Wishing versus Working: New Series

This morning I heard a fantastic quote on my drive in to school:

There is no shortage of people willing to win, but there is a shortage of people willing to do the work required to win.

Now, this quote wasn’t in relation to a sports team, but rather in the context of life in general, and specifically in the context of our relationship with God. This really got me to contemplating:

 

Am I putting in the work required to have a purposeful life, or am I simply going through the motions and wishing it were so?

 

The more I tried to dissect how these challenges applied to my life, the more areas I began to see were included. I mean, seriously, this “wishing” versus “working” mentality and ethic, could apply absolutely everywhere in my life. Think about it: career, housing, transportation, health, and oh so critical…the relationships we build (or destroy) with our spouse or partner, parents, in-laws, siblings, children, even our ex’s, and of course, our first relationship with our Heavenly Father.

The radio show spoke a great deal about the ethic of David as a “winner” who was willing to do the work, regardless of how seemingly menial, that it took to fulfill his promises.   I won’t recount that entire story here; you can read up more on that yourself. Personally, I’ve started here… http://www.gotquestions.org/man-after-God-heart.html   Seems like a good place to begin my deeper study. I’m a “people person”, in spite of being an introvert, so the idea of more deeply exploring my relationships with others and questioning if I am truly doing the work it takes to make these relationships meaningful and fruitful, or if am only giving lip-service to wanting them to work, was a great challenge to me. Meaning, I’m not first questioning that these relationships exist, but am I doing the work needed to make any one of those relationships successful?

       So, in genuine effort to put in the work to win, I’d like to launch a series of discussions about the effort required to win at relationships. I’m no expert certainly, but I’m more than willing to share my stories: triumphs and failures, along with the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Please jump in and share your own stories or ideas for us to explore. I’d love to talk with you!

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Snow and Solice February 13, 2014 at 8:25pm

I’m including the dates these posts were originally published on Facebook to avoid confusion.  This particular post was written a month following the end of my marriage.

Thanks for reading!

K

 

This time in my life has been full of changes: exciting, terrifying, lonely, loved.  But above all, it has been characterized by hopefulness and confidence.  While I’ve not shed a tear over the separation, I’ve chosen to reflect on the good times we had as a family and the acknowledgement that we, in all honesty, have been friends who consulted on business matters yet avoided the closeness that comes from sharing one’s heart, hopes, fears, joy and dreams with another. I’m not bitter or resentful though. I am thankful for the ability to self-reflect…to see where I am, envision where I want to go, and dream and plan how to get there.

 

The snowfall last night and today, was hypnotic.  I spent some time staring out the window or finding excuses to stand in it, face upturned, and catch snowflakes on my tongue like a carefree child.  I truly felt…at least for a little while… childlike, and I chose to follow that feeling.  I’m not wearing blinders: I have money concerns, swear at the car when the back door gets stuck again, and get annoyed when someone cuts me off in traffic. But I stood in the pure whiteness and looked down towards the back of the subdivision where I rent.  From my house, you can’t see the end of the street, and in the closing daylight the end of the street tapered to a fuzzy gray.  Not black. Just gray.  It was an incredibly powerful moment.  I stood planted under a street light surrounded by the ice-covered trees and gracefully bowing limbs of a magnolia that were blanketed in snow: bitter cold, yet thick as my grandmother’s down quilt.

The silence was stark.

Standing at the corner of a busy road, and I knew where I was, right here and right now. I don’t mean, at the corner of Oak and Elm, say, but rather I knew for certain where I was in my life in that moment.  I looked ahead and could imagine what lay at the end of the road, but I couldn’t see it clearly.  The only way to know for certain, would be to go there, one step at a time.

 

I set off, one heavy boot in front of the other towards the end of the road.  I was cold, my face catching the snowflakes blowing straight into my face.  Two blocks down, I nearly turned back, but a feeling stopped me briefly in my tracks.  I still couldn’t see the end of the street, but the path was not as gray.  I refocused my attention from what lay down the road, to what was immediately upon me. Yet again, I was under a street light, and I could see around me.  But even more apparent, was the sound of laughter coming from a yard ahead. I recognized them as a father and daughter, building a very professional looking snowman. It was as if I were looking back at times with my own children, playing in the snow, coming in breathless and red cheeked…stripping down in the kitchen to wrap up in towels and fix cocoa, ending up in a pile on the floor to watch a movie.  And I smiled.

