Balancing Yourself

•July 11, 2012 • Leave a Comment

7-11-2012 9-52-03 PM

Once again, I have to apologize for taking so long between posts.  The last several months have been full of extreme highs and lows and unfortunately I’ve been neglectful of taking the time to write my thoughts and share those little nuggets rolling around in the cranium.  I’m going to do my best to try to be more prudent about keeping the old Moose Doctrine current.

I’ve had some interesting thoughts of self realization lately.  In large part, it’s about coming to certain realization about myself and learning how to balance my principles and ideals.  I’m finding that at times we come across things about one’s self that may be conflicting and contrary but need to be carefully balanced out and thought through for success.

One of the things I’ve always liked about myself is my ambition to learn more and take on new challenges.  I thrive on this notion and enjoy the mission of being a sponge to new ideas.  Whether it’s adding a new skill set, discovering new fun things to do, see or listen to, or simply obtaining a great sense of self-sufficiency so I don’t have to depend on others to do things that I can do, I strive to always add new tools to the old belt.

Recently, my ambitions came back to haunt me.  Many of you know I’ve rekindled my love of motorcycling recently, and upon researching the costs involved with upgrading, customizing, and generally maintaining a motorcycle I took on the mission to learn as much as I can about doing it myself.  That being said, last weekend I took on my first major project working on the Harley.  About 8 hours later in the 100 degree temperatures, tattered and bleeding hands, and a ton of frustration, I discovered without a shadow of a doubt that I would never make a very effective electrical engineer.  My ambitions now are going to cost me several hundreds of dollars after trailering my toy to the dealership to be healed.

The lesson I learned is that I do need to understand my limitations, both from weighing out the things I want to take on myself and also when I choose to dive in feet first.  Sure, after a ton of training and studying, I could have accomplished the mission, but the timing of my jump coupled with the impatience to want the outcome sooner than I was capable cost me in the end.  At the same time, the other approach I learned is that I don’t likewise want the pendulum to swing too far in the other direction.  Without the risk of learning and trying, I fall into the stereotype of “nothing ventured nothing gained”.  If we don’t have ambitions and aspirations, we never enjoy the exhilaration of a job well done and the new thrill of tackling that which was previously unknown.

The challenge is learning how to carefully balance these two sides.  It’s where knowledge collides with dreams and becomes wisdom.  Enjoy the thrill of the risk, but calculate your risks.  Understand your expectations of yourself, and properly prepare to set yourself up for the greatest opportunity to succeed.  Know your limits, but just as importantly, know the right moments to push them.

Your Thinking and Unthinking Places

•May 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

5-20-2012 6-18-11 AM

Again, apologies for my delinquency on posting.  It’s been a crazy busy time in my life.  Not that this is a bad thing.  I seemingly enjoy the art of juggling many hats at multiple times.  But with so much stuff going on, it reminds me that having time to unwind and find solace in one’s thoughts is so important.  While many of us have this special place, the aspect many people fail to realize is it is just as important to find your “unthinking” place.  Your place where you can turn the world off for a bit and just unwind and unravel the days challenges.  It wasn’t until recently that I discovered where this is for me.

Many years ago, I was an off road bike enthusiast.  I lived for the thrill of racing through sand and dirt, around trees and over hills.  It was exhilarating and offered me a place to go have a little fun for a couple of days before going back to the normal hustle and bustle of life.  Unfortunately, time caught up to me as it does for everyone and age began to make the regularity of such activity more challenging, so I made the difficult decision to put this away and move on to other things in life.  I tried lots of other things to do to pass the time, but none offered me the same kind of excitement.  So, recently I made the decision to get back to my love for motorcycles in a different way, I purchased a street cruiser.  I figured that while it may not offer the same thrill as racing through the woods and sand, I might find some kindle of that old flame.  What I did not expect to find is a new peace.

