dare to be different

52 pickup

When I was a kid, I was one of those gullible types. (Ok, I still am, but that’s a different post). My older brothers enjoyed playing tricks on me. “Wanna play cards?” Of course, as the youngest, I always wanted to be invited to play by the older kids.

“Sure!” I replied.

“How about 52 pickup?”

“How do you play?”

Suddenly the whole deck of cards was thrown in the air. Jacks, deuces, aces all fluttering to the ground. “Thats 52 cards, now pick them up!” they’d say, laughing as they walked away.

And with a frown like a sad clown, I did.

Fast forward to adulting. Life is full of chores, duties, commitments. Most days are full of them.

For me, chores tend to become routines.

Grocery shopping Saturday. Meal prep Sunday morning. Cleaning Sunday afternoon.

Even little things have their routines. Every night when I get home I set up the coffee pot for the next day and either set out my gym / work clothes or pack my gym bag before I settle down.

Sometimes it’s almost like a challenge: Laundry goes in first thing when I get home from work on Friday. The challenge? I have to have all my clothes hung to dry by the time I leave for my gym class on Saturday morning. I have to stay alert to get this one done while I’m tired.

Edit the week’s blog posts on Sunday afternoon / evening so “publish” is all that’s left during a busy week.

At times, even my fitness routines become a part of it. 5:30 am CrossFit basically every day for a year. Before that it was working out after work. For a while it was run a 5k after work every Friday. 10 mile bike every Sunday morning.

For many parts of my life, I like routines. I like predictability. It keeps me on track. I get things done. When my meals for the week are packed and in the refrigerator Sunday afternoon, I feel calm and prepared.

Life isn’t stationary. Even in writing this I can see there are routines in my life that have come and gone. Commitments on Sunday afternoons shift cleaning to another slot on the weekly calendar. Waiting at sports practice provides opportunity for exercise of different times and types. Life keeps evolving and I shift and change and adapt. Small changes, small adjustments. What is important still usually gets done one way or another.

Once in a while life is more like a big brother and just asks you to play.

Next thing you know all your routines and commitments are tossed in the air and you get to pick them up, reassemble them into some sort of deck to play with. Chores to shuffle, meals to make, work to be done. But this time I was the one who tossed it all, and by choice.

Joys of weekend farm life shift Sunday’s chores further back. Editing blog posts later weekday evenings. Exercise as early in the morning as possible, sometimes at home. Laundry on Wednesdays and Sundays. Grocery shopping on Thursdays. Those cards are still the same, just shuffled differently.

Then there are the new cards. Furnishing a house. Farm chores. Helping run a new business. And don’t forget a couple of growing volunteer commitments, too. Some of these are wild cards, but they keep the game exciting.

I’m not usually one to gamble, but this new shuffle is keeping me on my toes. Learning, growing, creating a hand I’d bet on in spades.

3Splitz Farm, family

Never Have I Ever

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Never have I ever…

….driven a tractor.

….cleared out my own patch of overgrown rose bushes.

….mowed acre after hilly acre of thick wet grass with a push mower.

….ridden on a four-wheeler.

….shared my bed with a dog.

….eaten an avocado.

….moved myself into a farmhouse.

If we were playing the game “never have I ever,” which of these would you agree with?  Which have you already done?

In our first couple of weekends on the farm, at least one of our farmily knocked each of these things off our “never have I ever” lists.  I’ll let you wonder which belongs to who.  There are some surprises.  Many more not listed here.  And ones we can’t even imagine on the horizon.

Funny how this new adventure is taking us each on refreshing paths.  New experiences and challenges are possible at every turn.  Some take deep breaths before we try.  Some take asking questions, even a little trial and error.  It’s learning about the land, ourselves, and even each other.  We are knocking things off our lists while filling up our time with amazing memories.

What’s on your “never have I ever” list that you need to cross off?

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challenges

Flexible, Agile, Pivot

These three words have come up multiple times in the past week.

First, from my friends in the teaching profession. Those are the three words they are being told to embrace as school begins in person (don’t say face to face it sounds too close) as we return to the buildings. Don’t plan too far in advance, as things could and probably will change day by day. In fact, since we started writing this post, we’ve already switched from in person to online school in many places to start the upcoming year.

Be flexible and ready to adapt to evolving conditions and unexpected challenges. Be agile, able to move quickly, efficiently and confidently from situation to situation. Pivoting to change direction is almost inevitable. With so many unknowns and twists and turns on the horizon those words are valuable to latch on to. For teachers who are trained to plan, abide by calendars, and be as routine and predictable as possible, it’s a bit against their training and possibly their nature. Time to rethink, reframe, and expand in a different direction, and help students and their parents do the same.

