When my grandchildren come to visit it is very different — not better, just different — than when I visited my grandparents. There was no television, no air-conditioning, no shopping malls and no fast food.
In the summer, mornings were for playing outdoors or trips downtown to buy comic books or paper dolls or to the public library to check out books. Afternoons were for reading and napping. After supper we were outdoors again, watching fireflies, visiting with neighbors and looking at the stars.
In the winter, my favorite memory is of a card table that held a huge jigsaw puzzle. Everyone took turns finding the missing pieces and as a young child I watched in amazement as the big picture emerged.
As I've matured, I realize life in some ways is like that jigsaw puzzle. Life experiences provide the pieces — a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.
There are those dark, sad and painful events that leave us feeling hopeless and the unexpected adventures and opportunities that can set us on a new path.
As they are happening, we do not see those experiences as part of a pattern, but as the years go by, we look back and see they turn out to be a part of something larger.
I now understand it is important to accept each of these pieces as necessary.
Life experiences like puzzle pieces offer choices. We can become bitter and resentful, live as a victim and never see the larger picture or we can find a way to make them fit in the mosaic of our lives by learning from them and making them useful in helping others going through something similar.
This encourages us to sign on for the adventure, find joy in each day and appreciate how the pieces begin to fall into the right places. All that is required is to keep showing up for life.
Being willing to take some risks and make some mistakes is easier if we understand hitting a dead end simply means we keep moving forward and find a new path. Often we are surprised by how good it can be.
Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.