You see, for any of you that have ever ridden a motorcycle on the street before, you understand that it requires concentration.  Focus on what you’re doing as well as what everyone else on the road is doing.  Calculating traffic patterns, road conditions, weather pattern, and many other factors.  I started riding my motorcycle to and from the office every day in an effort to save a little money with the rising cost of fuel.  With all of these various things that I need to focus while driving a motorcycle nearly 80 miles a day round trip, I found what I can created for myself was a bubble where I was forced to turn off the normal thoughts that used to fill my mind before or after a busy day.

A lot of my time before starting work every day was filled with running through all the things I needed to get done for the day.  Sort of scripting the day and figuring out what needed to be done.  While I would typically have it down by the time I reached the office, the inevitable other thing would come up and repurpose a lot of my efforts, leaving my plan of attack a mere suggestion at best.  Likewise, a lot of my time during my commute home in the evening was spent rehashing what had occurred during the day, good, bad, or indifferent, or thinking about things that I wanted to do once I got home.  On both sides of my commute, I never really realized the value of time to just “unjack” yourself for a while and not think about these things.

What I quickly began to find was an inner peace that came from taking the time to step away.  In stark contrast to how I was prioritizing my mind before, what I was finding was better prioritizing and accomplishment.  By allotting myself time to take all of that stuff and just shelf it for a few minutes every day, I was granting myself a new peace which made the act of doing these things more calm and subsequently more fruitful and focused.  Likewise, my evening commute gave me a place to unplug from the work day and made my time at home more focused on being connected with my family life and not so tuned into work and daily stresses.

For me, biking provided this outlet.  We all that something we do that takes our minds to somewhere other than the day to day where we can disengage and rest our heads for just a little bit.  We take for granted how important being able to just take a break for a few moments a day really is…for us, for our families, for the people that we encounter every day.  A refreshed and rejuvenated mind provides us with calmer and more calculated engagements and interactions.  We still need our time to focus on thinking and prioritizing what we need to do in order to get the job done and finish the tasks in life we need to do, but also do not neglect the need in our mind to go to a place for just a moment where there is nothing but calm, nothing but serenity, and nothing but ourselves.

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

•April 2, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Sorry once again for my continued posting delinquency.  The past several weeks have been action packed and constantly moving.  It’s been a struggle to find some time to sit down and get into my thoughts, but I’m making a point today to take a few moments to share some thoughts with you.

Life can be difficult.  Life can be challenging.  Life can be hard.  All of these are just facts.  We roll with the good and the bad and hopefully find a way to not let the negative aspects outweigh the positives.  One thing I hope that everyone will remember is we do not qualify our lives by the hardships, struggles, and difficulties we face.  Rather, we classify our quality of life by how we overcome these obstacles.

There is joy in putting a puzzle together.  Why?  If we just wanted a picture, couldn’t we have just bought one in whole?  The fact is we appreciate the challenge of putting it all together.  It can be frustrating and difficult, but it is the accomplishment we give to ourselves once it’s all complete that makes it all worthwhile and leaves us wanting to do another and another.  The gains we receive in completing the goal outweigh the struggle of attaining it.

We do not credit ourselves enough for these times.  Sometimes we pity ourselves when it gets to be to much or hang our heads and cry when we just feel like we can’t go on, but sometimes we deserve to applaud ourselves and give ourselves credit when we get through these challenges and make ourselves better.  Sometimes our lack of self confidence makes this difficult, but every victory is a victory.  Appreciate it.

Life will continue to be hard at times.  Things are not always easy.  But we need to remember that it’s the hard work, putting the puzzle together, that makes life meaningful.  We appreciate happiness that is paid for with determination and perseverance more because we made it and earned it.  Take a few moment to pat yourself on the back today.  Believe in yourself and keep going.  Every hurdle makes the next more meaningful.

Love

•March 7, 2012 • Leave a Comment

3-7-2012 7-55-35 AM

I apologize again for not writing in so long.  The last couple of weeks have been extremely difficult and the culmination is today.  This afternoon, I will be saying goodbye to someone that will forever be special to me and will remain a piece of me for the remainder of my days.  Today I say goodbye to my grandmother.

