This is the only perfection there is, the perfection of helping others.
- Andre Agassi
Earlier this week I had one of those days when everything seems to go wrong.
Anything I tossed into the wastebasket hit the rim and bounced out, my sweater seemed to get caught on every door handle in the house, our puppy ate too much of his rawhide bone and threw up on our new rug, my son was in whine mode from being overtired and my list of work to-do’s was getting far less attention than I wanted.
Come dinner prep time, I hit my max level of frustration. I could tell my daughters were trying their best to smooth out the edges (God bless them)–watching our puppy, who cannot seem to stay out of the garbage, spending time with their little brother and setting the table. It was a great relief to finally sit down at the table and take a deep breath. I am grateful to my girls for so much, but one thing that rises to the top is their sense of humor. Not long into dinner, I commented on how frustrating my day had been. They looked at each other with eyebrows raised and small smiles, their expressions saying, Like we didn’t notice, Mom! We all had a good laugh about my minuscule fuse that evening.
All of us have moments when we wish things had gone another way... from someone else getting that perfect parking spot to learning of the loss of a dear friend. It is what we do with those moments that can give us the redirecting or comfort we need.
When I was in graduate school, one of the first points of practice we learned as clinical social work students is “to be where the client is,” to make sure we meet them where they are in their struggle, their pain, their challenge. I have come to learn that this is an important point of practice in our own lives, too. Our lives are full, full of busyness, plans, to-do’s and commitments, each of which puts emotional and physical demands on us.
If we can be kind to ourselves and pay attention to where we are throughout our days, we might be able to smooth out the edges where needed, just as my daughters did for me the other evening. If I had been more on the ball, I would have excused myself from the goings-on of our home and sat quietly or read something peaceful or meditated so I could regroup and give myself the time I needed to recognize where I was in my frustration and renew my spirit.
Guideposts Outreach provides so many opportunities to be where others are in their journeys, their struggles and their challenges. There’s Guideposts Comfort Kits for Kids, bringing smiles to the faces of children in the hospital. The inspirational publications shared with the brave men and women who serve in our military and their families. And of course, OurPrayer, where volunteers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to welcome prayer requests from people around the world and pray for each and every request by name and need.
I am grateful for all that Guideposts Outreach does to soften the edges for so many. I think one of my lessons learned this week is that I need to have more Guideposts spirit-lifting materials on hand for when “one of those days” rears its head. I know that my daughters are not always going to be around to help me!
Katheryn (Katie) Allen Berlandi is the seventh of Guideposts cofounders Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Ruth Stafford Peale’s eight grandchildren. She is a clinical social worker with a private practice focusing on children, adolescents and families, and a consultant for Guideposts and the Guideposts Foundation. Katie lives in a small town in Connecticut with her husband, two daughters and son.