Then I stepped forward.

A half a block later, a new sensation replaced the cold.  My hands.  My hands felt warm, as if my small hands were being held in someone else’s larger ones.  Completely yet gently enveloped. True, I knew that in reality, my hands were reacting to the cold by swelling and becoming inflamed, but that wasn’t what I felt.  Walking down the middle of the road, my heart knew that I was feeling the hand of a friend, letting me know that I was not alone on my journey.  The hand holding mine was not pulling, but just holding.  Not releasing, but just being there without making demands.  I knew in that moment for certain, that while I may be by myself, I was not alone.  That I may not have a partner waiting impatiently with me on the morning coffee, but that I was not alone.  That I didn’t have warm arms pulling me in close at night as a child would embrace a favorite cuddle toy, but that I was not alone.  That it was going to be alright, and that I would continue on my journey.  I don’t know what lies at the end of the road still, but I know I will get there one day.

And that I will not be alone.

 

2/13/14

Refocusing without whining

Ran across this just a little while ago.  I was busy being flumuxed by how to give the entire class access to a document in the lab without having to manually log in each station, assuming each station would permit access…anyway, I was frustrated and whiny.  See, our beautiful MacLab with 17 massive Macs is pretty much just eye candy at the moment.  Lots of pretty computers that have little useful software, access the web randomly, block all the important (in my mind) stuff, and aren’t currently linked to each other or anything else for that matter…other than the web…usually.  

So, when I get flustered, I “play” and here’s a great quote I stumbled on while playing on http://www.zenhabits.net (my new favorite site!) Not directing this at anyone other than myself; I often write when I’m trying to refocus, and you are my lucky (depending on your viewpoint) audience this evening 🙂

 
“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.” —Dale Carnegie 
 
Sounds like a good quality to practice and model; I know I can be too quick to complain at times when something doesn’t go my way or it seems too hard to accomplish.  But having read quite a bit of Carnegie’s work, I also know he didn’t intend for this to mean we should overlook genuine problems and “forgive them into non-resolution”.  
 
So back to my problem of access…applying this principle, I understand that the MacLab isn’t perfect yet, I understand that I don’t have all the knowledge I need yet to fix that particular problem, and I forgive myself for not being able to solve this particular problem right this moment.  So while I still don’t have a solution yet, I’m open now to any and all suggestions, even if it means I’ve got to hand load all the forms 🙂  Not sure about the character piece, but I know I’ll have to practice the self-control part to refrain from swearing at the systems tomorrow! 
 
Oh, and if you’ve got suggestions for FREE ways to fix this problem, please share your wisdom in the comments!
 
Have a lovely rest of your evening!

Goals: in the net and in the mind

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So what a busy week it’s all been…personally, my school is winding down the year, and our final day is June 1st.  My 4th graders have achieved a major goal of theirs this year: becoming finalists in the Siemens We Change Change the World sustainability competition!  You can read about their project here http://www.wecanchange.com/elementary-school/about-challenge/2012-elementary-school-finalists/2012-elementary-school-finalists/#virginia  Just scroll down and look for the SAS Fab 4ths from Virginia.  I’m so very proud!  Now we’re on pins and needles waiting for the May 30th announcement of the top 3 grand prize winners. Wish us luck!

On the spondy-front, the boys and I have been struggling a bit with this rather annoyingly damp Virginia weather.  This persistent low-front means the enthesitis is being a pain in the neck (or back or knee wrist or SI joint…you get the picture) and the boys and I are getting a bit crabby with each other over who has custody of the TENS unit at any given moment.  Probably about time for Lee to get his own since he’s turning 21 soon and is looking to move out on his own with his friends.  I love my son, but I’m drawing the line at midnight runs across town to either bring him the unit; I know I’m not headed out in the middle of the night to retrieve it if I need it! Lee is slowly beginning to focus more on what he wants to do and the courses it will take to get him there.  He’s certainly not a “liberal arts” sort of fellow, but “point me to the actual stuff I need to know and I’ll take it from there” sort.  More on Lee at a later date.

