Tag Archives: determination

Have a Seat at My Table

First a little background information: I used to work in childcare. Specifically, I was the lead teacher in an after-school classroom; my kids ranged from kindergarten to 12 years old, so while they were generally past the “how to function at a survival level” stage (how to eat, use the restroom etc), they were firmly in the middle of the “how to be human” stage. You remember what elementary school was like: half dumping in facts and data, the other half figuring out how to interact without too much bloodshed.

As a result, most of the disciplinary incidents could be resolved with a brief rules reminder or a bit of clarification–“walking feet, please”, or “we keep the cars on the carpet so people walking past don’t trip. Please take that one back onto the rug”. But every once in a while someone would have a super-rough day and need a break; you could call it “time out” if you want, but really the goal was something less punitive and more just removing the kiddo from the situation until they could cool off. The table nearest my supplies cupboard worked best for that–it was farthest from everything else in the room–so when someone was Hulking out, they were instructed to go “have a seat at my table” until I could clean up the calamity, stop any bleeding, console anyone left weeping, and come see what had set off the shenanigans.

Now here’s why I told you all that: yesterday some truly awful things happened in Paris. You’ve probably heard about them, and folks around the world are responding admirably and beautifully. But as with any truly awful thing, there are also some staggeringly insensitive responses coming from people who should absolutely know better (can you pick your own words to form a sentence? Then you can pick better ones and make better sentences. Try again, jerkfaces).

And initially, this post was going to be a full Buffalo Tantrum about that. I was going to scream and holler about people making racist statements, refusing to fact-check, lumping together groups of people who are literally on exact opposite sides of the problem, and so forth; and my rallying cry was going to be “All of you may have a seat at my table”.

But then I stopped and listened to those words: all of you may have a seat at my table.

And it occurred to me that I was about >this< close to committing the same sins I was railing against–lumping people together, refusing to hear where other people were coming from, declaring that any viewpoint other than my own was automatically wrong–when the truth of the matter is that I actually don’t understand what’s causing folks to say some of these things. At a guess there’s no small amount of fear at the bottom of it; but I don’t know backstories, don’t know histories, don’t know whether they (for example) lost someone on 9/11 and are now deeply scarred and reactionary about these sorts of things.

But perhaps if we have a seat at my table and talk about it, we can sort some of it out. We can brainstorm different solutions. We can look for similarities among the differences. We can pass the cookies and juice, and figure out why we’re using such angry words and whether there’s a better way to express the things we truly need.

Look, I’m not saying all responses are appropriate to share right out there in front of god and everybody. I’m not saying there aren’t people floating around who are just plain racist, just plain hateful, just plain malicious, just plain trolls. But I am saying it’s unfair of me to assume that everyone who has expressed an opinion that made me grate my teeth is automatically a bad person.

So maybe I should invite them to have a seat at my table. Maybe I should be willing to dialogue with people instead of dismissing them out-of-hand because of something they said during a frightened moment. Maybe I can insist on a model where my table is for cooling off and talking, not for sending people to sit in time-out until I’m tired of being mad at them.

And for the folks who have a seat at my table, and we talk, and I find out that they’re the sort of vitriolic hate-mongering fear-mongering jerks who will never be part of the solution?

Well, I guess they can go back to playing with the other kids, and I can keep on watching ’em like a hawk and praying that their grownups will come pick them up soon.

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There, General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely, Share the Toys

Not My Croissants

Ok, I have to confess something here, and I’ll totally, totally understand if you come after me with pitchforks for it: I’ve been holding out on you guys. I have been selfish and un-sharing, and I’ll turn in my Commie ring if I need to. I get it. Mea culpa.

See, there’s this blogger whom I ran across a while back. And by “ran across” I mean “with whom I survived Introduction to Practical Self-Loathing and Applied Fat-Shaming 101, aka high school gym class”, and by “a while back” I mean “approximately 1994”. We’ve drifted through each other’s orbits every so often since then, and since I’d recently decided that what I needed to do was take up bellydance (this is also a thing that drifts through my orbit every so often, so don’t start marking your calendars for my grand dance debut anytime soon or anything like that) and I was given to understand that she had also done bellydance and perhaps would have some Helpful Resources for People Looking to Shimmy Their Jiggly Bits, I did a bit o’ googlin’. And found her bellydance videos (she’s got two of ’em! SCORE), but also found her vlogs.

