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Catch More Than We Drop

11 May

I’m tired of the negative taking away from the positive. It seems no matter how many wonderful moments that happen on any given day, the one or two awful ones are the ones that get all the energy and determine whether it’s labeled a good or bad day. From now on, I will try to remember:

We catch more baseballs than we drop or miss.
This is something I tell Nate all the time when he gets discouraged for not making a catch or has a bad play (usually after a series of good plays). We were throwing the baseball one day and his attitude changed when a few popped out of his glove after he thought he made the catch. “I keep missing them,” he slumped. After that, I started counting his catches. “How about that one, buddy? Didn’t miss that one,” I reinforced. I got up to 24 before he missed or dropped one. Why should that one cancel out all the others? No way. Unacceptable.

Running at a slower pace than yesterday is still running.
Man, do I get down when I don’t cover as much distance as I did in a previous 30-minute run. Ridiculous. I’m out there, right? I’m not giving up. I’m running and doing something I never thought I’d do. Pushing myself and succeeding just by doing. The comparing comes from my competitive side. It is a strong spirit to reason with but I try. I feel being competitive with myself is a good thing. It keeps me trying to improve and limits my inclination to settle. When I feel the negativity creeping in, I focus on turning it to a positive (better time), instead of just realizing that just doing it is a positive. That deserves praise too.

Millions of correctly typed keys are greater than a few wrong ones.
I go along each day and do my job the right way. I fulfill requests and meet needs, often giving more than the person asked for. I get a ton of thank you emails and messages of praise. But then, I make a mistake. That’s it. All the days of performing as I should are wiped clean. Now, I beat myself up and essentially start over in the “days without a mistake” tally. Why? If your job is not life or death, like so many are not, this should not be mood-changer. I need to remember all the things I carried out without a typo or missed step. I’m not saying I shouldn’t care about the mistake, I just shouldn’t let it dictate how I feel about my contributions.

There are so many more moments that make us label a good day a bad one. Flat tire. Frustration with another person/work. Burned grilled cheese. Whatever. One moment in the day of many determines how we score the points. When I was staying at home with the kids, I used to speak in percentages when Andrew would ask me how the day was. It helped me keep things in perspective. “80 percent was great. 18 percent was a struggle. Two percent was wine time so that doesn’t count.” Whatever gets us through, trying to remember that we catch more than we drop.

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Caution: Bridge May Ice in Winter

21 Apr

So many life lessons exist for the kids within the miles and hours spent in a cocoon on wheels with other people.

  • We need fuel to run. This can be taught by the amount of gas fill-ups needed or snack food fixes you’ll require. Even though we know they aren’t good for us, we will most often invite things we don’t eat on any other normal day – chips, beef jerky, Combos, giant pickles in bags and Swedish Fish – to be an additional travel companions.
  • Sleep happens.
  • Interstate billboards offer you plenty of knowledge nuggets about religion, sex, eating habits and laws we should follow to make society better and safer.

21 is the legal drinking age.

Litter is bad.

Speed limit is slower than you’re driving.

Seat belts even keep a picture of the state of Georgia safe.

  • Stretching is important.
  • Too much time trapped with the same people causes fits of laughter, whining, tested nerves and lunacy. Such are the emotions many of us go through on a given day.
  • The road trip games we play can offer quite a few lessons. For example, we enjoy the alphabet game. We play ours by finding words on signs, billboards and cars that go in alphabetical order. You can’t say the same word as another person unless it’s for Q, X and Z. (The toughest to find.) First person to find the Z word, wins. This most recent road trip showed me how this game wad teaching the kids:
    • Patience – sometimes you need to wait for 20 minutes and few signs before finding your word.
    • Things don’t always come easy – daddy was driving too fast by signs, some signs were blocked by other vehicles, one person would say a word faster, etc.
    • Make the best of a situation – when you are the only one still looking for a G word, sing a silly song about the letter G and how it is hiding from you. (Nia had a lot of original tunes.)
  • Be ready for the speed bumps. Traffic, accidents, car issues, items accidentally left on the roof, wrong or misread directions, a threatening wasp unexpectedly trapped in the small space with you, a spilled drink, and/or extra pit stops will attempt to throw you off course and shatter your spirit. How you handle these situations is a glimpse at how you’d handle problems at school, work or relationships. Proceed with caution.

Faces Among Us

19 Apr

You walked by children, women and men all gathered for a joyous event. You brushed by bright yellow balloons being held in the hands of a lady waiting to celebrate someone she loved. You almost touched one person as you made your way to the point in your plan.

I saw you standing next to a group of people. You spent time in their presence and likely heard their conversations. Did someone give you a smile? Did you make eye contact with anyone? Maybe even exchange a few friendly words we often share when we’re standing next to strangers momentarily connected because of the time and place? How could you stand among them – be so close – and still want to hurt them?

