perspective

Eyes to the Horizon

We are in the thick of this.

Hard times.

It reminds me of the lessons I learned from Chad. We are in the long stretch in the middle. Maybe the 500 mark or so. Where the flurry of just getting started is over. We are grinding one. step. at. a. time. There doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Only more drudgery and challenge. I am getting tired. Not just physically tired, but tired of it all, too. Giving up seems an option worth entertaining, especially with new worries on the horizon.

But I don’t.

Every day I have to just keep going.

Like Chick 1 put it so well in her post, we are going to have to choose to soar, and we might be a little beaten up sore to get to that point.

It’s like a butterfly in the cocoon stage. We know we will come out significantly different than when we wrapped ourselves in. Did you know that caterpillars basically dissolve into goo while they’re in the cocoon? To transform into their destined selves, they have to basically melt into mush.

How many of us are there some days?

I have to keep my eyes to the horizon. Just as Chick 1 reminded me that I am going to endure some sore to get to my soar, I know that the gooey mess I am now is on its way to becoming something beautiful, maybe even unrecognizable.

A post reminded me that after the profoundly awful Spanish Flu Pandemic, the Roaring 20s came rushing forth. We will get through this. It will not be easy. I have no doubt we will all lose something, many of us things that are profound and irreplaceable. But our world will come roaring back to prosperity, creativity, and hopefully some amazing parties with dresses, dancing, and all the pent up joy, merriment and connection we are missing out on now.

Stay hopeful.

dare to be different

Puzzles

“Raise your hand if you’re a puzzle person,” I said, shaking a jigsaw puzzle box.

It’s a request I made at the beginning of a staff training I did a couple of years ago.  Maybe a third of the hands in the room shot up.  Everyone else either shook their heads “no way” or shrugged.

How do you become a puzzle person, I asked?  Those who shot their hands up said things like, we did them as a family growing up.  My friends and family told me I was good at them. Puzzles take time, sometimes collaboration, and persistence to achieve a goal.

For puzzle people, puzzles are associated with good feelings and success.  Those feel-good experiences can contribute to what we we are good at and who we are, or rather, who we think we are.  Most of the non-puzzle people simply didn’t grow up doing them or got frustrated a few times and decided (or were told) they weren’t good at them to begin with.

So it goes with many things.  From a young age, the things we spend time on and feel successful at (whether we learn that from experiences or what we are told) shape who we think we are and what we say we are good at.

As for me, I was told I was smart, good at school, and naturally skilled at test taking. These didn’t require too much effort from me.  I breezed through my early years and took in the accolades.

But, I wasn’t really a puzzle person.  I focused on the things that came easily for me, and whatever didn’t come easily I learned to avoid.  Unlike many puzzle people, who learn to try, try again, and even set things aside when they get frustrated or stuck and return to the puzzle later, I had little persistence or resilience in the face of adversity.

Well, as of this moment (at my not-so-young age) I am raising my hand and declaring myself a puzzle person.

I am embracing the problems I face as puzzles to be figured out instead.

I don’t have to have it all solved immediately.  It doesn’t even have to come easily.  As I make myself vulnerable more often and take on bigger, more complicated tasks, I know I have to remind my mind not to get frustrated or shut down.  I may have to be coached (which means – eek! – being coachable, which I am decidedly NOT when I am feeling overwhelmed, afraid, or out of my depth). Like riding a bicycle, then trying to do a trick or two, I may flop.  The world will not end and I can try again.

I’m shaking life’s box of problems as puzzles, dumping out the pieces, searching for the corners and the edges.  I don’t really have a full picture of what it will look like in the end for reference, but that’s all part of the process.  It will be beautiful, whatever it becomes.

 

 

 

adventure

Spring’s Simple Pleasures

Is it just me, or is this the longest spring season in recorded history?

And no, this isn’t really a post about how difficult it has been to be cooped up indoors a lot, separated from friends, missing out on events, and so on.  (If you’re looking for that, try these posts.)

I don’t remember spring ever lasting this long because it is usually lacrosse season, celebration season, end of work season, and so on.  We are often driving and juggling and cheering and volunteering and working nonstop.  And I love and miss a lot of that.  But this season has allowed me to notice and enjoy spring in new ways. I have always loved fall above all else, but I’m now seeing that spring has its charms.

Couple that with my commitment to be more intentional about spending money and I am finding myself relishing small, simple pleasures.

I’ve mentioned the morning reading that has replaced my sometimes frantic commute.  Quiet, candle, coffee and a book starts my day most of the time.  You’d think a librarian would read a lot, but I honestly don’t make the time for it that I should.  Right now I am going into my physical building to work for a few weeks, so reading time is short but I try not to miss it.

Bike rides.  What would I do without my bike?  I’m sort of obsessed with it.  I keep it on my car pretty much all the time and biking on the back seat inside just in case the opportunity to ride presents itself.  Cruising new paths in the sunshine with my riding partner is happiness and adventure when going very far from home isn’t happening.  It feels like a mini-vacation and is one of the few times I feel truly care-free.

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I am a farmer’s market fanatic.  The pandemic has caused many local farmers to revamp their business models.  I’ve been able to order flowers and farm boxes and pick them up safely.  I actually love that I can order what I like and have it held for me.  It’s frustrating to drive all the way to the market only to find they already sold out of my favorite sungold tomatoes or, later, September Wonder apples.

