When I was in college, this Whitney Houston song cemented my decision to become a teacher. I used to belt out that song as if I were Whitney Houston (every time I was in the car alone), and I meant every word.
The news often shows us the negative stories about young people. We (older folks) are always discussing “kids today” and how different they are from the way we used to be.
And I’ve discovered from my years of teaching that we’re right. “Kids today” are different -- they’re better, more impressive. They’re driven and eager. They work hard and strive to be the best they can be.
The Greencastle-Antrim Education Foundation (GAEF) held their annual golf tournament today at the amazing Greencastle Golf Club. This organization is “committed to impacting and enhancing G-A students’ educational experience,” and that’s exactly what this golf tournament supports -- providing scholarships for the impressive, driven, eager children of our future.
I had limited knowledge of this organization and its purpose until I spoke with Cheryl Brown, GAEF Executive Director, and Garon Gembe, Tournament Chairman, today. They are working hard to establish opportunities for the children - our future.
GAEF goals include:
Let’s all start showing kids of today the beauty they possess and provide them with the opportunities to learn, grow, and lead the way in the future.
To get involved, contact GAEF at email@example.com or www.gaefonline.org.
ALONG THE WAY
My daughter, Lauren, and I had just been commenting on the breathtaking beauty of our surroundings as we headed up Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, when we passed a mother and daughter on their way down from the peak.
The petite seven-year-old with curly locks found herself a few steps in front of her mother on the trail. She stopped, picked up an unusual stone, and turned back toward her mother.
“Are we at the bottom yet?” she asked, playing with the stone in her hand.
Although we could tell that both mother and daughter were exhausted, this mom did not miss a beat. “I don’t know,” Mom answered honestly, “but we’re closer than we were.”
I thought, Just like a typical kid -- too busy to notice the beauty of the journey.
Then, I saw a flash of my own reflection in that seven-year-old girl, and I was struck by the similarities.
A vision came to mind of myself always eager to achieve the next goal. I saw the backlog of goals I had already written down, just waiting for my time and attention. I thought, I’m always so eager to conquer one goal and move onto the next, that I (like that seven-year-old) forget to enjoy the beauty along the way.
What struck me next was that mom’s response, “We’re closer than we were.”
As I’m striving toward each goal, I never allow myself to take my eyes off the end goal. I never stop to recognize the many successes along the way. I don’t celebrate the steps that have already been achieved - I don’t recognize that each step is one step closer to where I want to be.
Achieving goals is just like hiking up and down that mountain. On the mountain, I enjoyed each step, each view, each victory because I was on vacation and I had given myself permission to breathe and enjoy. But, shouldn’t my daily life look like that too -- realizing the beauty from the perspective of standing on each step as I move closer to my goal? Shouldn’t I celebrate the victory of being one step closer?
I returned to work transformed from these lessons I learned on the mountain. Take a word or two of advice: Enjoy the journey and celebrate each step on your path.
"There is nothing new under the sun" was written almost 3000 years ago by King Solomon, and it's still true today. That's how truth works. It's true in every situation, in every time period, for every one. Yet, from one year to the next, one day to the next, even one moment to the next, we often forget the truths we've known.
For example, I spent a lot of quiet time in reflection for my last blog, contemplating my life's purpose. Once that solidified in my mind and heart, I felt as though I'd taken a step forward, as though I could and should be more intentional in every future interaction, as though I'd come to a new place, a better place, in my life.
The thing is that I've known quiet time, self-reflection, devotions (whatever you want to call them) are essential for keeping myself balanced, clear-sighted, and positive. And yet, for the last ten months, I've forgotten that truth. I've jumped out of bed each morning and hit the ground running. Because of no quiet time, I've become overwhelmed. Because of no quiet time, I've grown confused, foggy, unclear. Because of no quiet time, I've even, on occasion, gone into full-blown panic mode.
I've sabotaged myself by skipping that morning prayer time, that reflection time, that quiet time.
All this to say, I'm probably not going to provide any new insights into life and the world through these therapy sessions, but perhaps I'll remind you and me of a truth we've known but forgotten, or at least misplaced temporarily. So that's my hope for myself and you, my therapist -- to add value to your life by reminding you of the truths you know but are not currently living.
So the first reminder is to add daily quiet times -- intentional quiet times -- into your life again. Use your first one to ponder your life's purpose. Then, once you've decided what you've been called to, map out your plan for living it daily. Life's too short for us to waste ten months. Life's too short for us to waste today.
I'm not too proud to admit this (well, actually I am, but it's part of my therapy - see previous blog, My Therapy), but I am struggling in this season of life, in my new role. I'm really struggling.
I'm used to being fairly competent at what I do. I'd venture to guess that most of us could say the same. We've been educated in our field of expertise, or we've been doing our jobs long enough that experience has made us experts in our fields.
