more clapping, more growth!

I have a love/hate relationship with milestones.

When I was little, milestones were pretty much the most spectacular thing on the planet.  Before I even knew what I was doing, people were celebrating my accomplishments. I crawled! I cut a tooth! I pooped on the potty! All pretty phenomenal stuff, I know, but none of which I can really take credit for. It was all stuff that just happened as a matter of course, but man, people were clapping for me and giving me stickers and making me feel like I was the greatest thing on earth for tying my own shoes!

I suppose there’s so much fanfare because each of these moments is an indicator of growth and the acknowledgement of progress encourages more.

Rites of passage, the crossing of thresholds, the reaching of milestones… when we are little, these all just sort of happen to us and then one day we wake up and, all of a sudden, no one is celebrating every little thing that we do. Spotlight off, curtain drawn.

Unless it’s your wedding day, or a graduation, the ribbon-cutting for your own business, or the birth of your baby, there’s not a whole lot of clapping going on once you become an adult. And, sure, for some of us, our progress is less visible the older we get. It’s no surprise that I hear no one cheering for my gray hair. Or that no one’s throwing a party for their best friend’s ability to balance a full-time job, 3 kids, graduate school and a giant house or calling all their friends to crow about their son’s decision to quit the job that is making him miserable or sending out a happy newsletter about their own divorce. For the most part, except for on your birthday, the applause have stopped.

I get that. It would be weird and contrived and kind of annoying if we all ran around with pompoms to cheer each other on through all of life’s challenges.  But if we are so game to celebrate the reaching of milestones, why are we equally game to question and judge and doubt each other and ourselves for not reaching them?

I’ve avoided a few of the milestones deemed important in our culture. I haven’t gotten married.  I’m pushing 40 and don’t have any children. I traded in the gift registry for questions about why? why not? when? who? how come? I ask myself those questions, too. Why haven’t I? What does it all mean? If I never reach these milestones is that the equivalent, now, of never having learned to poop on the potty? Have I somehow missed the boat? Or, worse yet…failed?

I’m sure each of us has lingering questions about the choices we make in our lives… am I doing the right thing? am I making a mistake? will I regret this? am I going to be a big, fat loser and die lonely?

Perhaps the most difficult thresholds to cross are the choices that we make every single day about how we will live our lives. It is these choices that are the proof of our growth. Our conscious, well-thought out, intentional decisions are the proof that we are growing and questioning and changing and challenging ourselves; that we are making progress.

And even though we make these choices for ourselves and our growth may not mean anything to anyone else and we don’t need a pat on the back for everything that we do….

It feels damn good to be celebrated. It feels amazing to be validated. I know because I got celebrated this week by my family and friends and I feel like I could conquer the world right now.

And it feels great to validate and celebrate others. I know because I have the great fortune to get to do this every single day in my work and it makes me happy.

I’m pretty sure it feels incredible to celebrate oneself. I’m still figuring that one out…

Maybe that will be my next milestone.


18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jim
    Nov 29, 2011 @ 00:59:35

    Ella came home from school today extremely excited about her newest library book, “Knuffle Bunny Free”. She was so excited she went to show a particular page to Mary and tore the page in half by accident. There were many tears. She was worried about letting down her library teacher, about getting in trouble because they told her to take care of it, etc. In her world I don’t think there was anything worst that could of happened. It kind of stuck with me and I started thinking… what is my torn page in life now. That thing that seems like the end of the world to you right now, but years later you can look back at and think… “I coulda just bought a new book.” Sometimes the answers in life are so clear once you take a step back.


    • mcglam
      Nov 29, 2011 @ 20:44:33

      Jimmy! First of all, I now have to read Knuffle Bunny Free (say that 5 times fast!) and, second, thank you so much for reading this post and for your incredibly thoughtful comment. I’m struck by this idea of “what is my torn page in life now” and will continue to think on that idea and the idea of perspective… word!


  2. Carla Ten Eyck
    Nov 29, 2011 @ 07:41:34

    wow. bravo for writing this, I know many who should read it! congratulations on living your own life, and know I’m clapping like a seal over here for you charni! xo


    • mcglam
      Nov 29, 2011 @ 20:46:00

      Thanks for the seal clap! I love that visual image more than words… pass it on if you like it. 🙂 The more the merrier. Love you and thanks for always being my cheerleader especially on my rotten days. xoxo


  3. Becky
    Nov 29, 2011 @ 14:29:14

    Well, I, for one, applauded your gray hair! Not your just realizing the genetic propensity for having it, but actually having it…letting it be there, out and real– uncolored. Huzzah! And, huzzah for blogs like these that are so beautifully written that we all stop to think and then find ourselves in your words.


    • mcglam
      Nov 29, 2011 @ 20:47:37

      Huzzah for huzzah! I don’t know what that is but I love it and it’s my new favorite thing to say! Gray haired fabulousness is the best… thanks for your genes and your unconditional support.


  4. Madeliine
    Nov 29, 2011 @ 15:11:33

    McGlamorous, I love how you think and that you are choosing to share your thoughts with the world!
    “Who? How? What now?” Just keep listening to that inner goddess and being brave enough to do what feels right for you…and telling us all about it. We’re all cheering for you even if you can’t see us!


  5. jazzy
    Nov 30, 2011 @ 17:33:02

    how have i missed your insightful blog? well, i am so happy i found it. i love what you wrote about. and jim’s thoughtful response! things i will be thinking over myself. xoxo


  6. Gail-Tzipporah Saunders
    Dec 04, 2011 @ 01:32:39

    What were you celebrated for? Did I miss it?


    • mcglam
      Dec 04, 2011 @ 13:03:29

      I was celebrated for my birthday, nothing that I actually did! It was really nice, though, to have people remind me that they love me! Thanks for checking in, I hope you will come back.


  7. SmellyShelly
    Dec 05, 2011 @ 11:54:27

    Cried while reading your post in the library at work during my prep! Again I can so relate what you are saying and you are such an awesome person. The work you do every day should be celebrated. Even some people who have hit some of those traditional milestones ask themselves the same questions every day.
    I am all for “calling out” other people on their accomplishments. Who cares if it isn’t applauding per se. Spread the love, right? Even if it means sending an all staff email out to congratulate a coworker. You are freaking awesome and I dare you to clap for yourself the next time you poop on the potty in a public restroom.


    • mcglam
      Dec 05, 2011 @ 17:49:54

      Ha! Your comment made me full on laugh and want to jump through the computer to give you a hug. Rock on with your celebratory self! xoxo


  8. Bethany
    Dec 05, 2011 @ 22:11:29

    All I have to say is you poop like a pro and haven’t missed any “milestones”. You have impacted more lives than you realize. I just heard an amazing speaker say instead of asking kids “what do you want to be when you grow up?” we should ask them “what kind of legacy do you hope to leave behind?” Little Susannah, you have already left quite a legacy.


    • mcglam
      Dec 06, 2011 @ 17:00:27

      Oh B. You’ve got me crying over here. I love that question…and will take that into my work. Thanks for being my cheerleader in life. Love you, little sheba.


  9. Danielle Fuller
    Dec 06, 2011 @ 12:45:45

    You make my heart smile!


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