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Monday, February 14, 2011

Two Little Words

It’s the day for love, Hallmark style. With the aid of dark chocolate, red roses and conversation hearts people are eager to hear and say those three little words that make one’s heart skip a beat. Sure, “I Love You” is a powerful mantra, but today let’s focus on two of my favorite two-word combinations that pack a positive punch.

Not Yet! 
I once visited the home of a well-traveled British neighbor who possesses an unyielding zeal for life. She took me from room to room, happily answering my queries regarding artifacts that silently served as witnesses to her adventures. Her home was and still is a showcase of a life well-lived. As we passed a framed print from Africa she asked if I’d been there. No, I said, slightly embarrassed of my lack of world travel. “Not Yet!” she enthusiastically added to my reply. I hadn’t been to Africa...yet. 
“Not yet”-- two little words that opened the door of possibility. A simple “No” put a period on the conversation, whereas a “Not Yet” punctuated with a hopeful dot dot dot... 
See it in action:
After a few tries my six year old throws down the laces and proclaims he can’t tie shoes. Not Yet! I offer and we work on the task together.
My student says she’s not a good speaker. Not yet! I counter, letting her know I’ll show her the way.
I study my Things To Do Before I Die list and my heart sinks a bit to see how many places I’ve not visited, how many classes I’ve not taken, and how many experiences I’ve not embraced. There’s a lot on that list I haven’t done. NOT YET, that is. I open the door to possibility while locking out disappointment.

What’s Possible?
On a recent trip to San Francisco with friends, my daughter (age 9), her friend (10) and I explored the Salon Shoe department at Nordstorm while waiting for a table in the cafe. Knowing I can’t afford to put my big toe in any of those shoes (“not yet!”), it’s a place I usually avoid, but on this day I felt like playing. I asked Macy and her friend, Lauren, to find the most expensive pair of shoes they could. Much to the sales person’s dismay, the girls giggled as they flipped over shoe after shoe, competitively calling out the prices. “$575!” “$750!” “No, you can do better than that!” I lauded. 
And then they found the Jimmy Choo table. 
It didn’t take them long to work their way up to the top of the display where a silver jewel-encrusted shoe perched above all others. Lauren scooped it up and proclaimed with great excitement, “$1995.00!” With that we were satisfied and we went to check on our table. The girls were in awe that people would spend almost $2000.00 on a pair of shoes (which, they concluded, weren’t all that spectacular!). I explained that while they might not ever covet a pair of shoes in that price range, they exist to show us what’s possible. They expand preconceived boundaries and in their own designer way proclaim the power of possibility.
Now when Macy gets discouraged by her own limitations I can playfully say, “Hey, Mac, what’s possible?” “Two-thousand dollar shoes” she says with a smile. This metaphor reminds us that the sky’s the only limit.
Of course these two-word power phrases aren’t meant to replace the three little words we all long to hear. Instead they serve interdependently, offering hope and possibility. Love is the foundation that makes it all work.
What are some of your favorite power phrases that provide possibility?

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