Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Tubing down the Chattahoochee River

Tubing on the Chattahoochee

—–Last summer, I had the chance to participate in one my favorite summer activities—tubing down the Chattahoochee River. I would be meeting up with a group that had camped in the area and the tubing excursion was the last of the activities for the weekend. Like all back country adventures spotty cellphone service made it difficult to reach the group by phone so I would make the drive with the hope of meeting at the designated time. I left my house around 9 am to make the two-hour drive to the Chattahoochee River head waters. I arrived on time and found a parking spot right across from the outfitter. My group should have been there already, but they were nowhere in sight. As I waited, the line at the outfitter began to grow. It was now around noon and prime time to get in the water for the two hour ride down the river. I sent several text messages, but after no answer there was no way to know if they were on the way or if I had missed them. I decided it was best to get in line before it grew any longer. As I stood there, I kept looking for my group, but by the time I got my tube and boarded the bus, it was clear I’d have to go it alone.

—–The bus ride over to the launch site was filled with groups of friends and families casually laughing and joking as the bus maneuvered the busy streets. I was the only solo tuber and wondered if I should have waited a little while longer for my group. My previous tubing trip had been with a large group that decided to link their tubes and experience the length of the river together. It was lots of fun, but not without hang-ups, literally. Occasionally, someone would get snagged on rock or some other misfortune and as a result would have their link disconnected so the group could float on. We reached the site and I launched into the cool waters wondering what was in store. On the outset, there was an immediate traffic jam. All that could be seen for several feet ahead were neon green and pink tubes. The sun shined down brightly on my head and for relief I would dip my hand in the water and pat my face with the frigid waters. It wasn’t long before I settled in and the current began to swiftly take me down river. I laid back and let the sun warm my limbs and face. It had been a while since I had taken in this much sun. As I moved down the river, the trees overhead framed the sky and for moments on end my mind would float away and thoughts flowed in and out like the current of the river. When my attention came back into focus, my eyes would catch the view of fellow tubers enjoying the same experience. Groups tethered together would be run aground on the rocks which required someone getting out and ushering them around the obstacle. Unencumbered, I would float past these groups. After witnessing this scene over and over, it hit me that my solo experience on the river was vastly different from those around me. It was easier for me to see what was ahead and negotiate the obstacle with relative ease. For long stretches, I would drift down the river half asleep until my tube caught the edge of the river or tangled in some brush. I was unencumbered and worry free. My thoughts and priorities all my own.

—–My trip down the river paralleled my life in many ways. On many ventures planned with friends and partners circumstance forced me to go it alone. At first things were scary. I worried if I could handle it on my own. The first steps were filled with doubt, but as I made my way fear was replaced with empowerment. Uneasiness replaced with strength. My wings had spread. I had taken flight and my destination was in sight. I could trust my ideas. I could trust myself. Now, I approach life differently. I start out on my own and invite friends and partners once the foundation has been laid. If they join in I am excited. If not, then I go on my way. No expectation and no disappointment and my tube keeps floating down the river.

The Natural Order of Things

worry free

            I am a planner more like a worrier.  And yes, I know worrying never changes anything.  When I embark upon something new, the inside of my brain resembles a fine tuned production facility…on steroids!  Thoughts are whizzing about my head filling it with EVERY scenario known to man.  At times, I wish I could just flip a switch or hit the easy button to make all of the thoughts go away.   I realize more than ever that life does not have to be a taxing routine.  I can be happy and successful without a rigid 10 step approach.  I’m taking a step back and letting balance establish itself through the natural order of things. Who cares if it’s not on a spreadsheet or if we take an unconventional path as long as the end result is the same.

Live Like You Are Dying

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          In recent years, I have had old friends lose a parent to a terminal illness like cancer or heart disease.  One friend in particular lost her mother only after losing her father a few years earlier.  The loss of one parent can be devastating, but the loss of two can be unimaginable especially when you are relatively young.  Plotting a course forward without their love and guidance can be difficult to say the least.  I know from my own personal experience with my father that a terminal diagnosis sneaks up on you when you are unprepared and leaves you spinning in circles and asking why?  The journey can be exhausting emotionally, mentally and physically.  I consider myself fortunate in that my father’s battle with cancer continues, but eventually it will win.  Being past the initial shock, surgery and rounds of chemotherapy, I can reflect more on what his cancer journey means to me.  As I care for my father and encourage him onward, I began to take a look at my own life.  I noticed that death and dying is not relegated to the old, but that young and old leave this world at the same rate.  The death of a young adult or even a child is particularly hard to bear because we think they had their whole lives ahead of them, but in reality no one is promised a long life.  With that I mind, I began to examine the habits of my own life and asked myself some tough questions.  If I were to die today would I feel like I had made the most of my life?  Am I wasting time and energy by harboring old grudges and hurts?  Is there a fence I need to mend?  Could I have been kinder to people or volunteered more?  What dreams have I long ago abandoned? I knew the answers and I knew what I had to do.  It started with forgiveness.  Forgiving others for what happened in the past and forgiving myself for not making the most of my time. For me forgiveness cleaned the slate.  It provided a new start that allowed me to shake away the past and move forward with my eye on the future.

