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I love puzzles and mysteries. There is such a thrill in the victory of finally figuring out the solution. Last fall our family participated in a tropical island plane crash themed “puzzle room.” In order to escape the imaginary island, we had to solve a series of puzzles with only the items we found in the room. Through the process we discovered glow-in-the-dark shapes and patterns painted on the floor and walls, a treasure box of shells and coins to sort out, and a crate of bananas that had to be unpacked one by one through the slats using a grabber because the bananas had clues written on them. One humorous component was a simulated volcano that shot out ping pong balls when it activated. Fortunately, we escaped the island before we were encompassed by the lava. Phew. The whole experience was very memorable and is also instructive as I consider how to sort through and learn from the different puzzling experiences life throws my way.

This month as we consider seeking after knowledge and wisdom, I want to focus not on how we gain that from books or formal education, but how we often discover it in our own mind and heart. Just like it was possible to escape the island with only the items in the room, I believe we each have the seeds of potential within us to create the solutions to the problems in our lives. Often it is the encouragement of a mentor that shines a light or models a skill that illuminates something within us we did not see or connect before.

My friend Cay once shared an example of a mothering interaction where the mother stroked the daughter’s hair as the daughter leaned against her, needing support and love. It was a tender visual that my own life experience had never taught me. That was a seed of knowledge that germinated in me. Months later my teenage daughter came to me distressed. As I hugged her, that image came to mind. It felt a little awkward at first because we had never done it before, but I stroked her hair as she talked to me about what was going on. I couldn’t fix anything, but I could love her. She relaxed into it and we both felt a love and connection stronger than before, and she came to a place of peace about her concern.

In that moment I activated the knowledge I had gained, and it became wisdom. It is a tool in my mental and emotional toolbox that I know how to use now, and I have a positive personal experience that shows me that it bears good fruit. It didn’t require anything outside of me or even any special skill. It was simple. I had my heart and hand on my mothering island all along, but I discovered a new way to use them in my home to help be a positive force for growth and greater love.

Sometimes family relationships can be challenging or a community problem we are facing is troubling and we feel trapped on an island with a volcano that is about to erupt. As empowered women we are equipped with the amazing ability open our minds, see the situation differently, adapt our prior experience, connect and apply learning from mentors, and offer creative solutions. We each have the power to make a positive difference in big and small ways through discovering and activating seeds of knowledge and wisdom already within us.