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Which reminds me, it is almost tomato season here where we live.  I look forward to these summer veggies all year.  Right now we are in the heart of strawberry season. I found an hour the other day to drive out to a strawberry farm and pick a couple of buckets.  If you have never had strawberries straight from the vine (or tomatoes for that matter) you are missing out.  It’s a totally different taste than supermarket berries.  And the experience of picking them myself in the hot sun was sweet and reflective. Fresh strawberries are one of the sweeter things in life. It’s been great to share them with people who appreciate them.

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What simple pleasures have you rediscovered in these hard times? Walks?  Game nights? Family dinners?  Tell us in the comments.

 

perspective

Where’s the Disconnect?

Everywhere, all around, it seems connections are breaking down.

Big & small.  Local & global.  Things we never think about, things we take for granted, suddenly aren’t working anymore.

The news is so puzzling it makes my head spin.

First, food.

Almost every night on the news, there’s a story about the lines at food pantries and other food giveaways that wrap around buildings and through parking lots.  People are spending hours in line to get basic necessities of all kinds. Families that were once secure are quickly, unexpectedly in need.  And families that were teetering on the edge are now hanging on for dear life.

I guess it’s not that surprising, in light of how many people have lost jobs.

What turns to shocking is when I read a story about how farmers are burying onions, cracking thousands of eggs, dumping milk out and more, all before they get to consumers. The loss of restaurant, hotel, and school outlets for food has turned demand on its head.  Or that the closure of meat processing plants due to COVID-19 infections means many animals will be killed and never make it to market.  Staggering. Unimaginable.  The resources, so desperately needed, will be destroyed.

Hungry people on one side, supplies of food on the other, being wasted.

Where’s the disconnect? Why is it so hard to fix this, if the supplies of food are there as well as the demand?   While scientists are busy developing and distributing tests, I hope logistics experts are working on this food issue. I feel frustrated and helpless in it.

Second, human connection.

A similar disconnect may be true in mental health.  The worries about loneliness, isolation, and more stream through my news and social media feeds. All of that is a concern.  Some people cry out and are hopefully heard and reassured.  But then it’s the people who are invisible, who aren’t speaking up, who may live alone or are in unhealthy situations who can be the most worrisome.  People who may be losing hope, losing connection. I think we are all eager to connect.  Demand is high, and I believe supply is, too.  Still, being physically separate is a challenge.

I can’t drive a semi to Iowa or Idaho and get all that good food and bring it to where it is needed.  I am grateful to Publix and Kroger and other organizations who are trying to reconnect supply and demand in whatever ways they can.  In my own life, I can talk to those who may be having food or financial struggles and offer to share what I have. If I suspect someone might be suffering, I should just ask. Seriously, just ask.

I can be even more direct with the mental health worries, though. I can reach out to people I know.  And especially try to think of people who may be having a hard time.  People I haven’t heard from in a while.  People who might be lonely or afraid. Disconnected. If I suspect someone might be suffering, I should just ask. Seriously, just ask.  Check in.

Keep looking for ways to connect people with the resources they need.  Be the connection.

perspective

The Vault

The word vault came up in a conversation recently while I was visiting with the girls in the park one Sunday afternoon. Of course the visit was 6 feet away but it was a much needed time together for a group that missed each other immensely during the corona pandemic. Fresh air. Freedom. Fun with friends. Some of my favorites things in one place.

When the word was said I immediately thought bank vault. Where you store the gold blocks as you see in the bank heist movies. Then I drifted a bit in my mind and thought of the vault in track and field competitions, aka pole vault. Two different meanings of the same word.

In the conversation the vault was referred to as a memory bank as in your brain. The short- and long-term memories we all have and where they are stored, filed away or compartmentalized. The good, the bad, the ugly. All of the above is in essence in each person’s vault. We each have the ability to store, re-engage, or erase the items in our vault at our sole discretion. The power we have with such an important storage facility. Will this memory bank give us strength and comfort or does it provide stress we keep holding on to?

As I drifted off thinking about this word, I knew a post would be forthcoming as soon as I had moment to write. What’s in my vault? What do I re-engage and what do I purposely disconnect? So much to think about. So much power and will. Is this emotional intelligence?

That makes me wonder what is in others’ vaults. Is there happiness? Is there sadness? Is there emotional stress? Is there financial baggage? Everyone has skeletons in their closets or maybe I should say skeletons in their vaults. We all have the choice of when we open the vault, who we share the keys to our vault with and if we ever use what’s in the vault to provoke others.

As I was writing this I drifted many times into thoughts of the word vault and its variables. I thought of many trips to churches over my life and the powerful vaulted ceilings I saw over the years. The detail. The power. The design. What does my vault look like inside my brain? Clearly it’s my design but is it unique, is it an architectural dream or is it made of inferior material?

I actually know what my vault looks like in my mind. I know if it’s easily accessible or not. How many people have a secure vault and how many don’t? That’s more of the mystery to me but I’m a people person and I am genuinely intrigued by the complexity of humans.

I will ponder thoughts over my vault for days I am sure. I will be curious of the contents of others’ vaults around me as well. It may be the contents of said vaults that cause poor responses in times of challenge or struggle. Since we are in the midst of a pandemic I just thought I’d share this word and possibly my wisdom or rant regarding it.

The word vault. The mystery. The memories. The mind fuck. That’s the vault in my eyes.