giving

The Gifts that Keep on Giving

IMG_7467

Since we’ve been at home more in recent days (following social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines), passing the time has presented challenges. Yup, to put it bluntly, at times we are just plain bored.

My daughter had been asking to go shopping for painting supplies for about a month, well before the virus hit our home state. Then, like many other families, we went from extremely busy to having very little to do, but unable to go out and get much of anything that isn’t truly necessary.

So, I started rummaging.

And out came…watercolor paints (metallic, matte, at least 4 sets!), watercolor pads (in 2 sizes!), paintbrushes, pastels.  Voila! Art is possible.

Where did it all come from? When my kids were younger, in addition to the toys and candy-stuffed eggs, I would always put an art supply or two in their Easter baskets. Who knows why?  Just to balance things out.  Most of these art supplies were left on the living room floor along with the torn candy wrappers and cracked plastic eggs.  I’d eventually tuck the artsy stuff in a drawer along with the ones from the year before and all the other art supplies I’d collected through years of teaching, student-ing, and projects galore. Now, it’s all coming out to play.

IMG_7466

In these times of slower pace and waiting, many people are taking up old-fashioned pleasures.

Friends are asking, too…the group chat question about sidewalk chalk…so many people are chalking messages of encouragement or just drawing on the driveway with extra time.  And, lo and behold, of course I have a shiny unopened box of 48 Crayola sidewalk chalks! (I’ve probably had it for 5 years!) Sure, I will share them! Don’t thank me, thank the Easter bunny! (and, okay, my hoarding tendencies…which this whole situation does not help, by the way. But that’s a different post.)

IMG_EDEE6EEBB488-1 2

(Seriously, that big box of sidewalk chalk is in this Easter photo from 2011. Yes, 2011!  Over a decade ago!  Yikes!!!)

Add in a long-ago purchased rolling table from Ikea that I never set up and presto, it’s our own little mobile art station.  And we’re using the portion of the chalk we kept to cheer up outside.

Making stuff and sharing art and time are doing our hearts and minds good.  When I think of Easter coming in a couple of weeks, I am not sure what it will look like.  But for now, we are celebrating and sharing with creativity, with gifts from Easters past that are suddenly gifts all over again.

How are you passing any idle time, in old ways or new? Board games, card games?  Share in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

awareness, balance

Boredom Rings at Odd Times

2:40 am and the house is super quiet. Not a creature is stirring, but I seem bored.

My mind is racing but on much of nothing. What am I going to do tomorrow? Nothing big? What can I do? Nothing big? What should I do? Nothing really?

I doubt I am alone but what are others worried about? Food, shelter, essentials and how to support themselves. Maybe that what’s keeping me awake.

An acquaintance in the restaurant industry that is a server. His livelihood relies upon customers, tips and his restaurant being in operation. None of those things are available currently. This impacts his ability to pay his rent, buy food and basically survive. I am worried for him.

The two young adults learning to navigate early adulthood living on their own. Living paycheck to paycheck. Having no cushion for next week let alone a month. Both hourly workers in an industry cutoff by the corona virus. How will their mental health fare during this time? Will they springboard and value the importance of saving for a rainy day?

My friend’s family owns a restaurant. My friend is a hair dresser. My friend is a mechanic. My friend owns a gym. They all have families, budgets, bills, and employees. They have to make hard decisions to survive. Some are in states with mandatory shutdowns of their business. Business is always risky but nobody forecasted the world halting like it did recently. How will this impact these friends in the short term and the long term?

Those caring for elderly. The heightened scare for their health due to underlying problems. The isolation. Will this solidarity kill them? Will they give up on their own because it’s just too much to cope with at their age?

I think I worry about the mental health of many connected to me. The stress, the anxiety, the unknown all hinges on fear. When fear is constant on the news, on the internet, in the government, on the radio, in the desolate streets one needs to have coping skills. And I’m not just talking about phone a friend because you need multiple options for coping and navigating these unchartered and turbulent times. One friend can’t solve or take on that burden themselves.

You may need to call a doctor. You mean need to reach out to a phone hotline. You may need to research stress relievers for your type of triggers. You might need to take up a hobby like cooking. It’s also critical to include exercise. Sometimes exercise can be overlooked in this type of crisis, but exercise can be a form a stress relief and add mental clarity.

I am working out at home daily. Inside or outside depending on the weather. Different movements than usual and maybe more bite-sized packets of workouts than long hard workouts. Mostly depends on the day and what I have to knock out.

I can’t forget to mention two friends in two different parts of country suffering from cancer. Both mid-stream in treatment. Extensive treatment that absolutely requires isolation. They live in fear of not only their cancer but now the virus lurking around them. Their risk is so much higher. Their stress has to be maxed. Their family full of endless worry. My heart bleeds for these folks.

My friends on the front lines. The nurses, doctors, x-ray tech, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, and others involved in care giving in the present. They are all handling their duties so well, full of pride and boundless energy. I am full of gratitude to those of you I know near and far. Keep working hard.

