How to Make Progress Like a Spider

Photo by PJRobertson at

A woman progressing is like a spider molting. Her old ways don’t work anymore, just like the outer skin of a spider becomes too small for its growing body. Being inspired to change, the woman allows her better self to emerge as she sloughs off outdated habits and perspectives. Likewise, the spider finds a safe place to squeeze out of its old skin. Molting is a natural process, but it involves pain, conviction, and patience.
Recently  I read the book Nurture Shock by Po Bronson an Ashley Merryman. It contradicted some of my basic views on parenting. I’ve believed that it’s a good idea to tell children how smart they are. The authors of this book discuss an interesting study where 5th graders were randomly placed in two groups. After taking a test, children in one group were praised for being smart while children in the other group were praised for working hard. The children praised for working hard were willing to try another test that was much more difficult but would teach them more. The children praised for their smarts preferred a test they were told would be easy.

I decided to try out this theory. I’ve noticed a subtle change in my children as I’ve focused on the value of work instead of telling them how great they already are. Their attitudes about academics have improved, especially in areas that are difficult for them.  I didn’t know my ideas about praise were not all correct, and Nurture Shock was filled with information that painfully showed me my outdated opinions. Waking up to our weaknesses can hurt, but can also be inspiring.

Sometimes it takes a friend to shake us awake. As a college student, I played in an orchestral gig away from home. After the concert, our van full of musicians stopped for a treat at Dairy Queen. I was so excited for my ice cream and fairly stunned to hear a cellist tell the driver, “Thank you, but I really wouldn’t like any treats.” Even after heavy pressure from the people in front, she held firm and insisted that her bottle of water was enough.

While licking down my delicious vanilla cone, I asked this unique lady all about her convictions regarding health. She had sparked something in me and I realized how good it would feel to shed the ‘old skin’ of impulsive eating, junk food, and eating to feel full. Our family is eating more avocados, bananas, salads, and I even made my own hummus. The day came when I took all my Ramen Noodles, white flour, white sugar, cake mixes, and Pasta-Roni to an appreciative neighbor. Strangely, it wasn’t even hard. I was making small changes because the inspiration from a friend and a book caused the ‘new skin’ to grow with solid conviction—even before all the ‘old skin’ came off.

Since then, my eating habits have fluctuated, but that’s where patience comes in. We can take a lesson from the spider that rests after molting. His new skin is damp and soft like putty, so he patiently waits until it’s dry before moving on. Women too need to rest, and use their resting time to re-inspire themselves.

I was excited to get my life in order using the Mind Organization for Moms (M.O.M.) program from The Power of Moms website. I got the whole program because I was excited about having a trustworthy system for my floating ideas and to change from crazy and scatterbrained to functional and efficient.

So I did the first steps. I created the physical system…but that’s about as far as I’ve gone. Often at this point in the process of change we say, “I should work harder! I was so close to getting it all together!” Instead of frantically fixing ourselves, we can calmly re-evaluate our situation with gratitude. Then we can reflect on why we’re doing this and remember the inspirational friend, words, or feelings that originally started the change.

For me this means reading inspirational books, articles, or blogs that remind me where I’m going. As for the M.O.M. program, I’m going to frequently read the introduction to the program on The Power of Moms website—including the links to April’s guest posts and to quotes by other moms about the program. I need to feel the change working inside me as I see the world in a new way.

Words have power to change our minds and hearts. As Emerson said, “I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” When we patiently change on the inside first, the outer changes happen naturally and our old shell falls away, not without some pain, but always with welcome renewal.

QUESTION: In what area of your life do you feel you need to “molt” and get a new perspective?

CHALLENGE: Read on that topic this week; share the ideas with a spouse, friend or journal.


  1. Jenni says

    An a-ha moment for me was when a much old and wiser friend told me, “I never told my children how proud I was of them. I remarked to them how proud they must be of themselves.”

  2. says

    Great article. I know sometimes I’m overwhelmed by how many changes I need to make, but stepping back and looking for the things I KNOW will make me feel better makes those changes easier to do.

  3. hosander says

    Great Article Lindsay. I agree that sometimes we need to slow down and appreciate the journey of changing rather than focusing on some ethereal goal. Too often I see the goal and compare it to where I am now, when I see the gulf in between, I give up. But I do enjoy the slow changes I am developing, working harder to keep my home cleaner every day, my patience lasting 5 minutes more than it did last year. I think the best thing we can do is enjoy where we are, and we will eventually shed our old ways as it gets easier.

  4. Konnie Henrie Giddings says

    As one having lived wih you Lindsay, I love that you have always tried to see the best and be the best in whatever part of life you were focused on. I have missed your un-failing smile since USU. Thank you for pointing out how we must CALMLY re-evaluate our situation with GRATITUDE…I think that makes all the difference. Seeing our lives through the lens of gratitude. I am grateful I happened upon your essay. It reminded me of areas I need to “molt” and reminded me of things you taught me all those years ago.

  5. says

    With summer just beginning for us, it’s time for us the molt our routines, maybe relax a little and enjoy that resting stage. Thanks for the new perspective on being aware of how we encourage our children to be their best. I like when I realized my good way has a better way.

  6. says

    With summer beginning for us, I think we need to molt our routines a bit. Maybe relax a little and enjoy the resting stage. Thanks for this different perspective on how we encourage our kids. I like knowing my good way of doing things has a better way.

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