Monday, August 22, 2011

Fanning the Fire

How does one maintain the fire one gets from something you learn or desire to do?  Like when you start a new exercise plan or a healthy eating kick… how do you maintain the fire to keep going after a few weeks?  Or after feeling the sting of my impatience with my kids; the guilt I feel and the hurt on their faces… how do I maintain the daily patience and grace necessary to parent my children as they deserve to be parented? 

What makes some people who receive devastating medical news completely change their lifestyle?  And, why do some who receive the same type of news, do nothing to change their circumstances?  Why after losing someone they love, do some really see what life is all about and live a life according but others do not. 

I think it is human to slip back into old habits and old ways of reacting to things.  I think it is easier to do that than the hard work of changing who you are, not matter how much you desire to be or do something different.  It is a valid reason – we ARE afterall, human.  But what is it exactly beyond that allows some to make lasting changes and others can not?  Fear… laziness… lack of belief… poor self image… a strong faith… perseverance or lack there of… or maybe accountability? 

I have many wonderful plans.  I research, gain support (in my head or with others depending upon the plan), implement and even execute the plan.  However, what I lack is follow through on many of those plans.  I have had moments of follow through in my life… like sticking to my guns when I was a teenager despite much disappointment from my Dad when I did not want to continue with sailing lessons…   Like losing 40 pounds about 5 years ago… like reading the bible last year. 

A friend of mine mentioned how she has started using a journal in church to make notes on the sermon.  She got this idea after reading the book Radical.  I have not read the book… yet.  But from our conversation she was talking about being a student; writing things down to remember and do something with that information – study, research more, think about - instead of just hearing and forgetting as the busyness of life gets in the way.  I may not have remembered our conversation correctly, but hey, that is what I took away from it which has lead me to ponder things leading to this post. 

I like the idea of being a student.  I think I am good at that part, the studying and research part, the observation part.  What I need to become is a fire builder, someone who does something with their knowledge.  I went to college because it was always expected, that is just what you did.  I went through the motions and graduated as expected.  What I did not do in college is absorb. I did not gain a fire to do something with my knowledge.  The funny thing about fire is that no matter how good a fire you build, not matter how much research you do on the best position of your logs to get air flow, no matter much it rages fast and hot in the beginning… if you do nothing to it, it will eventually burn out.  The fire builder has to fan the flames, keep feeding it – do something to keep the heat and intensity.   

That feeding, that fanning is what sets people apart.  It is what moves some people to action for the long term burn, not just the hot fast action in the beginning of an idea or plan.  That feeding is what is moving my friend to journal our sermons.  It is that feeding that allowed me to lose weight without grumbling years ago.  God has given me a brain to use, desires and a heart to do certain things.  But ultimately it comes down to doing the work, taking action on my plans, knowledge and desires.   It comes down to the having the faith that I can continue the hard work over the long haul.  The most rewarding of things come from the hard work, not the planning.  So I will build and I will feed my fire.   

Faith can move mountains, but don’t be surprised if God hands you a shovel. 
Author unknown.  

Monday, August 1, 2011

When I Grow Up...

You know the question you ask kids… “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  The normal answers for my kids have been teacher, chef, firefighter, and as Little Man has said lately, a cement truck driver.  All noble professions for sure.  The trouble is, I can’t honestly answer that question now – at 43 years old.

I have been in human resources for well over 20 years.  I kind of fell into this field.  I started out of college with my “organizational communications” degree supporting a manager who handled HR and training for a company.  Over the years, I have been blessed to learn from very smart managers who saw my potential and allowed me to do things above my actual years of experience.  And, truth be told, I am good at it.  I am trusted to advise management well and have a knack for managing information without bias very well.

But, here is the rub - I do not want to do this any more.  I am tired of the employee relations issues (really tired of this!), having to re-has an issue with an employee again and benefits administration.  I have seen my fair share of crazy stuff over the years (like the employees who were caught having ah, hmmm “relations” in a store in the wee morning hours and could not figure out why they were being terminated – they honestly said “the store was not open, so what is the big deal?”  Hmmm, the big deal is a customer waiting for the bus outside the store saw you doing your thing ON THE CHECK STAND, that's why.  Think about that the next time you plunk your purse down to pay for something – eeewww).  Anyway, HR is not fulfilling to me.  It is not challenging, humorous at times, but not challenging.

I find it fascinating that something I am good at is NOT satisfying.  And the bigger rub is that I have no idea what else I want to do.  I have tried to rack by brain thinking of what would fill me up.  But I come up empty.  We are not blessed with the option of me not working at all.  I don’t have to work full time, but even if I did not have to work, I don’t know what else I would want to do.

I do know that I want more flexibility in my schedule.  I do not want to rely on others to get my kids to their activities.  This summer has been eye opening, humbling and guilt ridden.  We are fortunate to having very loving friends who are more than willing to help out.  Unfortunately, I hate asking for help when I believe, deep down, I should be the one do these things.  I worry that the kids are safe and where they are suppose to be.  I worry about the impact my absence has in my relationship with them and what I am missing.

So one thing has been decided – I will not work away from home by this time next year.  While I need to find something to replace my income, the stress the job I started last October has created in our family, the impact on the kids and what I am missing, is not worth it.  And to further spur our decision is the need for me to be involved in Little Man’s schooling when he starts Kindergarten next fall.  I can not be an absentee-working parent.  I need to know his teachers and be in the classroom and be known to the school administrators.  We owe him that.

Some hard choices will have to be made over the next year.  It will not be easy.  And honestly, I am worried we will not be able to follow through on this decision.  But I am more worried if we don’t.

Chief and I have had some heart felt discussion lately.  What do we want for our family, each other, ourselves?  What means the most to us.  These discussions were triggered by watching the movie the Notebook.  Oh my, if you haven’t watched this, grab a box of Kleenex and your husband and watch it.  It is a true love story.  This movie took on a special meaning for us since my Mom is struggling with Alzheimer’s.  I think for the first time, I could see the impact this disease may have on my relationship with my husband.  And how it is so important to make the most of the days you are blessed with.  While I may have many days, I don’t know that I will remember all of them given my family history.  The memories we make and impact I have on my children are a gift, and I don’t want to waste it working in something that does not bring me joy just to pay some stupid Visa bill.