Learning to See by Traveling with a Teddy Bear

Brook Noel

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"We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly" Sam Keen

This week, I had the pleasure of going to Knoxville to film two segments with the NBC station. One segment included my daughter. We had one long 9-hour-day of travel, then a day of filming, and then a day of travel to return home. She held up like a trooper, constantly assisting me in every way she could.

Of course, as all travel with children includes, there was a challenge or two. First, her last molar decided to come loose. In one hand I held my notes and in the other I held a tube of Orajel. It was always at the most opportune times that the pain would come-while juggling four bags through security, five seconds prior to going live on television-you mothers know how this works. (And for the non-moms reading - the moral and message of this column applies to you so keep reading!)

The last challenge of the trip came the day we left. We had purchased a teddy bear on the way down and Sammy deemed it the most special bear she had ever had. Every night she tucked it in, complete with back rub. She searched a name database on the internet and the bear was named Max Cuddles Arto Bongo Whispers.

When I went to pack, I couldn't put Max Cuddles Arto Bongo Whispers in a suitcase as he might suffocate. So we left him on the chair, safely tucked in a blanky as I proceeded to pack our bags. You can probably guess what happened next. We arrived at the airport 60 minutes prior to our departure, returned the rental car, checked in, only to realize Max Cuddles Arto Bongo Whispers was not with us.

My daughter who had traveled well up to that point, just about broke down. A companion traveling with us pointed out that worst case we would be passing the same store on the way back. Needles to say, my daughter looked at me in horror.

Thinking quickly, I called the hotel to see if the housekeeper could locate the bear. In five minutes the front desk called me back assuring me that the housekeeper had looked under the bed and in the blankets and there was no bear. I disputed this finding, explaining that we had just left, and the bear was definitely there. The woman at the front desk said she would go look and call me back. In another 5 minutes my cell rang. She had found Max Cuddles Arto Bongo Whispers. I asked her to call a cab and have the bear raced to our airline terminal. We were now about 45 minutes away from our departure time, had not yet gone through security, and the hotel was 20 minutes away.

As our flight drew nearer, our travel companion urged me and Sammy to go through security saying she would wait for the bear and if someone was going to miss a flight at least Sammy and I would travel together. Within minutes of that conversation, a large mini-van cab arrived with Max Cuddles Arto Bongo Whispers in the passenger seat. (I imagine he had fun telling people about his interesting passenger of the day!)

We raced through security (with only one stop for Orajel) and made it to our gate just as they were doing the final boarding call.

Later that day, my travel companion re-hashed the morning. She is a dear friend who has known me for many years-and also knows my weaknesses well. One of my weaknesses has always been patience. She paid me a sincere compliment on the patience I had developed during my 10 years so far as a mother. I explained that you get a special gene for that at some point during pregnancy.

As I thought back about the adventure of traveling teddy this morning, I realized why the story is so special to me, and it really doesn't have anything to do with patience or motherhood.

What happened when Max Cuddles Arto Bongo Whispers was lost, was that a 10 year old saw this as a tragedy. While you and I know, it was simply a stuffed bear that will likely end up ragged and forgotten in a toy chest within a few years, in that moment Sammy saw the event much differently.

Instead of seeing it through my 31-year-old eyes, and choosing Fed-Ex service or replacing the bear, I saw it through her eyes. And then I used the resources I had to help.

We all come to our lives with our set of experiences and they become a lens through which we see our daily activities. Living fully involves removing our “lenses" and trying on the lenses of those whom we care for. Doing this is an exercise in self-growth, in pushing our comfort zone, in seeing past the writing on the wall to a new world from a different vantage point. Then we can combine our resources with those whom we care for, stretch our thinking, stretch our vision, and truly find the magic that lies within a moment.

Your Challenge:

This week make a focused effort to see things from another person's perspective. This skill takes practice but it is one that can truly enrich your life. Each day, try to see something fresh from the eyes of another and see what gifts it will bring to you.

p. s. And of course, I am sending a thank you to the wonderful woman at the hotel who helped us. I took a photo of Sammy with Max Cuddles Arto Bongo Whispers and had her draw a picture to go with it.

For this kind woman who answered the phone also chose to see this event through the eyes of a 10-year-old.

The Change Your Life Challenge http://www.changeyourlifechallenge.com Take control of your home, finances, relationships, clutter, time-managmenet and more with this 70 Day Program. Sign up for the free Challenge Weekly Newsletter and the motivational daily Good Morning.


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