perspective

Showing Up without Showing Up

It has been a strange few weeks, to say the least.  We’ve switched from going about our busy lives barely knowing the word coronavirus around St. Patrick’s Day to a shelter-in-place order which started a few days ago in my home state. There have already been all kinds of twists and turns on this road, from learning how to do work and school from home, radically changing the structure and service model of my husband’s business, watching events we were looking forward to fall off the schedule and more.

At this point, my family is pretty lucky.  I still have a reliable income for the time being.  We have food, water, shelter, basic necessities and our health appears to be good.  Sure, there are the bumps and bruises that come with radical change but nothing insurmountable.  I can still go outside and exercise.  I can text or talk with friends using technology. All in all, right now things are sort of annoying and inconvenient (when I’m not anxious about the big picture), but overall we are ok. At this point, we are not forced to make the kinds of heroic sacrifices as those in healthcare or in public service positions are.  It could definitely be harder than it is.

I think the first gut punch I felt from this coronavirus quasi-quarantine experience came when a friend’s dad passed away last week.  At that stage, going out and about was already questionable, and groups of more than ten were not happening. Then, a couple of days ago, I learned that a co-worker’s husband unexpectedly passed away. By this point in the corona cycle, 2 funeral had been identified as events that spread coronavirus in a relatively rural community in Georgia, leading to many serious illnesses and deaths. So attending my co-worker’s family’s funeral to support her husband would, again, not happen.

Instead of going to pay my respects, I sent cards and texts and tried to support from a distance.

Honestly, it felt inadequate.  Disappointing.  And it made me mad.  Technology is great, for sure, but there are some things that you need to show up for as a friend and as a support. Like, physically show up for. I grew up Catholic and my dad taught me the seven corporal works of mercy, the last of which is to bury the dead.  When we cannot gather to express our sorrow, our comfort, our support, to just bear witness, what is lost? I heard about people doing Zoom funerals and I just shake my head.  I suppose it is something but it hurts my heart. It’s an extra layer of loss. So many emotions.

Other possible struggles are on the horizon.  Friends and family who have special birthdays coming up in the next week.  How do we celebrate them while adhering to health and safety guidelines?  Easter is next weekend.  What will our holiday look like, since our huge family egg hunt and crepe celebration really can’t happen?

I don’t have answers for these questions.  It is a very strange time.  While technology is great, there are some things that it can’t replace. All of this ties in to the concerns both of the chicks have shared about mental health at this time. I’m sure more will come up as time wears on. How do we show up for people when we can’t physically show up for them? It’s something I am puzzling over in this hard season. How have you been able to remain connected?  Are there any other life events that we need to do now that technology just can’t replace?

As much as I hear our country’s leaders talk about the “pent up demand” for goods and services brought on by the quarantine, I predict an even larger pent up demand for people.  For presence.  For connection.  For contact.  For togetherness.

perspective

Flip Flopping Frustrations

This morning my frustrations were mounting.  The workouts I decided on weren’t what I expected.  My home gym equipment kept failing or falling over.  I wasn’t sweating enough.  The scale was up.  My morning reading time didn’t settle my mind as it usually does.  Another day of staring at a computer screen (aka working from home) was about to begin. Anger, irritation, all of it piling up, no end in sight.

Woe is me.

I had a come to Jesus with myself and told myself to quit griping.  Yes, a lot of the pandemic pandemonium sucks but we are making it work.  I told myself to make a list of my frustrations then flip them into reasons to be grateful.  Some remind me to be grateful for what I have now, others remind me to be grateful for what I used to have and will hopefully return to.  Here it is:

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It’s in the notebook I’ve set aside to chronicle this crazy time. I’ve read in several places that journaling, while always important, is especially valuable now, for mental health as well as historical reasons.  We are living history. I know I will add more pages of frustration as this time wears on.  I’ll keep reading it and reminding myself to flip my frustrations into appreciation.

Spring break begins today.  What would have been sweet relief and possibly getting out of town is not a shelter-in-place order that will last two weeks.  Our one week off of school will be followed by at least three more of learning from home.  I will spend time preparing my mind for these challenges this week.  I’ll also devote some time to gratitude to friends, family, and those who are serving on the front lines of this crisis.  And hopefully get out into the sunshine and nature often with those who are closest to me.

When you start to get stuck or go down the path of anxiety, see if you can flip your thinking.  Focus on gratitude and what you can control. What switch can you flip today?

perspective

Misty Morning Ride

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I rode along in the wee hours of the morning.  I had been waiting for the sun to rise forever.  When it was still dark, I cruised along through the parking lots, near empty at that hour, hazy streetlights diffusing a bit of light over a few jogging shadows.