Which I have been watching for like the last three days straight.

And not telling you about, until now.

/hangs head in shame, sends self to corner forever

But here’s the thing, y’all: I found this video of hers today, and … well, look, just watch it, ok?

/blinkblink

/notices hand is numb, looks at it, realizes it’s been raised to Jeebux for the last 5 minutes

/notices tongue is dry, realizes jaw has been hanging open for the last 3 minutes

For those of you who couldn’t watch it right now for whatever reason, here’s the jist: Krista was eating her breakfast and noticed her husband’s savings-club-sized box of croissants on the table. Without really paying much attention, she opened it and started eating from it…then realized that these were her husband’s  croissants. They weren’t her croissants–she didn’t pick them out–and she didn’t even particularly want one. But they were there, so she was absentmindedly eating them, because that’s what you do when there’s a Tasty Foodstuff(TM) right there in front of you. And it hit her that she was participating unconsciously in someone else’s habit–that she was letting her day’s diet include a choice someone else had made–and that maybe she didn’t need to do that. Maybe she could just, y’know, not eat her husband’s croissants.

/goes fully Shug Avery walkin’ to her Daddy’s church and singin’ “Maybe God Is Trying to Tell You Something”

Here’s the thing, y’all: how many times (lord, lord) have I eaten someone else’s croissants? How many times have I let someone else’s choices become part of my day without it ever occurring to me that I had full control over whether I wanted to be part of them? How many times (glory, hallelujah) have I let old versions of my own self determine what I would do today (you better preach, sister)?!

I get antsy sitting at stoplights, because I used to have a car that in its final days would just, y’know, up and die sometimes. Particularly at stoplights. And since my then-fiance had failed to pay the bills for several months, taken all the money I’d given him for said bills and spent it on god knows what, then run off with a 19-year-old voice major, I couldn’t afford to do anything about it. Eventually the car completely died for real, and we sent it off for scrap and I was on foot until I could (with my parents’ assistance) get another cheap beater lined up. Stoplights made me nervous because if the car died there, there wasn’t a dang thing I could do except push it to the side of the road and pray that it started again. But now my husband has a good job, and I have a good job, and we both got raises within the last 6 months and have roadside assistance and reliable vehicles. If the car dies at a stoplight, we can afford to get help. But somehow I’m still antsy about them because I useta couldn’t afford to fix the car 10 years ago? A decade later and I’m still eating the same old croissant?

My father was a smoker. There were always cigarettes in our house. When I became an adult, I started smoking, because smoking was a thing adults did. To be fair, there’s an element of addiction here…but at the core, 18 years later I am still smoking my father’s cigarettes (fewer now than before–I’m babystepping to being nicotine-free). 18 years of eating the same smoky croissant? Really??

Doctors scare the bejeezus out of me–not because of the sticky-poky-pinchy part, but because of the judgey-shamey-belittling part. I got the Your Problems Would Go Away If You Just Lost the Weight lecture when I was being seen for a broken finger. I got the “you are clearly exaggerating for the sake of drama” response when I was underreporting how spectacularly bad my menstrual cycles could be. I threw my back out once, saw a chiropractor, then got a lecture from a General Practitioner about how chiropractic is straight-up quackery and how if I wasn’t going to make my situation better (read: lose the weight immediately, preferably via bariatric surgery) the least I could do is stop making it worse. So I have tended to avoid doctors, because I don’t need to hear again how I’m a horrible person…but I’m not a horrible person. I’m a mighty fine person, and my body is just my body, and if the doctors I’ve seen historically have had epic fat-hatred issues, that’s pretty much their own damn croissant to eat.

So y’know, it occurs to me that maybe I can do something about this. Maybe I can just, y’know, not eat somebody else’s croissants anymore. Maybe I can sit at the stoplight or go see a doctor or leave the cigarettes at the gas station and say “actually, those are somebody else’s croissants, and it is not my place to eat them”. I can say “I don’t even really feel like eating a croissant right now, thanks”. I can say “I am full and do not need this croissant”.

