Thursday, June 23, 2016

When You Know More Than You Ever Wanted

There are times in our lives when we strive to know more. We want to be smarter. We want to be more organized. We want to be able to compete with our peers. We want to be our best and do our best. Anything worth being a goal is going to take work; hard work. That work may be mental, physical, or spiritual. We'll need to put ourselves out there. We may need to do a ton of research and learn, and we'll need to learn how to apply our newly gained knowledge.
 
But sometimes we're put in situations that we don't want to be in. We're dealt a new hand of cards that, to be honest, leaves us feeling vulnerable and completely out of our comfort zone. We aren't sure how to act, how to move forward, what to think, and what not to think. We simply don't want to be in the situation we are now forced to be in.
 
Maybe you find yourself going through a divorce. Years ago when you said, 'I do', you thought it was forever. Now you're running a household by yourself, raising a family, going back into the workforce, and trying to sleep at night amidst all your new worries.
 
Maybe you've just lost a loved one. Perhaps you knew it was coming, but maybe you didn't. Maybe when you kissed them goodbye that morning you didn't think it would be the last time. Now you're trying to plan a funeral and figure out not only how you're going to attempt to reorganize your life, but how you're going to wake up each morning to a bed that's now half empty.
 
Maybe you've just been diagnosed with a disease. You had your life going pretty good. You had plans. You had goals and ideas. Now all your plans have changed. Instead you're feeling sick, you're going through treatments, and you're taking time off away from your job, your schedule, and things you wanted to do with your family.
 
Maybe you're caring for an aging parent. Hopefully you've been fortunate enough to have a good relationship with them before all of this happened, so now you're working together as a team to make things better or least as comfortable as possible for them. But maybe you haven't been that lucky. Maybe you've had a strained relationship for years and now you're in a position to try to help this person, but they don't want your help.
 
Most people, if they're being honest, have dealt with ups and downs in their life. No one's life is perfect. We'll try to live responsibly, productively, and hopefully humbly. We'll focus on our own lives, our families, and our responsibilities; but we'll also try to get through the less than perfect times. We'll be afraid, we'll often feel uncertain, and we'll definitely feel frazzled ... a lot. We'll search for the strength we need from God and our families. We'll learn what we need to learn and when. We'll have many sleepless nights and perhaps a few more grey hairs. But in the end we'll get through it and discover that we know more than we ever wanted.
 
Someone recently gave me a book to read. On the back cover it says, 'You'll get through this, whatever "this" is.' I'm going to hold on to that.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Can You Keep A Secret?

Can you keep a secret? How many times have you heard those five awful words? I say 'awful' because those five simple words have the power to put enormous stress into relationships, increase anxiety, and mess with people's demeanors and their ability to trust.
 
There are different kinds of secrets; some good, some not so good. There are the secrets like 'will you keep Billy's party a secret until next Friday so we can surprise him?' Those secrets are harmless and worth the temporary deceit. There are harder secrets like sharing a confidence with someone who is being verbally or physically abused. They ask you not to tell anyone because they are afraid of their well being as well as yours, yet they NEED someone they can confide in. Hopefully being there for them as a support system will give them the ability to gain clarity and feel safe about making a plan to get out of the abusive relationship. Sharing a secret like this needs to come with understood boundaries though. You will keep their secret 'temporarily' as a show of support UNTIL they can resolve the issue themselves, however IF you feel the need to step in and share the secret in order to protect them then you will. They will be stronger for it if they can be the one to reveal the truth with you by their side.
 
Then there are secrets that, in my opinion, are simply NOT okay. The secrets that are harmful to relationships and make it difficult to be able to trust and believe. It's never good when someone starts a conversation with, 'I don't want (fill in the blank) to know this, BUT ...' or 'I don't want to tell (fill in the blank) this because I know they'll have their feelings hurt or they'll misunderstand.' IF a person begins their conversation with you in this way STOP and see the warning signs. You are about to hear gossip. You are about to be pitted against someone else, whether you approve or not, because this person doesn't want to give you a choice. I know people like this and deal with them every day. When they start a sentence with, 'I shouldn't say anything ...' I immediately stop them and say, 'Then don't. If you don't want them to know, do not tell me. Don't put me in a position I don't want to be in.' If the sentence starts in a different way such as, '(fill in the blank) doesn't want you to know this, BUT ...' I stop them before they can go any further and say, 'Then don't tell me. If they want me to know something it's up to them to tell me, not you. I don't want to know.'
 