None of that would’ve been good enough to change what happened though, right? You were determined. You had a mission. The faces around you weren’t going to make you think twice. You were a robot. No. That would actually mean you wouldn’t feel emotion after what you did. But you did feel emotion, didn’t you? Is that when you were happy? Did you feel as though you accomplished something? Proud?

I don’t know why I’m trying to understand something that’s incomprehensible to me. With every heartbreaking act of violence, I try to grasp the why of it even when the why may not change the sadness caused. I look around at people I encounter on any given day and I wonder how many people are having insincere pleasantries with me. They make me think they must be ok because of that reciprocated smile or brief elevator conversation but in reality they may be hiding something dark.

No, our smiles or positive energy may not be enough to stop people from wanting to cause us harm. In some way, it may actually fuel their desire to hurt us. Some of the faces among us are a dangerous mystery but we can’t let them steal away the things that makes us different. Our consideration and compassion for others. Our heart. Spirit.

I will continue to smile at strangers and offer kind (and often awkward on my part) words to them. I have a hope it will do more good than harm.

Laugh Track Humor

24 Feb

funny“Why do they keep laughing at everything she says?”

It’s a valid question, Nate. Especially since 75% of what comes out of her scripted sitcom mouth is not funny. (Or is it?)

“It’s called a laugh track, buddy. Basically, the people who make the tv show have a sound that makes it seem like an audience is laughing. They use it so we know something was meant to be funny.” Even when it’s not.

That got me thinking about the whole chicken versus egg thing and questions started ping-ponging around in my brain.

How much do we learn about humor from the laugh track cues on sitcoms? (Are many of us are trained to laugh at things because of what we absorbed watching tv punchlines that producers led us to believe are hysterical because of an audience reaction?)

Why do you want to teach my children to laugh at the sassy little girl on your program? Do you know how hard I’m working to teach them not to sass? Sure, I know we don’t have to watch your show but I actually do find that sassy little girl comical – probably because of the early laugh track humor invasion established in my brain at an early age. Instead, I’ll just watch the show with them and when her line hits I’ll smirk in my head and then reinforce to the kids, “We shouldn’t talk to people that way.” I’m so conflicted and hypocritical over here.

How much of our humor comes naturally? Some are just born with a fabulous sense of humor? Maybe we learn it from the adults we had around us as we grew up? Funny friends? But where did they learn that someone tripping over a chair and into a pile of garbage is funny? Banana peel on a head and then a quirky line to cut to commercial? Bwa-ha-ha! (I only laugh at these scenes on special days.) What makes me laugh so hard at the zany things Amy Duncan does on Good Luck Charlie? I laugh at her daily and only feel a little ashamed about it. And why the heck do I think the drunk driving scene in 40-Year-Old Virgin is funny? It’s so wrong. So wrong. But it makes my laugh go silent and tears fill in my eyes because it strikes me as hilarious. Surely I can’t connect that demented sense of humor to laugh tracks?

Are emoticons the electronic equivalent to a televised laugh track, helping readers know when they are supposed to smile? How will we know when to chuckle or that someone is just kidding unless they give us a 🙂 or a ;)?

Of course, I am ridiculous and these are all just the inner-workings of my mind as I was doing the dishes one night. It does make me laugh when I think about it all though. Which makes me wonder …

Waste Not …

25 Aug

I must start by stating – I don’t consider myself a recycling do-gooder. I am lacking on many levels when it comes to reducing and reusing. However, I do try. We recycle the products accepted by our city each week and I’m aware and care about the amount of waste that we create and that exists all around us. Sometimes, I even feel dirty living in a “new” house when there were so many already in existence that needed loving occupants. That is a different blog post entirely though. Now that it’s off my chest – back to what this is all about – school lunches. (Yes, I just went all the way around all that stuff to get to school lunches. You just took a trip on my brain waves – weird, wild stuff and thanks for sticking around if you’re still reading.)

Yes, school lunches.

For the most part, the kids bring a packed lunch from home. (The one day they don’t is pizza day – apparently still a must buy – even if they don’t have those coveted peanut butter squares that we had as kids.) Every lunch, I would load their boxes with three throw-away plastic snack bags carrying their cheese crackers, carrots and grapes. I have plastic containers for their sandwiches but the rest felt so wasteful and pricey. Then, I spotted these at our grocery store:

Fit & Fresh Kid’s Healthy Lunch Set

They are called Fit & Fresh and I’m pretty happy with them. The kids think they are really cool too. (And so do their friends, so they tell me.) I like them because I don’t feel so wasteful and also because they come with little cool packs inside the lids. I bought the ones for dipping too so I can pack some ranch with the kids’ veggies.

