How Hard Could It Be?

At the Leadership Sonoma retreat I facilitated with Michael Naumer in 2000, I worked with Sharon on her “incident.” Her unusual refrain of, “How hard could it be?” stuck with me for the last 16 years. Her “incident,” flavored with spunk and determination, appeared repeatedly throughout her life. When I asked for permission to share it here, this is what she wrote:

When I was a baby, I was in the hospital in a coma; they had to feed me with tubes through my ankles, making my ankles very weak. When I left the hospital the doc told my Mom not to expect me to walk until close to two years. I was the youngest to walk in my family at 10 months. I watched my sister, who was 18 months older. After all… how hard could it be?

Sharon S.

Sharon, about age 5

I had to be around four, and my sister, six. She received a two-wheel bicycle. My parents took her up and down the driveway and she practiced as they held the bike. After a time, they all went inside. I looked at the bike and thought… how hard can it be? I hopped on and took off. My dad saw me out the kitchen window, ran outside and asked how I managed it. I shrugged my shoulders and said, “I watched my sister.”

Sharon S.

Sharon, about age 7

On our road trips we always left early in the morning and stopped early in the afternoon so we could see the local sights and have time to play in the pool. First stop, we all put on our suits and we’re so happy to go to swimming. We splashed around, then my sister goes up the high dive and jumps off. She’s a good swimmer. Watching her, even though I’m afraid of heights, I think, I can do that, how hard can it be? I go up, jump off and sink straight down into the deep end. Just typing this brings back the rush of drowning (one, if not my biggest fear to this day). My dad jumped in and saved me. He asked me why I didn’t swim. I said, “I don’t know how.” He banned me from the big pool and for the rest of the vacation I could only swim in the kiddie pools. I made the best of it. I could play, have fun, lead the little kids in games and activities. I was going to enjoy my pool time and vacation. It was then I developed a keen understanding of what goes through children’s minds and a compassion for where they are in life. I understand them.

In the fourth grade I dropped a case of glass 7Up bottles on my foot. It severed my ankle. I had to lay in bed for two weeks and not put any weight on it. To keep me busy, Mom bought embroidery stuff for me. I taught myself to sew. After all… how hard could it be? I volunteered to teach sewing to the other kids in the neighborhood when I went into sixth grade because I found the summer rec program too boring. We made purses from our old jeans, embroidered everything, and made peasant tops; after all it 1970! I liked teaching and working with children, especially those who were lonely.

I didn’t always feel accepted as child, and I think that’s where my passion for working with children comes into play. I have a heart for the imperfect. In high school I took Child Development and worked both at the preschool located in our high school and also offsite. That experience led me to become a preschool teacher and director. From there I open a licensed preschool inside our local Boys & Girls Club, which is still running and successful today. I ran athletic programs, morning programs, and day camps. I’ve held every position in the BGC with the exception of Executive Director. I was also a National Trainer for Boys & Girls Clubs.

How this plays out in my life is that I’m not afraid to try new things, self-teach, and take initiative. Over the years, my favorite job is to play with the little kids all day. Really, how hard could it be?”

Sharon S.

Interesting that the little girl banished to the kiddie pool ended up with a career playing with little kids.

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Comments

  1. This is such a great story! The power of our minds to overcome obstacles! Her journey perhaps, was all about where she would eventually find her passion! And thank goodness she recognized it!

  2. I like Sharon and think she is a little bit like me… This insight into what makes people choose the life they have is intriguing.

  3. Continue to LOVE your writing!!!! OMGosh! It’s refreshing and inspiring.

    • You know, I never know what is going to land with readers. Just when I think they may not get it, or care, or it doesn’t call to them, a friend like you pops up! Thank you Dianne.

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