Me on the other hand, I giggle a bit on those three words. They represent my life In many ways, during a pandemic or just a routine Tuesday afternoon. All the twists and turns. All the adapting. The organized chaos I call life. I thrive under pressure and beg for adversity most days. It’s fuel to my fire.

Then the conversation hit on a Friday night at the ball field. We all had masks on. Following the rules. The sun was scorching despite the evening hours. I took my face mask down briefly for fresh air. It was still hanging on an ear. Technically I was wearing a mask. The directions didn’t specifically define what mask type, how it needed to be officially placed and so on.

Out comes a gentleman I knew well. He saw my mask and followed his glance with an affirmation (or was it an accusation?) of me not being a rule follower. That spurred a discussion that lingered. I am a rule follower. I just choose to follow the rules within the terms I choose. He implied that I am an A, B, C2-C3-C4 person. As if all the rules have an asterisk. Options within the boundaries.

Yes, that is correct. I always have a backup plan and C4 may be a good pivot point description for me. Explosive. Dynamite in a way. Always with a second, third and fourth plan. I call it depth. It’s layers deep. I make the rules work for me. It allows me to not only survive but thrive.

Some may see it as grey. Operating in the grey tones of life. Pushing the limits. Especially if the limits don’t make sense in certain situations. Staying in the black and white only confines me. Shades give life texture, interest, originality, make me memorable. For some, it makes them rewrite the rules with more care and specificity. It forces people to be agile in their mind and in their lives. But I am always at least one step ahead, if not more. Rewrite the rules and try to corral me. Just another challenge for me to find the gray and keep growing.

I see it for what it is. Depth, diversity, dynamic layers ingrained within. How the mask conversation turned into an unmasking of sorts

perspective

Every Game is a Gift

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I looked out over the field, early that morning.

It was a beautiful April weekend.  Still a little crisp in the air, but the bright, direct sun warmed your skin enough.

I thought to myself, it is a perfect lacrosse morning. Right now, we are in the heart of lacrosse season, the sport both of my daughters and many of their dearest friends love. I looked out over the field where both of my daughters played their first seasons of the sport. It should have been bustling with warmups and whistles. Instead, it stood completely empty, the “closed” signs warning everyone away. Corona was in town.

When my older daughter was in high school, she told me that lacrosse was the only reason she went to school some days. In those high school seasons, she fought through injuries of all kinds.  From ankle twists and endless bruises to plaguing knee injuries and surgery.  Most notably, as a dynamic and skilled attack player, she also suffered at least three significant concussions. Because of these brain injuries, she watched many games from the sidelines, cheering her teammates on with all her energy and might while she waited for her head to heal.

After making her way through the recruiting process, she earned a spot playing in college.  There were many ups and downs, but she made it to the college playing field.  I was so proud to see her play at that level.  But just a few games in to her freshman season, she took a hit to the head that knocked her out for several minutes.  She lost some of her memories.  She couldn’t stand bright lights our music louder than a whisper.  She was just not her usual sharp self for a while.

Days off the field turned into weeks and months.  Her college freshman season ended and even though there were a few glimmers of hope, she finally got to the point where she realized her playing days were over.  Yes, she could continue coaching and being a referee, but she would never pick up her lacrosse stick competitively again.

God, I loved watching her play.  She was such a competitor on the field.  It was amazing to witness and cheer for her. Seeing that end too soon was devastating for us both.

My younger daughter has taken her own path through lacrosse.  She has great talent and has loved the sport for many years. She was just finding her footing in her first full varsity year when corona came to town. When I ask her these days what she misses most about school, she says lacrosse.

Each of them, in their own ways, now have “lost seasons.” Seasons that should have been played. Goals that should have been scored. Laugh-filled bus rides that should have been ridden. Late night meals with teammates that should have been shared. Wins that should have been celebrated. Defeats that should have been endured. Lessons that should have been learned.

Coronavirus has served many of us lost seasons. Weddings, holidays, so many celebrations shifted, even canceled.  I think especially of high school and college seniors in their final months of school, what should be a time of togetherness, of celebration for them and their supporters. I hurt for them, even though the changed celebration doesn’t change the effort they put in or the elation they should feel. If you know someone who has a lost season because of corona, I encourage you to reach out to acknowledge that loss. Most of us don’t quite know what to say, but just being there to listen and recognize what is lost may be a help.

