Monday, November 25, 2013

The Try-out

Did you ever wonder how people know that they have certain talents?  Or even how some people have the confidence to present themselves / audition in front of strangers?  The key is the ability to do these “things”, talents or skills to strangers, as doing them in front of family and friends has an element of comfort.  For many people it is difficult for them to take the initial step to join a new organization, try out for a sport, or pursue a new avenue of interest.  That initial step…Tammy Stanley, in her book “Carpe Phonum” makes the point that we often lack confidence before we do anything and that it is the act of doing that helps us to gain confidence.  Sometimes it is our beliefs in our abilities that help us to overcome these initial feelings.

One of the great things about being a parent is watching our children develop into young adults and the accomplishments that they realize and attain on their journeys through life.  As they grow up, they often reach points where there is a new experience waiting for them and they hesitate before moving forward.  When they accomplish each of these, it gives us ample cause to be proud of them.  The interesting thing is that sometimes we have more confidence belief in their abilities to succeed than they do.  Case in point, this year my daughter, Rebecca, decided that she wanted to try out for the bowling team.  She has always enjoyed going bowling with family and friends, but she saw this as an opportunity to do something a little different.  The coach held two practices that doubled as a chance for him to decide who would be on the team this year.  During the first session, my daughter bowled next to the Varsity team, where they were bowling 240 or better.  Needless to say, this can be intimidating to anyone; so for the next session, my wife and I encouraged her to go and just do her best.

Many times, we reach a juncture in our life where we have to make a decision about what we will do next.  Life really is about choices.  We make choices daily as part of our regular routine and do not even realize it at the time.  Sometimes, we need to step back, take a deep breath and remember our original reason (our why) for taking the initial action to be able to make the subsequent choices, which at the time seem large and confusing before us.  How many of us have seen this where we work, or while coaching sports, where someone gets intimidated, stops and in some cases a little extra effort could have made the difference in their performance?  Sometimes, a few words of encouragement are all that are needed to help restore their confidence and then their goal can be accomplished.  

And yes, we are the proud parents of our daughter for doing her best and making the High School Bowling team!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lessons from Yoga Class

Recently, I started taking a weekly yoga class with my wife, Debbie, and daughter, Rebecca.  This was an opportunity to get some much needed exercise and to spend some time together at an activity we wanted to do.  Yoga is defined in Webster’s dictionary as “a system of exercises for attaining bodily or mental control and well-being” and involves a sequence of balancing and stretching poses.  Our class ranges in age from preteens to older participants and is taught by a young women in her 20’s.  The session starts with some relaxation focusing your mind on something you want to contemplate during the class.  This is followed by a series of poses involving bending parts of your body, while keeping other parts straight.  My first experience I was positioned next to a youngster that was very flexible…I found out that my body has long ago lost that bit of flexibility.

As my body is creaking and groaning, in my mind, I began to picture the life cycle of a tree.  When a tree is a sapling, it tends to be more flexible and have an ability to bend easily (like the youth next to me) in the wind.  As the tree matures, the trunk broadens the tree becomes more rigid and less flexible (like myself).  But is this something that manifests itself in body only?  Children have a way of looking at the world with bright wide open eyes, where every new experience is a wonder to them.  Their minds are open to take in all that they perceive.  How many times as a child have you told your parents of some wonderful new discovery and their responses shut down that avenue for you, couched in some reasoning that made no sense?  Have we in turn done the same to our children?  I remember early in my career working with some people (that were closer to my age now) in an Accounts Receivable department, laughing at me when I tried showing them how a computer could help them.  Time and technology moved forward, but these people had become rigid in their approach.  The older we become, the more set in our ways we are and less open to newer thoughts and ideas.  

“Bend forward and touch your nose to your knees while keeping your leg straight.”  This next instruction woke me from my wondering thoughts, as I could see my knee, but like the mighty oak, there was no bending going on from me.  While I made light of the situation, inside I felt frustrated that my body had reached this state.  I realized that I am not ready to give up on my flexibility, in either my body or my mind.  After the class was over, I asked the instructor if there was a chance that I could become more “bendy” in the future.  “Yes,” she answered, “after a few months of practicing.”  There is a Yiddish word, bashert, which in its simplest translation means “meant to be”.  Initially, taking up Yoga was meant to be a family activity, but I guess it was meant to be a chance to engage in a healthy exercise routine and an opportunity for working on myself to become more flexible in mind, body and soul.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Birthday Reflections

I just finished a weekend with chance to have celebrated another year spent on this planet!  I have always looked forward to my birthday.  There are many people that I know that when this day comes for them, they down play the day, not wanting to make a deal out of getting older.  Since I was a child, I have always said that I am going to live to at least 100!  Can you imagine reaching an age where there is an additional digit?

For me, a birthday really is all about celebrating a very special event in our lives – our birth!  Early in the process, a miraculous event occurs which leads to defining the uniqueness that each of us represents.  When a new born enters this world, we all celebrate the new life and wish them a long, happy, healthy and prosperous time while here on Earth.  Once a year, we have the opportunity to remember and reflect on that date to which our lives started.  This is one day where it does get to be all about us!  We have made it through another year, a year that did have positive accomplishments.  The things that did not get accomplished…guess what, they can be addressed within the upcoming year.

This is also a time to be grateful for the events and people that fill our lives.  All of us are impacted in some way or other by the people we know, the people we meet or the people that we read about.  We are all impacted by the choices that we make, the events we choose to participate in or the situations that come upon us.  For all of these things, we are positively impacted and / or we learn something from the occurrence.   I am thankful for my parents bringing me into this world.  I am thankful for finding Debbie, my wife and best friend to share my life with.  I am thankful for Gabrielle and Rebecca, two wonderful children that have blessed our lives.  I am thankful for the pets that we have had.  I am thankful for my brothers and their families.  I am thankful for my entire family and I am thankful for my friends. I am thankful for the people I meet, the places that I go and the things that occur around me.  It is all of these things that fill my life, our lives, with meaning and make each day exciting to wake up to.


Words are funny things.  We all use them every day, all the time, to communicate with other people.  We tell young children instead of grunting and pointing to use their words to let us know what they want.  We say them, we write them, we sing them, we sign them, we use Morse code, we text them and we type them.  Sometimes, we evaluate the type of words that other people use as a barometer of their knowledge, whether they realize it or not, whether our assumptions are correct or not.  Some words can stand alone and communicate volumes of information and meaning, while other words are better paired with vocal intonation and / or facial expression to get the meaning across.  For instance, sarcasm works great face-to-face and can be humorous, while if written in an email might come across as an insult.

Some words are used to make us feel good, while others are used to make us feel bad.  There are words that provide a positive connotation, and there are words that provide a not so positive connotation.  Some words help us to enforce a position, some words show commitment, some words show disinterest, and some words confound the issue.  The more we engage in personal development, the more we read and the more we listen to thought leaders, the better our vocabulary becomes and the better we communicate thoughts, concepts and visions.

One word that I have recently found to be confusing is the word try.  “I will give it a try.”  Does that mean you will do it, or might do it?  “I will try to do it.”  When will that event occur?  “At least I tried.”  What does that mean, gave it a thought?  “Did you really try?” “I can try again.”  “I can try later.”  “When the time is right, I will give it a try.”  “At least I gave it the college try.”  What does that mean?!?  If I failed out of college my first semester, can I use that phrase?  “I tried.”  “Try one’s luck.”  Now there is a real commitment to something substantial!

Choose your words well and they in turn will serve you well…