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MomsFailures...or Stepping Stones?
By Sharina Smith

Have your disappointments ever led to something wonderful that you never expected? Have your failures been stepping stones or have you let them become road blocks?

Having passed that pinnacle year of 40, I find myself often looking back over my life and wondering where all the time has gone. Twenty-three years ago I left the Ozarks to make my way in the big city, and it seems just yesterday since I returned to West Plains, Missouri, from Philadelphia even though it has already been seven years since my homecoming.

What have I learned in twenty-some years of adulthood? I have learned that we only have today to live. Tomorrow might come and yesterday is over. I have also learned that all the events in my life that have been dismal failures now seem but stepping stones to the eventual accomplishments and joys I have had in my life.

Many self-esteem experts are loathe to use the word, "failure," and instead encourage us to say "challenges" or "learning opportunities." I disagree with these experts. Their euphemisms are nice but they don’t take away the pain of defeat, do they? I now embrace the word, "failure," because messing up frankly hurts. While I scoff at the self-esteem gurus, I know that it is through these mistakes, washouts, bombs, disappointments, defeats, fumbles, botches, slips, misadventures, and debacles that I have learned the most important lessons of my life.

Every failure has indeed been a learning experience, but it would be wrong to simply call these difficult times by a different name just to ease the pain. My failures were indeed painful, but they were also stepping stones, sometimes slippery, to the greatest joys in my life.

How do you view your failures? What have you learned? What will you do differently because of your experiences? Have your disappointments ever led to something wonderful that you never expected? Have your failures been stepping stones or have you let them become road blocks?

The poet John Keats called failure: "The highway to success." I think he is an expert with whom I can definitely agree.
Sharina Smith was born in Chicago to a Sicilian immigrant and an aspiring painter, moving to Missouri in 1970 and raised on a farm in the Ozarks. Sharina realized her dream of escaping to the city by securing a scholarship to Bryn Mawr College, continued her education at West Chester University, and enjoyed a career in business. Sharina again resides in the Ozarks with her husband, Chuck, and their combined family of four children. Sharina is a poet, writer, singer, and serves on staff at her church. Her book – Shout for Joy: poems from the journey – is available at www.sharinasmith.com.