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I Want To Be Alex

By Charlene Rayburn

graduation cap and diplomaMy friend’s grandson, Alex, recently graduated from preschool. At his “commencements” his teacher asked him what he’d like to be when he grows up. He thought for a few seconds, then a little confused, he answered, “I want to be Alex.”

Out of the mouths of babes! So sweet and so incredibly profound.

Society and the media teach us that we should want to be thin like so-and-so, the celebrity. We should strive to exercise like so-and-so, the athlete. We should want to dress like so-and-so, the model. The list of “shoulds” is endless.

Can you remember the last time you were able to honestly say, “I’m happy being me!” without attaching any conditions? Hopefully, you don’t have to think all the way back to preschool! But even when we know that it’s not about looking a certain way, getting that promotion, meeting the perfect mate, or buying the perfect whatever, it is still difficult to refrain from comparing ourselves to others, or to some ideal image of ourselves.

When I’m practicing mindfulness, I have those moments. Moments where I’m completely contented being me, right here, right now. I love those moments. The more I practice, the more I understand, and realize that “I want to be Charlene” not after something changes, or after I attain whatever it is I think I want, but right now with my life exactly the way it is…filled with both laughter and tears, successes and foibles, and hopes and uncertainties. It is my life to experience, fully and richly.

Thank you, Alex, for the precious reminder that I want to be me.

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About the author

Charlene Rayburn, CVCC, lives her passion for mindfulness and intentional leadership by serving as a personal and professional leadership coach, by managing a department of dedicated employees for a Fortune 500 sized health insurance organization, and by facilitating Am I Hungry?® workshops and coaching sessions. She has coached extensively with individuals and groups outside the corporate world, as well as with executives, leaders, and teams in non-profit, private, public, governmental, and educational organizations spanning the globe. Charlene received her coaching certificate through the Center for Coaching Mastery at Coachville, LLC, and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Management from Davenport University. She is a member of the National Management Association. One of her most emotionally challenging and rewarding experiences was serving as a volunteer at the Center for Battered Women. Charlene currently lives in Michigan and enjoys spending time with her husband of over 20 years, reading, learning, cooking, practicing yoga, and watching her grandson grow, who lives with his dad, her stepson in Fort Worth, Texas.

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