I can just not eat other people’s croissants.

Holy cow. I can not eat other people’s croissants.

Krista Kubie, you’re a genius and I love you. And to those of you who are just finding out about her for the first time, I am so, so sorry. You can pelt me with croissants later if you need to. And I can choose not to eat a single one.

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There

5×12

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present to you my great and secret shame:

IMG_20150107_123527331

Shown with small enthusiastic ferocious terrier and larger loving but ultimately pretty useless Border Collie mutt for size comparison:

"When do we get our cheeseburgers for being such good models?"

“When do we get our cheeseburgers for being such good models?”

That, gang is a bag of t-shirts. A big bag of t-shirts, which has been sitting in the closet/Moon Man’s office/the basement for…lordy, two years now? Three? Long enough that I no longer have any idea what t-shirts are in there, and had completely forgotten he ever even had the red dino one on the top.

Now hold on to my Great and Secret Shame for a minute; we’re gonna circle back around to it.

Yesterday I was talking with a Very Dear Friend; she’d checked in to see how the Smoking Cessation Plan of 2015 was coming along (for which she gets 10 billion karma points, as she was the first non-Buffalo Moon Ranch resident to do so), and we were chitchatting about how one of the most challenging bits for me is figuring out what to do with myself. It’s not just about the nicotine addiction, y’know; it’s about the habit, the repetitive action, the thing you do to fill gaps in the day. What do you do when you’re a nonsmoker who gets to the restaurant before your friend does? What does a nonsmoker do when she has 10 minutes before her next meeting, since that’s really not enough time to, say, watch an episode of Friends? These are roughly 10-12 5-minute increments through the day, y’all, nearly an hour of time; what do nonsmokers do with that hour?

Very Dear Friend suggested blocking out that hour as “Time Formerly Known As Smoking Time Which You May Not Claim And Which I Shall Use For My Own Nefarious Purposes” (I may have changed the suggested title a bit there), but the problem is that a lot of smoking time was spent in the gaps between other things–having a meeting scheduled at 1:00 meant that I would pop out for 5 minutes around 12:45. Showing up to the movies early so we could get tickets and popcorn meant taking 5 minutes to grab a quick smoke before going inside. Et cetera. And since most of those things aren’t really movable times–they’re not going to agree to push all my meetings up to be back-to-back so I can spend a free hour in the afternoon, and they’re not going to just start the movie 5 minutes early because I’m ready before they are–those gaps still exist, still need filled with some small thing.

Enter the t-shirt bag.

While we were talking, it occurred to me that perhaps what I needed was a “fidget”, a little thing I could do with my hands that would mostly leave my mind free to wander/plan blogs/try to remember whatever it is I’m forgetting at the moment, that would take about 5 minutes or could be done in 5-minute increments. I thought about dusting–I always think about dusting–and added that to the Possible Options list, along with “tidying a small corner of the world”, “lovebombing someone out of the blue”, and “some small sort of exercise”…but then I remembered the t-shirt bag.

That bag, which has been sitting forlorn and forgotten, was originally destined to become a t-shirt quilt. Not that I know how to make a t-shirt quilt or anything ridiculous like that–there are a lot of tutorials online, and a lot of instructions, and goodness knows I have a lot of friends who quilt, but I’ve never personally made one and have only the dimmest idea where/how to start. (And no, that’s not a request for help or advice; one of the things I’m giving myself permission to do in 2015 is Trying Things Without Having to Get Them Right on the First Try. This could end up beautifully, or it may end with a pile of scrap fabric and me in tears. Who knows? We’ll see when we get there. And I’ll get to do some on-the-fly problem-solving, which is never a terrible thing to do.)

So I’ve dragged the bag up from the basement, where I found it after 10 minutes of playing “where was the last place I saw that dang thing?” around the house. I’ve gathered a bin to put the cut-up pieces in, and my fabric-only scissors. There’s a reasonable chance that I’ll set up a folding card table in my office so I can work between calls, and failing that, I’ve already picked a nice spot on the living room floor where it can sit and be an eyesore and probably eventually get peed on by one of the dogs or torn up by one of the cats.

