Time-Change and the Power of Perspective

trees

Why is the Spring Forward time-change so hard? It was like waking the dead this morning. And it’s only an hour difference.

I think perspective could go a long way to help my sleepy-heads (and me!)

Really. Because truth be told, if we lost an hour and due to a nice trip to the mountains – we wouldn’t feel it much. It would be the best lost-hour ever – a vehicle sending us to slush down the snowy slopes instead of a tool of torture dragging us in a catatonic state to the car; gleeful giggling instead of moaning, struggling, complaining: “The sun isn’t even up!!” (The sun had risen – but clearly not when they woke up.)

Enter Stage Left: Sunshine Mom

“Quit complaining. Look a the bright side! And rather than let the lost hour put you in a sleep-deprived funk, force your thoughts to see the good. [sidenote: I’m not quite sure what the good is in the case of springing forward, but there’s got to be one, or two, or one.] Why waste the precious time you have – lose another hour – by letting it steal your joy from this moment.”

Birds were singing and playfully circling around our car as if a Disney Princess was on board. Actually, it looked more like a load of eye rolls. I don’t blame them, but I try. And I mean it – perspective can help with so many things.

  • Rather than focus on gathering friends, be a friend.
  • Instead of seeing a mountain as an obstacle, consider the opportunity.
  • If school/a subject/a sport is super hard at the moment, see it as growth rather than an indictment.

As folders were gathered this morning and dust shaken from backpacks after a week break, I remembered such a redirect to one of the kids who has been put off, not sure how to handle, some homework corrections in need of attention.

“Sweetheart – what’s up with the stack of un-corrected corrections?” I had to ask. But I didn’t want to ask. The avoidance is looking more purposeful than regular forgetfulness.

“I hate school,” he replied.

Okay – he really doesn’t hate school. He actually enjoys it and loves learning. Not all of our kids love to learn, but this one is a curious soul – intrigued the way things work, interested in history, almost always asking questions that dive deeper than surface. On top of all that he ADORES his teacher – wonderful is an understatement.

“Honey – hate it strong word – and I’m pretty sure you don’t.”

“I do,” he insisted.

Clearly stuck in traffic on that road, I look for a way to inch forward on another. “What’s up with your homework? It’s like you’d rather not do it than make a mistake.”

Silence.

“Are you afraid of messing up?”

Silence. Big eyes begin to moisten and fill with tears.

I love that boy’s eyes. They tell it all: he is afraid. Which likely has lots more attached to it than simply answering a homework question wrong.

It can be a challenge living in a world obsessed with perfection.

Even if we don’t realize it we swim in perfection waters every day. Photoshop’d pics, heralded successes, excessive trophying – they all add to perfection pressures that can make learning a challenge. Mostly because learning, of all things, is an road inevitably and wonderfully paved by mistakes.

So how can we promote learning in an environment obsessed with perfection? I’m not sure, but on thing we’ve discovered along our way OFF the perfection road is to talk it out.

“Honey – learning is filled with lots of missed questions. In fact it’s hard to learn without messing up.

Teachers know that mistakes come with their territory. They even welcome them. Mistakes help your teacher know what you have and haven’t understood. They help her to be a better teacher and you to be a better student. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.”

It’s true. I think we forget the roads of major success stories that are literally peppered with mistakes and failures.

He’s listening, so I keep going, “The fact your teacher wants you to correct your work is only because she cares about you. She wants you to learn. She doesn’t want you to look the other way, pretend you know something when you don’t (no one knows everything, no one!) or worst of all – quit. The truth is – it would be a lot easier for her to mark it wrong and move on. But she cares for you more than that.”

Then I come to the end of my little life lecture, hoping that I hear what I’m telling him since I’m faced with challenges/making mistakes every day, “Please see those corrections for what they are – a statement that your teacher is for you and wants you to be all that you can be. See those corrections like a little note of encouragement – not a sign of disappointment or statement that you less-than others. No – they’re a sign that you’re worth the effort.”

Perspective. It almost instantly helped him. Sometimes a little dose of reality (a view of the way things are rather than the way we perceive them to be) can go a long way.

How can it inform your day today?

