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.

mental health, Uncategorized

Gift of Words

I’ve mentioned the challenges of working in an elementary school during this time of COVID. Telling the kids to spread out. Masks all the time. So. Much. Sanitizer. Constant changes. One of the reasons I wanted to work in an elementary school is honestly because it seemed playful and fun. That hasn’t always proven true, and this fall has been even less fun than usual.

In typical years, the time between Thanksgiving and Winter break at an elementary school is equal parts festive and frantic. We have 15 days to cram in two month’s worth of learning and celebrating. The schools I’ve been in go all out with decorations, which means trees, menorahs, stockings, and so on. It’s also the wrapup of the first half of the year, so we pile tons of tests in there just to add to the excitement (and panic).

This year was different. Widespread testing is postponed or canceled for the most part in elementary schools where I live. And when I got back from Thanksgiving break there were no trees going up, no stockings… maybe just a handful of stars and tinsel in the hallways. The lights and energy of the holidays are usually palpable when you walk through the front door. This year no one would have known it was December.

My job has changed so I am not telling stories to kids anymore right now, so no Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Christmas tales. Last year I made a tree out of ancient textbooks. I also have a little sliver tree with international ornaments. The kids love these touches. This year I didn’t find time with all my other shifting responsibilities.

Every year has also brought a dress up countdown for teachers, 12 Days of Christmas style. We all wear red one day, silver the next, silly socks on Tuesday, crazy hats Thursday. I wore my tacky Christmas sweater on the right day and I was the only one who did! Most of us are so tired and beat up we are just lucky to be dressed and physically present. December, such a special, silly time of celebration and connection, was just more show-up-and-get-it-done days.

The twelve days also bring treats at times. Hot cocoa after school. Cookies in the mailroom. Pancakes from the local breakfast place. I generally skip all that since too much sugar makes me sleepy. But one morning, when I returned from my morning outdoor duty all dressed up in my tacky garb, a piece of paper caught my eye. It was a paper, to me, thanking me for my gift of flexibility. A quote from Picasso about finding your purpose and sharing it. A short explanation of how I have adapted to every role and challenge this year. An appreciation.

It was a simple thing. A word. An acknowledgement. A recognition that in this crazy time, I have played my role as best I can. And what I do matters. Then I noticed that every teacher’s door in the school had a similar paper.

I made excuses the rest of the day to walk around the building, dropping off items or doing other errands. But what I really wanted to do was see other colleague’s notes – what gifts did our administration identify in them? Kindheartedness. Generosity. Passion. Good humor. Creativity. I nodded my head at each one. Maybe not what I would have said is most important about that person, but each one still rang true. Some of them made me laugh since they were gifts I often struggle with. Efficiency. Patience. Productivity. Focus. Again I nodded, but understood why those weren’t top of mind for me.

This has been a year of challenges. My job has changed at least weekly, sometimes daily. Stress levels have brought patience muscles to their breaking point for many, even me. While the cookies and chocolate are sweet, the gift that meant the most to me was just some words and the knowledge that what I am doing is seen.

Who around you needs to be seen? Who can you lift up with a word or two? Who brings a gift to your life just by being in it? I hope you’ll take a minute to let them know this week. Words are precious gifts.

3Splitz Farm

The Final Countdown

The count was on. 14 days to go. Then a snag. A delay. A gut wrenching delay.

Boom! Flutter. Flap. Bang. A new countdown of sorts. Resetting of expectations. Another hiccup. Another unplanned delay. Are you kidding me?

Reset. Realign. Is that not the story of 2020? Where are my three go to words? Flexible, pivot, agile. I used these words in a whole different scenario. Hello patience muscles!

Another day on the calendar. Another sigh in my mind. Another mind challenge for me to over come. 14 days. 10 days. Are those business days or calendar days? 21 days. Wait maybe it’s 13 days. Is this really happening?

This is my life. My story. Patience. Excitement. Delays. More delays. Pivot. It’s what happens when there are lots of moving pieces, personalities and people in a project. If it doesn’t all kill you, you will definitely be stronger in the end.

Many life lessons amidst my countdown. The long, the short and everything in between has been worth it. The experience. The rustic experience. The new adventures. The new milestones. The new chapters. They all await now that the countdown is in the rear view.

The countdown moves to progress. The progress wheel moves by momentum. Momentum created by the dynamic team assembled to make 3Splitz Farm a brand to know.

Stay tuned for more happenings and be sure to follow online.

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A big story is unfolding. Tidbits and tails to be documented compliments of 2chicksandapen.

perspective

Vulnerability

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“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.”

-Brene Brown

I sat in a training this week that began with an invitation to think about this quote.  Then, we took a moment to write down what vulnerability meant to us and what it would take for us to feel ok about being vulnerable with each other.

I admire and respect Brene Brown and her work immensely.  That being said, even just the word vulnerability makes me shudder.  In the exercise, I wrote about how vulnerability means showing my lack of expertise or knowledge of something, or admitting I don’t know something, or showing my soft underbelly that I try very hard to protect. I cling to my appearance of being intelligent and capable as a flotation device in life.  I have learned in recent years that I mainly choose goals and tasks where I can be almost assured of success.  I don’t like looking stupid or incompetent and I avoid those situations as much as I can.

I’ve also learned through my enneagram that asking for help is not something I am good at (but giving help is!)

Reading Brene Brown’s work and others has me tiptoeing up to bigger challenges these days.  I’m setting goals that are further and further past my comfort zone.  Sometimes, I try things I might fail at.  I have become less comfortable coasting through life.  I’m not jumping at challenges quite yet, but I’m getting better.

When my daughter and I went to help on a farm project recently, it was in response to a facebook post appealing for help. The farmer had taken advantage of several growth opportunities in recent times and managed to find herself overwhelmed with challenges.  She started her facebook post by saying that asking for help was hard for her, but they needed help moving a truckload of gravel.  I messaged her that we would be happy to help.  She was extremely grateful.

Imagine her surprise to have over a dozen people show up to help.  From teenagers to retirees, men and women, all strangers, all grabbing shovels and buckets and wheelbarrows.  We moved and spread two truckloads of gravel in less than two hours (including a 30-minute break to go get the second load).  Far more work done far more quickly than she and her husband could have managed alone. We made quick work of her challenge.

I watched people work together who had never met, just to help someone in need.  All because she made herself vulnerable and asked for help.  Big dreams and big goals can lead to some big challenges.  Big challenges can be faced and overcome, sometimes with a little help from our community. A lesson I need to remember.

What I also learned today is that asking for help also opens up opportunities for others to contribute, to make a difference, to share their own worth. It feels good to help.  For my daughter, an aspiring farmer, it was an opportunity to get an insider’s look at a real-life situation on an operating farm. Perhaps others who pitched in had different motives.  Who knows what moved that group of random individuals to show up, but just by helping we each got something out of the experience.  At times, it also offers the chance for people to let you down, but thankfully with a good circle you always have backup and support waiting in the wings.

When we make ourselves vulnerable, we invite others to step up, step in, and play a role in our lives.  The next time I am in my self-focused trying-to-hide vulnerable mindset, afraid to admit I don’t know something could use some help, I’ll remember to reframe it as offering opportunities for others to shine and share and connect. It’s not wrong to take on a task that turns out to be overwhelming to manage alone at times.  It’s a testament to ambition and big dreams. May I start dreaming bigger than I can handle solo.

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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.