Sunday, July 08, 2007

Guest Blogger Allie Pleiter!

I am the mother of teenagers. Well, one of them’s eleven, but that’s double digits--so it counts--and the other is a fifteen year old girl--so that’s double the drama--so I consider myself the mother of teenagers. What has fifteen years in the parenting trenches taught me? I decided to think hard about that. Especially in the light of all the time I spend writing and thinking about love and grace and faith. Here’s my take:

The first 24 hours of ANYTHING do not count.

The first 24 hours of a relationship (think lovesick delirium), of an editor’s re-write letter (think vengeful smoldering), of a medical crisis (think hysterical internet searches), of ANYTHING don’t count. Our knee-jerk reactions are very rarely wise or lasting. This is a vital lesson in the high-drama of high school or middle school. Us supposedly rational adults? We need to learn it, too, because we are just as prone to flying off the handle. I’ve done it twice this week already—both times to regrettable results. The thoughts, plans, and fears I had within hours of an event weren’t even CLOSE to how I saw the situation with the balm of time.

This, they tell me, is part of what’s wrong with our instant world today. We don’t have time to think it through. Ticked off? You can fire off an email before you’ve had a chance to think things through. Your victim will get it on his Blackberry in the middle of dinner when his wife just said something to make him mad. Your kids can IM the friend who just “dissed” them before they can get the real facts. You can decide your life is in jeopardy—based on the 15 Google hits from who knows what sources--when perhaps all you really need is some extra care.

The space of time when everyone got to simmer down, wise up, cool off, or chill out is GONE.

But we need that time. That time is the seed of wisdom. The space between situation and reaction is where all the growth, all the grace, and all the drama happens. Having said all that, the writer in me understands that place as my playground. The impulsive, passionate kiss packs as much power as the slow embrace we’ve waited 50 pages for. And really, if we all acted with wisdom, where’d be the conflict? The fun? The drama? The stories?

I’ve decided that real life falls in between. The real growing happens in how we handle the drama, deal with the passion, and recover from the mistakes. How we cope with the loss of that wisdom-growing time. Now more than ever, life is more about how we react that about what’s handed to us.

Often, my choice is to laugh. To crack a joke to battle the fear, to be goofy to soothe a conflict, to poke fun at the thing we think is holding us down. I think it’s one of the wisest choices we can make. It is, perhaps, the most powerful lesson I can teach my children for the age they live in. Or, if I’m lucky, my readers as well.

So, next time life hits you at 100 miles an hour, remember that the first 24 hours don’t count. Breathe, find some way to laugh, and give it a moment.

What’s that got to do with my current release, THE PERFECT BLEND? Well, nothing. Some days I’m more philosopher/mother than marketer/author. So, in deference to my publisher, take a deep breath and then go buy a book that might make you laugh. I have one to suggest…

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