Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Life is Like a Hard Chair

(Myrtle this one’s for you!)

Sometimes life is like a hard chair. I don’t mean a hard chair that looks like a hard chair. I mean one that looks soft and cushy- inviting, cozy and beautiful. One that you want to sit in. One that matches all your d├ęcor and you can just imagine yourself taking home and curling up in to read a good book by the fireplace. One that you dream about owning and stop to look at in the display window when you pass by.

One with the price tag that is so far out of reach that you don’t even bother to go in and try it on for a fit.

How’s that like life? How many of us watch others live the life we think we want for ourselves? Do we see others living seemingly extraordinary existences and somehow seem to belittle our own? We press our faces up against the display window of other’s lives and think “the price tag is too steep, we could never have what others have, but wouldn’t it be fabulous if we did?”

We want the chair badly, dream about the chair, talk about what it would be like to have the chair, hope that friends and family would buy the chair as a gift for us. All we can think about is how perfect that chair in the window would be if we had it. How comfortable, how pretty, how luxurious.

You know the problem with the chair in the window? IT’S HARD.

I’m not talking a little uncomfortable, either….I mean make your butt feel like your sitting on a 2 X 4 hard. I mean prickly splinters in the tushy hard. I mean achy legs and back hard. It is not the cushy comfort that we expect. Some would say perhaps not worth the price tag hard.

The sad thing is not that the chair is hard and uncomfortable, because many of the things in this world that are really worth having are such. The fact that it is not what you expected does not make it not worth having. The sad thing is that you spend so much time lusting after what you think is an easier, more comfortable, cozier existence, only to be disappointed by the reality when you get there. And even worse than that, you miss out on the fact that your “regular, ole average”, your “ordinary” chair with all its lumps and broken springs, is unique and individual and has character. It is comforting and warm and inviting….and maybe most important, accessible to the one’s you love. It is beautiful and timeless and far from ordinary.

When we focus on what other’s have it only leads us to ignore the beauty we have in our own lives. That’s not to say that you should ever stop reaching beyond your comfort zone….for beyond that edge is where real personal growth occurs. Just don’t spend your waking hours desiring a chair you’ve never sat in….at the very least, walk through the door and sit down, try it out…or take the leap and take it home with you….if you decide it is what God really wants for you life, then go get it…

However, in the meantime, grab a good book, light a fire in the fireplace, lovingly and thankfully pat that sturdy chair that you do have on the armrest…and….have a seat!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Stop Pushing

Ever have one of these mornings that just doesn’t go right? For me these are mornings that generally have some risk of domino effect toppling the rest of my day. Most times they are the days that are “booked full,” so getting a bit behind to start with requires a Herculean effort of will and brain power to get back on track.

Today was that kind of day for me. You see, this summer, I made a promise to my marvelous munchkins that I would stay home with them three days a week. Thus, I am fully booked on the two days a week that I do work out of the home. On these days, just a little kink in the works could potentially throw my entire day off.

This morning that kink was two very tired and grumpy children. Rousing them to consciousness was difficult enough, but motivating them to dress and get ready with any sense of alacrity was nigh impossible.

Dragging them along, barking orders at them like a crazed drill sergeant is not the way I want to start my day off and certainly not theirs. So finally, we are all dressed and ready to roll out the door- 25 min late I might add (this is devastating considering that running late for this morning meeting could interfere with my biggest meeting of the day ) and thus the dominoes begin to fall.

I dropped off the kids, and speed off to my first meeting, driving like a maniac. As I am rushing through town, hitting EVERY blessed light on the way (doesn’t that always happen) a realization hit me…. I am already late….continuing to push is only causing the “universe” to push back. Hard. I hear the still, small voice of God: “Stop pushing…” it says.

“Stop pushing.”

I take a big deep breath and let my foot come off the gas pedal a bit, slowing to the speed limit. I feel like the whole weight of the world just lifted from my shoulders. Cleansed, I begin my day again from a new perspective. “Stop pushing. Breathe. And let me take care of things.” Just as I sigh and say, “Okay,” I pass the state trooper set up on the side of the road waiting for would-be speeders.

I throw a smile skyward….wow, glad I listened!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Yellow Sweater

Ugh! Today I feel not so great…I am struggling to fight off whatever yucky is attacking my body and resisting the urge to cancel all the really important stuff I have going on today, I put on my brightest sweater (a neon chartreuse that practically forces the sun to shine in order to compete), invoke the brightest smile I can, and say, “germs be darned! You won’t stop me!”

It is at moments like these that I know God loves me. Not saying life is always easier for me in the tough times, but it certainly was today. I rolled out of bed 30 minutes behind schedule, made my husband’s and son’s lunches which, despite having not thought through that process (it is a complicated one), came together quite easily.

