I have a mentor. My wonderful mother-in-law found her for me about 52 years ago. About the time I was born. How did she know I would need someone like this? She chose my mentor to be Godmother to my husband. Then she kept her close all those years and to this day. Just for me. I’m just sure of it.
At first I just loved her because my mother-in-law loved her. As I got to know her, I learned why they’d been friends for so many years. And then I just plain loved her.
Much like my mother-in-law, she is full of fun, wisdom, and candor. And she’s one of the best listeners I’ve ever known. She ranks right up there with my mom. That’s high praise. And I know what I’m talking about because I’m a gal who likes to be listened to.
I proclaimed she was my mentor when I was in graduate school and I asked her for advice about my final research paper. She helped me simplify the question my research was asking, so that I could answer it.
Ever since, she’s been asking me simple questions. Questions I can answer. I appreciate that.
Then she arranges my answers to these simple questions so I arrive at a place I couldn’t have reached directly. Gentle steps. One after the other.
Instead of asking me, “What do you want to do next (with your life)?” she asks me something like, “If you had to pick one word to describe what your whole life feels like to you right now, what would it be? Don’t answer right away. Close your eyes and think about it for a minute…..” And we build from there.
I can do that. Baby steps.
She’s from Massachusetts. A real East Coaster. Accent and all. To me, that accent usually signals classic abruptness. Directness. Even cynicism. Not with her, though. She’s all about possibilities. If a situation is frustrating, she’ll turn it on its head and toy with it from there.
We were standing in an endless passport control line at a Mexican airport, sweating like pigs and dragging our luggage at a pace of about an inch a minute. We were so hot and so thirsty….and getting so cranky. After a long while, she smiled and said, “I have a trick I want you to try. It will make all your wishes come true.”
At first I thought, “She’s going to have us sing for money or something.”
At her request, we all closed our eyes and took a deep breath.
She said, “I wish I was standing in a low-ong line at an ay-ah-port in Mexico with my deee-ah friends.”
Then she popped her eyes wide open with a look of sheer surprise, and she said, “OH my GOSH! My WISH came TRUE!”
We all joined her, looking around and clapping our own faces as though we’d won the lottery. “We got JUST what we WISHED for! Aren’t we lucky?”
We laughed and laughed.
And now when I find myself in a miserable situation, I apply this strategy. It makes me laugh and think of those women I love so much. Standing in a long, hot, steamy line of cranky travelers. Laughing and clapping at our good fortune.
My kids have picked it up, too. The other night, after a particularly testy exchange, my 17-year-old son closed his eyes and said, “I WISH my mom would make me do a BUNCH of stupid chores when I’m already late to meet my friends!” Then he popped his eyes open an exclaimed, “My WISH came TRUE!”
I had to laugh. But I still made him do the chores.
Wish for where you are. Wish for what you’re doing and who you’re with. Wish for the suffering, even. It’s all sweet, because you’re breathing in and out. And that’s an easy thing to take for granted.