Friday, October 20, 2017

Finish: A Quick Book Review

I am not even finished reading this book - ha ha - but wanted to share how much I am enjoying it. I rarely read non-fiction, because reading to me is my greatest escape, but I enjoy the writing of Jon Acuff. Since I have a couple goals that I can't seem to complete, the book seemed like a good place to start for some inspiration.

Have you ever heard, "Perfectionism is the enemy of good enough"? I use that all the time. Does the color of the font on the slide really matter if it's due tomorrow and it's 6pm? Does home baked or store bought matter if the band concert is in 2 hours and A's through M's have to bring cookies? (side note: the kids really like those neon frosted sugar cookies from the grocery store better anyway :-))

This concept is the crux of one of the chapters on getting to finish:

"The only way to accomplish a new goal is to feed it your most valuable resource: time. And what we never like to admit is that you don't just give time to something, you take it from something else. To be good at one thing you have to be bad at something else. Perfectionism's third lie is 'You can't do it all.' I'm here to tell you that you can't."

"You only have two options right now. 1. Attempt more than is humanly possible and fail. (editor's note: done it) 2. Choose what to bomb and succeed at a goal that matters."

I feel like I practice this, kind of.  But I need to be more deliberative. Sometimes things get bombed regularly because I let it fall off of my plate (gym, vegetables....).

Thinking about this concept has made me appreciate even more three awesome groups of fabulous ladies in my life. With them I can "bomb" and it's totally okay. I belong to a book club, a bible study, and a writing group. They all meet only once a month, sometimes less. And what's awesome about all three of these very different groups is that you are welcome even if you didn't read the book, do the next chapter of the study, or write a single new page. It's an accomplishment just to meet regularly, the rest is gravy. I am so thankful!  

Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done is available on Amazon and as an audio book.

p.s. - this is not a paid review :-)

Thursday, October 5, 2017

What to say, what to do...

Oh man. The details coming out to Las Vegas are heart breaking. Seeing some of the initial posts saying "sending thoughts and prayers" reminded me that I often respond that way also. Is it too pat a response, too trite?  I mean it completely sincerely, because anyone I know (or know of) in distress for any reason is truly in my thoughts and prayers. It's shorthand for what I really want to say and don't necessarily want to blast out on social media: "I am so sorry for your loss, for your pain; I wish I could make it go away, that I could return things to how they should be; I'm frustrated that I can't."

I was turning these thoughts over in my head, thinking about how to write about this, and the very next day came across this article in the Washington Post, "Why Thoughts and Prayers Is Starting to Sound So Profane." What?  In a mere 24 hours "thoughts and prayers" is now pejorative, a meme, something to be mocked?

Check out "The Battle of Guns Vs Thoughts and Prayers"; "Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough"; "How Thoughts and Prayers Became the Stock Phrase of Tragedies"; and "In Times of Crisis What Do We Really Mean By Thoughts and Prayers?" which says: "The phrase "thoughts and prayers" has received a lot of well-deserved mocking lately."

Is it deserved? Sometimes when people use the phrase, it's what they actually mean to say. Ugh.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Cool Kids Club

I read an awesome article in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week about the American Legion in Hollywood, CA. It's a great story of "modern vets" helping reshape a long standing veteran association to fit them, and by doing so, adding members to an organization that was slowly dying.  This years new members number over 200, last year only 19 new members were inducted.

"The young guns who have seized control of American Legion Post 43 are trying to fuse them together in the minds of a new generation of combat veterans, rebranding their venerable Egyptian Revival building, with its underground Art Deco bar, as “the coolest private club in Hollywood.”
“We have the cheapest drinks, the nicest people, the best-looking bar,” says Post Commander Fernando Rivero, a 42-year-old TV producer who engineered a bloodless coup that overthrew Post 43’s old guard.
The new post commander said something that really stuck out to me. When attending a California Legion convention, he noticed the program mostly featured ads for hospices and cemeteries. "You realize your advertisers are branding you?"  

This is my problem with MOAA's magazine, Military Officer.  It's full of really great articles on their advocacy efforts that support both vets and active duty, but what sticks out are all the ads for retirement communities. Gah! I am instantly turned off.  

