Saturday, March 27, 2010

You Reap What you Sow

I did it again! I ran the 10k!

Last year was my first time (See “You Go Girl!”), and it was hard, but I knew I’d run this year, too.

Was it fun? Hmmm…

I had a slight case of nerves when I started.
My legs felt heavy for a few minutes.
I had to weave in and out of slower people because of my wish to improve my time over last year’s time.
I had to tell myself not to stop - several times; especially when running on an incline. (The inclines were so, so little, but still, it felt like little mountains.)
And, I had to get rid of negative thoughts – wondering why my lungs didn’t work as well as the person who zoomed past me.

But, before all of that, it was ten weeks of training. I met the team most of the ten Saturday mornings, and followed the training schedule during the week days.

I was prepared, and I did well.

Last year, my time was 1 hour and 25 minutes, and I was very happy to finish the race, but this year was my challenge to improve. My time was 1 hour and 4 minutes. What I’d put into it, determined what I got out of it.

So again, was it fun? Yes, it was…although I would say, “highly satisfying” describes it better.

Now if I can only apply the principle of positive “sowing and reaping” to some other old and dusty goals.

Do you believe hard work results in achieving your goals?
Are there situations that never get “fixed” regardless of how hard you work at it?
(Any areas of life: health, finances, hobbies, household chores, education, careers, businesses, phobias, time spent with family, sports, habits…)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Teacher versus Parent

Are you a teacher? A parent? Both?

As a parent of school-aged children, I’ve had many discussions with other parents about little Johnny’s or little Suzy’s performance in school, and also about the teacher’s performance. I’ve heard expressions of complete satisfaction or complete dissatisfaction. Fortunately, I haven’t had any major issues with any of my kids’ teachers, but I have been in conversations with other moms and dads who tell me how awful a particular teacher is, what they think about a teacher, or what they’ve had to say to a teacher.

She gives too much homework.
Why did Suzy get a D?
Why didn’t Johnny get an A?
We told you we were going to Disneyland and that

Johnny would miss a few classes!
She’s not into hugging the kids.
Suzy is not challenged enough.
That’s too many books to bring home.
Why did he even become a teacher?

And this is the mild stuff.

Parents – are we brutal? Do we expect these mere human beings to perform miracles with our kids?

Teachers – are the media correct when it says you are failing our children?

Years ago, I received a letter from a friend who was a teacher. It was full of grammatical errors, I thought, “Hmmm… she’s teaching someone’s child.

On the other hand, I know many teachers who are well prepared and dedicated to bringing out the best in a child. And, a large number of parents are very supportive of their schools and appreciative of hard working teachers.

Thankfully, we can not generalize about every teacher, every parent, and every child.

Does the teacher versus parent dilemma have an ending? Probably not.

Parents: Can you share any “teacher” stories…good or bad?
Teachers: Can you share any “parent” stories…good or bad?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Book Club

These is My Words, by Nancy E. Turner, was a hit with the club; so much that we chose the sequel, Sarah’s Quilt, as our next selection.

Are you in a book club? Not a “book of the month” club that requires you to purchase books. I mean a real book club, the kind where you get together with friends or other book lovers to discuss a book you’ve all read.

I’ve been in a book club almost four years. By the time I’d joined the group of neighbors/friends that started the club in 1997, they had already read sixty-eight books. Since I joined in 2006, thirty-one more have been read.

The setup is easy. Our group has twelve members, which is not too many to share one conversation, and enough to have a good number present when some can’t come. At most of our meetings, we have eight or nine.

We (except one of us) live in the same subdivision which makes it easy to attend. No excuse for “not feeling like the drive.” It takes no more than three minutes to get to anyone’s house.

Our meetings are scheduled every six weeks, on Monday, at 7:30 p.m. Everyone participates in hosting at their home, which means there’s about seventeen months (or a little less) before that member will host again.

Between 7:30 and 8:15, we socialize; standing around the kitchen table eating light hors d’oeuvres and drinking beverages while everyone’s still arriving.

Then we move to the family room, or wherever the comfy chairs are, and begin. The host, who chose the book at the previous meeting, will tell a little about the author and then we all jump in to discuss the book…freely. Sometimes the host has a reader’s guide of questions from the back of the book or an Internet site, but mostly, we wing it. While we are a serious book club, we are not as structured as some clubs. No reports, presentations, homework, etc., and we don’t spank if a member has not read the book.

Sometimes we have lots to say; other times, we finish early - a sign that the book is on the B list or below - and we go back to socializing.

About 9ish, we have dessert and coffee while the person on the list to host the next meeting shows us potential books to choose from. Or, occasionally, she will make the decision without the others input.