Unfortunately some people thrive on secrets; on sharing them AND being the recipients. Though many don't seem to fully comprehend the concept. Secrets are not to be shared; hence they are a 'secret'. How do we handle those who behave like a kid in a candy store when they have a secret and are about to burst because they just can't hold it in? How do we reign them back in to focus on the part where they gave someone their 'word' that they wouldn't tell? How do we re-enforce the need for keeping our word, maintaining our integrity, and being worthy of people's trust?
 
I don't pretend to have the answers. I am still a work in progress, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Sacrifice Must Have Value

You've heard the clich├ęs 'nothing ventured, nothing lost' or 'no pain, no gain'. What do they mean; besides the obvious? I think they are referring to sacrifices and the concept that you have to give in order to get. What you give needs to be big and important and worth it, otherwise it doesn't really count as a sacrifice.
 
So, the BIG question is what do you hope to accomplish? What is your goal? The even BIGGER question is what are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve it? Your time? Your money? Your sweat and effort? Or how about your pride? What things are so important to you that to give up even a little of it will be huge?
 
Everyone's goals, dreams and struggles are as unique as snowflakes; no two are going to be the same. In the same way each sacrifice is going to be different, as well. What is important to one person is going to be entirely different than the person standing next to them in the grocery store check out line - and that's okay. That's as it should be.

Setting a goal is the first step; whether it's for a better lifestyle or a new job or if it's something necessary to overcome an injury or disease. Set the goal and think about how important it is to you, to your family, etc. Think about what it will take to tackle it head on. Think about what that will mean; how much time will it take, what will it cost, and how involved will YOU need to be in the process. Then decide how you can make it actually happen. What will you need to sacrifice? How will you readjust your schedule to make the time needed? Will you be able to cut back on a certain expense to have the extra money you may need? Can you dig deep and allow yourself to put your pride aside if you need to ask for help?

The sacrifice must have value or it's not a sacrifice.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Value of Structure

Some people are free spirits; they are able to live their lives one day at a time and one moment at a time. They prefer it that way. There are days I wish I could be more like that, but I don't think that it's in my DNA.
 
There is something to be said for structure; schedules and lists (as long as you don't get too consumed with them). Being able to remain flexible though, when necessary, is key. For me, meeting deadlines is crucial. I'm too hard on myself when I miss them, because I worry that I've left someone else waiting. I understand the value of time, both mine and theirs. I don't like it when I have to wait on someone else, so I try to keep it mutual. Working with a schedule keeps me accountable. I am expected to work 40 hours a week at my job and I always meet that requirement. At the same time I am thankful I work with a wonderful group of people that can be supportive when something comes up that requires me (or any of us) to be flexible.
 
I know this may sound a little old school, but I firmly believe that there is value is respect, in honesty, and in expectations. Our children are taught at an early age that their homework has deadlines and it's important to meet them. We teach them as teenagers when they get their first part time job that it's important to arrive at work on time and give their responsibilities all of their attention. It's considerate when you're sent an invitation to send the RSVP back on time. We all have deadlines and should respect each others.
 
This past week someone in my immediate family broke their hip, had extensive surgery, was hospitalized for over a week, and just transferred to a rehab facility. They have a long road ahead of them to hopefully get back to where they were, but their life just changed in some very dramatic ways. While in the hospital they received a lot of one-on-one attention, they were catered too, and taken care of in every way. Literally everything was done for them. That all changes this week. They will now face a new environment packed full of structure. They will be gotten out of bed. They will be worked with at physical and occupational therapy (every day). They will be required to sit in a chair for designated amounts of time each day. They will eat their meals at scheduled times. All of this won't be done to be controlling or rigid, but rather to provide the structure they need to heal and get stronger. Yes, there will be tiring days ahead (for her and others), but there is value in structure.
 
How do you deal with structure? Do you find yourself establishing the structure and trying to run the tight ship, whether at home or at work? Or do you have a free spirit and just 'go with the flow'? Which do you prefer and why?