And I reckon I can use my 5-minute increments to make babystep progress with the thing: cutting the shirts apart; trimming the pieces to…the right shapes? squares maybe? still pretty fuzzy on this step; stitching them together in a meaningful way TBD. Heck, for all I know I might be about to embark on an adventure of making the world’s saddest collection of potholders, dust cloths, and trivets. We might end up with 8 patchwork pillowcases that don’t actually fit any of our pillows. There’s a very real chance we’ll end up with a garbage bag of cut-apart t-shirts and half-formed quilt blocks that ends up going back in the basement for another two or three years.

But one thing I do know is that I’ll have a way to fill those 12, 5-minute gaps each day. With something that isn’t a cigarette, and which might just turn out to be productive and lovely.

I’ll take it.

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Filed under General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely

King Nosmo

/flails

/flops onto couch

/looks pathetic

You guys. YOU GUYS. Everything is wrong and nothing makes sense and it’s all TOO HEAVY and it’s all pretty ridiculous when you think about it but right now it is all 100% crisis all the time and how does anyone even live like this?!?

/flings pillow onto floor

/makes tragic face

So it’s 2015 now, yay cheers etc, and 2015 has the potential to be really amazing in some very groovy ways, and blah blah bright and shining future, blah blah loads of promise, blah blah living my best life owe it to myself am incredible and deserve a body that supports my blah blah blah so I’m quitting smoking. Like, right this second I am in the process of quitting. Quitting is a thing I am doing, right now, today, as we speak–not “going to do this year” or “am planning to try” or “have started thinking about how it wouldn’t be a terrible idea”, but am currently, immediately, present-tense-verb quitting.

No, I’m not going cold turkey, because cold turkey is a thing I have tried before and I’ve got too much “shut your doodyheaded mouth, I’m a grownup and can do what I want” for cold turkey anything to work–it lasts about 15 minutes, and then I flip the table and go do whatever it is I’m trying not to do, but rebelliously this time. Instead I’m doing a self-directed stepping-down sort of thing: yesterday I smoked roughly once every two hours, which was my usual MO; today I’ve upped that to once every three hours, and will camp there for a day or two. Then every four hours, every five, every six, every as many increments as it takes to get me to the point where I forget an increment because the banshee screaming urge isn’t there anymore. Which means that today is my first real day of not just popping out for a smoke whenever I feel like it (I only smoke outside), so today is the first day that I’m having to battle the habit fo’ realsies.

And you know what I’m learning more strongly than anything else? That for me, smoking is tied to a lot of activities in my life. I got up from the computer earlier to refill my coffee cup, and my inner “smokeytime!” bell went off. Went to the restroom a bit later, noticed the dogs wanted out? Smokeytime! Thought about how I was not going to smoke yet, and maybe I should write a blog post about it, and thinking about writing the blog pinged the Smokeytime bell because I spend no small amount of time composing my thoughts over a nice cigarette before actually sitting down to write.

I smoke before we get in the car to go someplace; I smoke after meals; I smoke before bed; I smoke when I’m bored. I smoke when I take the dogs outside, and before you play the “well, just don’t go with them” card, I’ll note that our larger dog, Charlie, was a stray before he went to the shelter and was already microchipped with a defunct address so there’s about a 99% chance he was dumped by his former family and so he has profound trust issues and is perfectly happy to just pee right on the deck if I don’t go with him and watch him go down the stairs and stand there and reassure him that yes, he can come back in when he’s done. So I pretty much have to go out with them.

So I’m starting to find those niches, those places where a cigarette goes whether I’d noticed it consciously or not, as I’m brushing up against them throughout the day. And I’m finding that I’m not as murderous yet as I’d kinda expected to be–maybe that’s coming later, oh goodie–but I am confused. Like, what do you people even do if you’re not running out for a smoke every 90 minutes? How do you blog without smoking first? How do you refill your coffee cup? How do you leave the house?