An unexpected concussion ended my daughter’s lacrosse career too early. From that time I knew, every game is a gift. Every time you get to step on the field or out on the stage or wherever you do what you love…every time you get to do that, it is a gift to be cherished and a challenge to be embraced. When we emerge from this, I hope we are changed in a way where we remember that.

perspective

Passing Time in Class

A short time ago in reality but in my mind it seems like years ago, I was in a multi-day professional training. Attire was casual but attention to learning was expected. I had an open mind as day one began. Seems funny to recap this now since most people are stuck inside 24/7 these days.

Commuter time was long and exhausting for many but some had hotels with no commute. A luxury many of us actually miss today (traffic/people/hotels). Coffee was served until 10 am to spark the day but nothing after lunch. How would this impact the audience? Would limiting caffeine hinder learning or attentiveness? Another reminder of how much I miss coffee dates with friends, sigh.

A couple of the speakers were slow in getting their concept across or ill-prepared at times. Unfortunately that seems to make time move at a turtle’s pace for many, myself included. When time seems to stand still for me my mind wanders. I people watch. When time slows in the afternoon the overall audience aura changes. I especially enjoy people watching during and after the shift. I wonder if people carb loaded at lunch or if the lack of caffeine caused their shift.

As day one ended I noticed a gal using play doh in another row. I thought it was odd then saw another doing it. I was ever so curious so I asked what the significance was and both said stress relief and ability to concentrate is the motivation. Okay I can buy into that I said to myself and moved on.

Next day it was a couple different people this time with coloring books. One had felt tip markers, one colored pencils and another crayons. By the next day the color sheets seemed more elaborate as well. I wasn’t in shock rather I thought if I was the presenter I might reevaluate my performance, that I wasn’t being engaging or there was too much idle time built into the day. Neither seemed apparent to the presenter.

The next day I noticed a woman knitting. Not just knitting a cap for a baby this was a full blown scarf or blanket of sorts. At this point I seem flabbergasted. How would I feel as the presenter? Shocked that the focus was not on the presenter and the content he/she was supposed to present. Then I saw the neon stress ball group in the back row. Then the smackers who used food to soothe their environmental stresses.

Using tools of soothing was normal behavior in this class group. I have doodled in the past in trainings and school in general but have never taken these more extreme measures. Or are they extreme? If my kid used this strategy in high school or middle school would it be an acceptable concentration method? Would a teacher be offended? Would the concession be allowed or would it cause chaos among other students?

Is this a new trend? Am I old? How would this culture affect you as a trainer? I neglected to mention there was also the classic person who nodded off but we had a full-fledged snorer on day 4 after lunch. Might have been my favorite to watch from a distance.

In a world of videos, I wouldn’t envy the person sleeping as it might be sent digitally to their big boss. Just food for thought. For me I will stick to my old school training and try my darnedest to pay attention in this type of formal training. Mostly out of respect to the person conducting the training as the content may be difficult to present at times.

No matter what your perspective is, I applaud bold folks for taking initiative to calm their minds and nerves to enable themselves to focus and realign as needed to be successful in their environment. As a footnote to this paragraph: I wrote this weeks before the corona pandemic. I had no idea how it would totally come full circle as I sit in my own home on lockdown. A time out from life.

This is clearly my observation post. Maybe you are a stress ball person or maybe a coloring book type. Whatever your stress relief I applaud you. Don’t mind the people watchers like me. My tool is observing my environment. Assessing the whos, the whats, the whys and so on.

Thankfully my in service training has come and gone so I can get back to my routines being routine and keep my people watching distractions to a minimum especially while
in isolation. It is again an irony that I initially wrote this post pre-corona yet it’s applicable to life today. No routines, keeping my distance, and of course limiting my
people watching because I’m on lockdown.

It’s also apparent that in these crazy times people of all ages and mindsets need refreshing and new ideas to comfort them and shift their focus. I chose to take a long bike ride today. I enjoyed the crisp fresh air. I listened to the peaceful sounds around me.

Knitting may be your thing or maybe it’s playing cards or playing video games. Find your niche and get your groove on when you need to. This blog post was written sometime during the self-quarantine phase of the great corona virus 2020.

While in quarantine I have resorted to coloring my driveway with sidewalk chalk and chalk paint. I have blown many bubbles with those super size bubble blowers. I planted flowers and even a few trees. I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned more times than I can think. I colored. I sent care packages by mail. I binged watched Netflix more than I should have. I’m sure some of these idea came from my people watching time in the past. And the list continues….

Drop me a note to let me know what you have been up to in isolation.