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Viewpoint

Striding confidently despite  the bumps along the way

When my oldest daughter was a toddler, we lived in a cabin next door to my in-laws’ cottage. In the mornings I would open the door and send her off across the driveway to have breakfast with Gramma and Grandpa. They actually referred to it as “breckie” — a special time for all involved. With me standing at my door and Gramma standing at her door, we would watch Emily make her way across the driveway. She would watch her feet, stopping to pick up an interesting rock, looking back to see if I was watching, wander over to look at a bug, veer back to the driveway, look up at Gramma, look at her feet, and so on. You get the picture. It took her quite a while to get from door to door, a journey that usually takes under a minute.

It is possible to watch your step too closely. It’s easy to get sidetracked, or even lose the path to the goal entirely. This summer, a friend gave me some good advice: watch my feet less and keep my eye on my destination. This may seem kind of common sense to you, but to me it was a revelation.

It’s easy to spend too much time watching my feet. Easy to worry about the next step, to wonder if I have firm footing. But this really slows me down, and before I know it I’m bumping into a tree or coming up against a wall. Ouch! Instead, I find I get to my destination so much faster by marching confidently forward and assuming my feet are agile and will keep me upright. So what if I walk through a few puddles or even stumble over a rock? Confidence is key: if I stumble I will regain my footing and continue toward my goal. With my eyes on the goal I’m less distracted by interesting but nonessential details.

I see this is true with our work here at The River Center. Sometimes I am too concerned about where my feet are today, that I don’t move forward with confidence to where we are going. I want to worry less about the occasional dip in the path and move with confidence toward our goals. And they are great goals! The Board of Trustees has created and approved a three-year strategic plan. We are all excited about where we are going. Our plans include expanding our programs so that more individuals and families can participate — no matter where they live and what kind of transportation they have. We are working on capturing the positive changes programs make in the lives of our participants so that we can tell our story better. We are also moving toward more stable and sustainable finances and Board.

There is a saying, “He who aims at nothing hits it.” What are your goals? Are you wishing you were a better parent but haven’t done anything about that? Do the same issues keep coming up again and again? The parenting years are so busy it’s very easy to “keep your eyes on your feet” instead of looking to goals you have for your family. Want to start being intentional? Sign up for one of our fall parenting classes. New classes begin the week of September 16. Our website, www.rivercenter.us has a full listing of our programs.

Or perhaps you have been thinking you need to get a better job. But it is so much easier to just keep getting up and going to the job you have. Getting another job means looking up and looking at where you want to go. Why not take some deliberate steps toward that different job, like making an appointment with our Employment Specialist? She will help you update your resume, suggest appropriate websites and show you how to successfully navigate the job search.

Let’s agree to look forward and focus on where we want to be. Don’t look at your feet — look at what is ahead. Sign up for a parenting class, dust off the resume, take a workshop on a topic of interest. Be intentional and reach your goals. We are here to help. Give us a call at 924-6800 or info@rivercenter.us.

Margaret Nelson is the Executive Director of the River Center.

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