The thick fog delayed the sun’s long-awaited entrance.  Finally, it was light enough to go around the trails.

Still early, still quiet, I zipped through the trees, making my way along the wide path when I noticed them.  White gauzy splotches hanging from the trees.  At first I thought it must be some kind of infestation.  A caterpillar nest, like the ones that cover our side yard pecan tree some years.  Maybe some other insect.

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Then I noticed more of the white patches as I rode along the more-than-a-mile route.  And more.  And then even more.  Seemed to be no rhyme or reason. They were between grasses and next to ponds ponds, resting on leaves and spread between branches.  High and low, big and small, many and few.

Kind of eerie, if you ask me.  Sort of like white cotton candy, but more like someone took little gobs of that white webbing they bring out on Halloween and placed millions of little patches of it everywhere.  On a foggy March morning, it was jarring as I pedaled by.

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Then I realized, it was only spider webs. Hundreds of them, scattered in the woods. The heavy fog gathered on them, tiny little droplets, making them appear white in morning’s misty haze.

And then I thought, these webs were there all along, sitting there, doing their job.  The work of hundreds of spiders, usually invisible, now illuminated by a simple change in the weather.

It made me think about what’s happening right now.  This coronavirus crisis.  I think of the stories I hear of people sewing masks, people sharing supplies they have, shopping for elderly and at-risk neighbors, companies opening up content to those in need, people sharing talents online to lift others up.

I’ve also heard stories of anger, of stress, of disregard and racism and unkindness.  The ugly side.

As this disease washes over us, like the mist on those spider webs, what will it bring to light about us that was always already there?  Will it be the best of us? Kindness, generosity, patience?  Or will it be something else, something scary? Hoarding? Selfishness?

There’s no doubt this crisis will reveal who we are.  What will it reveal about you?  About me?

Like a web, we are all connected.  May this change in weather show us how we are bound together in strong and positive ways.  Another opportunity to choose daily.

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perspective

The Offer

The offer came with sacrifice. The offer on one side looked good. The offer on the other side looked rather different. How does one decide to accept or deny the offer? One decides with careful consideration I hope.

Now the offer type doesn’t really matter. It could be a new job offer. It could be a promotion offer. It could be a relocation offer. It be an offer to buy a home. It could be an offer to buy a car. At the end of the day an offer is just that. An offer!

An offer can be accepted. An offer can be rejected. An offer can be counter offered and/or negotiated. In any offer there are various parties involved. It’s a transaction of sorts.

For my example here I will use the sports team offer. I coach a competitive-level team thus I extend offers for kids to play on my team based on skills, talents and overall spots available on my team. Not everyone gets an invite. The main reason being there are normally more applicants than available spots. Just like the job market. More candidates than openings.

When offers are extended one person could be overjoyed by their offer and another could feel like the offer is not reflective of their worth. If one accepts the offer and one denies the offer, should there be any negative feelings toward the one who denied the offer?

In my mind the answer is a big fat no. An offer is made and the other party has a choice to take the offer or decline the offer. It’s pretty simple.

I recently had a property for sale. I got an offer to buy it. I didn’t like the offer. I provided a counter offer. This is customary in a real estate transaction thus it’s noted as generally acceptable to deny or counter offer. This also reflects my perception of my property’s value. It may even have some emotions involved in the decision if I had owned the property a while.

As a person, if I applied for a job and I received on offer but the compensation wasn’t enough to pay my bills, meaning it wasn’t a good fit, would my friends be disappointed if I didn’t take the offer? It would 100% be my choice so I would think not, unless one of those friends was assisting me financially. In that case a friend may think I should take the offer as some money is better than no money. If the company was disappointed, I would just be honest with my reasoning and let them know if budget money frees up to call me back. This 100% has to do with my personal value and how I would not settle for less than what I thought I was worth.

Circling back to the sports team example, if I was the coach of a high school soccer team and I offered a slot to boy A on varsity and a slot to boy B on junior varsity should there be any worry that one may deny my offer to either team?

I wouldn’t think so because as a coach I know I made offers to the players I thought were best for varsity. If the varsity player declined their offer, I would have a runner-up or next-in-line person to offer the open slot to. If on the other hand, the junior varsity player didn’t accept their offer what would I do?

Nothing. I would do nothing unless that person asked what they could do to get better for the next tryout. I would only provide those details if I was probed. The offer was denied thus I would move on until the next review of open slots next year.

