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Archive for the tag “ideas”

Climbing Smooth

“If the mountain was smooth, you couldn’t even climb it!” unknown

I was watching a YouTube video about the hymn Amazing Grace with Wintley Phipps yesterday.  What an inspiring bit of film and song!  But I was struck by the proverb above that Wintley quoted in the beginning of  the clip.  How profound 10 ordinary words can be!

What are the mountains in your life?

Webster says:  “Adversity: (noun) a state, condition, or instance of serious or continued difficulty or adverse fortune (see adverse).                  Synonyms:misfortune, ill, knock, misadventure, mischance, mishap, tragedy Antonyms: fortune, luck, serendipity”

Did you ever try to climb up the slide at the playground?  I have.  Tough.  I remember a group of us kids daring each other to make it to the top.  There were dozens of attempts without touching the sides.  All unsuccessful.  It wasn’t until we used our hands to grip the edges of the slide that anyone made it to the top.  A smooth mountain would be like that.  Think of trying to climb the perfect triangle, we would crash every time.

Real mountains are not smooth.  Craggy, rocky, difficult, dangerous, murderous, majestic, beautiful, lofty and huge are words we use to describe them.  Rock climbers know that it requires the gear, the skill, the perseverance,  and the courage to undertake it all.  The climbers that tackle the big ones–K2, Everest, McKinley all know it takes planning and serious preparation to accomplish the task.  Most will also tell you it takes teamwork.  Your climbing partners and your base camp support folks they all have to be committed to the effort and work together.

K2 in summer.

Image via Wikipedia

Watching the news the other night I felt like the kid in the playground, surrounded by the “Super Committee”  trying in vain to climb the slide.  No one was successful.  No one worked together.  Everyone wanted to blame someone–someone else.  It was discouraging!

My own mountain right now has many sharp obstacles.  Kind of like the picture of K2 in Summer to the right.   After a long career of sitting in an office, I am doing retail sales and my body is revolting big time!  My bank account and my retirement account and my real estate are like team mates that are pulling the ropes that keep us together in all different directions.  How can we reach the summit with problems like these?

That’s when it hit me that the craggy bits and the sharp outcroppings and the difficulties with sore tired muscles and stiff joints are part of what makes reaching the summit the true achievement that it is.  The base camp team is vital–family and friends–cheering you on and making the assent possible.  If the way was smooth, how could you climb?

The other thing that hit me is that if you don’t work together, you can’t work at all when it comes to climbing.  The climbers that reach the summit know they did not get there on their own.  The guy at the peak had to have faith in the team, each one contributing their part and all contributing to the achievement.

So what then is the problem–how do we plan to achieve the summit here?  How can we get the team to work together so we’re not climbing smooth?  What can we do to conquer that adversity mountain that our country confronts?  The mountain that represents all the debt and loss of confidence in government and in ourselves?  How do we gain the courage to climb despite the partisan fear and destructive mistrust and being pulled in every direction by special interests?

Ideas?

Tidy?

I hate to clean!

I am using the word hate here!  Strong emotion.  Why?

Abandoned_gas_station_Melvin_Illinois

Image via Wikipedia

As important and even healthy as it is, it is also usually frustrating.  If you have a family that includes small children, then you know what I mean.  I could clean the bathroom 100 times every day and it would still look like the worst off-brand, no locks on the doors, gas station “restroom”!  Nothing restful about that.

Perhaps I should be happy about that–it means that the space is getting the use for which it is intended.  I just can’t work up the enthusiasm for it.

Seems to me that life is like that “restroom” too.  We usually don’t clean-up until we’re totally disgusted, fed up and have no alternative.   Then, in typical human form, we wait two more years before we start.  How in the world did we ever survive to 2011?

What makes change so difficult for everyone? 

My dad used to say that growing up is a lot harder than anyone tells you.  He was right–and it never stops being harder than anyone tells you!  Change is the unknown.  We think we figured out a way to survive the familiar, so we cling to it like a life raft.  We are all caught up in that mess that won’t be tidy, clinging to the life raft.  In my social service work, I regularly encountered people for whom life resembled the never tidy restroom.  Addiction, loss, isolation and fear are the mess that won’t be tidy.

It is messy in my life sometimes.  What are the untidy parts of your life?

The last couple of years have been filled with change.  Change in living situations, change in employment, change in family structure, change in economics, change in politics…….. Even the earth itself is shaking and changing, quaking and erupting!  We cling to the life raft tighter and tighter.  Nothing restful about all that.

One of the things that I have learned (the hard way!) is that the cleaning part helps.  As much as I hate to admit it, it does!

I have done some renovations to this blog site and will continue to make more.  I want to thank my friend Richard Kraneis for pointing out the most obvious issue yesterday.  He’s been around the blog block a few times and knows what he is talking about!  Thanks Richard!           I am inching my way towards tidy!   