It’s currently about 10 degrees here, because, y’know, January on the Great Plains. So you mean to tell me that y’all nonsmokers (I guess I’m working on joining you, so maybe I should change that to “we nonsmokers”) just, like, don’t throw on a coat and go stand outside in the arctic air ten times a day? You don’t go huddle under the overhang when it’s raining? We don’t find ourselves thinking “huh, I’m breathing awfully easily–must be time for a smoke”?

What do you do with all that free time, then? Where do you read your catalogs? What do you use your deck for, if not The Place Where You Go Smoke?

So far in my attempts to distract myself and fill those 5-to-6-minute gaps I’ve played a couple of silly little games on Facebook, read a bit of the book I’m working on, researched pear cake recipes (we have a box of lovely pears that are about to go bad, and wasting them is just not ok), and at one point just went and stood outside and did some deep cyclic breathing because how do you even measure the time if not by trips to the deck?

/sighs

/flops over

This is all just so terribly ridiculous, and so terribly difficult, and so terribly ludicrously hilarious. I’ve been a smoker for literally half my life–and for my entire “legal adult” life: one of the first things I did on my 18th birthday was buying a pack of cigarettes, just to try them, because I could. I have never been a grownup without also being a smoker. I have no idea how to make friends at the coffeeshop without striking up conversations at the smoker’s corner on the porch. I have no idea how to go to the airport without immediately identifying all the smoking-permitted zones. I have never learned how to not have a lighter in my purse at all times.

But this is a thing I am doing, because it is a thing I have decided to do, because reasons. This is a good thing to do, and I will be glad to have done it. This is a day I will be proud of–and a post I will chuckle about–later when I’m a firmly established Former Smoker Who Has Successfully Quit.

And in the meantime, I’m 7 minutes from my every-three-hours smoke break, so I’m going to go put on my jacket and get ready to go. Because while I am in the process of quitting, I’m not there yet; and for a person who craves routine, it’s nice to know for sure what I’m going to do with the 6 minutes between 12:00 and 12:06 PM.

Pray for me, y’all. And then pray for Moon Man, for strength in dealing with me.

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Filed under General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely

Resolute

Confession: I am not so big on the New Year’s Resolution.

It’s a–well, I’m gonna go with “charming and utterly lovable quirk”–of my personality that I start strong but am a little shaky on the finish. I get super-ramped about a new project, then come back three months later to put its component parts in a box (this is why I’m a huge fan of things I can tackle in less than an hour). I concoct complicated and minutely planned schemes for That Next Amazing Thing I’m Going to Do, then the fun wears off by the end of the plan and the actual doing never quite materializes.

I write a blog, then let it sit for three months (ahem).

I leave the last load of laundry in the dryer. When Moon Man strangles me for that, it’ll be totally justifiable.

So every December 31st, I think about things I should Really Truly For Realsies This Time Do in the Coming Year: I should focus on losing weight, eating healthy, doing for-the-love-of-god any exercise at all; I should take up a new skill/hobby/academic pursuit; I should decide what I want to be when I grow up; I should spend more quality time with the dustrag. I should teach the dogs to do some actual tricks beyond “lie there” and “be a lump” and “beg for whatever I’m cooking at the moment”. I should teach the cats some manners. Heck, I should teach myself some manners (/eyes the pile of as-yet-unwritten thank-you notes from Christmas).

And this year it’s no different: it’s December 31st, and here I am brainstorming the things I should Really Fo’ Shizzles Get Around to Doing. But we all know the punchline to this joke, so I’m executively deciding to skip the What To Do step and going straight to the How To Do It:

ALL things. 100% of the things.

ALL things. 100% of the things.

Look, y’all, I can’t even begin to pretend to predict what I’m going to get around to doing this year. I’ve got some plans on the table–we’re fixin’ to head to Alaska to watch my friend start the Iditarod, for instance–and I’ve kinda-sorta set some things in motion, like having lost nearly 40 pounds so far. But who knows? Maybe we’ll win the lottery this year and Plan A (sell the house, find something we love more) will turn into Plan B (…on our own private island). Maybe something catastrophic will happen (Zombiepocalypse) that makes both Plans A and B a little obsolete. Maybe we’ll just keep on keepin’ on, like we always do, with dust on the shelves and a whole lot of good intent in our hearts.

