Tag Archives: goals

Reflections ~ On the Changing of the Year

I recently read an article by Melinda Gates that talked about goals and New Year resolutions. She wrote something that resonated with me. She does not make resolutions or goals for the new year, she has been trying something different. She chooses a word. Last year she chose the word grace. She reminds herself of her chosen word throughout the year in situations great and small, triumphant and trying. It is a touch stone that guides, rather than defines, her goals for the coming year. I love that idea, so I thought I would give it a try.

There are oh so many marvelous words in the world, choosing one can be rather daunting, but it is worth the effort. My word for 2019 is “seasoned.” Season is both a noun, and a verb. As such, it can describe an accomplished goal, or the process. Common synonyms include, experienced, accustomed, toughened, inured, and habituated. Or, it can mean the fullness of time for the seasonal cycles of the earth, or the perfect moment to consume a fruit or vegetable. Season gives balance, flavor, a richness to things when properly applied. Season, and its related forms, can bring to mind a hint of a flavor, a powerful storm, the aging of fine wood, the smiling face of a wise old mentor, or the face of a storied warrior. Seasoning is how we become.

This word will serve me well, I believe. There are some areas of my life and my developed personal philosophy that have come to fullness. There will always be more to learn, but I feel settled in the direction that learning should take me. Let’s say I have found a distant star and know that it exists. Now I wish to know all about that star, what it is made of, when it was born, when it will die, and what depends on its existence. There are always amazing things to learn even if you feel settled in the path from which you explore them.

I’m not sure I can claim maturity in the full sense of the word. Yes, I am more mellow and more understanding than when I was younger. I am better at leaving well enough alone and at walking away when I believe my presence will cause more harm than good. However, I’m also rather uncompromising when it comes to core values. There are actions my heart has no room for and if people try to convince me there is no solution, then I believe we are looking at the problem incorrectly. There is a solution, but to find it we must first be willing to understand all aspects, all points of view. We need to look deeper to better understand while acknowledging that we are not the metric by which the whole world must be measured.

Consequently, in this coming year, I want to remind myself of the investment in time and knowledge required to mature to fullness; and that it can be a rocky road. I want to find the knee-jerk in my mind and mellow it a bit more so that I am able to frame alternatives in the manner needed for the audience. I want to work on the rough edges of my personality and learn to be a bit more tolerant of the perceived foibles of others. I want to season my presence in the world.

There is one other aspect of “seasoned” that resonates with me. Not only does season refer to experience or flavor, it also refers to cycles and timeliness. This, too, is a critical piece of any decision or goal. Is it time? Is it time for here, but not there? Sometimes we are in such a hurry to make sure our thoughts, our goals, our beliefs are known, that we miss the perfect moment for reception. Communication does not occur unless there is a confirmed receipt of the message. I want to be more mindful of the time and place for sharing. I want to hone my skills like those of a surfer that knows the moment to accept the wave. I want to be more aware of when the piece I have to share will do the most good. My door is always open, I want to get better at knowing when to start the tea.

There are many songs that speak to my heart when it comes to finding the better way, or to reminding me that even the smallest of contributions can make a difference. Recently, I have been reminded of this one. Somewhere in the vast ocean there are many small boats sending big waves, and with one match…

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Photo by Matheus Guimarães from Pexels

Fight Song – Dave Bassett / Rachel Platten
Fight Song lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion

And all those things I didn’t say
Wrecking balls inside my brain
I will scream them loud tonight
Can you hear my voice this time?

This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I’m alright song
My power’s turned on
Starting right now I’ll be strong
I’ll play my fight song
And I don’t really care if nobody else believes
‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me

Losing friends and I’m chasing sleep
Everybody’s worried about me
In too deep
Say I’m in too deep (in too deep)
And it’s been two years I miss my home
But there’s a fire burning in my bones
Still believe
Yeah, I still believe

Like a small boat
On the ocean
Sending big waves
Into motion
Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion

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Reflections ~ Beating the Woodpile

I had an agenda this weekend. Three uninterrupted days of homeowner bliss and a long list of to dos. Along with catching up on several bookkeeping and research chores for my various extracurricular activities, house cleaning (yes really) and errands, I had determined that I should work on my woodpile. No chopping required – just moving. Seems easy, right?

There is a story to my small mountain of wood. During December of 2007 a gale blew through Aberdeen, Washington which was made up of three powerful Pacific storms. It produced hurricane force winds and blew a bunch of things all over the place. It knocked a number of trees down in my neighborhood, some of which caused damage to the homes. Not mine, but near neighbors.

The fellow that owned my home at the time was elderly and a teeny bit paranoid. Although storms such as this would tend to challenge most anyone’s sense of security. In an effort to protect life, limb and property, he had every tree on the property over 20 feet tall chopped down. I still have lots and lots of trees around me, but the only tree of any height on the property is the perfect 20 foot (give or take) Christmas tree in front of my patio door. Such an effort produces wood. Lots of it.

Wood chopping

There is a wood stove in the home, a big one. It is evident that even after eight years of “chipping away” at the wood pile, well, there was still a great deal left. Enter me, spring of 2015. It would take me ten years to use the wood piled under the lean-to, so I sold it, turning the cash into something else the house needed. It took a number of trips for the grateful new owners to carry off their prize. A lot of trips.