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

If you’re in Dallas and want some fuel in your don’t-fear-failure tank, come hear Jess Lahey this Wednesday. Here are the deets:

  • Speaker: Jessica Lahey, NYT Best Selling Author of The Gift of Failure
  • When: 3/16/2016, 7:00 PM 8:00 PM
  • Where: Highland Park Methodist Church – Wesley Hall

Lessons on Leadership from the Fruit Bowl

Brand You

They say that love makes the world go ‘round. I think a kind word does too.

A kind word plays by the same rules as love –it considers someone else’s interests as much, if not more, than our own. These days we sure could use come kind words in our world of agenda-promotion.

On a daily/hourly basis we are bombarded by the exact opposite from the top down. The political debates have been a free for all of me, me, me – listen to me. I’m right. You’re wrong –without even slowing down to listen or say something kind. Saying something kind might appear as if there’s a chink in the armor or could allude to someone else being right. And we can’t have that happen in the this world of spin where people can take any topic and find some way to make themselves look good and the other guy look bad.

Spin – who came up with that anyway? Where did truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth go?

Then there’s the if you don’t play my way, I’m taking my toys & leaving! Or the I’ll show you, since you don’t agree with me and do what I say – I won’t come to your party. I still can’t understand why a sitting U.S. President wouldn’t attend the funeral of a sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justice. They’re both public servants. They play on the same team (‘Merica.) They probably have similar desires for the good of mankind – though their respective camps vehemently, with harsh words, disagree. We live in a democracy – a place where differing opinions are allowed to exist.

Aretha needs to sing the National Anthem then follow it up with a loud rendition of R-E-S-P-E-C-T and encourage everyone to find out what it means. Then maybe we can actually get back to a little TCB (taking care of business, come on people.)

Selfishness, self-promotion and self-preservation has been sold as the way to go. (“Brand You: You can’t move up if you don’t stand out!”) But all SELF with little OTHERS makes Jack a sad boy.

Case in point: One of my brood woke up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday. As you can imagine with 5 kids, it’s a common occurrence.

The kid came down crabby. And bossy. And a teensy bit mean. A whole mess of SELF.

Since we’ve all been sold a bill of goods and believe that SELF equals power, I watched the kid try to wield it. When I told him to pick up his dirty underwear and take it to the laundry room, he obligatorily did. But not before passing by a sibling and spouting out a few commands that he should do the same.

It went on from one silly little passive-aggressive thing to another – mostly spurred by FAIR and BEST.

Fair: it’s not fair I got in trouble (which really wasn’t the case; but with SELF at play, the world is against you); it’s not fair that I have to take out the trash, I did it yesterday; it’s not fair she gets to … fill in the blank.

Best: race to the car to get the “best” seat – as if there is one (I mean really, what difference does it make? They’re getting into and out of the car in a matter of 15 minutes.) AND a rummaging through the fruit bowl to get the “best” orange.

“This is the best,” SELF-kid proclaimed. He went back through the bowl to be sure After rummaging a bit more, “No THIS one is the best. Yes – the best for sure. And it’s mine!”

I looked at the kid proudly holding the orange as if it were an Oscar at the Academy Awards – showing showing it to us all, especially the sister rummaging through the same bowl trying to find an orange for her lunch.

SELF tricks its victim into believing that beating-out, grabbing best, exerting power, shouting over, and other winning-ways TRUMP (no pun intended) everything else. They may appear to win on the surface; but deep down they lose.

I wonder what would happen we chose OTHERs. If we opted instead to let someone go ahead, to listen, to find merit in another’s idea, to search for ways to agree, to be strong TOGETHER and to set each other up for success rather than going in for the kill.

I watched that kid proudly put that orange in his lunch sack with pride and satisfaction – things we think come with winning.

“If it really is the best orange, give it to your sister,” I can’t help but say.

If he only could understand, I’m saying it for his sake, because I love him. Because if he could ditch the fear that compels SELF and opt instead for the freedom that comes with OTHERS, the kid would be released from the shackles & heavy burdens that silently accompany all those tricky winning-ways.

“If you gave it away, THEN you’d be the winner.”

Consideration of others, propriety, decorum – oh the places we’d go if we had leaders like that.

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

Regular in a High Octane World

high-octaine

“How was the basketball game?” I ask Jack – whose name probably needs to be aliased since he is getting old enough to be aware.

“Not good,” he answered.

“What?” I was surprised. He has so much fun running around, shooting for the hoop and hanging out with his friends. “You love basketball.”

