My husband has a theory he and I often talk about. He calls them “Learning Packets”. Some people receive huge amounts of Learning Packets and some work on the same few their whole lives. Small or large, Learning Packets are life lessons that sometimes show up in the form of obstacles. These obstacles are brought to us, I believe, to help us master life. If we don’t work on these obstacles we are given and overcome them, we will always struggle with them. Some of us have children who won’t talk to us, have a job we hate, or maybe health challenges we feel we can’t change. My husband and I have hammered out the eight areas of human experiences that we feel if we can have some success and progress in each one we can have meaningful lives. This is only our list that we have chewed on and deliberated over. We have also taught and helped our children begin to succeed in these same areas. We want them to be able to navigate life successfully when they leave our home:
These are large Learning Packets, and then there are smaller sub-categories of these larger ones like not being a worrier which belongs in Belief or Meaning, or forging not only ourselves but our children into become resilient–Self Reliance. Mastering these Learning Packets is a way to make our life more full and meaningful. I believe with these Learning Packets it doesn’t mean we are lacking or we aren’t enough. We are already whole. The seeds planted in us are full of possibilities. We just need to wake up and water, and be willing to work and progress. Wrestling and succeeding with these obstacles/Learning Packets will bless us and our families forever.
Here is an example of waking up and watering the seeds within ourselves. My father, born in 1929, on the eve of the Great Depression, grew up in very humble circumstances. His father tried to farm in Wyoming and when that didn’t work, they moved to Portland, Oregon where my grandfather got work as a janitor. One day my dad, as a teenager, noticed that there was a well-dressed man at church. He had the courage to ask him how he could afford such nice clothes. The man told my dad that if he went to college, he could have more money than if he was working as a laborer, and then he could afford better clothes. This conversation sent my dad on a long “Work” Learning Packet–as in “Finding Meaningful Work”. Because he wasn’t born into a family where going to college would naturally happen, it was hard and all new to him. Luckily, this happened right after WWII with the GI Bill, and a surge of people were going to college as the first people in their families. My father was part of a cultural phenomenom, and he hung on. My father knew how to work, and laid hardwood floors in college to pay for it. He married my mother who, because of my Grandma Adams putting her daughters’ education above every other goal she had, helped my dad raise his sights to a master’s and then a PhD. in mathematical sociology. Wow!
I remember talking to my Dad about this, what got him going, how did he become such a transition person? He said he noticed first that he wanted a life different from his father, then he asked a lot of questions, he worked really hard and was willing to change.
Under the “Money” Learning Packet, getting car insurance is a subcategory. I tried and tried to encourage one of my sons to get car insurance when he moved out of our home. He didn’t see the value of it until he got into a car accident. He told me, “Oh! I finally see! A little money is paid every month so you don’t have to pay big money.” Exactly. The one truth about these Learning Packets is that they can keep showing up in a negative way until we learn to master the Packet, until we learn to obey laws of Health, or Relationships or Money. When we master these big areas, then we can focus on other wonderful things, and not be working extra hours to pay off the accident we got into, when we didn’t understand insurance. Life gets better as we learn and live these laws of life.
As adults many of us are working our whole lives on doing well in these areas. It’s not only our work for us, but also to help our children learn, launch and be successful. We are not just teaching our children about how to take care of their physical needs but also their spiritual, mental, emotional, developmental, financial and social needs. It is a huge responsibility to be a great example, to teach thoroughly in order that our children can leave our homes and prosper. Our job is to notice the seeds of possibility in them, and encourage those seeds and teach them how to water them.
One son told me yesterday that part of his routine now is to eat an apple every morning. This is from someone who eats no fruits and vegetables. I wanted to shout “Hooray!” and get everyone’s attention at the restaurant! I kept my composure and told him what a great step this was! He is starting to water his seeds in his Health Learning Packet. We teach, we show and we cheer when we see seeds sprouting. Hallelujah!