Part two. I have a lovely garden shed. It has room for mowers and wheelbarrows and all sorts of things that help the inspired homeowner induce order on their own tiny piece of the globe. Except for one thing. It’s full of wood. Lots of wood. Thus the wood moving project. My goal is to empty the garden shed into the lean-to so that garden things can be moved out of the garage. Then the garage will be more available for garage things – likes tons of paper I need to go through, sort, destroy, burn, whatever. There is only one tiny little problem – focus.

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While I was loading up my wheelbarrow and transferring several loads of wood (yes really – lot more work than it looks like) from one place to the other today, and racking my brain for bloggy inspiration, focus came to mind. The ability to come up with a plan and move it forward without getting unnecessarily distracted. Note the unnecessarily.

As mentioned more than once in my writings, I am bipolar. Left to my own devices I would have several dozen projects going all at once, running from one to the other, doing bits here and there, and then falling into deep depression because, well, “nothing ever gets done!” You rarely have that satisfaction of accomplishing something, of seeing something completed successfully, because you are so busy “doing” you never “finish.” At least not to your satisfaction.

One of the tricks my husband taught me that controls this wild ride was to develop focus. Set priorities and work toward specific goals. I’m accountant. This should be easy, right? Yes with numbers. Not with life. But I have been learning, and I am beginning to see many applications requiring that same discipline of setting priorities. Attainable priorities. Then working to stick to a plan unless absolutely necessary to do something different (like emergency plumbing repairs). My “throttle” is no longer with me, but his teachings remain.

Sounds simple, right? Not necessarily. I think in this constantly-connected, always busy, always doing world of ours we all could use some practice developing focus. Not just slightly unbalanced people such as myself. As a director for a publishing company I know that we are constantly trying to do everything at once. The result of which is that nothing gets done. Someone has to decide what comes first, then the rest follows in a predetermined order and everyone, including yourself, begins to know what to expect when. But it sure isn’t easy when all those voices start saying, “Me, me, please do my stuff!” Or, “Wouldn’t it be great to start that project, it shouldn’t take more than, oh a day or two, or three…?”

My guess is it will take me a while to move my wood from point A to point B, but that’s okay. The needed work on my flower beds has advanced to the current level for the last 5 years (give or take) and it will not get materially worse while my garden shed is made operational. I will also be patient and refuse to dabble in the painting of my kitchen cabinets until my dining room set is completely refinished. One indoor project, one outdoor project. Both of which can be managed well within the day to day requirements of working for a living and keeping a house functional, clean and maintained.

No, it’s not easy and sometimes I have to remind myself almost daily, “Wait. You will get to that.” But the result is that now I often get to enjoy the feeling of reaching the finish. Of having accomplished something, and to have done it to the best of my ability. I’ll see you at the woodshed.

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Filed under Personal Journeys

Reviews ~ Learning to Drive

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, available for $9-$20

“The car goes where the eyes go.”

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A friend of mine recommended this book. There are a myriad of reasons why she might have, not the least of which it’s a dang good book. The main character is a dog. It is from his viewpoint, thoughts, successes and failures that we see the life of a man who is at heart a champion. A champion race car driver. It takes him a long time to realize his goal and the story of how he finds his path from behind the customer service desk of a high-end automobile service garage and onto the race tracks of Europe, well, that is our tale, you see.

Enzo, our beloved hero, is a mutt with maybe a bit of terrier. He’s a smart dog. Bored to distraction while his pal, Denny, is at work. He finally finds an outlet when the TV is left on one morning and Enzo takes on the job of educating himself. Denny sets limits but makes sure that Enzo is exposed to variety. Soon he spends long hours absorbing human interactions and thought process available on the channels he is permitted to watch. And there are always the videos. Videos of races from around the world that he and his pal watch, always with lessons about what went wrong, what went right and what it takes to be a champion. And how to drive in the rain.

Of all the programs that affect Enzo the most, one is a National Geographic program about the dogs of Mongolia. Here it is believed that if a dog does very well in his life, he may have the opportunity to become a human in the next life. Enzo sets this as his goal. The very thought of acquiring opposing thumbs and a tongue that actually responds to commands—well this change becomes his checkered flag.

Denny suffers a number of setbacks. Money, the loss of his beloved wife and a long and debilitating fight for the custody of his daughter. But he is a champion, and when he wavers on his path, Enzo jumps in with his dog-like persistence and finds a way to get Denny’s eyes back on the track.

Another saying used wisely in these pages is, “No race has ever been won in the first corner; many have been lost there.” The need to keep a goal in sight, no matter what obstacles are in the way, is the only chance of reaching it. Yes, there are things in life that you cannot change, but there are those you can. And for those you must stay the course. Not squeezing the wheel in desperation until your joints ache and you no longer “feel,” but with calm awareness of everything around you so that you can avoid losing control, over correcting, and ending up in a heap at the side of the road.

One more gem from Enzo. “Racers are often called selfish and egotistical. I myself have called race car drivers selfish; I was wrong. To be a champion, you must have no ego at all. You must not exist as a separate entity. You must give yourself over to the race. You are nothing if not for your team, your car, your shoes, your tires. Do not mistake confidence and self-awareness for egotism.” To win you must be aware of everything around you, know the most effective response without really thinking, and keep your eyes where you want the car to go. It takes practice, it takes will, and it takes a sincere love of the race itself.

Ah, yes, our Enzo. You observed much and learned much. I only hope your doggie soul remains so wise when it finds its human shell.

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Filed under Humanties for the Unbound Mind, My Bookshelf ~ Fiction