Today was the first day of school for my children. My oldest entered 5th grade, my youngest 2nd grade. Wow! For the first time ever, I was able to station myself at home for my kids during their summer vacation. Sure I managed several projects for clients, took a trip of a lifetime to Lithuania, and pursued passionately my writing ambitions. But I took time to enjoy the summer months with my children, who are growing older everyday. I juggled the conference calls with the Guitar Hero challenges, balanced lakeside visits with goal-oriented reading. I did what I said I was going to do, and I did it while maintaining sanity, grace, and a sense of humor. But most importantly I paused to recognize this accomplishment today. I consciously acknowledged what I feared and what I conquered. At 46 years old, I had made a major leap forward. I had proved to myself that the vision I had savored for many years could become real.
As we read books this evening, my son triumphantly completed #35 of the Magic Treehouse series, Night of the New Magicians. He has been hooked on Mary Pope Osborne's popular books all summer and I have to admit I've been a fan, too. What I love most about reading children's books (aside from feeling like I'm doing research for my own writing for children) is that I still can learn new things or remember timeless treasures that are so simple they're easily forgotten.
In "New Magicians," Jack and Annie meet Thomas Alva Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Gustave Eiffel, and Dr. Louis Pasteur. The children ask these men what the secret of their magic is. Each replies in turn:
Eiffel: "I have a taste for adventure and a love of work and responsibility. So the challenge of building the tallest structure in the world was greatly appealing to me."
Pasteur: "Chance favors the prepared mind...the more I study and prepare, the luckier I become."
Edison: "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."
Bell: "When one door closes, another door opens...We often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the new door open for us."
I read these words and thought of my own adventure. Each "magical" phrase could be associated with my journey. I've combined a taste for adventure and love of work and responsibility by leaving one life and starting another, complete with a new focus on a business and writing career. I've prepared for this through hard work, both my professional and academic pursuits, and now I'm starting to see it all come together. I've certainly perspired and panted a LOT along the way, and used what smarts I've been given as humbly as possible. And, yes, I've closed doors but never tightly and somehow new doors have opened while some of those old doors still swing wide to welcome me back in for a visit.
If Jack and Annie were to ask me about the secret of my magic I would tell them it is confidence and faith; believing in yourself and being true to who you are and following the direction that your heart points you.
I hope somehow I'm able to convey that magic to my children as they seek new knowledge and learn to grow up during a new year at school.