“Yeah,” he said thoughtfully. “I just didn’t get to sit on the bench enough.”

Oh my word.

Apparently, he enjoys the experience a lot more than the competition. He’s never had much interest in intense (if you can call 3rd grade anything intense.)

This kid – he basically enjoys life. Things that distract from life-enjoyment can be frustrating to him. He likes to ponder and experience people/places/things. Slow and steady set his pace. The striving part of life is a give or take for him. Don’t get me wrong; he enjoys a challenge. But he’s a linger-er, happy to celebrate others achievements as well as his own.

His preferred basketball attire attests to this regular mentality. Most kids gravitate toward cool kicks, famous-logo’d shorts, socks and stuff. Not Jack. No, he prefers wearing a knit collared-shirt under his basketball jersey. Button-shorts are his gear of choice (he’ll wear sport shorts, usually hiked high) as are generic white tube socks from Target topped by his ittle black Converse school shoes.

He dresses himself.

It’s not like we don’t have the cool gear (I mean, he’s the third boy – and the last kid; so besides having plenty of hand-me-downs, we’d probably get him just about anything he’d like); he just doesn’t care. Maybe he does and he’s expressing his particular taste.

Or – maybe some of his regular has to do with his older brother – a 7th grader who is also content with steady. This one stays his own course – rarely compelled by what others are doing. He still has no cell phone. Whether you think a 7th grader needs a phone or not isn’t the issue – the fact is almost all do. But not this kid. [And it isn’t because he has on-top-of-things good parents being ever so careful too keep the evil social media/internet/snap-chat world at bay. Mmmm, not so much. Remember, laid-back is the operative word around here.]

He’s never asked for a phone, so we’ve never done much about it. And if/when we’ve asked if he’d like one, his reply has always been no. And truth be told, we’ve actually tried to push for one. Many aspects of our life would be easier if the kid had a phone. It’s very helpful for your teen to have a way to be reached. AND it can be a little annoying when his friends add you to their text thread since they have no way to add him. It’s true. Jon is on a 7th grade group text.

It’s just that the kid is fine with the way things are. He’s not chomping at the bit to be in the know even if it means he might be left out of some things.

So – Thank you kind coaches for putting up with us, for encouraging the little guy and pushing him onward and upward – as in up off the bench!

Thank you friends for meeting phone-less where he is. It would be easier for you to leave him out, but you creatively do your best to keep him in the loop.

In this high-octane world that might fool us into thinking that there’s only one lane heading north – the fast lane – we’re here to let you know that slow and steady is still around. And, quite frankly, it’s not that bad. It’s pretty nice.

It often teaches me a thing or two along the way – usually a reminder to take it slow myself to stay the course, to enjoy the scenery and to relish in relationship rather than be distracted by loads of high-octain opportunites.

Thanks for walking the road with me.

-Kay

jack

fashion mogul – we set the standard over here :)

Something to Talk About

A Great Big World - Say Something Album artwork

A Great Big World – Say Something Album artwork

Walking by a hearse with a teenage daughter isn’t on my Top Ten list of things I’d like to do. Sitting next to a teenage daughter at the end of a row of her grieving friends, struggling with disbelief, in a sanctuary anchored by a simple casket – not on that list either. Especially when that casket holds the lifeless body of their friend.

That was yesterday [really, Tuesday].

So please bear with me as I briefly grapple. Because I’m sad. Sad for those kids. Sad for my daughter. Deeply, so deeply, grieved for the family. So very sad for her.

And I’m mad.

I’ve started and stopped this post over a dozen times. But I wanted to write because I feel like something needs to be said; but words are really hard to find.

Within the span of one-week two teenage kids in our neck of the woods (one in San Antonio, one in our neighborhood – my daughter’s friend) decided the world would be a better place without them. In San Antonio, it’s clear that bullying played a crucial role in a worn-out boy’s decision to part with life on this earth. My daughter’s friend’s decision is likely another story, though we don’t know much about the why in her case.

Her decision literally shocked everyone. Shock is an understatement. Her friend group is as encouraging and others-centered as any can be at their age. She has a very loving family, a committed community of faith, supportive teachers. What was she thinking? What lies stole her thoughts?