When I looked back over my life I could see how I could have made better use of my time both personally and professionally and I committed myself to make a change.  I am a person of lists and of making plans and without them I am soon adrift with nothing to propel me forward.  Instead of a New Year’s Resolution, I decided to set goals and post in them in frequently visited places in my home like my office and bathroom. With setting goals, there needs to be an action plan for reaching those goals.  For the first time in my life, I made a daily plan where every hour of the day is assigned an activity.  Even beyond making a daily plan, it allowed me to identify what was important to me and the things I am passionate about and to make a concerted effort to incorporate those priorities and passions into my daily life.  In a year from now or five years from now I want to look back with no regrets having used my time wisely.  I want my investment of time to reflect what matters to me the most.  I will live each day like I am dying.

When Waiting Seems Like Forever

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             I hate waiting!!  I have always been impatient.  It’s one of my many flaws that for years I projected on others.  “These people need to get their act together.”  “How long does it take to do such and such?” “I have another appointment.” You know the routine.  My foot tapping, loud voice and rolling my eyes never advanced my cause.  Honestly, it probably hurt it.  Over the years, I have grossly abused the concept of multi-tasking in order to get things done quicker.  Take for instance cooking.  Ever filled a pot while popping chicken in the microwave to defrost and cutting vegetables and talking on the phone while watching television at the same time.  Guilty as charged and the result is an off-tasting meal because in my haste to get things done I’ve skipped a few steps like adding certain ingredients or not cooking according to the recipe. I watch in utter amazement people who are patient and wonder what’s their secret.  The frantic pace in which I move to get things done often leaves me exhausted and quality is sacrificed.  I sometimes justified my actions by telling myself, “At least I finished first,” but deep down inside I was disappointed in myself because I knew I could have done a better job.  Now that I am officially over the hill and have taken stock in my life I decided to make a conscious effort to be more patient.  Not just with cooking and other mundane tasks, but patient with people and certainly with myself. 

            What I’ve come to realize is that my impatience is an imaginary race with myself and my fears.  I’ve rushed through moments in life when I should have paused and appreciated the moment for what it was.  Those lost moments add up to a significant amount of time where I’ve deprived myself of the full experience of life. When I am patient I am amazed at what unfolds before my eyes in the form of resolutions to problems or a better understanding of what is happening.  By being patient I am able to respond appropriately and in a manner that relieves stress and anxiety from the equation. I am most amazed at what people will do on your behalf if you are just patient enough to give them a chance.  Patience is truly a virtue and something we should all strive for in our personal and professional lives.  As I approach the second half of my life, I feel better prepared to handle the ups and downs because I know the importance of patience and what it brings to my life.  Make a commitment today to be more patient.  You won’t be disappointed.  I promise.

The Melody Of Your Life

Friends

              I have always been enamored by people with magnetic personalities.  You know the ones who make friends easily, can start a conversation with almost anyone and can rally support from a broad base of people.  You love to be around them and they love to be around people.  I have met many of those personalities over the years and I have watched them closely to see what personality traits I could incorporate in myself.  I love their ease with people. Their conversations effortlessly evolve and their ideas are positively received.  Secretly, my envy of them runs deep because it doesn’t come natural for me.  I have always been quiet and reserved and it takes me a long time to warm up to people.  I know this is my nature, but like every human being on the planet I want to make connections and friends with the people I meet. 

Several years ago, the discipleship and evangelism pastor at my church said something very profound to me.  He said, “People are attracted to the melody of your life.”  Sort of like if you’re singing a great song others want to join in the merriment.  Most people want to be around a kindred spirit.   Someone who you have something in common, someone who makes you feel good about yourself or someone who makes you laugh.  The melody of your life has the power to attract others to you or make them retreat.  The melody we make can be a natural outward expression of our internal spirit or we can make a conscious choice to change the record and sing a better tune. I constantly self-evaluate and take inventory of what melody I am singing.  Am I being negative?  Am I angry more than I should be?  Is it better to keep silent rather than criticize?  Believe it or not, someone is always watching and making silent judgments about you based upon the melody you are making. 

Take a look at yourself and inventory the people you are attracting.  Are they positive and supportive or are they critical and abrasive?  If you don’t like what you see consider changing your tune!