At the end of the day offers get made in so many areas of life. The sooner we all learn that we can’t win all the time the better. Finally the Patriots football team/fans learned that lesson before another Super Bowl this year. It is also important to learn that we should never judge another until we have lived a day in their shoes.

The emotional aspect of the house sale could have to do with a family member being deceased and the only memories left were made in that home. How do you put a value on that?

The emotion involved in the job scenario could be how hard the person worked professionally to reach a certain pay level yet the job offer was below the minimum threshold that person set for themselves.

The emotion behind the JV offer could be that their best friend made varsity and the other person didn’t think the game would be fun without their bestie. Or maybe it was a set of identical twins and one made varsity while the other made junior varsity. How tricky would that scenario be?

Life is tricky. Balance is important. Understanding and valuing the other side of an equation and offer can sometimes get missed especially when emotions are high. Remember no good decision is made when emotions are high.

Always take time. Maybe 24 hours to evaluate offers to see the pros and cons before making a rash decision. I know when dealing with real estate offers they are time sensitive yet the time allows for consideration.

This post spurred from a couple of online articles relating to high school sports, the value of a coach and also the lack of sincerity of coaches who make cuts! I’m a coach. I make cuts. It’s not easy but I normally have reasons. Some may agree with me some may not. That’s life.

When I read negative articles I often try to put myself in the other person’s shoes and wonder how this situation has impacted them. I then reflect and take action as needed. I wish more people did that vs. casting judgment.

I also took action after reading the articles and let my daughter’s basketball coach know how much I appreciated her time and coaching of my daughter. A good coach can help grow confidence and further passion of an activity or sport. A coach who only cares about winning can knock down a player’s confidence in a pinch and simultaneously instill a dislike for the sport once loved.

Just a night of reflection and writing time for me. It is my hope that this blog reaches someone who needs to hear this message:

You define your personal value.
You are a reflection of yourself, make yourself proud.
You say yes or no to all things in life.
You can grow from adversity.
You can win if you choose to win. It’s all about choices in life.

We all make mistakes. We all have the ability to bounce back after crazy times ensue. Will you take the next offer if it’s lower than you hoped for? What would you gain from taking a subpar offer?

In home sales if an offer seems inferior you may have to step back to evaluate deeper. If you have to pay x more dollars for three months while you get a new offer was the first offer that bad? Decisions, decisions.

Life is full of decisions, opportunities, curve balls, and offers. You will never make all the right choices. But one can always learn from missed opportunities. Life is a gamble.

Keep gambling!

perspective, working women

The Value of Time

This year I will most likely talk about time and its value many times and in many ways on this blog.

It may sound odd but every time I turn around an obstacle could arise because of time in general or how our most precious commodity (time) is spent thus making us have limited time or maybe it’s the perception of less time vs. the reality of time.

To keep the focus I purchased a new clock for my office. It’s a cool clock made up of words that illuminate in five-minute intervals. Thank you Sharper Image for offering cool gadgets.

5 minutes past the hour, 15 minutes past the hour and so on. The illumination is eye- catching and is a great conversation starter.

The clock is also a great visual reminder of time, my need to write (words), and my need to evaluate my time continually to insure I am on track with all that I do.

Today’s thought spurred after I read an article on the time limitations of males vs. females. It was interesting but as I reflected I sighed and said hmmm I can relate.

I can relate to the roles women are depicted in. The wife, the mother, the corporate executive, the cook, the laundress, and so on. Now some households have a male counterpart who contributes or pulls a fair load but “moms” end up as the go-to for many things, people and so on despite having to work these days.

Just random food for thought here. Until next time, please use your time wisely and make you a priority at least one hour a day. I know you will thank me if you schedule you time one hour a day.

You could read a book. You could research something on the internet. You could get your nails done. You could do many things in an hour. Try it!
And a special thanks to Dove chocolate for the time traveler reminder!

perspective

Soaking Up the Rays

It seems like it’s been raining for days and days. The days turn into weeks. The yard is muddy. There are puddles in the distance from every window.

Rain, rain go away. Come back another day. The childhood song plays in my head over and over again. The dog doesn’t want to go outside to play. The sky is grey. The wind is howling. The days seem long.

Is it napping season? Well, it seems like nap time comes with the rain days. Can the weather really impact your day? I think so. And when it rains over and over again the rut seems to get bigger.