Most of the time, I’m back home at 9:30.

This is our version of a book club. There are many other types, I’m sure. Libraries typically have book clubs, and then there’s always Oprah.

Are you in a book club? Ever thought about it?
If so, what’s your club like and what do the members get from it – fun? intellectual stimulation?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Can't Sleep?

I’d been in bed since ten o’clock. It’s now eleven thirty-nine. For some reason, I can’t sleep.

My days typically start at 6 a.m., or 7 a.m. on the weekend. With three kids, a husband, and a dog, I’m busy taking care of their needs, plus my own, which results in nonstop movement until I go to bed at night. While I have the option to take a nap, I don’t. I prefer to go full speed all day with an immediate crash as soon as I finish reading a chapter or two of a good book while lying in bed, preferably by 10.

It’s Saturday. Today began with group training for an upcoming 10k. We started at 8 a.m. and ran over seven miles. Afterwards, I did an errand, came home, cooked breakfast, ate, showered and shampooed, folded laundry, ate leftovers for lunch, helped squeamish first child use the neti pot, talked to my kids and second child’s friend who slept over, put more air in the tires of two bikes for second child and friend, helped third child wrap a birthday present, took third child to the corresponding birthday party, searched high and low for old dance recital pictures for first child’s Spanish assignment, decluttered by trashing more of the useless paper in my office - piece by piece, wolfed down a quick mini-meal, picked up third child from the birthday party, trashed more paper, put on PJs, got in bed, read my book, turned off light…this is the part where I was supposed to fall asleep within two minutes.

It didn’t happen.

So I was lying there, tossing and turning, trying to figure out why I couldn’t sleep. Each child came in at five minute intervals and kissed me good-night - a comfort - but not enough to send me to dreamland.

Today, my husband and I realized we are going to have to make a big family decision very soon. I was thinking about it. Is “this” contributing to my sleeplessness?

The long run today and the constant movement, plus yesterday’s very busy day, which included horseback riding – is “this” the reason? Am I over-stimulated?

I also took third child for a horseback riding lesson yesterday (at a separate time from my lesson). I was thinking about that, and if I can keep it up. It’s another activity added to “Mom’s taxi-cab” route. Plus, first child is starting lacrosse on Monday. Gotta get on the phone and get the carpool organized.

All these thoughts going through my head…but you know what? I’m just plain ol’ hungry; like a baby who hasn’t had her last feeding. Soooo…I’m heading downstairs to find something filling, and then I’ll try it again.

What causes you not to be able to sleep?

Page down to the previous post, "Smiley Face Happiness Question" or click here, and give some thought to what your overall personality is like.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Smiley Face Happiness Question

How much of your personality were you born with? How much developed due to the circumstances of your life?

Almost four years ago, I watched John Stossel, a TV journalist, conduct a survey with random people where he asked them to look at a series of Smiley faces, and choose the one that most represented their general feelings about their lives. Actually, there was only one that was a big, full smile. The others, I think, were a half smile, no smile, a little frown, and a large frown.

I looked at all the pictures, and "my" first choice was the half smile, number two. Then I said, “No, surely it’s the BIG smile.” But I couldn’t be certain, and ultimately, chose the half smile to represent my life.

Later – probably on Good Morning AmericaStossel told Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer that he was more of the half smile. Diane, reluctantly, chose the half smile, too. Then, Charlie Gibson smiled and answered with an immediate, no-hesitation, “I’m the first one; the full Smiley Face.”

I was SO envious.

Why couldn’t I say that my general disposition was peaceful, positive, happy, and optimistic? I had no answer. There was no reason “not” to feel that way.

Sooo…I made a decision that day. “I’m going to be happy!” I went to my calendar with my yellow marker and drew a big U-shaped mouth and two big dots for the eyes; my version of a Smiley face. It was May 22, 2006.

It has taken effort to earn my "full" Smiley face. I still have days when I wake up and feel anxiety as I think about the long list of things to do. But, before my feet hit the floor, I force a smile on my face. I go to the bathroom, look in the mirror, and force that smile again. That gives me my first laugh of the day as I look at my puffy eyes and contorted face.

I’m not exempt from the hardships of life, and neither is Charlie Gibson, or the very large amount of others that chose the full Smiley face in the survey, but still, I plan to hold on to my full Smiley face status. How about you?

How much control do you have over your feelings?
Care to share which Smiley face (or lack of) you are? :)

The Stossel, Sawyer, and Gibson story and quotes are from my memory. Hopefully, I have summarized it acceptably.