But the one thing I am absolutely planning on, beyond all others, is doing everything I do with love. Everything. Literally every thing.

One of the best compliments I ever received was from a friend who came to visit; we hadn’t seen each other in a while, and he came in, looked around, and said “this place feels like a home“. So I’ll start there: I will do all things inside this house with love. I will dust (when I actually get around to that) with the intent that it’s nice for guests to be able to come visit without sneezing, and it’s a loving gesture to make one’s home welcoming to guests. I will cook food that nourishes the body and soul, and make sure there’s always enough for an extra person should one drop by (if no one comes, there’s leftovers for hubby’s lunch the next day). I will try to keep things tidy enough that people feel comfortable coming in, kicking off their shoes without fear of stepping in anything unsettling, grabbing a beverage from the kitchen without having to wash a cup first, and settling in on the sofa without having to move anything that’s not independently sentient (what can I say, the cats do love playing “I was here first; you go sit over there”).

I will wash clothes not because it’s a Chore That Needs Doing, but because Moon Man doesn’t always hear me when I tell him he’s attractive–but we all have those outfits that make us feel a little extra swagger-y, like we know we’re dang cute, and I can help his confidence by making sure those outfits are clean and ready to wear on a day when he needs a boost. And that he doesn’t have to think about underpants before coffee.

When I leave the house, I will choose a parking space that leaves something close open for someone who needs it more. I will take a cart from the corral outside, so the attendant has one less cart to chase down and drag inside. I will return the cart to the store instead of the corral when possible, and I will continue my habit of sorting the carts inside the corral (when I’m President of the World, people who put the little short carts in with the full-size carts so they don’t stack right anymore will be summarily executed). I will buy a little something extra to toss into the food bank donation bin. I will use my turn signal. I will not text and drive.

I will go out of my way to tell people that I love them, I appreciate them, and I am glad that they’re in my life. I will do the little things that make them smile, just because it’s nice to make people smile. When I pay bills I will congratulate myself on helping the folks who work at the various utilities keep their jobs, rather than grumbling about the price of cable these days. I will sometimes take cookies to the fire department.

And I will direct this love inward, as well. I will speak to myself in the same way I would speak to someone else. I will not work to lose weight because I’m somehow unacceptable the way I am, but because I’m an awesome human being who deserves to have a long life full of adventures, and I’m building a body that supports that in the same way that a person who wants to be a soapbox derby racer builds a soapbox derby car. I will congratulate myself on learning from my mistakes when I inevitably make them. I will celebrate my victories.

Basically, I am committing to spending 2015 increasing the amount of love in the world by exactly one person. It’s all I can ever be asked to do–I can’t control anyone else–so it’s what I’ll do. And I’ll do that, even that, with love.

Happy New Year, ‘Tracters. I love you, and wish you the best, brightest, laughing-est, great-story-building-est, succeeding-at-what-matters-most-to-you-est, singing-and-swinging-and-getting-merry-like-Christmas-est, loving-est year yet.

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Remarkable

Yesterday my friend became the 61st person to sign up to run the 2015 Iditarod. The Iditarod, if you’re not familiar with it, is a dogsled race that travels more than 1,000 miles through the Alaskan wilderness–just you, some dogs, and a whole lotta distance between yourself and the finish line–and it’s run each year in March. AKA, the dead of winter. In Alaska. Temperatures of 50-60 degrees below zero are not uncommon, and last year’s champion set a new record by finishing it in slightly more than eight days. The last musher to cross the finish line took just shy of two weeks to finish. Y’know, just a nice li’l snowy vacation-length jaunt with some doggehs and the frostbite-within-30-seconds cold. NBD.

(ahem)

Now, here’s the fun thing about Steve (did I mention his name is Steve? His name is Steve, by the way): this “I think I’ll go run the Iditarod” plan isn’t the only spectacularly remarkable thing on his “been there, done that” list. Heck, depending on how you look at things, it may or may not crack the Top 5. His Iditarod musher bio blurb is…well, follow the nice link there at the beginning of the sentence and you’ll see what I mean. I recommend you sit down first, and maybe grab a nice bracing beverage.