Finally the sun peeks through the clouds. A small glimmer of hope. The grass starts to dry. The wind dies down. The dog gets to play in the yard. Stress level is down. Energy is abundant. I sit on the back porch to soak up the rays of sunshine.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Another childhood song full of memories pops into my head. The squirrels are running through the trees, rattling the branches. The puppy is attempting to chase endlessly. The birds are chirping away.

How today that song has so much meaning. My dad is ill. He is in the hospital. As I soak up the rays sunbathing I find the song soothing. I reflect on the memories of the good times. I feel the warmth of the sun. I feel the companionship of my dog as she lay along side me.

It’s not a spring day. Rather it’s a winter day in which I was able to feel the warmth during stressful times or worry. The weather indeed impacted my day, my mood, my environment. I’m soaking it all in.

Porch sitting. Sun bathing. Relaxing and reflecting. 1 hour today. No technology. Just a break from the ordinary. It wasn’t planned. It was whimsical. It became magical.

The sunshine made my day. The heat gave me reminders. The calmness that came with it all was heavenly. Sometimes we just need to slow our roll and enjoy life’s little gifts.

As my dear friend would say:

Looks like you enjoyed a sweet slice of life today. Or maybe it would be you found the magic in the mundane today. No wait, I think it’s the effervescence in everyday that came to light.

Enjoy today. Take a deep breath. You never know when it will be your last.

fitness and nutrition, friendship, perspective

What I Learned from Coming In Last

“It’s not a big deal to me how we do, as long as we’re not last.”

These words came from one of my amazing teammates at a recent competition. I nodded in agreement, and I’ve said them, too.

Flashback to my very first 5k “race.”  Run Your Cookies Off – a fundraiser for the Girl Scouts.  I was probably 80 or 100 pounds heavier than I am now, maybe more.  I had no idea what I was doing. I was a slow walker / jogger as I approached the start line in terror.  But as long as I am not last I’m ok, I thought.

I wasn’t last that day, but I was close.  I could see the last person behind me by maybe 30 yards most of the time.  I kept looking over my shoulder, fighting to stay ahead. I gasped and choked as I stumbled across the finish line, maybe 5th to last out of a few hundred runners.  But, not last.

Fast forward eight years or so to only a few weeks ago, the line comes into my head again. A CrossFit competition.  Looking around at some of the fitter people I’ve seen in recent memory, our direct competitors. Some twenty or more years younger.  But, we will be fine as long as we are not last.

After the first workout, we were second to last.  So, not last – a win!  And then, after that, for the rest of the day, workout after workout, it happened. We. Were. Last.

Yup, I was finally on the other side of the “as long as we’re not…”

And I looked at my teammates, two fierce, fit, incredible women, working their ever-loving asses off.  All three of us had been sick that week, with some of that sickness lingering on competition day.  All three of us were super nervous.  But we showed up, and we brought our best. And we cheered for each other.  And we pushed as hard as we could, pushed beyond what we thought we could do.  We pulled together and fought like heck for every rep, every lift, every jump and burpee and pushup and calorie.

And with all our fight, all our heart, all our effort, we still came in last.  (We actually tied for last with some of our good friends who made up another rockin’ team from our box, which made it all the more sweet.)

So, you may ask, what are the after effects of coming in last? Honestly, not much different than coming in higher on the board.

I’m proud of my teammates, as I should be.  One rocked her first competition ever, conquering move after move, challenge after challenge.  The other overcame huge obstacles to PR her snatch not just once but 5 times that day.  5 times!!!  I still smile when I pull out my team shirt and shorts.  We had a great and memorable day for our squad.  Weeks later, no one remembers what place we came in.

I’ve held onto a line I heard once many years back when I was just starting to get my health together.  It still serves me on crappy running days, and those inevitable afternoons when I just would rather not go to the gym at all:

As long as you show up…”you’re lapping everyone on the couch.”

No matter what place we finished in, we showed up. There are many who are less fit, and even many who are more fit, who didn’t have the guts or the gumption to just show up, put themselves out there, and see how they measure up.

There’s an old saying that nice guys finish last…now I also see that good people, people who work hard, train hard, and put forth tons of effort still do finish last sometimes. In fact, that effort may represent a huge personal triumph no matter what the leaderboard says. One that should be applauded.  Still, for better or worse, it’s just one day. One memorable day full of proud moments.

The real after effects of coming in last are what we choose to do moving forward. What matters most is what comes next. Nothing stops us from continuing to train and get better and cheer for each other. We’re already signed up for more races, more challenges, more adventures. Who knows where we will turn up next?