I’m a collector of words, turns of phrase, meaningful quotes… The right word at the right time can truly give someone new perspective, purpose to continue on, or even a revelation. Sometimes a specific word or phrase has a residual effect on me — I just won’t be able to shake it for a season. Take the title of this post, for example. Just a simple quote from a cheesy nineties Australian flick.

You are watching: A life lived in fear is a life half lived


But this phrase has resonated within me for almost two decades…

The moment these characters spoke this old Spanish proverb, tears sprung to my eyes. I had to pause the VCR just to process the truth of this phrase.

Looking down at my then small children, curled up around me on the couch, my tears flowed freely. I remember wanting nothing more than to parent them with this simple wisdom. In that moment, I committed to never parent from the place of fear. Baz Luhrmann’s screenplay hadn’t given me new information; rather this brilliant turn of phrase confirmed a deep truth I already held within:

I had never wanted our children to merely survive.

Safe. Predictable. Fitting in?

Nope. I wanted them to LIVE.

Full lives.

Passionate lives.

Lives free from fear of failure, of pain, of rejection, of the Other.

Ultimately, I have always known that they simply are not mine. Their lives aren’t for me. They are gifts to the world. I’m merely a facilitator.


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Looking at my kiddos now — one in Iceland working on a film crew, one serving adolescents with severe special needs, and the baby gearing up to leave for college this fall— I think we’ve managed a version of this. Each of them boldly chases their dreams and ambitions, even as they shift from one thing to the next. They constantly teach me life lessons with their courage, passion, and determination.

My heart aches when I witness them struggling with perceived mistakes or regrets. It makes me want to scream.

Look around you. You’re really living! Your freedom from fear affects others. It affects me, blesses me, humbles me.

Age will teach them just how much each lesson-learned facilitates maturity. All too soon, age will also temper their wanderlust, rub off any sharp edges, and bring realization of their mortality. I’m okay with each of them arriving at wisdom, but I continue to hope that they avoid allowing fear to set up shop in their minds.

No lives half-lived for my brood. Not on my watch.


My Year of Mindfulness in Education (MY ME) is a series of blog posts tracking my personal commitment to explore the practice of mindfulness over an extended period and faithfully record my personal and professional journey along the way.

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My role as an instructional leader is the lens through which I examine the benefits of this discipline, but my larger hope is that this simple practice be adopted by educators on a larger scale and then incorporated into social/emotional lessons for use in the classroom.