Why Write this Blog?

Question-mark-clip-art-question-mark-image-image-2

Last week, I wrote about the changes that have been occurring in my life, and how they might affect my blog. The biggest influence and piece of wisdom that I keep encountering as I blaze a new trail in my life is to understand why I am doing what I am doing. The personal benefits are numerous, but the one that relates to this blog is that knowing my purpose for writing will help me develop a consistent message.

So, I spent the week tossing the why questions around in my mind. I realized that my goal is to help people. My idea of help is NOT some fluffy, feel-good affirmation that tells you you’re ok when you’re really a jerk that’s messing up your life and the lives of the people closest to you. To me, that’s like trying to put an adhesive bandage over a cut artery.

No, life is messy. It’s hard. Life questions rarely have easy answers. And, just when you think that you’ve found your answers, you find that there are people out there who have a totally different view of things and see things so differently from you that you wonder if you’re even from the same species. (Something I actually love about humanity, by the way!)

In the end, I type my thoughts and opinions up every week with the hope that I help someone somewhere see things in a way that gives them the courage to carry on, fortitude to keep trying to solve their problems, and perspective to live without causing harm to others.

That’s why I write this blog.

So, for the most part, the posts will continue next week and probably feel a lot like “business as usual.” I hope you find useful thoughts to ponder and apply!

Change is in the Air

changes-are-coming

Some who have read this blog or know me personally  are aware that I submitted my letter of resignation as a teacher on May 1, 2017. Since that time, I have been trying to “decide what I want to be when I grow up.”

In the next few weeks, I will be making that announcement. I’m sure there will be a few more announcements as I put all of the plans in place. As I do, I realize that I’m having to completely change my perception of who I am. I’m also going to be making a few changes to this blog.

Anyone Else Frightened?

Change isn’t comfortable. The things that we have always known and the things that we have always done become our comfort zone. They become to us like that favorite stuffed animal or blanket that we carried around as toddlers. It doesn’t matter how filthy and nasty it gets — it’s what we turn to for comfort and security.

As far as this blog is concerned, the changes won’t be that big. I’m mostly going to be working through a process of claifying my purpose for this blog’s existence, solidifying the message, and (hopefully) making it a little more interactive.

As for me? Well, let’s just say I hope I’m holding on to my hat tightly! I’m trying to convince myself that I’m ready to get rid of my worn-out, dirty “lovie” and move into the world with more wisdom, maturity, and confidence than I have in the past.

In the Moment

download

Before I begin, I want to be sure that it is VERY clear that I love my husband dearly, and that the purpose of this post is NOT to put him down. It’s a chance for me to “model” what I try to do when life lets me down.

The Backstory

In May, I made a major career change that has left me with a lot of uncertainties and insecurites. Lately, things have been coming to a bit of a head, and I find myself having trouble sleeping. My husband and I were talking about it, and he asked how he could help. I have learned enough in my life to know two things:

  1. When a man offers to help, he usually wants to help.
  2. If I’m not specific, he won’t get the message.

It’s just the difference between men and women.

So, I told him that I really could use help cleaning the house and getting some chicken put up that’s been waiting for me to repackage it for a couple of days. There. Clear, concise — exactly what a man needs.

We both knew when he asked this question that he had to work this weekend, but it was a couple of hours before he was going to have to get started. So, I assumed that he was going to buckle down and tear through the house. He moved one load of laundry around, sat down, and watched YouTube until it was time for him to log in from home.

My Reaction

I don’t think it’s dawned on my husband yet — he’s pretty distracted with his work project right now. I’m kind of hurt. I feel like he implied a promise and then broke it.

On the other hand, he works hard (as do I) and we both know that he needs more down time than I do, and that his down time needs to feel like play. (I prefer moving on to another project.)

Fortunately, I recoginized I had a choice, or I would have gone with my kneejerk reaction to cry, raise my voice, and let him know how disappointed and frustrated I am — after all, we had just discussed how stressed out I am, I told him how he could help, and he failed.

Since I didn’t take choice number 1, I have avoided a fight (at least for now).

Future Choices

I would love to say that I know I can keep my mouth shut and let it fester, keep my mouth shut and shrug it off, or talk to him about it when he’s not so busy and distracted — and that I choose to just shrug it off. In the end, it’s not a big deal, and I always seem to get the most important stuff done, anyway. Then, I can observe to see if things really are out of balance in our relationship and in our home duties, and have a rational discussion if it’s needed.