I’m skipping over me this week, and instead paying a bit of attention to Ry’s past couple of weeks.  He’s had a rough year on his high school soccer team; even though he’s played all three years, this year has been tough.  There are 24 boys on the roster, and 12 of them seniors…good seniors.  It’s meant a lot of keeping the bench warm, and it’s screwing with his head a bit.  He made the decision to leave his club team for a new one beginning in the fall.  He played the whole time there, but was struggling with the bond.  Good guys, good coach, just not a good fit.  He’s old enough now to make his own decisions about where to play, so we backed him on it.  He’s incredibly competitive, so he’s extremely excited to be on the new team, which are exceptional.

Which brings us back around to the head games this bench sitting at high school is causing.  Ironically, his club team is composed of a large percentage of the high school team.  He has gotten himself into a bit of a funk; not playing, grades slipping a bit, the spondylitis having a minor flare as thanks to the weather.  It’s enough to put anyone into a shitty mood.  We’re having a bit of a struggle getting his classes scheduled for his senior year; he’s trying hard to lighten his schedule so he can start the day later.  He has plenty of credits to graduate with a good old fashioned diploma, but without the extra classes, he won’t get the “advanced diploma”.    For a kid who has always had to work very hard for his grades, and who has his sights set on sports management/coaching as a career path after his playing days end, he’s a bit confused as to why he’s being pushed to do the advanced diploma.  Not by us, his parents, but by his school guidance counselor.  So, whose goals are they then, and what is the path to get there going to be like?

I am so annoyed with public schools at times (notice, this is not a blanket condemnation).  I am so blessed to be in a tiny, tuition-free private school for children of limited financial resources; it gives me the time to get to know my 16 students AND their families very well.  I understand that simply is not practical in the massive public school my son attends.  However, I am disappointed that Ry’s goals and interests, not to mention his health, are being sacrificed to essentially “pad” his transcript.  He wants to reduce his course load to start later in the morning, not only because of the usual teenager “vampire sleep habits”, but because, especially in colder weather, his spondy flares more frequently, meaning he is stiff and sore and the IBS flares often in the morning. He has struggled this year with absences and late arrivals to school, and soccer has a bit of a motivating effect on him, but at a cost.  In order to practice or be eligible for game day, he has to be there at school by a certain time.  So, even though the chance of him getting much if any playing time are slim, he still has the drive and motivation to make certain the coach knows he’s willing and able.  Which means dragging himself in some mornings, even when it makes me want to cry watching him do it.  Those of us who live with an auto-immune condition have learned that when we ignore our bodies’ signal to rest, it makes recovery that much more difficult and lengthy.

Yet he chooses this time and time again because it is HIS goal: not mine, not his father’s, not even his coach’s. It’s all his, and he owns it. 

We’re fortunate that his orthopedic/rheumatology team are as well-versed in his condition as they are; they are a major part of encouraging him to keep moving and keep active (AND keep taking his Mobic).  None of us can predict the course his disease will take: if it will go into remission or not.  But keeping him mentally in the game is as big, if not an even bigger factor, than keeping his body fit as he sets and strives for his goal of playing professionally.  Surrounding his with coaches and doctors that understand that is crucial to his success.  Having coaches understand that him having a single “off day” of training, is normal, and not an indication of disease progression.  ALL athletes have a crap day now and again, but he’ll beat himself up more for it than your average athlete.

We wanted him to have a chance to stay match fit this spring (playing 5 minutes here and there just doesn’t do the trick), so his dad found him a men’s league to play in on the weekends.  I nearly fainted (Martin played up until a couple of years ago, and I’ve SEEN the level at which some of these “Sunday leagues” function); Ryan thought he’d go out there and run circles around the “old guys”.  Thankfully his dad, being a professional coach, knew better than both of us, and that he needed to be exposed to a very physical side of the game, as well as players who (for the most part) all played (or are on break from) playing in college and in the pros.  His first game out, he played a few minutes to get initiated to the level.  Mercifully, he survived!  His second game, he started off looking a bit…well frankly…scared.  When he came off the pitch as a sub, the coach and teammates all gave him a bit of friendly advice…quit looking so timid and go out there and do your job.  You can do it; so just do it!

That did it…at 16, he went out and played with heart, passion, and drive.  And scored his first goal in the adult league…not THE winning goal, but the final goal of a 3-0 victory that saw his team win the league.  I think the photo below sums it up best.  We will encourage and love you, always support you when you need it, and celebrate like crazy each of your successes.

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**all photos in this post credited to Suz Kitsteiner.  Thanks Suz for always managing to capture such beautiful moments!