By Laura Newberry-Yokley
I woke up thinking about firsts this morning. When was the last time you did something for the first time?
Do you remember your first kiss? Where were you? Who were you with? I was in England on a high school orchestra trip. The British boy, Daniel, who I kissed, had been around the proverbial block, but I hadn’t. When he asked me why I kissed the way I did, I told him that was how Americans kiss.
Notice the way you try something for the first time. I remember when my friend asked if I had ever tried a cumquat. Most of us haven’t. They’re very small oranges that are sour as all get out. I took the cumquat and popped the entire thing into my mouth. All at once, my eyes started to water and my mouth puckered up. What a rush of citrus! Then, a girl, Heather, tried one. She nibbled a bit on the rind. “Hm, this is quite good,” she said, and proceeded to finish it. Do you stick your toe in to check the temperature or do you dive head over heels into the deep end?
Several weeks ago, my first child had her first day of first grade. A child will approach any experience with excitement and wonder. Most will lead the way with gusto, ready to take on whatever comes her way. When did we learn fear and unsureness? Say you’re a professional and you’re sitting in a board meeting with over 200 of your peers. Will you stand up and ask a question? Or, you’re on a conference call. Will you speak up if you disagree with what is being said? Why not?
When was the last time you did something new? I often recall the poem by Robert Frost. Something about taking the path less traveled. Something about forging your own way.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I’ve experienced both trail blazing and treading along a well warn path. Neither is right or wrong, or good or bad. We are both creatures of habit and of playful spontaneity. This is a reminder to look up. Are you on the treadmill? Have you fallen into wheel ruts unable to get out? Have you switched on your autopilot? If you’ve tuned out, then who is flying your airplane?
I often use drawing or walking to help rekindle “firsts” in my life. I write with my dominant right hand. That’s why I draw with my left, which gives me direct access to the right side of my brain. Walking allows me to pick different sites and routes. As I walk, I listen to books about spirituality and self-exploration. This is an exercise to help me explore both my external and internal landscapes.
So, today, try something new. Something you’ve never done before. Have a “first” today and notice your spirit is lifted right away.
Laura Newberry-Yokley is Director of Cultural Innovation at Sonrisa Products LLC. Laura holds a Master of Arts in Women’s Studies in Religion from Claremont Graduate University and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Classical Studies from The College of Wooster. A world sojourner and spiritual pilgrim, her primary research interests include: health disparities, faith- and community-based health education, cultural and language training for missions and work, pilgrimages, and women’s divine and cultural expressions of Latino and Black America, India, Pakistan, Greece, Spain, and Mexico.
Visit www.sonrisaproducts.com to learn more.