/waits

/files nails

/wonders if anyone else would find it funny if she started referring to him as an “OveraSTEVEr”

…So that’s Steve. Hold onto him for a second–we’ll be back around for him shortly. In the meantime, please enjoy this video of Drew Drechsel, whom I do not personally know but who seems like a Very Nice Fellow.

There we see the lad competing (in a qualifying round) on a program called American Ninja Warrior, which is based on the Japanese Sasuke, which is essentially a great big ol’ super-insane obstacle course. It consists of 4 stages, each more difficult than the last, and as of this morning, Sasuke has been run 30 times with a whopping 3, yes three, people completing it (one fellow has finished it twice, which is just crazycakes). 100 people try each time, gang, so that’s a pretty, um, noteworthy failure rate. And the American version is on its 6th running, with zero completions so far (though last year one guy almost made it through stage 3. Alllllmost). People don’t run this thing because they think they’re going to win it–they run it because they want to try.

And Drew, as it turns out, is actually the fellow who provided the quote that kicked off this whole post in the first dang place: a few weeks ago, over on his Facebook, he posted the question, “What awesome thing should I attempt today?“.

And y’know what? I love that.

Here’s the thing, y’all. Every year a sizable number of Iditarod mushers “scratch”: they withdraw from the race partway through for one reason or another (dogs get sick, mushers get injured, sleds break down, the weather tries to destroy them–last year’s frontrunner had to scratch when a storm kicked up and tried to blow his dogs to Canada). Ninja Warrior competitors have a staggeringly low completion rate. But every single one of them, from the folks who come in first to the folks who come in dead last to the folks who don’t make it past the first checkpoint on the race trail or the first obstacle on the course, every single one of them tried to do something amazing.

To borrow a line from John Green,

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(John there, if you’re not familiar with his work, is a novelist who has written a handful of books, won awards for dang near every one of them, and has most recently become insanely famous for his YA novel, The Fault in Our Stars, which became a bestseller and got made into a super-successful movie and now he’s a kaspillionaire. And he runs a grassroots movement that mobilizes his fans and puts their collective shoulders behind various philanthropic projects. I imagine his calendar is terribly complicated.)

Look, y’all, we can’t all win the Iditarod. Heck, I can’t currently win a race with the dogs to catch things that fall off the counter while I’m making dinner. But Steve is going to try, and who knows, he might go down as that Rookie Who Caught Everyone Off-Guard. We’re not all going to win Ninja Warrior, but Drew straps on his shoes every season and takes a whack at it and maybe this will be the year he joins the very, very short list of finishers. My friend, Funky Peacenik, is not going to singlehandedly feed everyone who’s hungry, but she’s making a heckuva good attempt. My friend with the Red Purse is not personally going to be able to connect every person with health care, housing, and food assistance, but she’s getting about 300 folks per week, which ain’t shabby.

What you are driven to do–what you are driven to try–is probably not going to be the same as what I want to take a shot at…and that’s ok, because what matters is that you find something remarkable that sings to your soul, and you go for it. You don’t have to succeed on your first attempt; heck, you don’t even have to come very close. We’re not all going to end up with biographies that make other people want to reassess all their life choices. We’re not all going to do insane flippy-runny-jumpy-soary things. We’re not all going to save the world.

But it’s up to you to decide that today is the day you’re going to take the first steps toward a life that you’re proud of. If you’ve already taken the first steps, then it’s up to you to keep going. If you haven’t picked a dream yet, it’s up to you start brainstorming.

So choose the way in which you’re going to be remarkable, and go for it.

We’ll be here, ready to cheer you on.

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Filed under General Musings and Meanderings, Play Nicely

No, You Can’t

Hey, guys? I need you to trust me for a minute here. I’m going to ask you to do something, and I promise it’s going to make sense by the end of this post. Ok? Here goes:

1. Please stop whatever you’re doing and get a piece of masking tape, or a sticky note, or a piece of paper and some clear tape, or whatever you have handy that enables you to make a sign that you can affix to something else. It doesn’t need to be big or fancy, though you’ll be able to make it as ornate as you want in step #3.

