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challenges

Taking it on the Chin

Confession time:  I am a klutz in the gym.  OK, actually I am a klutz anywhere, but it seems to be more noticeable in the gym.  Or maybe the bruises are just more obvious evidence and reminders.

First, there were the bruises from learning how to do power cleans.  I’d clock myself in the area under my neck, leaving a nice big quarter-sized bruise.

Then, there were the shoulder bruises that clean-and-jerks left when I slammed the dumbbell too hard in transition.

The chin bruises are their own special kind.  I may have a permanent lump from doing jumping pull-ups and barely getting my chin over the bar, then hitting it as I quickly came down.

Two other scary ones happened on the chin, too.  The first was on my birthday. During the workout and we were racing to do as many shoulder-to-overheads as we could in a short amount of time.  We had to break up the sets too.  It’s hard to explain, but doing them quickly kept me from having to do more burpees or box jumps or something else ugly.  Anyway, one time I cleaned the barbell to my shoulders and then pushed it up as hard as I could, which was great except that my chin was in the way.  I smacked myself so hard I saw stars.  Thankfully I put the bar down safely and regrouped but what a bruise that was.

The final one I’ll share here was a huge lesson learned (and truly cements my mega-klutz-with-a-side-of-airhead status). In a hotel gym they had a large rack of balls of different sizes.  I thought to myself, great, I can do some slam balls.  So, I grab one of the bigger ones, lift it over my head, then slam it as hard as I can to the ground.  Of course, as you can likely predict, it was not a 20-pound slam ball, but just an inflated hard bouncy ball.  It bounced with force and hit me on the chin where again, I saw stars.  The lesson here is:  first, test new equipment.  Second, don’t do new movements in the gym when you are by yourself.  I seriously could have knocked myself out.

I love working out, I really do, and my body is capable of way more than I thought possible.  But deep inside, I’m still the little girl who perpetually wore bandaids on her skinned-up knees, Dad calling me “Grace” in jest of his stumbly, klutzy, accident-prone daughter.  Hope it made you giggle, or shake your head, or some of you maybe feel a little less alone in your clumsy.

business

The Bottom of the Report Card

In elementary school, I was obsessed with my grades. Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies, Spelling, Writing, all of the main subjects. I was an “All A” girl from an early age, nearly consumed by keeping my GPA a 4.0. Tests, quizzes, projects, all of it was about chasing the A.

The other day, I was having a conversation with a business owner about his employees. He’s been struggling to find decent workers. As he describes it, his employees, all adults, regularly show up late or don’t show up, don’t follow instructions, are questionable with honesty, stir up petty drama within the staff, spread crappy attitudes, and waste resources. As an employer, it is frustrating to say the least. He spends more time dealing with employee problems than doing the the actual work that generates revenue.

This got me thinking about my report card growing up. I spent so much time on the top part, where they listed my grades in all those core subjects. But what about the bottom part? The “conduct grades?”

This section had things like:

-Uses time wisely

-Uses resources wisely

-Follows directions

-Works well with others

-Neatness

-Punctuality

-Thinks creatively

-Accepts feedback

-Keeps a positive attitude

-Shows initiative

It was a grid, graded on an E / S / N / U scale. I’ll admit, most of the time I ignored it. I would just glide my eyes over the letters. Mostly S, with a few S+ and some Es. But in the end, it didn’t affect my GPA, so I didn’t really think much of it.

In light of the business owner’s comments, I wonder which part of the report card can really tell us who will be success in different areas of life…the workplace, the community, life in general? Are my grades in math and science more important than the way I use my time? What parts of elementary school should be the focus of creating a productive, contributing adult?

As an elementary school teacher, I wonder where I should focus my energy, especially in these pandemic days. What matters in the long run? Just something to ponder.

perspective

Reflections

What do reflections tell us or teach us? If you look at your reflection in the water, the image may be distorted. If you look at your reflection in a mirror it may also be distorted. However if we reflect upon a picture, not much is hidden. A still moment of you. Marked in time.

Photos are often snapped by others. Said photos may show you a side, an angle, or a view of yourself you are not used to seeing. Or maybe it’s a version or portion of yourself you ignore purposely. It may even be a rude awakening of how you really look to others.

When you look at a picture you see you. The good. The bad. The ugly. How you reflect upon the visual image is completely up to you. 

You can focus on the negative or find the positives in any photo of yourself. For me, I have my moments where I look at the aesthetic piece and say ugh… but then I shift to what I can control. My attitude. My desire to improve. My ability to create change.

Can you look at your reflection and do the same? It’s a challenge of sorts. Take the blurred self-image and create the you that you want to see all the time. The look you want others to see of you. 

Maybe you want to smile brighter. Maybe you want to dress sharper. Maybe you want a new hair color. Maybe it’s a fresh haircut. Whatever you reflect on, you can change if you so desire.

My reflection inspired me recently. I won’t bore you with the details as the point of the post is I reflect on myself to improve. I mapped a plan in my mind to execute the improvement.