I think it has to do with the engagement of a different part of the human brain.  By doing the mundane things that cleaning requires, you burn calories, release endorphins, focus on manual tasks and then the other processes of the brain have a chance to “reboot”, “resort” and “rework” the problems that can preoccupy us.  The end result is that not only will the cleaning give some satisfaction in the measurable change, you may be able to get some of the answers when you give the brain a chance to do it’s thing in the background.  Bonus!

We can let go of the life raft and find rescue and rest, even if it only lasts until the next kid rushes into the house.  Bonus!

What is the cleaning you need to do bring that “Bonus!”?

Article:  http://stress.about.com/od/tensiontamers/a/cleaning.htm

Does anyone have a Swiss Army Knife?

Richard Dean Anderson on the set of "MacG...

Image via Wikipedia

Belt tool fans of the world unite!  We know who you are–the tinkerers, the inventors, the thinkers, the ones who are prepared for nearly everything!  We want you to jump into the mess we’re in and put those belt tools to work to get us out of it.  We want you to take bits of duck tape, imagination, faith and know-how and fix it!

We want MacGyver!  We need MacGyver!

Sometimes the problems seem so overwhelming that only the intrepid hero that resolves every crisis and saves the world in 60 minuets will do.  Our hero–he knows how to use what he has instead of what he wishes he has to resolve the crisis.  At least that is what the Wells Fargo Economics Group says in their August 10, 2011 Monthly Outlook about the way out of our economic mess.

Making do with what you have is not a new or trite.  It is reality.  If you stop to think about it, it is something we do all the time.  No staples in the stapler? Use a paper clip. No buttermilk in the fridge?  Take milk, add vinegar, wait for 15 minutes.  Storm take the power out?  Break out the candles and board games.  We really do it without thinking much about it–it needs to be done so we find a way to do it.  And usually that works!

One of the things it is easy to forget is that MacGyver took a moment to notice what there was to work with.  He didn’t panic, he got to work.   What do we have at hand to apply to the economic mess?  Let’s take a minute or two to survey what we have.

What we have is very important.  The freedom to dream and think in a variety of ways continues to be essential.  I read this week that foreign applications to US graduate schools is very high this year.  There is a reason for that–we have a deserved reputation for big ideas and folks that believe in their dreams.  Who doesn’t want that in their lives?

It’s time to take stock of supplies and dream a little.  Time to stop worrying about failure and keep trying until we succeed.  Time to call upon the tinkerers, the inventors and the thinkers to reveal their big ideas so we can believe in their dreams.  We not only want those wonderful visions to come true, frankly we need them to come true.

Then of course we need to take out the belt tools and get to work!

Puppy Spring

This spring has been about puppies.  We lost our 16 yr old dog about a year ago.  A German shepherd that disliked men and was very protective of women.  He was chicken-brained in his later years due to  strokes, blindness and arthritis.  But the hair!  Shedding and all the clean up that goes with it…..

My daughter and I decided that we both wanted a large dog—smart, good with kids and older folks, and most importantly no shedding.  The answer was a standard poodle.  We overcame the initial objections of the men-folk in our lives by choosing a breeder in Montana that uses the dogs for carting, hunting and companioning outdoor sports.  We scoffed at the pictures of the show cuts and the pretty pink bows.   In the end, we planted our feed and stood our ground.  The dogs, one male and one female (litter-mates)born on Halloween 2010 arrived in February.

We did not separate them to begin with.  My daughter—bless her!—kept both until they completed potty training.  We took the kids to puppy classes and learned more about our breed.  The men-folk (most at-least) came around.  We got the girl permanently.  Both puppies are a true joy!

If you know the breeds, you know that shepherds are very vocal—noisy even.  Poodles are very quiet.  No doubt these traits are grounded in their original purpose—for shepherds to herd animals, keep predators away and for poodles to hunt, or point to the prey for the hunter.  It was unnerving at first.  We put tags on her so that she would jingle when she walked Puppyor moved around so we could tell where she was.  That is when I noticed the springing.  Yes, I said springing!

She has a spring in her step that is charming and fun to watch.  She springs into the air and does a 360 rotation when she is play fighting with her brother.  She waits patiently while I fill the food bowl and then springs into action when I give the release command.  She plays fetch with herself by letting the tennis ball roll off the steps into the yard and then springs after it to grab it and go again.  Last time my husband mowed, she was pretending to square-off with the mower, springing this way and that in order to intimidate the machine.

That’s the enthusiasm I want and really only have at times.  I want to spring into action, obviously relishing the task, playing with the ideas and ready to do a 360 rotation if need be.  When I do that, I am happier, more engaged in whatever the activity is and dare I say it—more successful in the outcome.  It’s that relaxed confidence that this is going to be great!—whatever it is—that gives us the spring. So, I’m giving myself the release command to train myself into that springing everyday.

Interestingly enough the actual command is “Relax!”.

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