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On becoming ourselves & living our dream

by Mary Mazzoni on January 19, 2013

“When we reconnect who we are with what we do, we approach our lives and our work with renewed passion, commitment, and integrity.”          - Center for Courage and Renewal

Ever feel disconnected from what matters most? Ever feel like you’re losing yourself as you go through the paces, doing what’s expected? Ever feel caught up in negativity – fighting what you’re “against” – instead of nurturing what’s most precious?

Yeah.  Me, too.

Today I read a simple, profound reflection on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Along with my parents, and a few others – Dr. King is one of my heroes.

This simple piece is not about Dr. King’s incredible influence, skills, or accomplishments. It’s a reflection on how he grew to become himself. And it raises questions about my own “becoming” – and how we can support our kids as they become who they are. These questions, like tiny seeds, have taken root in my heart. Not to be pried open, but to be lived into, promising to bear fruit over time.

You can read the post, called “Becoming Ourselves” at a site called “Inward/Outward”  here.

Our kids look to us

We are our children’s primary role models. Whatever other heroes they may have in their lives – they look first to us. To see what it means to live an authentic life. A life of integrity and love and joy. To see someone living fully – making mistakes along the way – learning, growing, becoming.

Little by little, choice by choice

I love how the piece says Dr. King “didn’t choose leader of a mass civil rights movement from a list of vocational options”, but rather, his “identity emerged gradually as he… listened and prayed and read and participated and took the risks of creativity that were uniquely his to take.”

This, of course, is true for us – and for our children.

We become who we are over time by:

  • pausing to listen, reflect and remember what’s important to us
  • participating and contributing
  • taking creative risks
  • trying and failing and learning and growing

Pausing to reflect

The pace of everyday life can be hectic. We – and our kids – can lose perspective.

Unless we pause and listen and reflect a bit – we may find ourselves disconnected from all that is most important to us.

We can pause to gain perspective in all sorts of ways. Time alone or with a mentor, counselor or friend. Journaling or creative endeavors. Here are just a few practical ideas. Surely you and your child have your own ways of taking time to reflect on what matters most to you.

Taking risks

The truth is – we can’t discover what’s most important to us without taking risks.

Risk is part of all relationships, all growth, all life.

Sometimes kids get the idea that progress is supposed to be a straight line – with no false starts, no stumbles, no wrong turns. This idea can be paralyzing.

Can we help our kids learn about risk from our example?

Can we let them see how we, ourselves, take risks? Can we allow them to glimpse some of our failures and rejections? Can we share with them how we’ve learned and grown from our choices and experiences?

Can we allow our kids to take their own risks?


There is dignity and growth in risk.

And there is dignity and growth in service.

Contributing to the common good – at home, school and community – is good for kids. All kids.

By contributing, our children:

  • discover their talents and interests
  • develop relationships
  • learn new skills
  • experience what it is to be needed and valued
  • become an integral part of their community

The course of my own life has been shaped through volunteering. I met my husband, discovered my career path, and developed profoundly enriching friendships through service. Funny thing – when I started out – I always thought I was “giving”.  And look how much I have received!

“Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve”, said Dr. King.


No matter what your child’s disability may be, he or she can and should contribute to the common good.

Does your child have chores at home? Does he or she volunteer in the community? How could s/he explore interests or sharpen skills by serving in new ways?

Maybe this post on volunteering – (especially the “Yes, but…” section at the end) – will help you and your child explore possibilities.


At age 55 – I’m still “becoming who I am”.  Even as I write this post, I’m pausing to reflect –  and taking a risk by contributing in a way that may or may not be accepted.

It feels good to stretch and grow.

Your turn

I’d love to hear your thoughts. What helps you on your own path – and as you journey with your child?

If you liked this post – please share it. Thanks!

Wishing you and your child joy as you stretch and grow and become – day by day.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mary Mazzoni January 20, 2013 at 10:47 am

Here’s the story of a young woman and her family living into their dreams in a big way!


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