author moments

What I Know for Sure, 2021 Edition

A group of friends recently shared their thoughts on “What I Know for Sure.” This task, based on Oprah’s essays and so on, was a pleasant challenge.

I jotted mine down in quick scribbles. Nothing really took too much thought. I just did 20 in no particular order. Most of them are pretty basic. There was some head-nodding as we shared at the dinner table. Here’s the list I shared:

1.) The most important approval in my life is my own.

2.) I feel better when I move first thing in the morning.

3.) I can do without way more than I imagined (e.g., cheese)

4.) The main thing I can control is my own choices.

5.) Focusing on what I can control eases my anxiety.

6.) Bring food, a book, and something to do with you.

7.) I can provide guidance, but walking the walk and being an example is the most powerful, grounding thing I can do for others and myself.

8.) I can’t expect anyone else to prioritize my physical, mental, and emotional health – that’s my job. They also may not understand what prioritizing those things look like. That’s also not my problem.

9.) Garbage in, garbage out – reading, media, food, all of it.

10.) Most people are doing the best they can based on what they know and are capable of at a given time.

11.) Play is important at every age. Laughter is, too.

12.) Local places beat chains.

13.) If it’s worth it, go for it.

14.) Nature heals, redeems, centers and grounds.

15.) Writing matters.

16.) Dogs are amazing and make most of the people in my life happier than other people do.

17.) Most things that seem like a big deal really aren’t that serious.

18.) To be on time, leave at least 15 minutes before you think you should. Always leave a buffer.

19.) Time and attention are the most precious gifts we can give other people.

20.) Thank people often for things big and small.

Most of this stuff is not groundbreaking. What I marvel at is how my list would have changed from even 5 years ago. I didn’t work out in the morning. I was beset with anxiety most of the time. I didn’t spend much time outdoors. I didn’t write for myself. I didn’t like dogs. Life is changing. I am changing. If my list stays the same, have I really learned or grown? What will the next 5 years bring?

I have a number of friends who are on the cusp of this time of great change with me. It’s wonderful to share such an exciting and transformational time with people. Instead of a stumbling, fumbling block it can be a launch pad.

What do you know for sure, right now?

perspective

New Year, New Song

It’s back to school, which means back to work for me. Summer was gone in a flash.

Each member of our school leadership team was asked to choose a theme song for the year. We got some examples to spur our thinking.

Music is one of my love languages – not just love, it’s any emotion, really. The lyrics, the melody of a song can convey meaning I can’t seem to put into words. Playlists can transport me into different eras, remembrances, states of mind. Songs mean much.

So a theme song for the year was a big decision. I tried thinking about it and came up with some possibilities, but nothing seemed to fit. As a singer, it was all about the lyrics. I’d think of a song that had a great chorus, but then there would be some lyric about drinking or broken hearts or something else completely unrelated to school. In that case, it’s a no go.

What was the message I wanted to capture? Resilience. Flexibility. Hope. All things that speak to me in this transition time. In addition, I wanted something upbeat and catchy to keep the mood light.

And then it came to me. The theme song from the classic 70s sitcom, One Day at a Time. Upbeat, catchy, short, sweet, with all the right feelings.

Here are the lyrics:

This is it.
This is life, the one you get
So go and have a ball.

This is it.
Straight ahead and rest assured
You can’t be sure at all.

So while you’re here enjoy the view
Keep on doing what you do
So hold on tight we’ll muddle through
One day at a time.

So up on your feet.
Somewhere there’s music playing.
Don’t you worry none
We’ll just take it like it comes.

One day at a time, one day at a time.

Many of the people in that room didn’t even remember that sitcom, much less the song. So, a chance for them to learn something new.

Even in the very first week of planning, this year has already thrown us some curve balls. We’ve gone from masks are recommended to masks are required no matter who you are and if you’ve had a shot. I’ll admit my chest and shoulders slumped when I heard we were masking again, but I had already seen it coming and brought my laundered masks to work. Life goes on. It does.

We will get through it. We will have to help each other. We will have to approach each morning with a fresh perspective. We will do the best we can. If we trip and fall, it’s up on our feet and at it again. Somewhere there’s music playing…

One day at a time. One hundred and eighty five to go.

challenges

Going Solo

Sometimes going solo may seem scary but it’s the best way to grow. Stepping away from the comforts of what you know to see what you could be. 

An example could be stepping away from your job of 5 years to take a chance on a new start up company. There are many risks for leaving the security and stability of a long term job but the rewards could be well worth it. On the flip side if the company flopped, you had the experience. There is a value in just the experience! Everyone can easily start over again and again with the right attitude.

Another example could be leaving your friends behind on a sports team to try out a new team. Maybe the team travels to new cities. Maybe the team has better coaches. There are again risks to losing your seniority or spot on your current team but the chance to grow could be far bigger. If on the flip side things didn’t work out at the new team at least one would know they tried and again had a great experience. A fresh start could also happen again and again. Staying fresh is learning and has tremendous value.

Sometimes the path less traveled is scary. Fear is normal. However, if the path less traveled was easy everyone would take it! There is a lesson to learn about taking a risk. There is a lesson to learn about the experience and/or journey as well. There is also a lesson to staying in the status quo life and expecting change.

