Encouraging Your Kids to Carpe the Diem


You can’t change the direction of the wind but, you can adjust your sails to reach your destination – Jimmy Dean.

The concept of seizing the day, making the most out of every possible moment can sometimes feel like a tall order.  I had once believed that people are hard-wired in different ways and some are actually incapable of looking at life through the glass-half-full lens.    This doesn’t mean that they’re miserable people, it simply means that they approach situations differently and are more prone to be affected by the gamut of emotions cycling through each day, good and bad.  Up until my mom was diagnosed with cancer, I definitely categorized myself in the “glass half empty” column.

As a parent we strive to be the perfect role model for our kids.  They pick up our frequency whether we like it or not so every moment in time begins to feel like a teachable moment.  And, what if we’re just not glass half full people by nature, does that mean that our kids are at a slight disadvantage?

I remember the ill-fated day 8 years ago, when I received a harried, tearful phone call from my dad explaining my mom was being rushed into emergency surgery.   Like a chicken with its head cut off, I jumped in a car with my sister and we raced down to Baltimore, not knowing what would be waiting for us at the end of the 4–hour trip.  Luckily, we were able to get to the hospital just in time to see my mom being carted off for her surgery.  Somehow, while laying on the gurney, Mom made eye contact with my hysterical sister.  And, like a true optimistic rock, Mom said in an unwavering voice, “I’ll be ok.”  The operating room doors immediately swung shut behind her and a new chapter in all of our lives was about to begin.

My mom privately dealt with her grim cancer diagnosis and her slowly declining health for over 5 years.   However, in those 5 years she plodded forward without a complaint or a longing look back.  As I witnessed from the sidelines, I always felt her quiet strength and deep-rooted compassion and constant struggle be  “normal,” even though she described her cancer life as “always having one foot on a banana peel.”   In turn, I became very reflective, analyzing my own life and how I approach each day and different situations.  It became evidently clear to me that instead of harnessing my internal confidence and strength, I often just marinated in a paralyzing zone full of fear and uncertainty, lacking any sort of confidence, never discovering my full potential. Ironically, as my mom was slowly dying, I took it upon myself to slowly start living again!

Now that I’m a mother, I am constantly trying to encourage my kids to “live life to the fullest” without saying “because you never know what tomorrow may bring” under my breath. I want them to take healthy risks to discover what they can accomplish on their own and who they can become.  I don’t want them to fester. But, there’s also a fine line.  I am careful not to force them- they need to discover their capabilities and true potential on their own too.  I’ve realized the hard way that even though they’re full of my genes, they’re not me.

Pre 40ft. climb - all smiles!

At camp visiting day this weekend, I was greeted by my pig-tailed freckled-faced girl who couldn’t wait to show me what she’s been accomplishing on her own.  She’s not someone I’d characterize as a risk-taker and often times lacks that crucial self-confidence to help propel her forward.  However, I saw her put on a helmet and climb a 40-foot pole on the ropes course.  Although once petrified to water ski, she donned skis, gave the thumbs up signal to the driver and skied around the lake grinning ear-to-ear.  She moved around the once foreign campus with a fluidity and confidence I have never seen and certainly didn’t expect.

As we left, I told my daughter to try to make the most of her last few days of camp.  However, I smiled to myself realizing she had already significantly evolved. On her own.   Without any pressure from me.  Without the impetus of any drastic circumstances. It truly seems as if each day she tried to get the most out of camp: pure unfiltered enjoyment.

She carped the diem.

Seizing the opportunity and conquering fears.

mid-air...full of confidence













Are you glass-half-empty or glass-half-full?  How do/did you encourage your children/friends to seize the day?


  1. […] life is for the living.  Mom echoed this sentiment during her own journeys through friendships, parenting, marriage, even her…. I know she’d want me to do the same.  She’d want me to celebrate all that I’ve […]

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