In this new chapter of my life, operating a golf course and a restaurant simultaneously -- two things I've never done before -- I'm not an expert. I have no education and no experience at all. I'm a beginner, a fledgling, a neophyte.
I know that God will not call us to a new role for which He will not equip us, And, looking back over my experiences in life, I can see how He has prepared me for this new adventure through many of the skills I've learned here and there. But, I'm standing here right now feeling ill-equipped. Therefore, my plan is to become intentional about equipping myself for the journey ahead. (And, I figure I'll just bring you along as my therapist.)
In the airport, on my way to a little respite from my struggles, I stopped at the newsstand to pick up a book to read. The one I was most drawn to was a series of articles from Harvard Business Review called On Managing Yourself. (I know, I'm a bit of a nerd.) That title struck a chord with me because that's exactly where I need to focus my efforts -- managing myself. I've got some issues -- big ones. I believe working on me first is going to help me handle this new life a little better. So that's where I'll begin.
The first article I read was by Clayton M. Christensen entitled "How Will You Measure Your Life?" He was adamant that we must have a clear purpose in life.
. . .
Let that sink in. I had to. I sat on the plane (not flying, just on the runway, actually -- a problem with the balancing system) and pondered my life's purpose. I thought about the different seasons in my life -- as a Christian, as a wife, as a mother, as a teacher, as a sales director -- and how my purpose fluctuates slightly with each one.
By the end of the chapter, I ended up writing down "HELP PEOPLE BECOME BETTER" as my life's purpose. But here I am two days later (sitting on the beach looking out over the Gulf of Mexico -- definitely a better place to think), and I think I'd expand that a bit. I think my purpose is to help people, organizations, situations, conversations become better than they would have been without me. I want to add value in some way to everyone I meet and every situation I'm in. (I'm asking you to hold me accountable.)
That's a tall order, but I know that's who I want to be. As I thought about my actions and reactions over the last few months, I realized that, all I'd been doing was racing from one situation to the next just putting out fires. I wasn't living intentionally. I was just making it through each day. As I continue to reflect, I realize that this issue may take more than one therapy session.
You can join me on this quest. Hopefully, you stopped at those three dots above and gave it a little thought. If not, take some time, ponder your life's purpose, and we'll talk again soon.
If you’re as old as I am (twenty-nine), you probably remember the show Cheers that used to come on Thursday nights. It had one of those theme songs that everyone remembers.
Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.
Wouldn't you like to get away?
Sometimes you wanna go..
Where everybody knows your name
And they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
The troubles are all the same.
You wanna be where everybody knows your name
And then, Norm comes into the bar and everyone yells his name, “Norm!”
They say (and I’m never quite sure who “they” is) that the most important word for every person to hear is their own name. I’m pretty sure that’s true because when someone I don’t know well calls me by my name, I feel honored that they know me. I get a little more puffed up. I feel a little more confident. I’m pretty sure that’s what we all want. We want to be known, acknowledged, and loved.
In fact, I’m so sure that this is true that I spend a good bit of my time running around trying to remember everyone’s name. I’ve met a lot of new people in this adventure we’re on -- I mean . . . a lot! I keep trying to get everyone’s name ingrained in my brain, but it’s probably my biggest hurdle.
My friends and I call it “Playing the Name Game.” You know the conversations:
“What’s her name? You know, she lives in town. We used to see her in the library when we took the kids to storytime.”
“Yes, yes. I know who you mean. She has dark hair, three kids.”
“Right, her husband works at Manitowoc. He’s an engineer.”
“Yeah, her daughter’s really into drama.”
“Exactly. What’s her name?”
“I don’t know.”
You’ve had those conversations too, right? The ones where you know every detail about another person, right down to her bra size, but you just can’t remember her name. What’s up with that? Why is it that we can’t remember the people of our lives, the people we’ve met who’ve made us who we are?
I’m thinking it’s our lack of downtime and the overload of the brain. I’m thinking that we’re not taking the time to really know people anymore. I’m thinking that we’re trying to do so much, trying to stay on top of all of the posts, news stories, sports teams, blogs, . . . One report suggests that we take in 34 gigabytes or 11.8 hours of information every day. Wow! It’s no wonder we can’t remember people’s names.
So, I propose that we all slow down just a bit, that we put away our phones, turn off our TV’s, hide our iPads and other devices and just relax with a friend, listen to a stranger tell a story, learn the name of that person you’ve been encountering every day for the last year. Let’s find a place where we just settle in and “take a break from all of our worries.” Let’s find a place where it’s like a little get away from the real world. Let’s find a place “where everyone knows your name and they’re always glad you came.”
That’s my dream for the Fireside Pub. We’re only three minutes from Rt 11, but it’s like a little get-away -- away from town, away from work, surrounded by wide open spaces, a place for play, a place to slow down. It’s a place where you’ll see people you know and where we’re always glad you came. It’s a place where I’m determined to learn your name (even if you have to remind me 25 times - have faith, time 26 will be a success!)