If I wanted to run a race, I would invite friends to join. I like people so it makes sense to go in a group. If schedules didn’t allow for friends to go, I would take the solo route. Why? I would need to learn to go solo. It might not be my favorite thing or most travelled path but it’s the one worth taking.

I wanted to attempt the race.

I signed up solo.

I had to travel solo.

I completed the race solo.

I rode the ferry home solo.

I conquered my fear solo.

I set a personal best solo.

I enjoyed the adventure solo.

I embraced it all solo.

In the above examples I am showcasing how going solo is an option. An adventure. A risk. A chance. Going solo is not for everyone. Going solo takes guts. Going solo means talking about just me. Party of one.

I’m very capable of being a solo girl but I also enjoy the group adventures. I however have learned many times going solo is a viable option. Many won’t ride solo for multiple reasons. It’s sad for me to see but I get it. My choice to lead solo when I need to is setting an example for others around me.

Maybe it’s one of my kids seeing me face my fears which shows them they can too. Maybe it’s a friend or colleague that will take their chance in life because they saw me go solo.

Going solo isn’t for the faint at heart. Going solo is about my growth. That statement alone may sound selfish but me being enough for me is what matters at the end of the end of each day.

My solo trip really isn’t just about the examples above. It’s really about me and life. I have to make solo decisions daily. Sometimes I’d like consensus but the solo route is best. Sometimes I’d like to blame others for outcomes but really I am solo in life. I make decisions to do or not do. I make my adventure or my journey what it is today, in the future and what it was in the past. 

I go solo each day like many but I take the solo route more than many each day. There is a subtle difference. You may have to reread this closing. Enjoy today solo.

perspective

If a Tree Falls…

You surely know the only puzzler: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

What do you think? These are the kinds of questions that philosophers can sit around and ponder, quander, or some might say squander our time over.

I was thinking recently about the things I do alone. Most are more or less by choice. Many times I’d rather have companions along for the ride. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.

Individualist is strong in my enneagram. I am prone to do things by myself. Sometimes to a fault. Once in a while, though, it gets to me.

Take for example my recent triathlon experience. I was originally scheduled to do this with a few different people. For one reason or another, each of these people were unable to do it that weekend. I had a choice…go it alone or wait until another chance to do an event like this came along.

I was on the fence about it for a while. I really didn’t want to go do it by myself, but I also didn’t want to miss out on my chance to do it. I’m getting to the point with many things in my life where I say, if not now, who knows when the opportunity will come around again?

I ended up doing it and after I completed it I was glad that I did. Still, the experience would have been more fun to share with a friend. To ask if they had seen the turtle on the bike course and felt the same kinship with that slow moving animal. Did you smell the water treatment plant too? Yuck! How was the run for you? How was the swim? Did you do the water slide at the end? I might have been able to take some pics of them.

I do see the value in going it alone, but there is also beauty in shared stories, shared memories, shared moments. Both have value. Neither can be replaced.

After the race I knew I needed coffee. As is my habit, I looked on yelp and found a local coffee shop a couple of blocks away. Completely by surprise, I passed a mural by a well-known artist. I stopped to take a selfie with it, but of course could not fit in the amazing piece at arm’s length. Luckily a nice young man saw me. A military person from the nearby base. He called out and asked if he could take my picture for me. He said it was just so sad to see me trying to get a photo of myself alone. And he was right.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound? If you do something amazing and no one was there to share it with you, does it make a memory?

I’m grateful for the man who saw my struggle and helped capture me with my new set of wings. Hopefully next time some loved ones will also be there to share in it and we can lift each other up.

mental health, perspective

Whispers

There were whispers amongst the group. Who will go? Who will stay? Where is so and so going? When will this shift happen? Why?

The Who. The What. The Where. The Why. The story of the W’s. The story isn’t really just about those W’s. It’s about the whispers. The W word most don’t fess up to. And while we mention whispers, it’s really not nice to whisper (period).

Why do people whisper? Why does another’s choice matter? In a recent conversation with my teen, the sexual choice of a young adult came up. Two sisters, twins by birth. One openly gay. One not. The openly gay announcement was recent. The backlash from parents and community was negative and far reaching. Why? The whispers. 

Does that young adult’s choice impact me directly? No. Why do I hear the whispers? It’s society. Preconceived values and expectations. Religious beliefs also play a role. So overwhelming for a young adult to process let alone live through it. Why would one stay and suffer? 

Then there is the sports field. The girl whose parents think she is a star but grossly overlooked. The parents complain. Again and again. The coach gives in. Play time is awarded to offer peace. The team suffers. Did this really just happen? Another child earned their spot. Their parent doesn’t complain. There are whispers. One leaves. One stays. Why? The whispers again. 

The shift in social setting. The friend that moves out of the circle. Just for space or personal growth. Is it a bad thing to focus on one’s growth? Of course not but the circle may take it personal and then whispers begin. Awkward to some. Stressful to others. Whispers are not nice I tell you.

Is it not obvious?  The whisperers can’t see that decisions are made because of actions made by others in most cases. Solo trips in any of the situations above may seem scary but yet they are the best option. If one stays in any situations noted above, the individual(s) will suffer. Taking a stand silently or through some form action shows strength. Inner peace. Confidence. The strength of flying solo and not caring what others whisper about.

For those who whisper, think about it. How would like to be on the other side of the whispers? 
Are you the whispering type of person or the one who steps out and flies solo when the need arises?