I would say the only thing I don’t love about them is that they aren’t “Made in U.S.A.” Yes, I’m slowly becoming more aware of that as well. I know and understand all the reasons for it saying something else on the plastic – and it is a rarity to find labels with such print on them – but it just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy (supportive?) when it does. I did notice the little Rubbermaid containers I bought for their cheese crackers don those letters so I guess that balances out their lunch box some. I will likely buy more of those Rubbermaids though – did you see the sandwich and entrée kit?!

Reusing in the U.S.A. I’m a fan.

Matter Over Mind

9 Aug

That whole “I’m my own worst enemy” thing is such an a-hole. I find myself encountering it in my head before many of my runs.

You don’t have to run up “the hill” tonight. Just run to the bottom of it.

  • This is what my mind starts to tell myself at about 5 minutes into a run when I don’t feel like being out there. “Don’t run up the hill, just turn around and run the flatter parts again.” Although the thought sounds wonderful, I fight against it. I focus on the positive things – the longer blades of grass that often tickle my ankles as I run by them, the pretty sky I’m enjoying, my rockin’ tunes, my time for me. Before I notice it, I run the hill.

Maybe you aren’t a runner.

  • This is usually said to me after I talk about how I often whine about running. Some days, it is just so difficult to get out the door and start my run for whatever reason. I’m tired. Hungry. It’s raining hard. My leg hurts. I don’t want to run intervals. I try to talk myself out of it. I tell myself that I can just do it another day. I know I likely won’t want to do it then either though. When I finally get on my way, I think about the notion that maybe I am not a runner. It’s actually really motivating and helps keep me running.

Maybe you should try something else.

  • This is said to me after I vent about not losing any weight. They suggest that I need to do more than run four times a week. Maybe my body just isn’t responding to the running like it would something else. The funny thing  is though – I do actually enjoy my running. I do feel stronger and leaner. Something is working. I may need to add in a few old fashioned Phys. Ed. calisthenics to help build my core better but I don’t want to give up on running. (Even when I feel like I want to give up on running. It’s a twisted emotion.)

If you don’t feel like running, don’t run.

  • Said to me to ease my pout and support me in my anti-run feelings that intensify right before I’m about to head outside. The most recent one innocently came from Nia. She wasn’t trying to be unsupportive or discouraging, she was trying to help me feel better. It’s just, that is the time I need to be stronger than the temptation to not go. Andrew gets my evil eye as he tells me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear. “Just go. You’ll be fine once you’re out there. It’s only x-amount of minutes. You got it.”

No matter what I’m feeling or hearing before my runs, he’s right. I am fine once I’m out there. In fact, I feel good. Not only because I ran and the sense of health and accomplishment, but also because I overcame my mind. Told it to shut it, I’m doing this. Matter over mind really makes me feel like I’ve defeated that enemy.

“I’m glad I don’t have a little brother.”

14 Jul

I never thought of myself as a “kid person.” I didn’t grow up dreaming of having babies and never really had plans about parenthood. I just existed. I wasn’t aware that at the time I was saying I wasn’t going to have kids yet (or soon), there was already a Bean on the way.

I guess then, I’m somewhat guilty for feeling the way Nia’s little friend did when she stayed with us. “I’m glad I don’t have a little brother,” she innocently said, not really understanding the hurt or feelings it cause. He had just been trying to hang out with them, which came across as pestering to them. Not being used to having a sibling around, that was understandably too much for the friend to handle.

I’m sure there are times when that thought may cross Nia’s mind too. What would life be like for her if she didn’t have Nate? I’ve even thought about it. What if we only had one? And, on the flip side, what if we had more children than Nia and Nate?

Here’s what I know:

  • I am so very thankful and complete to have both of our surprise blessings and adventure-makers in my life. Thinking of one without the other just doesn’t make sense and the thought only lasts for a second because it doesn’t matter. We have a big sister and a little brother and that’s all there is to it – and it’s pretty great.
  • Nia is glad to have a little brother – and he’s so lucky to have her. She just comforted him after he found out his cool red lace baseball cleats and special Dodgers t-ball shirt he forgot at summer camp are missing. When she saw his heartache, she sat next to him on the couch and rubbed his back as he softly cried. Later, as I was tucking her in, she said, “I feel really bad for Nate.”
  • Our little brother has informed he wants to be a big brother too. Asked as if we were not meeting production schedules or something, “When are you going to have another baby? I want a little brother.”

We told him that was very sweet of him but we have no plans to have another baby. Besides, we noted, the baby may be a little sister and who’s going to share a room with the baby?

“I will,” confirmed Nate. “If it’s a baby brother.”

I sure am glad we have our little brother.

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