I am hugely excited by the efforts at the Hollywood American Legion and awesome programs like Battle Tested Veterans (Sharing Stories, Not Stereo Types) that I have written about before. There are lots of amazing vets out there doing great things for our world, and I am hopeful that the traditional veterans organizations are ready to evolve with them.  

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Decisions, decisions

An amazing young woman wrote a post to the Air Force women officer's forum I am a member of on Facebook.  She's at a dream location, and because she is single, it's a 1 year assignment (bear with me my civilian readers...).  She wants to extend a year, partly because of the awesome location, but partly because she sees there are ways she can contribute and make things better. She has appealed to trusted mentors, who all agreed the timing for future moves would get thrown off by this 1 year extension. I disagree, 1000% (it's ONE YEAR in a lifetime of being an adult!), and commented so, and was pleasantly surprised to see several other commenters agreeing to "go with her heart."

These kinds of dilemmas happen in real life ALL, THE. DANG. TIME., don't they? So annoying!

Don't do XXX with your kids, it could ruin/spoil/delay them, or conversely, "You mean you haven't done XXX for your kids?" Don't live there, move there, buy that, eat that, wear that...instead it's better if you do XXXXXxxxxx....gah!

When your family, friends, trusted advisors, or just strangers online think you should do one thing, while your heart says to do the opposite, it's hard. They are all (hopefully) looking out for your best interests, but no one can possibly know how it, whatever it is, will turn out. There are a zillion unknown variables that will come in to play.

Please don't take this as permission to do something truly crazy or dangerous, but rather an appeal to go with your heart, run with it, and you might be surprised how things turn out. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Thought Bubbles

I confess I spend far too much time on pop culture. I have no idea why I find the latest movies and TV shows, the red carpet looks, and nearly any award show endlessly fascinating. I can't tell you my kid's phone numbers without looking them up, but I can tell you all you need to know (and more) about Taylor Swift, her recent video, and all it's Easter eggs and disses of all who have crossed her. There is no article unread or video companion piece unwatched.  So when one of my all time favorite pod casts, Pop Culture Happy Hour, posted an episode on the VMAs and Taylor Swift, of course I was all in.

The panelists were divided on what they thought, but one of them (a female) commented that "She has banging songs, but I don't like her because I don't like her feminism." There is something about that statement that bothers me.  Here's why:

- When I am trying to figure out how I feel about something, or where to set my moral compass, pop culture is not where I turn. Isn't that an enormous amount of pressure for a music star to also have well thought out opinions about the world? No one, of any age, can have it all figured out perfectly, let alone someone whose every comment and out loud thought is recorded and reposted.

- To me, it's very dangerous to only listen, talk to or follow individuals that share your exact thoughts and opinions.  You will start to believe that what you believe is what everyone believes, because everyone around you is saying the same thing as you.

This is something that I struggle with also - listening and having conversations with those outside of my lane, that don't agree with me 100%.  One of my favorite writers, Jen Hatmaker, says this in her new book, Of Mess and Moxie:

"Why is this so hard? Staying reasonable and measured and respectful in the midst of charged conversations is a lost art. The way of our generation is outrage, offense, and polarization - our new common language. The Internet has made us casually offensive (because the repurcussions are mitigated) and quicker to speak.  But dialogue is an activity of curiosity, cooperation, fear and conflict.  This is love, and it is increasingly rare."

As these thoughts were assembling themselves into something coherent, I read an interview with Salman Rushdie (he has a new book out) in the Wall Street Journal:  "I have to get out of the bubble...I have this urge to get on the road and try and have a look at these other Americas that are out know, not composed entirely of people who agree with me."

There is some great writing along these lines.  Check out these pieces from Dilbert creator Scott Adams and Mike Rowe.  And you really should read Of Mess and Moxie.  It has made me think, made me laugh out loud, and also includes recipes.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

New Year, New Leaf

As I said in June, 4th quarter for my son was tough. Many important lessons were learned, but it left a few battle scars. We had dinner with some dear, dear friends last night and our children were a big topic of conversation.  How do you balance wanting them to learn the important lessons, to experience consequences for their actions, with our desire to help them succeed and set them up for success as adults? If we spend too much helping them succeed, will they be lost when we send them off into the big bad world by themselves?