I guess when I started this blog I noted I was bored. In reality I am probably just worried. Troubled mind thinking of others. Clearly I can’t cure the virus or solve the problems of all the folks above. I can however offer hope, kindness and positive vibes to those I interact with.

I will find little ways to brighten people’s day around me. Even if brief it’s my contribution. My efforts that I can control. Today their are many things out of my control but I choose my attitude. I choose my efforts. I can make an impact. Small maybe but if I motivate one person I did something.

Even if we are on lockdown we can all offer hope to others. I guess I should have named this post hope not boredom. Signing off to sleep a little more now that my mind is at peace. What a wonderful method of relaxation, writing. That’s a little tidbit for you. Grab a journal and write your thoughts down while you navigate this challenging time. Writing is therapeutic from my perspective.

balance, challenges

Abundance

It was my fourth trip to the grocery store in the past ten days.

Even in that long time, the scene was mostly the same.  Fruits and veggies were pretty well stocked.

But, canned goods were basically empty. Same with the pasta aisle. Fresh meat cases completely bare. Bread was hit or miss. Toilet paper shelves had tumbleweeds on them once again…ten days later.  Ten days!?!

It’s enough to make me anxious.  People walking around the store, shopping with masks and gloves, looks of mistrust.

Where did everything go?  Why is there nothing left?

Early on in this coronavirus crisis, I listened to a podcast by Lewis Howes.  I was still going in to my job at that point, so it was only a week ago (but wow it seems like so much has happened in that week).  I was listening to “8 Ways to be Calm and Prepared During a Crisis.”  It was number 8 that stood out to me the most: Keep giving.  Howes talks about how important it is to stay in an abundant mindset, even when (maybe especially when) things are scarce.

But it’s not just an abundance of things he is talking about.  He talks about time, energy, effort, love for people we know and even people we don’t.  He told a story about an exchange with a stranger in an elevator.  Instead of ignoring the person at this awkward time, he made the effort to talk to them and share just a word or two of general encouragement.  We are all in this mess together (even if we have to stay physically separated from most).

I took his advice this week.  Every morning as I was out riding my bike or running, I made it a point to say a clear “good morning” to everyone I passed.  I looked them in the eye. Many were surprised, but most responded.  During the day, I reached out to colleagues just to check in and say hello.  I tried to text my gym friends, since many of us have stopped going and I want to encourage them to stay active and connected.  I had longer talks with both of my brothers than I have had in months.  I wrote letters and started creating artwork to send to people I can’t see or who might need a lift.

Abundance happens to be a common theme in the book I am reading right now, too: “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero.  More on that later, but continuing to work on my inner dialogue about what my purpose is and what is available to me is a big challenge. I do think I happen to be reading this book right now for a reason.  I have never had an abundance mindset, which is reflected in my home, my income, how much I eat, how much I spend, and all kinds of other ways. I have always been worried I will run out of things.  But, as I have been working on for years, I am rewriting my story toward a more magnificent ending. This is one doozy of a chapter for me, and for many of us.

How about you? How can you come from a place of abundance when we are faced with possibly having less, earning less, even trusting less and connecting less?  What do you have to give abundantly? We all have something, even many things.  Who can you lift today?  Share your story in the comments.

 

 

perspective

Misty Morning Ride

IMG_6919

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.

IMG_6941

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.

IMG_6938

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.

IMG_6945

 

 

friendship, inspire

The Card Collection

I love me a good card on a special occasion. What does a good card consist of? There isn’t a perfect answer as many cards fit the good quality measure. Especially when given at the right time.

I have some memorable cards that I have received as a sports coach over the years. The content made me so proud that I treasure them.

I also have some cards from those I have mentored over the years. The heartfelt messages of gratitude are fuel for many years ahead and I cherish those cards and the memories involved.

Then I have the birthday card collection. Over the years I save a fair share of these from all the special people in my life. Some funny. Some direct. Some mysterious. Some are even weird.

The ones who took the time to find that card that suits me all so well may just be my all time favorite to hold on to. Luckily I have some amazing people in my life who know how to give me the right card at the right time. These are extra special for many reasons but mainly they are signed and personalized by my dear friends.

With a recent birthday passing I was able to reflect and smile thinking about how lucky I am. I even like a hand drawn card.

Oh I even have a few special cards from my aunts who are no longer alive. One is a Christmas card that was sent to me but written to somebody else. This is a classic card to save. Who knows maybe I’ll rehome it one day for giggles. Then an inspirational card from one of my favorite aunts who just took time during a challenging time in life to send me words of comfort sharing her story of challenge and how she overcame obstacles.

I have anniversary cards and sweetheart cards that all cover so much history. So many cards over the years. I wonder how many people have a card collection like mine? I also love those little note cards that hold powerful words of inspiration.

Customizing a card takes very little time. Pass on a little gratitude today in a note or pick out that special card for somebody important in your life. I’m sure they will appreciate the kindness. They may even collect cards like me.

Enjoy your day today and live like a super hero. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.

celebrations, coaching

Growing Up Fast

They may not be fully grown but they represent a few of my maturing players. Many team colors over the years but the same great kids and lots and lots of memories.