Unfortunately, I prove all the time exactly how human I am. I may not be able to let it go. Because I have been in abusive relationships and because of other experiences in my life, feeling like other people are dumping on me is a BIG DEAL. If I try to “just not say anything,” it may just fester and blow up later.

My Real Choice

Because I want to learn how to shrug the inconsequential stuff off, I’m going to try to let it go. But, being aware of my weaknesses, I’m going to monitor myself. If it turns out I can’t let it go, then I will talk to him later this evening or sometime tomorrow when it’s more appropriate so that we’re both aware of what’s been bopping around inside my head.

Because I’ve married an amazing man, I expect that if I approach him with some respect, I’ll receive respect in return, and we’ll work things out.

No, it won’t be the end of all of our problems and glitches in our marriage. But, it will still be a great marriage. In fact, one of the best indicators of a good marriage is the maturity level of both spouses. Total lack of conflict is a danger sign.

Keeping Sidewalks Clean

SidewalkBlock2As I runner, I have a love-hate relationship with sidewalks. When they aren’t all broken up because they haven’t been properly maintained or cluttered with trash and yard debris (often looking just about like the picture I put at the beginning of this post), they are the safest place for me to run in my little suburb. Since I don’t want to be a danger to myself or others, I try to use the sidewalks.

However, there seem to be some people who live in houses on my regular route who are oblivious to the idea of pedestrians. They trim the yard and prune the trees — and leave the mess right in the middle of the sidewalk, making it impassable. I’m always looking ahead to see where I need to step back out into the road and trying to judge if it’s safer just to run on the street facing into oncoming traffic.

Even more fun is when I’ve made the decision that the street is actually safer, and I have drivers try to run me off the road to “prove” that I should be on the sidewalk.

I’ve been in a highly reflective mood lately, and so I saw an object lesson in all of this: In what ways in life am I like clueless residents who clutter their sidewalks, and in what ways am I like the drivers who will endanger my safety to prove a point?

Cluttering Sidewalks

I think this boils down to habits and patterns that may seem normal to me, but make life harder on others. As a parent, it could be trying to hard to “make” my child behave perfectly, achieve good grades, or reach some other standard that I have set for them. As a friend, it could be venting to a friend and letting it turn into gossip rather than an attempt to get my head on straight. Anything that I do that could encourage someone else to live down to the lower common denominators of society is blocking their sidewalks as they journey to become their best selves.

Driving Rashly

Rude drivers have judged me to be infringing on their rights and priveleges, to be acting out of bounds, and to be unaware of my “place” and my surroundings. How many times have I, secretly or openly, judged another person because their choices and actions look unintelligent to me? How many times should I have given the benefit of the doubt when I did not? How many times have I told people what they should do without understanding where they are coming from or what they are trying to accomplish? That makes me figuratively just like a rude driver.

Perfection

I’m not writing this to suggest that anyone can get through life without receiving and giving a few bumps and bruises. No matter how good our intentions, “pobody’s nerfect,” as a college professor used to regularly remind me.

I think, instead, that the best I (or anyone else) can do is to try to be aware of the effect that I am having on others and do my best to make those encounters as uplifting and positive as possible.

Why “Nice Guys” Finish Last

nice-guy.gifI wish I could take credit for this idea, but I first heard it from a guy at church, and I’m pretty sure that he was expanding on the idea because he had gotten it from somewhere else. Ideas are pretty viral like that.

I, too, want to take a deeper look at why nice guys finish last. In my case, the answer was that it’s because nice guys are helping everybody else out along the race course. There’s a lot of truth to that statement. Nice guys (and nice girls — I’m not leaving us out, just going with the traditional phrase) take an interest in the people around them and are concerned for their welfare. They don’t mind pitching in and helping out. They want to see other people succeed and do well, probably almost as much as they want to succeed themselves.

That’s why I question whether they are even running the same race as the cut throat egotist.

I think it’s an important question to answer, because it makes a difference in how the nice guy(gal) perceives his self-image and progress.

If we’re all running the same race that the person who dies with the most (expensive) toys wins, then yes, nice guys do tend to finish last, and it will always be that way. Nice guys won’t trample people on the way to that kind of success.

I think that nice guys simply hold different values in life and they are aiming for a different finish line. I think nice guys value relationships and the people behind them. I think they have the moral courage to take a stand for right and wrong. I think they envision a better world as being more important than a bigger car.