Let’s work together to build a community where everyone does know your name and they are glad you came. You can even get your name on a mug and stop in every day for your ½ price glass of beer or wine and just be. Take a break from the hustle and bustle. Slow down. Get away. Spend time talking. Get to know someone new. Learn someone’s name. Tell someone yours. Be known.
I’m reading this book right now, Girl, Wash Your Face, and the author, Rachel Hollis, strongly suggests that we all (she’s speaking to women) need some (a lot of) therapy. Since I can’t afford therapy, I thought, maybe I’d just start writing out what I would tell a therapist if I could afford one. Maybe that’s all I need. And this idea was born.
I’ll write a little post every couple of days to unburden myself, to talk to someone, and to avoid paying the cost of therapy. You can read it or just delete it, whichever pleases you more. I think the success for me will just be letting it out.
So, here goes. Today was one of those days. I knew it was one of those days when it started. You know the feeling -- the rock in the pit of your stomach that just won’t go away. It’s a sense of foreboding that just follows your every thought. That was today.
Then the rock, the foreboding came to fruition, and the little voice in my head repeated over and over that my best is just not good enough. And I felt my skin heat up, my heart beat wildly, and my blood pressure rise - like I might just have a heart attack right there at work. Seriously, I’ve learned more this year than many people learn in a lifetime. I mean, I’ve spent the last ten months, reading, Googling, trying and erring, all to learn how to do things I’ve never done before.
We took over a restaurant and a golf course - not just one business, but two - two businesses that I knew nothing about. So in ten months, I really have learned more than most people learn in lifetime. I have a ton more to learn And, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve made more mistakes in the last ten months than most people make in a lifetime. But, one thing I do, one thing I’ve always done, is I’ve given my all - actually more than my all. I don’t sleep - I work. I don’t play - I research. I don’t do anything but give this new adventure my best. So I was feeling the weight of judgment.
Here’s where life gets good. What do I do with that kind of weight, that kind of judgment, that kind of (well, yeah) pain? I grabbed my clubs, I grabbed a golf cart, and I headed out to hit nine holes. A nice hit down the fairway, a divot of grass flying through the air, the wind in my face, and a deep breath of fresh air out in the middle of nowhere -- that’s the beauty of golf. Even those three balls that plopped into the pond on hole #2 - one right after the other - even those brought a smile to my face.
By the time I finished nine holes, I saw myself anew as a young child with pink cheeks ready to come in from playing in the chilly fall weather, and I smiled. I didn’t check the mirror, but I’m pretty sure my runny nose, watery eyes, and wind-burned cheeks didn’t make me look at all like a young child, but I still smiled.
Sometimes, we just need to get away from it all. Sometimes we have to hit something - hard. Sometimes we just need to smile, even when - maybe especially when - it’s one of those days. Because somewhere deep inside, when we take the time to search, we know we are good enough, just the way we are - that our best is good enough, and that’s no one else’s call but our own.
So there, my therapy worked today. I feel better. Thanks! We’re heading out to visit both the mothers tonight. That’ll probably require a whole other session. I’ll let you know!
The Parade of Goodwill
PEOPLE LOVING PEOPLE
One of the beautiful benefits to playing golf is the amazing way it brings people together for a good cause.
I love sitting in my office listening the greetings, laughter, and camaraderie as a group of people come together for a greater good.
The Greencastle-Antrim Education Foundation (GAEF) is holding their tournament today. According to their website, “Established in 1997, the foundation encourages community involvement and investment in educational programs for the benefit of the Greencastle-Antrim community.”
Currently, they have decided “to focus more intentionally on building monies within the foundation endowments to help meet the needs of a ‘Children First’ type of education.”
Raising money for the benefit of the children of Greencastle-Antrim -- a very worthy cause.
I never know what I'm going to see on the golf course. With 212 acres of land, several forests, ponds, and wetlands, many animals have made their home at the Greencastle Golf Club. I always try to keep my eyes peeled for our does and their fawns, our flock of turkeys, our pheasants, ducks, and varied birds, our bunnies, our gophers, and our toads and frogs.
Bunnies hop across the cart paths and the fairways. Frogs and toads croak right beside the ponds. Ducks live in and near the ponds. The deer wander through the forests. The birds fly over the course and perch in the trees. I just never know what I'll see next. That's part of the fun of golfing.
One evening I received a text from my friend Kathy. She was out golfing with her husband, Jim. She was so excited because they'd seen a fox off to the side of Hole #4. But that was just the beginning.
A few nights later, Jim and Kathy were out golfing again. They had chipped onto the green of Hole #4 and removed the flag to putt their balls in. Suddenly, the fox appeared and wandered right onto the green with them. They backed away slowly and watched as the fox investigated the flag. They even took a video of this experience they'll never forget.
The Greencastle Golf Club really is the place where memories are made!