Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What to do, what to do?

Thinking about what my future holds - career-wise - it seems there are always options.

I could become a Walmart Greeter. Maybe my skills as a counselor could somehow work into the greeting process. "Good morning and welcome to Walmart. By the look on your face, you seem to be having a tough morning. Is there anything I can do to help? I have a private office right over here."

For the longest time, I've had a talent for organizing things. Coupled with my recent experience of simplifying my life and eliminating clutter, I think I could provide a valuable service to other people looking to de-clutter and organize. I'm not ready to start a business, advertise and stuff like that. But maybe through word of mouth my availability to help will spread.

Private practice counseling is a possibility. I've had people in Twin Falls suggest that I would be a valuable counseling asset in the Magic Valley. I don't know how many counselors there are who are Christian, and male, but I'm guessing the number is small. I think the church I attended could offer some referrals, and maybe even a site. There seem to be some possibilities here in the Treasure Valley too. The trick is in finding the right counseling center to work in, and the right people to work with.

Provided I get a doctoral degree, I could become a counselor educator. Of course with $40,000 in student loans, pursuing another degree doesn't seem to be the prudent thing. Plus, I'm not sure I'm healthy enough to put sufficient energy into a degree.

Maybe I could mow lawns, or work at a golf course. Sitting on a mower, with the noise that drowns out the whole world - sometimes that seems like a good job. When I was a golf pro I would sometimes help the maintenance crew, mowing the rough. I could spend 8 hours just sitting on the mower, going round and round. I enjoyed it.

I could always accept a position as Presidential consultant. The past 3 presidents have asked me to work with them, advising them on the most important issues. I'm in very high demand.

The next step is going to be interesting, that's for sure.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mark agrees about Regrets

‎"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

~Mark Twain

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Blessings of Selflessness

Selfishness, I think, is putting my own interests ahead of the interests of others. What's more, selfishness is allowing my interests to hurt those around me, or damage relationships in my life - current and potential.

Before rheumatoid arthritis became such a large part of my life, I was independent. I thought that if I couldn't do something myself, it wasn't worth doing. I didn't want to impose on anyone else. By asking for help, not only was I taking advantage of those around me, I was also admitting that I was incapable, weak.

There came a point when the RA made it necessary for me to ask for help. I no longer had a choice; I was incapable and weak. Admitting that to others and myself was not noble or courageous. It was accepting the facts of my new life. So I started asking for help. I asked a Wendell family to help with yardwork. They came and mowed my lawn, pulled weeds, raked leaves. They helped me fill a drop-box full of trash to clean out my back yard. For several years, they came over any time I needed help.

I felt selfish. I was imposing on their family, their time, their energy, their kindness. At least that's how I felt, what I thought.

Turns out, I was completely wrong. Each time my friends came to help me, they thanked me for the opportunity to help. They thanked me for allowing them to help. They thanked me for blessing their lives by receiving their kindness. By giving them an outlet for their kindness and love, I was blessing them. At the same time, they were blessing me.

Selfishness results in hurt all around. Selflessness brings joy and blessing to everyone involved.

There is a new person in my life, someone who refuses to accept help. Actually, it's not always a refusal, more often its a reluctance. I want to show kindness, but I'm not allowed an opportunity for that kindness. This friend believes they're being selfish my accepting my kindness. I want to show them that refusing my kindness is more selfish than asking for it.

A selfish person demands, "You have two apples. Give me one, now." That demand ignores my feelings, takes away my options.
A selfless person asks, "You have two apples. May I have one?" That request respects my feelings, gives me options. That request honors my desire to help.

A selfish person refuses to ask for help when it's needed.
A selfless person asks for help, giving other people the opportunity to help.
A selfless person creates blessings in the life of the giver and receiver.

If you are my friend, I may ask you for help. Maybe you can help, maybe you can't. Either way, I want to strengthen my relationship with you by asking.
If you are my friend, you can ask me for help. I might be able to help, I might not be able to help. Either way, you bless my life through your request.
If you are my friend, I may give you a gift: time, attention, energy, even something material. Whatever I give, I give freely, to my friend. Honor my gift by receiving it. Allow us both to be blessed through the giving.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Regrets?

I've always been bothered by the question, "Do you have any regrets?" It's a difficult question to ask, more difficult to answer. Every choice I've ever made has influenced who I am today. If I had it to do over, if I could re-choose some things, I might decide not to eat that whole pizza (I got sick), or I might have chosen to be nicer to my sister that one time. But overall, I like who I am and I like my life. I'm here today because of the decisions I've made.

But looking back, I do have a few regrets.

I regret not learning Spanish when I was young. in junior high I took Spanish from Ms. Questad. Who knows why I enrolled - I didn't last very long. I remember learning the word "motocicleta." Other than that, I don't remember learning much. It's not Ms. Questad's fault though. I was a horrible student, mean to her, disruptive, disrespectful and unwilling to try. Looking back now, I wish I could go back to that junior high kid and let him know how important Spanish will be in his future. I would tell him that he'll end up working in a small town in Idaho, meeting some great Latino families. I'd tell him that knowing Spanish will give him a way to connect with some amazing kids. I'm trying to learn Spanish now, but esta muy dificil para mi.

I regret not being part of a young married couple. I recently went to my cousin's wedding, my young cousin's wedding. He and his new bride are still kids. They're going to grow up together, become adults together. They're going to struggle, wonder how they're going to make it, decide when to have kids, go on fun vacations together. I'll never get to experience that and I wish I could have.

I regret not having kids, my own kids. I love my Wendell kids - love them like they're my own. I love my niece and nephew, who lived with me for several years. I love the new kids in my life, two sisters and a brother whom I think God brought into my life so I'd have someone to pay attention to. Even so, I wish I had my own biological kids. I wish I had someone to call me dad.

Lastly, I regret not keeping a journal. I have a horrible memory, apparently. I used to think I had a good memory, but there is so much from my life that I just don't remember. My parents tell stories about when I was a kid and I listen thinking, "Where was I when that happened?" Someday I'd love to write a memoir, but there'd be nothing to put in it. I'd have to make up the stories, guess at how I was feeling, what I was saying.

I do like my life. I think I'm a good person and I don't want to spend my time wishing I had a different life. God has me where I am for a reason, and I'm content in my circumstances, content with my decisions.

Friday, July 1, 2011

What is this journey?

The Moors of North Africa have a saying: Choose your companions before you choose your road.

When I was in Wendell, I definitely had an incredible group of companions. The staff, administration, parents, church friends - and even students - were companions beyond compare.
With these people, the road was not so important.
With these companions, every road would be enjoyable, successful, and satisfying.
When I was in Wendell, I chose the best possible companions.

Switch thoughts for a moment.

A friend asked me how my book was coming. I told her that although I'd still like to write one, and I've written small parts here and there, I just can't find the focus; I can't seem to find a way to pull it all together. I want to write a book about contentment and simplicity.

She wondered if my difficulty is related to being in Nampa physically, yet still feeling so connected to Wendell. Mentally, emotionally, I might still be there. This division of focus and attention creates complexity rather than simplicity.

This division creates so many questions in me.

How do I focus on my current journey or my future journey when I don't have any idea what that is?
Am I supposed to forget Wendell?
How do I remain connected to the important relationships I've built in Wendell?
Where am I supposed to place my focus and attention?

I have to trust that God knows what the plan is.
I have to trust that God is direction my path, even when I can't see any indication that a path exists.

Some days that trust is much easier said than done.