The last couple of days, as do many people, have been a tidal wave of memories and reminiscing about what kind of person she was or what her lasting legacy will be.  In the end, the only thing we leave behind is who we were and what we’ve done.  When I think about my grandmother, there is one word that stands above all…love.

My grandmother loved her grandchildren like no other.  We were all the sparkle in her eye.  She loved all of her “youngins”.  And still, my grandmother was the matriarch she needed to be.  She spoiled us immensely, yet she made sure we all stayed on the right path.  I can’t count how many times that woman threatened to “snatch a knot on my head” or “whoop my butt”, and all the same I can’t count the number of times I’ve been wrapped up in her arms getting those little pecking kisses on the forehead hearing “your grandmommy loves you so much”.  She was everything we ever needed, wanted, or could ask for in a grandmother.  I remember the sense of excitement I used to get when taking that drive down to the little town of Campton, Kentucky and remember the billowing excitement as I started recognizing the little triggering places in town knowing we were minutes away from seeing her and my grandfather, waiting at the door for us to run up and wrap our arms around them.  What I wouldn’t give for that moment just once more.

My grandmother loved her children so much.  Over the years, our family has had it’s share of ups and downs, good times and bad times.  Yet the foundation was always my grandma.  She instilled in her children the importance of family and what being a family really means.  Being a family meant pulling through the challenging times as much as relishing in the wonderful times.  Nothing meant more to her than having us all together huddled around that kitchen table while her sons and daughters shared all the gossip around that bustling metropolis of Campton.  But more important than anything is how she instilled in her children the need to be there for each other.  When times have gotten tough and we need to be there for each other, we are.  Sure, we disagree and fight at times, but it’s part of being a family.  It’s what you do when it matters that counts.  I’ve watched the way my family has pulled together over the last several weeks to take care of making my grandma’s last days as comforting as they could be and it filled me with joy knowing that this is what while my grandma would have been so mad for everyone making such a fuss over her, she would have been elated seeing them all together helping each other, comforting each other, and picking each other up when they needed it most of all.

And when I think about my grandmother’s love, it would be a travesty to not remember her biggest love of all.  I think what has made the last several weeks so much more difficult is in many ways I feel I am reliving the pain of losing my grandfather again.  It has always been hard to think of either one and not have the image of both in mind.  I have never seen two people more in love.  Now, those of us who knew them have without a doubt had the privilege of witnessing the comical bickerings that comprised the “Cord and Vernie” show, where my grandmother would typically let out a “Cord, I’m gonna sock you in the nose if you don’t just shoosh!”, and my grandfather would retort with “Ehhhhh, Vernie…now don’t you start commencing on me!” before putting those hands in his pockets to jingle some change, doing that adorable shuffle down the hallway, then falling over in his chair with a gaping mouth staring at the ceiling in almost instantaneous slumber.  We’ve laughed till we cried at these comic musings, yet none of us ever saw a love like theirs.  I remember the anguish in my grandmother’s face when he died.  A part of her went with him, there is no doubt.  They meant everything to each other, and filled each others live with smiles and laughter.

The next several months are bound to be challenging.  Memories will wash over me and my whole family for the rest of our lives.  We’ll remember watching soap operas while grandma knits what seems like enough slippers to cover ever foot on the continent.  We’ll remember the fried chicken, the mashed potatoes, and the fried apple pies.  We’ll remember getting home from that Kentucky trip to find a wad of money stuffed in our pockets that granny had hid there the night before because she knew my parents would never accept it from them.  So many things that would make me cry if I didn’t have so much to smile about.  I will miss my “mah-maw” like no other person.  She makes me who I am and a better person.  She makes our family a better family.  I miss you.  And I love you.  And as I write this, I smile because in my head I hear that familiar response she always left me with…”and I love you more”.

Night night, mah-maw.

 

Dedicated to the loving memory of Verna Bach

March 25, 1917 – March 5, 2012