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What Brings You To Tears?

Saturday night I sat on a plastic high school gym bleacher with tears rolling down my face.

Tonight I know the tears will flow again.

Both tear generators are final performances of ensembles I have taken to heart.

The Santa Teresa High School Winter Guard competed at the California Color Guard Championships. For the seven seniors it was their last performance before graduation. The next few weeks will be full of “last times” and the bittersweet feeling of rushing forward while looking back. I know all too well how fast life moves forward and how hard it becomes to keep in touch with people you used to see everyday at school or work or every few days at practice. These seven young women have become near and dear to my heart. Their program was titled “Here We Are”. It was beautiful.

 

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHERAfter nine years “How I Met Your Mother” will air their final new episode tonight. This will bring tears, too. The characters have been fun but like Winter Guard the special group of people has worked long and hard at their craft to bring a performance that touches the audience. HIMYM has been a favorite in our home for a long time and we will miss them. On to reruns!

 

Smarter Than Me

friendsLooking over my friends list on Facebook this morning I realized each one is smarter or better or more skilled at 2 or 3 or more things than I am.

I see their strength and knowledge as something admirable and inspiring.

I see characteristics I want to emulate, insights I want to explore and wisdom I deeply respect.

 

 

Secret Mentor

mentor_mug-r8f87929a779a44e98415dc58ce611fe3_x7jg5_8byvr_512I read a lot. Maybe not compared to some people but statistically above average. The great advantage I have over most is all of my reading is self selected. I do not have to read endless office email threads or analyst reports or white paper. Even reading the directions is a totally discretionary decision resting entirely in my control. That being said, I choose to read a lot.

This morning a blogger I subscribed to about 3 years ago posted that he had purchased an ebook written by another blogger on writing. I followed the rabbit trail to Amazon where it was offered for a mere $2.99. But I have learned that many short ebooks are often compilations of blog posts written over a period of a few months. Going directly to the author’s website I found the same little missive offered free with a bonus  simply for subscribing to her future writing. This was the path I chose.

A quick download later, I was blasting through the 42 “page” ebook when something so incredibly familiar popped up on page 23. She recounted her experience at a writers conference where she had the opportunity to ask someone she respected how to find a mentor. The response was what I’ve been doing all along.

Most of the people I respect and admire are very public people. Their character is known. Their journey, with all it’s mountain tops and valleys, is not hidden. Their wisdom and insights are readily available. Usually in written form! I can learn from them without sitting across the table having them repeat the same thing they have told countless others. I can read the book!

If I want to learn how writer’s became better writers, there’s a pretty good chance they have written about it.

If I want to learn how to bake a better cake, there are  39,300,000 websites that pop up in 0.73 seconds if I Google “bake a cake“.

If I want to learn to run, there is a track at the local high school frequented by….RUNNERS!

Hunting down someone who is farther down a chosen path than I am is not necessary. I have hundreds of good mentors!

I can read, I can search, I can do the leg work. And I can blaze my own trail.

 

 

Blind Spots

We all have them.

Some are acknowledged.

Others ignored or totally unaware.

Strengths and weaknesses are the same.

We all have them.

Some are acknowledged.

Others ignored or totally unaware.

It’s what draws us together and keeps us apart.

But what if someone is watching out for your blind spots for you?

What if someone’s strength matches up with your weakness?

What if your strength matches up with my weakness?

What if I asked you to watch my blind spot?

What if I asked you to lend your strength?

What if I offered mine?

What if….

 

Oximoron

044-oxymoron-historyYou can’t tell someone to stop telling you what to do without telling them what to do.

 

12 Stop Lights and 4 U-turns

8684807-3d-render-of-heart-traffic-lights-on-white-backgroundThat’s what I encounter on a “normal” school day. I drive my daughter to school and pick her up after school. If I make the round trip twice a day its 12 stop lights and 4 u-turns. Every additional trip adds 6 and 2. Today is a split day meaning she is there for her normal school hours but returns in the evening for a school related function. Without using Common Core math the simple answer becomes 24 stop lights and 8 U-turns today.

All that stopping and starting and turning around makes me feel like I am not making any kind of progress. Maybe in a traveling linear way I’m not. Truth is I keep ending up right back where I started, home. But I’m making great strides where it matters most. I am showing my daughter with each stoplight how to obey the rules of the road, how to safely watch for pedestrians when making u-turns, how to build time into a trip for all the possible stops. I don’t always catch the lights red. There are the rare days when I hit a full cycle of greens and other than the 2 u-turns can make my circuit unimpeded.

Most of my life is made up of routine cycles. To and from school, rotate the laundry, rotate the dishes, bring in the groceries/take out the garbage, feed the dogs/clean up after the dogs, go to bed/get up and repeat it all again.