If so, then nice guys and nice gals need to recognize that the messages bombarding them (us) from day-to-day will sometimes distract us and make us think that we are losing a race that we’re not even running. That hurts.

If we can refocus, we can see the progress that we have made along the way, we can see how close we are to our true finish line, and we can drop the worry that we feel when we stare too long at the other guy’s finish line.

It’s all about our core values and our core self. Nice guys do just fine in their races!

You Build Endurance by Enduring

endurance runnerYes, I wish I looked a lot more like this runner. No, I probably never will. Too many divided interests.

Anyway, the photo to me is more than a runner. Not only has running changed my life (as well as my body), but it has given me an open space to think and ponder. This past week, I was working on the problem of rebuilding my endurance after tailspinning for about two months.

That’s when it hit me:

You build endurance by enduring.

It’s that simple and that hard all at the same time.

In running, I have two choices for getting back in “marathon shape”:

  1. Set my speed and increase my ability to maintain that speed for longer and longer periods of time.
  2. Set my limit (I chose time, but I could have chosen distance), and then work to increase my speed.

My body and my mind work better with choice number two.

That’s when this amazing little thought hit me, and I realized that it has applied throughout my life!

As a codependent, I repeatedly found myself in situations where I was scared, and I chose to run. It was only after my divorce that I was in a situation where I might have been scared, but there was no way I could run — I had kids to take care of. I had no choice but to endure and to see it through.

Running was another opportunity to learn about endurance. I haven’t run any marathons, although I have now completed two. I have a long way to go as an athlete. Even so, I learned something about myself out there on those race courses. It was hard. I hurt. My body rebelled and twice I got physically sick enough (not with a virus — just the stress of the race) that I had ample excuse to quit. That’s when I learned I really am a fighter. I lost two toenails on my first marathon, and knew they were gone by mile 18. I kept going. Last year, there was so much stress leading up to the race that I thought my gut was going to take me out.

Endurance isn’t about what I have or who I am. It’s about who I choose to be and who I see myself becoming. It hasn’t been easy to quit a job that I loved with only a sketch of a back up plan and no real idea of what I’m doing. I have chosen to see myself as a budding entrepreneur and up-and-coming elite athlete. For me, those ideas make it easier for me to make the choices that will take me to my goals.

Endurance is a mindset. Endurance is going all in, failing, falling flat on your face, shaking the pain and the dust off, and trying again. Endurance is recognizing that failure lets you know what your limits are now — not what they will be later. Endurance is passion burning inside you to be more, to be better, to be an achiever.

You learn to endure by enduring.

endurance-is-the-price-tag-of-achievement

Life is Ironic

irony-2

So, at the end of my teaching career, the boss that had given me so much grief was selected for the top award our district can give. To put it mildly, Ouch! Talk about feeling invalidated for all that I went through this year!

True to my nature, I stopped to ponder.

Realization #1: There are no absolutes in life.

This means that no matter how much I would like to believe that this boss is evil, she’s not. She’s a person who is trying to make the best decisions she knows how to make. She will make good ones. She is very astute about marketing her school. (To be honest, I’ve been studying her methods because I recognize how astute she is in this area.) She seems to have a weakness in the area of understanding and working with a diverse set of people. That’s not evil.

Realization #2: My perception is not the only correct one.

In this case, I found myself imagining walking around a sculpture or a crystal on exhibit. Every time I shift position, it looks a little different. Different people have different perspectives of my boss. There are those who thinks she’s awesome. That’s life.

Realization #3: This was not an attack on me.

The district did not decide to give her this award to salve her feelings, and they didn’t give the award to her to make a point to me. In truth, I doubt anyone has time to really think that way, and most wouldn’t push the boundaries of policy that hard! The award had criteria, and they felt that she met them the best. If my actions have given her pause to think and to possible make positive changes, then I can actually support the selection. If it hasn’t, then her house of cards will eventually fall.

So, I accept the irony, and I accept that the turn of events doesn’t fully sit well with me. I wish I could support the choice without reservation. From what I can tell, my boss enjoys awards and accolades, and she is enjoying her moment. I find awards and accolades to be a unfulfilling way to measure my worth, and prefer to know that, when I look in the mirror, I’m seeing a woman who is trying her best to be a person of quality. I have my reward.

Things may be ironic, but they are not always as unfair as I want to believe.

legacy quote