Our kids are all high schoolers, so the time between now and launching them into adulthood is getting shorter and shorter. There are no easy answers or universal solutions, other than the awesomeness of good friends to talk to, and thankfully, other trusted adults in their lives that are on our team.

For my son, for the next school year, I sat down and wrote an agreement with him. We both wanted to start with clear expectations and a clear plan.  I thought I would share it in case it might help.

2017-2018 School Year Contract
AKA, “The New Leaf”

1.     Always remember that Mom and Dad love you 1000% and our goal always is to support you and help you succeed. Don’t keep us guessing--tell us when you need help! It is never a problem to call/text for a ride because you need to see a teacher after school.
2.     Success is defined as 100% effort. This means: all work complete, all work turned in on time, any opportunity for improvement taken (retakes, extra credit, etc)
3.     Honesty is the expectation. No one is perfect and we are here to help you. This means telling us when something forgotten could be brought to school, telling us when you need more time, telling us when you are having a hard time with any teacher, student, or anyone at all.

1.     Daily homework plan. Set times, then adjust. Get work done first, then chill.
2.     Text Mom and Dad as soon as any long term project is assigned.
3.     Sunday night review CIS, BB, Classroom, etc, and discuss weekly schedule (trumpet, tutoring, practices, getting gym time, rides, logistics, etc). Put any assignment milestones and test dates on the family calendar.
4.     Develop a file system on your computer to capture all homework – pictures/scans of complete work, JLAB codes, anything you turn in!
5.     Make a daily effort to establish a good relationship with your teachers and your fellow students.
6.     Focus on extracurriculars is AFTER school work.

1.     A good first quarter is required in order to participate in the winter production.
2.     A good second quarter is required in order to participate in the spring production.
3.     A good third quarter is required in order to get your driver’s permit.
4.     A good fourth quarter is required in order to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail.
5.     No yelling, tears, or avoidance. All the cards on the table, all the time.

Note from picture: if you'd like to visit the museum and are a veteran, active duty or a first responder, you and one guest can visit without having a timed entry pass. See more info here.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

New Challenges

My Aunt is my hero for many reasons, one of which is her love of being active. She is 20 years older than I am and committed to keeping on the move. One way she does it is to enter a local triathlon in Denver, the Tri for the Cure. She's done it a couple times, and asked if my daughter and I would like to sign up with her this year. My daughter of course jumped at the chance, and I guess I did too, but for different reasons. 

I've been thinking about this a lot, and really the reason my non-running, never-been-on-a-swim-team self said yes is: I am not ready to give up taking on a challenge as a chance to grow. There is a big part of me that really just wants to lay down and sleep, a lot. Surely I have learned all I need to know to get by in life by now.  But there is also a big part of me saying, "Get off your ass, girl, and show 'em what you got."

I know I will never be someone who lives on 100% clean food and kelp smoothies, or someone who works out for hours every day. Triathletes of the world need not worry that I will threaten their PB times. Despite my best efforts, you will never look at me and think, "athlete." But I knew what I lacked in speed I could make up in endurance and the capability to buy cool new gear :-) 

My prep was no where near as aggressive as it probably needed to be, but the looming date did motivate me to do "something" whenever I could. It motivated me to take an open water swim clinic with people who looked like former Olympians and other things well outside my comfort zone.

The coolest part of the Tri for the Cure is that it is a 100% women event.  Every participant along the race course yelled "Get it Girl" or something similar as I huffed and puffed my way past. It was incredibly well organized and as soon as the race started I was comfortable that I was swimming/riding/running where I was supposed to.  

Am I going to do it again? I think so. I met my primary goal - I finished before the race organizers packed up and went home - but there is plenty of room for improvement.      

(Smiling because we had all finished, but also because we were going home to take showers, naps, and treat ourselves to Dairy Queen after dinner :-))