2. Grab a pen, or a Sharpie, or a crayon, or whatever writing implement you happen to have nearby. It can be any color you want.

3. On your masking tape/sticky note/etc, please write–in great big, highly visible, as-fancy-as-you-want-them-to-be letters–a single word or short phrase that represents the person, place, or thing that is most critically important to you in the entire world (yes, you can have more than one. I’m not about to ask you to choose between your children). It can be anything you want: a loved one’s name, a concept like “freedom”, a destination like “the lake house”, anything at all–just aim for something that is so important to you that you would punch a charging rhinoceros in the face for it. This is the step where you can decorate your sign if you want to. Be as plain or as fancy as you like; it’s your art project, after all. You’re in charge here.

4. Now take your spiffy new sign to your car. If you’re being a naughty ninja and reading this at work, it’s ok to wait until your next break; but at the very next opportunity, go immediately to your vehicle with your sign in hand. Do not wait until tomorrow. Do it now.

5. Affix your sign to the interior of your car in a super-visible and easily reachable place. Your dashboard will probably work well for this.

Got it? Is your sign in place, or conveniently located so that you can go put it in place at the very next opportunity?

Good. Now here’s how you use it:

The next time you are driving your car and your cell phone rings, I want you to touch that sign you just made and say aloud–right out loud in front of god and everybody– “You are more important to me than this phone call”. Then let the call go to voice mail. If it is important, they will leave a message. If it’s not, your caller ID will let you know who it was. If it really is a call of critical importance, such as the hospital calling to ask you for your medical proxy decision about a loved one, they will understand if you wait until you can pull into a parking lot before calling them back. Heck, if the caller is a decent human being at all they will understand if you wait to pull into a parking lot before calling them back.

Here’s the deal: the other night, Moon Man and I were heading home from having Grand Adventures (usually this means going to dinner, seeing a movie, playing games at a coffeeshop–our sense of adventure is really pretty tame). As we drove down the street, we noticed that the driver ahead of us seemed to be drunk–they were weaving all over the place, having a heckuva time maintaining a consistent speed, etc–and as we passed them during one of their doing-20-in-a-45-zone stints, we noticed that the driver was on her cell phone.

/splodeybrain

Let’s get really honest with ourselves for a moment, gang. We’ve talked about this before, how I think one of the highest forms of respect is prioritizing safety over my text message, and that post got circulated and reposted and people were all “YEAH THIS IS TRUE PREACH ON I AGREE WOOOOO”…but seriously, if you’re really, truly, totally honest in your soul, how many of you actually ignore your phone while you’re driving? How many of you absolutely refuse to respond to your ringtone while you’re behind the wheel? How many of you truly never even peek at the text message?

Google “adults more likely to text and drive” if you’ve got a sec. See those 283 million results? Yeah, they’re pointing to something important: we spend all our time telling our kids and telling each other to hang up the phone, but somehow we’re all so convinced of our own superiority that we don’t think the rules apply to us. We tell ourselves that unlike the 16-year-old, we can totally multitask. We can have a conversation while we drive with no problem. We can absolutely answer one quick, easy text message, because we are grownups and we can handle it.

But you know what? No, you can’t. The lady swerving all over the road demonstrated that. The people in those PSA commercials demonstrate it.

The Mythbusters proved it, guys, that driving while talking on the phone is as dangerous as drunk driving. It didn’t even get a “plausible”–it got a full-on “confirmed”. You know it’s a big deal when the Mythbusters prove it.

So make your sign, and stick it somewhere visible in your car, and the next time you’re tempted to think you are the one and only person on the road who can truly handle being on the phone while you’re behind the wheel, think again. Then touch your sign, get your priorities back in order, and let the call go to voicemail and the text sit unread.

Thank you in advance for enabling me to get safely back to the person whose name on my own sign. I promise I’ll do everything I can to enable you to get back to the person named on yours.

Here's mine. ;)

Here’s mine. 😉

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Filed under Don't Make Me Come Down There, General Musings and Meanderings