel the five-hundreth snow of the season and I will DECLARE IT BEAUTIFUL and I will see the fresh snow sparkling like diamonds and I will laugh at how the falling snow makes me feel like I am in a snowglobe and I will breathe in the crisp air and feel all the muscles in my body working to shovel the snow… and then the city snow plow will drive by and dump three feet of street snow at the end of my freshly-shoveled driveway. And then I will wake up the next morning with an aching back that won’t go away for a month.

I will declare myself free of all the things that are worrying my mind, but then my mind will ignore my declaration and wake me up at 3:00 am to go ahead and worry anyway.  And, while it’s worrying, it will dredge up some 20-year old wound for me to reminisce about, too.  Because, you know, that’s always helpful.

I will know in my head and in my heart that this day is precious, that this day is the only day I have, but I will still curse at the food that spills on the floor and the computer that takes too long to load and the phone call I don’t want to take and the dinner I have to figure out even though the fridge is lacking anything proper. I will spend too much time on some Facebook post that I don’t even care about and not enough time on the family that I do.

Because THIS is life. Life is happy and grumpy; messy and clean; appreciative and bitter; tears and laughter. It is petty annoyances and earth-shattering moments. It is coffee and it is cathedrals. Sometimes life is long and sometimes life is much, much too short. Life is an ocean of everything—the things we take for granted and the things we remember to love fiercely. The things we notice and the things we lose sight of. It’s amazing, this life. Every part of it. So rather than berating myself for not appreciating it more, for not doing it “better,”   instead I am just going to look around at the “everything” of it and just take a moment to say WOW.

How can you say WOW today?


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.