My Class Motto Didn't Prepare Me For Real Life

Ida High School class of 1985

Once upon a time I was Senior Class President and one of my biggest responsibilities was planning our graduation. 

I remember being on a student and staff committee and an important task was choosing our class motto.

Burning question: *Why didn’t anyone sit us down to tell us how life really worked?

Perhaps then we would have tweaked our motto to read:

“One step at a time (mostly not forward) and on all kinds of paths with wide-ranging terrain and extreme weather conditions.”

Who’s with me?!

I had two real paths back in high school:

The path I traveled less often was one I created behind my house that led into the woods.

Sunshine would dance through the trees and highlight the trail where my feet would walk happily and carefree on the soft grass in summer, crunchy leaves in fall, and the quiet snow in winter.

It lead to my secret tree on the edge of a field with Strasburg Road in the distance. I would climb the tree at the end of the path and sit on a long branch with my back against the trunk. I was like a motionless hawk, incognito, watching the cars and life pass by. 

This time was magical to me because I could just be. Be one with nature and with myself. I used the time to create, imagine, pretend, and dream. And most definitely, it was a time to clear my head and ‘reset’. 

The path in front of my house that lead me into the world daily, Hubbard Road, was no joke. It was a dusty dirt road filled with potholes and ruts. 

Every spring the road would morph into a thick muddy cauldron of car-swallowing mud. More than once Calvin Smith, the local farmer, had to pull me out of the deeply grooved channels.

I’m thinking about all of this because my high school reunion is coming up which is cool but more importantly, this is also the summer that my daughter graduated from high school. 

I’ve been very reflective and emotional about her milestone because it hit me that I’m here witnessing the next cycle of life.

Kennedy’s about to start on her path and I’m sad, happy, nervous, and excited all wrapped up into one big crazy emotion.

My role went from being Class President to Family President, aka Mom, and choosing a motto for her to follow has taken on so much more significance.  It takes my breath away, actually, because she’s mine and I don’t want to mess her up, you know? Even though I’m sure I have in countless ways because being a parent is the ultimate definition of ‘crap shoot.’

Kennedy, this is especially for you:


  • The potholes, ruts, and stop-you-from-taking-any-steps-forward thick mud are all part of life. They’re gonna happen to you. They happen to everyone.


  • You will keep landing in the same potholes and ruts until you figure out how to go around them so always keep your eyes open so you can see and learn from the lessons they’re teaching you.


  • You will stay in and be overtaken by the quicksand-like mud the more you struggle against it so learn to surrender to what is so you can break free and continue moving forward.


  • You will take many more consistent steps forward throughout life when you find your peaceful path and go there often to quiet your mind, be still, and allow yourself to reset so you can fill up with life, intuition, and genuine happiness.

So yeah, this is my extended version of the original motto that started me on my journey years ago. I’m super excited to see what you add to it after you’ve lived a long while. Let’s keep this motto growing, girl!  

*Why didn’t anyone tell us how life really worked? Well, they probably did but I’m sure we weren’t listening because we were F**#ing Seniors ready to concur the world!!  



What was your school motto? Does it still apply? What have you learned since high school? Please share your comments below!

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