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  • Writer's pictureSarah Carter

Front Porch Lessons

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This section of the book was one of my favorite sections to write. It has a whimsical title, Mudpies and Butterflies, and evokes thoughts of change through the eyes of children. We learn about how to handle change from the moment we first experience it. We learn the lessons of the changes of others from hearing their stories or experiencing it with them. If those lessons aren’t examined through story telling, they won’t get absorbed or passed down and if they aren’t passed down, the next generation will repeat our change follies.

Change starts with you. You convey your lessons learned to the young ears making mudpies and watching butterflies in your sphere of influence then they are prepared for when similar situations come their way.

Here’s an excerpt from that section of the book:

In the American South, there’s something we call “front porch sitting.” That is when a grandma, grandpa, great auntie, great uncle, or other community elders sit with the little ones and recounts stories about their lives. It doesn’t have to take place on a front porch. The storytelling could happen anywhere: car ride, playground, or a kitchen over a batch of cookies. The stories are what matter. They are stories about how the elders overcame whatever obstacles were in their way or how they took on different changes the world brought to their doorstep. The stories tell how they ultimately became the person sitting in front of the young ones on that front porch.

That's where we can learn the skills of change. That's when we should be teaching each other not to fear change. That's when we should learn to have a growth mindset, not when you're leaving high school or college, or joining the job force or getting out of it, or when you're in a midlife crisis and you're stuck. We should be learning about the skills of change when we are making mudpies and watching butterflies.

I remember when I was twelve (past the mudpie years, thank goodness) and I needed to make a change. I had been a member of our school band playing the alto saxophone for two years, and I had been riding horses on the weekends. The horse scene was starting to get more serious for me. I began participating in shows, asking my parents for all of the fancy equipment required for that, and began riding on weekday evenings, too. I really enjoyed the band, and was doing well there, but horses were where my excitement lived.

I asked my parents what I should do. They didn’t tell me which activity to choose. They said that choice was mine alone to make. I ultimately decided to leave the band. My parents guided me through the reflection process, goal setting, and networking so I could secure car rides with friends to the barn since I was a bit too young to drive and both of my parents worked.

My parents also coached me on how to politely leave the band so I did not just disappear from my place one day. Horses are still a part of my life, and I look for opportunities to mount up on just about every vacation. The way my parents taught my twelve-year-old self how to successfully make changes has been a model I’ve pulled from time and time again, especially the skill of polite exits. These skills of change are part of the legacy they will leave me with.

In this article series, I share excerpts, insights and stories from my book, All About Change: How to Successfully Make Personal Life Changes. I hope you enjoyed this post — if you enjoyed it and want to connect you can reach me here via email or connect with me on social: Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. Also, you can also find my book on Amazon — here is the link to buy it: Amazon.

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