But every time I make my rounds my daughter knows I love her and support her education. Every time I rotate the laundry  my little family has clean clothes to wear to face the day. Every time I wash and put away the dishes I can be grateful there was food on those plates and heat to cook it. Every time I bring in the groceries I am grateful to the farmers and truck drivers who got it to the grocery store so all I had to do was make my choices. Every time I take out the garbage I am grateful to the city workers who come by on a very regular basis to haul it away from my home and neighborhood. Every time I feed the dogs I am greeted with happy wagging tails who love to play ball with my favorite person in the whole wide world after the back yard has been cleaned up. Every time I go to bed I can sleep knowing the day has been full of people and moments that matter. And if I’m very blessed I get to do it all again tomorrow.

So I am thankful for the stop lights that remind me to pause in my journey. And I am grateful for those U-turns because they always lead me back home.

 

That’s Easy!

EasyOver the past few months I have come to an understanding that I find ridiculous.

When I am asked how to do something my usual response is “That’s easy!” The thought behind my statement is that I can quickly handle that request or I can quickly teach the person how to do something or can explain it in just a few sentences or that the person asking will be able to master it in just a few minutes.

What I have come to understand is that it is often mistaken for “That’s so simple you should be able to do it without asking me” or “It may be too difficult for you to do but I can do it without any problems” or “Everyone knows how to do that already, why don’t you?”

Unfortunately, my use of “That’s easy!” has led to people deciding they would rather struggle with something instead of asking for help. They choose to make it harder when it could be easy.

I have also come to recognize that what’s easy for me may not really be easy for someone else. Each person has differing strengths and weaknesses. Each person has areas they can master and areas that they will never be able to grasp.

But the common hindrance seems to be pretty consistent. Pride.

“That’s easy!”, instead of being reassuring, pushes the pride defense button. The focus shifts from the original task or issue and becomes something deeper and personal. Instead of being open to learning and understanding, something raises up inside that brings the whole process to a grinding halt and often  makes the whole situation worse instead of better. So what’s the solution?

That’s easy! Just stop saying “That’s easy!”

(Harder than it sounds.)

 

 

Free Housekeeper!!!

cleaning_flyer_03Few words stir the heart of a homemaker like the offer of a free housekeeper. Someone to do the heavy work of laundry or floors or the dreaded bathrooms.

We love our homes. We enjoy fixing them up to suit our style and personality. We might even break out a gallon of paint and change the colors every now and then. Rearranging the furniture is not out of the question.

But cleaning…. That’s something most people would love to hand off to someone else. It’s not creative. It’s not very rewarding. It’s considered a chore, a necessity but not fun.

As a writer I know it’s easier for me to focus when the laundry is done, the floors are clean and the house is presentable if someone should drop by for coffee.

Earlier this week I asked a group of bloggers if they used an editor for their posts or if they were going it alone. Every one who responded said they were on their own. They found the idea of an editor intrusive or restrictive or too academic. The idea of submitting it to someone before hitting the publish button didn’t sit very comfortably with any of them. I consider an editor like a housekeeper. If someone else can catch my typos, correct my syntax and undangle my participles I read like a better writer than I am.

Given the choice between a good housekeeper and a good editor I would take a good editor anyday.

Miracles

christmas miraclesWhat I want for Christmas is miracles.

It’s happened before.

It’s actually the reason for the season.

A time to remember and celebrate His arrival in a situation and world that desperately needed miracles.

Today is no different.

A wife and mother waits as rescue workers search the mountains for her family missing a week and counting.

A wife and mother waits for the doctor to call with news of her husband.

A wife and mother waits to see the face of her man come off the ship and into her waiting arms.

A wife and mother waits listening for the sound of her son’s the key in the front door late at night.

A wife became a mother…and the miracles began….

What are you trying to remember?

wool carderSeveral years ago I was watching a home make over show. In exchange for letting a camera crew and some creative types into the homeowners lives for a weekend, the homeowners got a couple of rooms in their home cleared out and remodeled. The first thing the crews did was unload the rooms and put everything on tarps in the driveway for the homeowners to sort into four piles: Keep, Sell, Donate, Toss. With a vigilant host/designer helping them make decisions on what was truly worth keeping and what was ready to move on, one moment in one show stuck with me.

Sitting on an upturned bucket in her driveway a woman was arguing with the host about keeping an item. He asked he the basic questions. “When was the last time you used it?” “Does it have sentimental value?”

Her reply was simply, “I’m keeping it to remind me of something?”

His quick question was “What?”

The admission, “I don’t remember,”  sealed the fate of said item. It wasn’t working. Whatever it was supposed to remind her of was forgotten. It wasn’t doing it’s job and it was time for it to move on. With a sigh and dropped shoulders all of the fight she had just moments before defending the item’s place in her life was gone as she put it in the Sell pile.

This season I wonder if the things we do are because they have value and meaning, because they remind us of something or are they simply things we do out of habit or social pressure or obligation. If you don’t have a meaningful reason for doing it, why are you doing it?

If it’s lost it’s value, maybe, just maybe it’s time to let it go.

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