Spurred on by the excitement of “Superhero Day” at school, the kids were up and rolling unusually early this morning. Xanman donned his “Trip Zoom” costume (Trip is a fictional character the the fictional dad writes about in the movie “Dadknapped”). Xander, standing in the doorway to my bedroom in black cargo pants, a silver undershirt, a black mandarin collar blazer (from my closet), and a pack of dental floss, looks at me and says, “Floss, Mom! I’m ready to go!” Elizabeth has assumed the persona of “Speed Girl” whose super power is apparently zooming around. I’m fairly certain that “Speed Girl” is a fictional character that Lizzie has cooked up on her own, but who knows these days, right? Her costume is a recycled Blue Power Ranger suit of her brother’s with an S and a G on the chest (paint pens rock!) and one red and one blue glove (fleeced from an assortment of other power ranger costumes) with silver triangles emblazoned on with the emblem SG (thanks again paint pens!)

So here I sit at Einstein Brothers amazingly WAITING (I’m always 20 minutes late-today I am early) for my business partner to arrive. I still feel shaky and not really in top form, but thank you, God, for a pretty yellow sweater, the two cutest kids ever, power bagels with peanut butter, hot cinnamon spice tea, and an ultra cool friend/business partner to work with. I think I am feeling better already!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Speeding Through Life

What is it in us that drives us to be better than the next person?  To do more, score more, run faster, lift more, do whatever more?  How is it that we get this way?  Is it just a woman thing?  I don't think so, my husband is as bad or worse than I am, but he doesn't dwell on his losses the way I do.  Is it an American thing?  I'm not sure...but it seems to me there would be no race to nuclear armament if the Americans were the only ones running it. So what is it? 

I think maybe it is simply a human thing.  Survival of the fittest coming back to make us all crazy.  And it manifests itself in the oddest of places. 

Have you ever been at the gym, running on a treadmill or some other machine 'o'torture, and up pops "Workout Barbie" complete with the tight little belly button sporting a cute little diamond naval ring and somewhere deep inside this switch gets turned on.  You peek over at her treadmill to read the mph, and either get an insane sense of pleasure that you are trodding along faster than her, or innately bump your speed up to match hers (or exceed it) even if it means ending your workout 10 minutes early because you are too exhausted to continue?

Where does that come from?  What happened to running for the joy of running?  What happened to wondering in the awesome beauty and power of your very own body?  Come on ladies, life, quite literally, blossoms from our loins!  When did we stop seeing the miracle in what our very own bodies can do?

It seems these days women (well, all of us) are in a constant state of striving. Which is not all bad, striving to improve yourself, your health, your well being, your life situation...all good things.  But somewhere along the way it gets all confused and suddenly we are striving to compete with the person next to us or the lady down the street. And where is the joy in that? 

I recently took up running and started training for my first half marathon.  I am proud to say after running my first half marathon, that I am truly a mid-packer. But throughout my training, I had to constantly battle the internal voice that told me I was too slow.    "You're not running fast enough," it would say, "You are gonna get picked up by the sweeper."  The truth is I was never, even though I stopped to take an entire roll of film on the race course, in danger of being picked up by the sweeper.  I could walk and not be picked up by the sweeper and yet, in my head I had that constant dialogue.  It was truly a battle to keep it from getting the best of me, from defeating me before I ever started. 

As I got further into the sport of running, I was introduced to "The Penguin," John Bingham.  The man has been an inspiration to the mid and back of the pack running community for years.  His favorite saying is,"Why run a marathon in 5 hours, when you can run it in six."  He actually spoke at the Pre-race pasta dinner I attended before my first race.  It was not until that moment that I realized what I had been doing to myself.  Instead of taking pride in my accomplishment to that point, and being in awe at the wonderful machine I had at my disposal, I was obsessing over the rate at which said machine would run a completely inconsequential race.  It was what Dr Phil would call my lightbulb moment.  The moment at which running for me became much more about the joy of movement and much less about the competition of it. 

At about mile 11, I had what The Penguin calls my "I'm actually gonna finish this!" moment. I suddenly realized at that point two things:  1) I was actually going to finish this, and 2) I was actually enjoying the run!  It didn't matter what my pace was or what my place was, I just let go and smiled all the way to the finish line. 

Now I am training for my second half marathon and I think I have developed a life long habit of getting up before the crack of dawn and carving out my very own "me" time.  I cherish those early morning runs and the opportunity to watch the sunrise on a new day. The time to take a little time out of my speedy life, to slow to a jog and witness the miracle of my environment.  I try to do most of my runs outside ,though, away from the gym, because for all of my newfound transcendental wisdom, if “Workout Barbie” steps onto the treadmill next to mine I can't help but peek over at her machine, and once I do, the joy of running goes right out the window, and the race is on....