I did that! I invoked the desire to change. I charted the path. I put the work in. I valued me. I valued my time to change what I wanted to change in my reflection.

My change could be physical but it doesn’t need to be. It could be a spiritual change. A mindset change. It could even be an emotional change.

I noted in a previous post about how others are watching. They may watch whether you strut or walk timidly. That’s right your gait can tell a lot about you. It used to be the handshake in business that defined you but now thanks to corona and the digital arena we live in today we must adapt. Adapt our reflection to meet today’s demands.

I did just that. I asked myself or my reflection how I can up my game. What can I modify within to recreate, repurpose, reposition or redirect to suit my forward-thinking self.

I’m a work in progress. An artist piece that is moldable and remoldable. Never boring. Never stale. Dynamic. A modifiable masterpiece.

My reflection is shifting. Just like life.

challenges, nature

Stowaway

It had been a rough day.  The kind of day where you’re shuffling online files, trimming, uploading, then re-editing, reuploading in different places, and so on. I spent the afternoon chasing my tail, making no progress.

Finally, I walked away from a project that I had spent hours trying to figure out.  I was just too frustrated to finish.  It could wait until morning.

I gathered my things and loaded my shoulders with all my bags and other stuff, ready for the relief of an afternoon bike ride, then looked down. 

W.  T.   F.

I looked closer.  

?!?!?!

A scaly knot on my floor.  Curled up.  I touched it with my boot and sure enough it slithered.

Again, W T ACTUAL F. 

SQUEAL. 

Mind starts pinballing. Heart racing.  How do I get it out of here?  

Custodians are gone for the day.  Don’t have access to a broom and dustpan.  I can’t just leave it here.  IT’S. IN. MY. OFFICE.

I find a bowl and set it on top of the slithering striped shoelace.  Then I walk calmly down to see if a couple of my “country”-type colleagues are still here.  Nope, already headed home.
So, it’s just me.  And the scaly shoelace IN MY OFFICE.

I had to pace to gather my courage.  I finally picked up the bowl and there it was, my little sworn enemy.  And just like that I 

STOMPED

STOMPED

STOMPED

And screamed DIE.

DIE.

DIE.

Stop.  Was it dead?  (Poke).

NO.

STOMPSTOMPSTOMPSTOMPSTOMPSTOMP.

DIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIE.

And finally, I stopped, looked, and it was still.

Scooped it up with a file folder and dumped it in the woods. I was hyperventilating-ugly-crying-nose-running awful. So hard to calm down.

Then the what ifs? crept in.  I was in my office with a snake for who knows how long.  What if I had been bitten?  Or someone else?  Too much to think about.  Just be grateful it wasn’t worse.

You might be surprised to read that I like snakes.  Well “like” might be too strong…I’ll just say as I’ve gotten older I understand their role.  I know many of them are good and I just work around them when I see them on the farm.  It’s me living in their habitat not the other way around.  

Maybe that’s why it was so upsetting to find one IN. MY. OFFICE.

It can’t just slither under the rocks and disappear.  It was a showdown. She or me. 

Yes, I killed it and it made me sort of sad on top of the other huge knot of emotions.  I was a little less sad when I found out it was poisonous, but again relieved it had not been worse. 
I wondered, how did it get here?  Was it born here?  Are there more around the corner?  Or is a farm varmint trying to stowaway for a quick vacation? More under the car seat? I’m still on the lookout.

Thank goodness I chose boots over Birkenstocks that day.    

Just another animal adventure to add to the growing list. 

Uncategorized

Treating Myself

Pandemic life wears me out sometimes. Work is a grind. Masks are a drag. Rules are everywhere. Judgment, too. Weariness creeps in.

Dollars are precious. My family owns a restaurant. What was once a reliable source of income has been turned upside down. Regular meals out, drive through coffees, even gym memberships have been trimmed back and revisited as time goes on. We are doing ok, but I have become more conscious of where all the family money goes. Pennies add up and really shouldn’t be just flushed away.

Even with watching spending closely, I made a conscious decision to invest in a flower subscription for myself this spring. Fifteen bucks a week and I got a fresh bundle from a creative home-based flower farmer.

My house is abundant with zinnias much of the summer and I LOVE them. So why go elsewhere, you ask? Flowers from the Seed to Petal Flower Farm are so different than my own. She has unusual varieties and puts them together beautifully. I loved picking them up and seeing them on my table all week. A smile and a wink just for me. We all need those little boosts.

The flower farmer is also a woman-owned small business growing bit by bit. She shares her ups and downs and knowledge online. Fifteen bucks a week is a small price to pay for all of that. Supporting fellow women, fellow farmers, fellow creatives doing amazing work feels like the right way to direct my dollars in these days.

As our own lives and personal economies continue to soldier through this time, what are you doing to treat yourself each week or even each day? Are you intentional about it? If not, how can you decide to brighten your days? What can you do to treat yourself, inspire yourself, invest in your happiness?