Julie Meyers Pron has had a lifelong love of learning, exploring and mastering new endeavors. In this beautiful post she explains how all of that has come together to make Julie the woman she is today by learning from experience:
We have marble jar rewards at our house. Everyone has their own jar (adults included), personally decorated and labeled with bright, colorful marbles inside. When we do something good, we are rewarded marbles. When we do something not so good, we apologize by giving some of our marbles to someone who deserves them. Sometimes our marble jars are full, other times, near empty. And when we make it to the very top there’s a big reward… like a book! or a trip for ice cream or a family movie night!
Our jars are never fully empty. Even after they’re full and we’re rewarded and it’s time to empty out the jar, we leave five in the bottom. It’s a good base to have, leaning on our past to get us started on our future.
I suppose, if one were to consider my life as a pile of marbles, that’s pretty representative. Every step I’ve taken has added to a part of who I am, a part of who I will later become. Each of those ten base marbles represents a solid moving part of my life that formed me into Julie Meyers Pron, age 38, mom of 3 kids and loving wife and social media strategist, blogger and freelance parenting and education writer.
Marble 1: The big sister
I have two younger sisters. Our relationships haven’t always been fabulous–but they’re a part of who we are and, for the most part, I’ve considered them my closest friends for years. In college, my middle sister and I had an all-out war while driving in her Honda Civic through Boca Raton, Florida. My parents made us pull over and sat in silence while we covered each other in insults. We cried. We screamed. We gasped for breath. We didn’t talk for 6 months after that. And then, life moved and we just talked again. Like sisters do. We picked up our mess, our marbles, so to speak, and tried to remember what each one was and put them back into our cooperative jar. We never talk about those 6 months of missed sisterly love. We never discuss how insulted we were by each other (oh, yes, I admit I was mean. Really, really mean.)
Looking back, it’s because of that argument and the silence that followed, that my relationship with my sisters is stronger. I value the spoken word, I’ve learned how to hold my tongue. And I recognize how much I do want to catch up with my sisters and never allow 6 months to go by missing the twists and turns in each others’ lives.
As a parent, a wife and in life in general, I use this experience to remind me that sometimes you need to let the marbles drop. My parents sat in silence while we had it out. Silence. Had they jumped in and tried to calm our storm, to neaten up the marbles, we would never have known the feelings pent up inside, and we’d never be able to value the friendships that we now have as adults. I value the relationships I have and what I get from them and give to them every single day. From my husband to my parents to my kids to my sisters to my friends near and far. Communication and honesty– no matter how loud–is so very important in keeping a healthy relationship… thank goodness for the internet.
Marble 2: Trying something new
When I was in eighth grade, I tried out for cheer-leading and was disheartened when I didn’t make the squad. The coaches said they wanted a small squad of only 8 members. That summer, amongst the social-stress of transferring to high school, my phone rang. It was Tiphany, Varsity squad captain, telling me that the coaches had quit, the JV squad needed to be bigger and would I like to be a member of the team?
Heck no. I wouldn’t let anyone B-list me! After all why would I let bunch of losers like the cheer-leaders actually feel they could come back to me and “accept” me. I said “no,” hung up, and cried to my dad.
My dad made me pick up the phone and call Tiphany back, telling her I made a mistake. Of course, that call back took hours to make. Between the calls, I flubbered, blubbered and disagreed. I wanted nothing to to do with that group of girls. Nothing. With puffy, red eyes and a shaky voice, I called back. I was given details for “camp week” and, begrudgingly, made my way to the second day of practice. I tried so hard to hate it.
But the next year I was co-captain of the JV squad, Junior year I was on Varsity and Senior year co-captained Varsity. I learned leadership, acceptance and differences. I made best friends that I never would have known to say “hello” to, had I not been on the squads. Most important, I learned about the effect that positive spirit has in others’ lives as well as my own. In Senior Superlatives, I was voted “Most Spirited.” I’ve probably kept that title through college and parenting.
Marble 3: Getting away
Eight weeks is a long time. That’s something I think every time someone asks me whether or not I’d like to send my kids to overnight camp. And then I laugh, because when I was 10, finishing fourth grade, I did go to overnight camp in Maine. For eight weeks. I barely knew anyone, yet I boarded a plane to Boston and rode 3 hours in a bus into the mountains, where I found my “place of joy” in Sweden, Maine. A place where I joined 7 other girls in my cabin, about 140 girls overall and lived a summer of growth and independence. To be repeated for five more years.
When it came time for college, my friends asked me how I could go as far as Texas?! What will you do? You can’t exactly “just go home.” No, I couldn’t. In fact, when a friend died in a tragic accident just a few weeks into our Freshman year, I cried for hugs from my mom, but couldn’t get them. I had to be independent. I was lucky to have camp behind me–I knew how to be away from home.
Now, it kills me that we have to steal brief weekend visits from my parents every few months so that they can see my kids. I hate the time in between those visits because they’re missing valuable parts of relationships with my children and my children are missing so much with them. But when we discuss the idea of moving closer, I know that living in their neighborhood would never work for me. I’m independent. I learned early on to fend for myself and do things for me. I learned to be my number one advocate. It took years and experiences to learn, but it’s a part of who I am.
Marble 4: Bouncing
I consider my career like Tigger considers his day. I bounce a lot. I’ve worked in retail, retail management, crafting, Public Relations (not-for-profit, agency and corporate), Marketing, earned my Masters in Education, taught, wrote curriculum, been a published journalist… I’ve done a lot of work in 38 years. And every one of those experiences makes me who I am. It makes me who I want to and can be. If I didn’t have all of that bounciness behind me there’s no way I’d be doing what I’m doing now for a career: an online marketing strategist and child development specialist.
My vast background in different careers made me well-rounded, made me learn that I can be anything I want to be, as long as I’m willing to learn.
Marble 5: Set-backs
I want life to be a box of cupcakes (sorry, folks, I’m allergic to chocolates.) I want rainbows and unicorns and talking butterflies. But we all know that mixed into our fairy-tales are the mean, scary demons and monsters and miscarriages. Yes, I had a miscarriage a few years ago. It shaped me. It’s what made me realize that I’m no longer responsible for just me, but for my family, those I love and those who love me. There are people out there who depend on me and I need to and want to be there for them. Always.
My marble jar is pretty full right now, I suppose I’m nearly ready for my next reward (I’m getting my nails done!) But it’s a bit of a safety knowing that I’ll still have my base marbles to keep me going when my jar is once again near-empty.
Eternal optimist, Julie Meyers Pron has been called a “Momcyclopedia” and a “real life Google.” A mom to three, wife, educator, marketer, cheerleader, budding organizer, and me-time enthusiast, Julie shares her knowledge, lifestyle tips, business-savvy suggestions and real life stories helping you to parent confidently while remaining your stylish self. Julie is the founder and editor of Vlogmom.com, the lead-everything at Julieverse.com, social media consultant and child development specialist at PlayWOW toys and a columnist at Rusty & Rosy. She lives with her family in suburban Philadelphia driving to various sporting events, volunteering for PTO and, when she can, working out and writing.