I have known this group since they were in elementary school. I wasn’t their only coach but I was fortunate to have them with me for a few seasons, reasons, tournaments and so on.

We built strong bonds. We built trust. We giggled. We traveled from state to state many times and boy do we have car stories to tell. They got better in the sport they love. They had their glow up. Now they are in high school. Almost ready for college.

They are now working as volunteers to pass their knowledge on to the younger kids coming up in the ranks. Something they probably didn’t imagine when they first suited up in their lacrosse gear for the first time. This picture was taken in the state of Alabama about 5 years ago.

I have a front row seat in watching them excel as leaders on and off the field. They don’t get paid. They work hard. They are role models. From brace-faced young girls to whistle-blowing officials. These girls have grown up all things lacrosse. They are now choosing to volunteer in the sport that has afforded them so much. This gem of photo was a first 3 v 3 tournament in the Sunshine State back in 2016.

These girls may not see the value of what they are doing today but they are leading by example. Those they are mentoring and will later mentor others. They will springboard off this leadership experience as they head off to college. Their team bonding will crossover into the workplace one day. This keepsake photo was after a hard fought championship game in sunny South Carolina in 2017.

They are tomorrow’s workers. They have a solid foundation. They will be successful. I will enjoy watching them grow into greatness. How can I not include the toy soldier photo from a holiday tournament held in Georgia every year. One that is festive and full of crazy costumes and most notable is the cold temperatures and bad weather that comes with a December tournament.

This is why I coach. I love being a part of these girls’ stories and I love having them a part of mine. From costumes to travel and beyond the sport of lacrosse has bonded these girls for years. They are there for each other when times are challenging and they push each other when the need arises.

As many of my lacrosse girls approach adulthood, this is my big thank you for letting me be a part of your journey. I remember so many of my coaches throughout life and the lessons they taught me. I hope my players remember me one day and the memories we made.

So many hurdles for these girls and other athletes who had their seasons interrupted because of the Coronavirus scare. Uncharted territory. The closest reminder for me was 9/11 however none of these girls even remember 9/11 as they were not born yet. What a crazy reflection in this growing up post.

I now feel old and experienced in life having seen the Gulf War, 9/11 and now Coronavirus. Crazy to think my parents talked about the potato famine and I get to tell stories about the toilet paper famine.

This post is for my three musketeer trio and those junior coaches that paved the way before them. You know who you are.

perspective

Giving is Not the Same as Expecting

There are so many givers in this world. Those who give their time to others. Those who give care to those in need. Those who offer love and hope to others. The list could go on and on. If you fall into the giver category, thank you. The world needs more of you.

Giving isn’t always a gift that is tangible. One can give love. One can give inspiration. One can give a shoulder to lean on. One can give hope. Whatever one gives, it is a choice. A desire to serve others in some way.

Life isn’t fair. I can’t catch a break. Poor me. If you fall into this category, suck it up. Find resources to help you get over the hump you are in. Start to pay your way little by little. Set a budget and work hard for what you need / want. Do not expect others to do for you and don’t be a mooch. Not much in life is free these days and if you take advantage of kindness in any form you will soon find yourself abandoned and alone. Eventually the givers lose interest in takers.

Expecting is different. Expecting mom and dad to pay for a cell phone until the you turn 30. Expecting the latest and greatest iPhone vs the one that works fine but is a model year behind the latest release. Expecting a brand new car as a teen. Expecting to have access to unlimited funds when one is capable of working. Expecting a car or car service to promote your independence without any contributions to gas. These are just some common teenage / young adult expectations I see over and over.

Expecting is annoying to say the least. One should never expect anything. One should expect to put forth work or effort to earn things that matter. There is definitely a benefit to learning this early on in life. If your teen expects things on the home front, they turn into employees that expect things. They turn into spouses who contribute less. They turn into lazy adults.

As I wrote this, I could feel the negative vibe in the post. For those of you who may follow my writing you may know that I am not the Negative Nelly type of writer. However, when the giver and taker scenarios arrive in my real world, I can be frustrated.

The same level of frustration appears when I see entitlement. Scenarios could include my own children acting entitled or it could be just the world around me. It could be an employee feeling entitled to a raise despite minimal efforts on their part. It could be a vendor feeling entitled to contract or a loved one feeling entitled to something. Even the customer who feels entitled to a discount for reasons that would put you below your operational costs.

In life we should think fair and consistent. Is this scenario fair for all parties? Are my actions consistent with my behaviors? Am I doing the right thing?

Earn your keep. Earn your value. In today’s competitive world you need to see what sets you apart from others and springboard off of those strengths. Nobody ever gets anywhere riding the coattails of others.

Make giving part of your motto in 2020 and see how life favors you. Remember giving is free on most accounts. You just may need to get creative.

January can be give smiles month.
February may be give compliments month.
March may be give time month.
April may be give your listening ear month.

With the above samples in hand, you can get creative and find what works for your lifestyle. I do promise you that if you adapt giving into your life you will receive far more in return. I’m not promising money, fame or fortune. I am promising a refreshed look at the world if you give a little.