Last week, my sisters and I did something a little out of the ordinary...
We walked around the magical Apple Hill in Gunne Sax dresses and handmade seashell crowns.
Why, you might ask? Well, it might be a little more complicated and deep than I can express, but the basic idea behind it was that the three of us (Carlee, Heather, and myself) have all hit this point in our lives where we are very actively choosing to love ourselves, flaws and all, and forego our previous tendencies to worry what others think of us...or what we think they think of us...
It was a bold move, I'll admit, and there was a lot of discomfort on all our parts as we first stepped out of the car and into the public. The funny thing is, this was not the first time I had stepped out in my Gunne sax dress (if you don't know what that is, I'm sure Google would be more than happy to fill you in ;p), but it was definitely the first time I had worn a crown, let alone one made of seashells and other sparkly bits.
The real test of my day, however, was not so much the wearing of the dress and crown under the scrutinizing of other Apple Hill goers, as I expected. Rather, the true obstacle of the day was none other than my baby girl.
As much as I wanted to enjoy our time there, and to be really involved in the blog photo shoot that we had planned, it was a touch more difficult amidst the unreasonable demands and angry outbursts that the terrible twos brought out that day. For much of the day I struggled with this idea: responsibility. And more specifically, what was my responsibility in those moments.
In looking back, I can't help thinking about that crown that sat precariously atop my head throughout our excursion. With a crown, and its representation royalty, comes a certain responsibility to behave and present oneself with dignity and composure - two things that could not have been more relevant in any other situation than my screaming daughter attempting to drag me to the pond so that she could stand all too close to the water's edge as she tried to toss rocks at fish and ducks (all of which I was not going to allow...needless to say, this is an interesting phase of life for both of us). These occurrences are not uncommon these days, and the best I can do, in all honestly, is react with as much dignity and composure as I can muster. Which admittedly, on many days, is not much.
But amidst the cries and screams and downright howls, I think I discovered an additional responsibility in wearing a crown: the responsibility to revel in the joys of others. A crown also represents a position of service, and with that comes the need to recognize the happiness and fulfillment of those around you, and to take pleasure in those. To find comfort in them.
Despite the long battle-of-the-wills that I had to face that day, I could not help but take notice of the joy that spread across the faces of my friends, and find myself appreciating the advantage I had to not only take part in that, but even to simply witness it. And truthfully, their presence and their own enjoyment of the day, went miles and miles in helping me choose to find my own joy for the day, despite numerous trials.
Here's my final thoughts on the matter: a crown does not set you above or apart from those surrounding you. Rather, it connects you and holds you accountable, because in order to succeed or fail as a leader, whether that's as a friend, a parent, an employee, or a boss, you have to rely on the people in your life - both those who serve you (mentors, role-models, your own parents, etc.) and those you serve.
Thank you to everyone who comes alongside me, each and every day, because thanks to you, I can see that the responsibility of that crown (figuratively and literally), is not a burden, but rather a privilege.