It appears as if, somewhere deep inside, pressures to measure-up duped this sweet girl into believing the importance of reaching an elusive mark. And it was too much. We’ll never know exactly which lie won, because we can’t ask her. And no one knew she needed to be asked. She was so busy encouraging everyone else, making those around her smile – it was easy to assume her tank was filled to overflowing.

But in a place only she knew, her tank was not full. And, she will be so very missed.

We can’t bring these kids back. But I hope that the bad-messaging which held them hostage can be countered by truth, so that those who are left behind can find some footing.

Mis-messaging hardwires itself into a kids’ thoughts. Tween/teens can easily buy into a flawed message that they’re stupid, fat, ugly, a loser – so many non-truths – even when their homes and real-friends promote messaging that is completely counter to those thoughts. The world around these kids (with its pressures, social media, anonymity-based platforms, …)  can pack plenty of punch to make a fit kid feel fat and a smart kid feel stupid. It can make almost anyone feel completely alone while sitting in a crowd.

Pressures have always existed and will absolutely continue to exist. It could be bullying. It could be the vice-grip that dupes kids (us) into believing that they (we) have to achieve/to be/to do in order to be okay. Measuring lines involving all-things Pre-AP/AP or 4.0 or 30+ACT or 2400 SAT or Varsity or Starting A-Team or the right date/right group, … fill in the blank are nothing short of ruthless. Because the minute a mark is within reach, it moves and begs for more attaining.

So – why not talk about it. I think talking is important.

  • Talk about how hard life is – we don’t have to pretend like it isn’t; we don’t need to sugarcoat it. Let’s ask questions – where do you feel pressure? Where do you see friends struggling? Are you struggling? Am I pressuring you? – It’s okay, let’s figure it out.
  • Talk about seeing the unseen – help them keep their eyes open to see beyond themselves, to see the lonely, to see the sad – to see the good when someone can’t see it themselves.
  • Encourage compassion – to consider how someone else feels when…
  • Talk about how there is more to life than a moment
  • Talk about how their/our self-worth isn’t determined by a score or a grade or a party invitation. Throw in some perspective – from our own lives (you know, how looking back it wasn’t such a big deal that most of Saturday nights were spent with Julie & her Love Boat crew) and from theirs – because perspective is always available. It tends to bring with it some needed oxygen.
  • Talk about how comparing accomplishments (test grades, scores, tryouts, …) whether in person or via texts might carry with it some major underlying, potentially harmful, messaging.
  • Talk about what’s on the other side of actions. Most kids have little to no clue as to the consequences that their actions (which easily seem trite in the moment) can have on someone. So talk about it.

“It’s interesting,” my friend B said when we were trying to make some sense of it all. “I just had a conversation on Friday with one of my kids.”

“There was some talk that had gone on within a group at school,” she shared. “None of it was intentionally rude or mean – but it certainly could have landed that way on one of the kids who has been hurt in the past. I talked with my teen about how sometimes we need to purposefully put ourselves in someone else’s shoes – to be aware of the way that remarks/invites/not-being-invited can be taken – to consider the person on the other side.”

It’s hard during adolescence to go that far. Everything in their world screams for them to see everything as it relates to them.

“It was really good,” she continued. “Once we talked about how words can so easily be misconstrued, he was actually quick to get it. And he was so open to being more aware and considerate. Just thinking about it seemed to lighten his overall load. Listen – if a teen boy can get there, we all have hope.”

I’m not naive enough to think that talking will solve this problem, but maybe its a start.

And, maybe while talking, we can get to the place where truth is spoken. The truth that we all – at the core of our being – desire to be known, to be loved and to belong.

What I’d give for these kids to have heard the Truth that they are all of those things.

Thanks for walking the (tear-stained) road with me.

-Kay

[more to the story:

I asked my oldest daughter to read this – just to be sure my own emotion didn’t make it un-readable or so many things. Her reply: “Yes – on the knowing you’re loved part especially. Sometimes I can catch myself watching a romantic movie and thinking – oh if only a cute boy can love me that way, then everything would be okay. Then I remember how loved I am by the Lord who sacrificed a lot in order to be sure I know. And I want my thoughts anchored on God rather than all the other stuff around me. He isn’t shifting ground like everything else seems to be.”

As usual – I yield the floor to wisdom from a shot-gun passenger. I really love the car and conversation it promotes :) ]