Day 196: Another step forward

I’ve joined an online book group. It’s a local group, but we’re going to share our ideas on Facebook rather than in person.

There was an introductory post where everyone told a bit about themselves. All of the ladies in the group, so far, are readers. There’s not another noticeable trait in common, so it should be quite interesting to see how they view the world.

The first book we’re reading is in May and it’s fiction. As much as I love to read, most of my reading tends to be for business, so I’m looking forward to getting into a story, having a deadline to read this book, and having people to discuss it with. I’ve not read much fiction in the past few years.

I don’t know much about the book yet, but they did give a quick overview and it’s something about amnesia and trying to figure out what happened over a ten-year period. Should be interesting. I checked the page today and some people have already finished it, so I guess I’d better go pick it up. I hope I can keep up.

I keep putting myself out there, not knowing if I’m going to connect or not, but when you can find interests in common, it seems more likely that you’ll have something you can chat about. And joining in on this type of thing puts you in a more neutral place so you can even be guarded if you’re nervous.

DAY 196 HOMEWORK: Search out a group you can join. Make it something you’re interested in so you’ll have a harder time making excuses why you can’t do it. Come on…I know you do that, too. 🙂 So jump in with both feet, and start connecting.



Day 195: It’s better to know how to learn than to know.

I love the excitement that is kids. No matter what it is they’re doing, they do it with fervor, with gusto, with a love for learning and ideas that puts many adults to shame. Why is it that when most of us hit those awkward teenage years, our love for life gets swallowed up for a while in the midst of hormones and identity crises? And then it seems to hit all over again at midlife? Kids can teach us a thing or two.

Ask anyone…I’m not great with kids. If I had to work with them, I would trade them in for adults in a New York minute. However, being the observer, they are fascinating. I ran the lock and dam exhibit at our Bring Your Kids to Work Day today. I was working with a couple of Captains, who love passing their river knowledge on to others. Together, we all got a message across to the kids.

The groups were all divided by age groups. For sure, I liked best the age that was 11-ish. They were grown up enough not to be chaotic, and young enough to not yet know how to hide their excitement. They asked intelligent questions, and were happy to volunteer when we needed them to. They younger kids just wanted to run around, and the older kids were already forming those masks that hide their hormones. Of course, all groups had exceptions, but this was the average group dynamics.

As the kids moved from station-to-station, we would repeat our message, and so the day passed quickly. As we finished with each group, I went over to help the Captain who was teaching knot-tying. I learned 3 or 4 new knot tricks, and then helped the kids learn how to do them. It was hard to get some of those kids away from the knot-tying station, and that excitement was incredible to witness. You know the kind. When they keep wanting to practice and practice, even though the rest of their group has wandered on to the next exhibit. And even the ones with little expression throughout the day, when given a chance to speak into a mic and talk about the best parts of the day, were able to tell the group at large what they enjoyed most.

It was well worth the time spent, and I came back tired but enthusiastic to practice my knot-tying.

DAY 195 HOMEWORK: Learn from the kids around you. Catch their wonder. Be excited about the new things you’re learning. Take off the masks and live.


Day 194: Bring Your Kids to Work

I’m posting early today because I’m off to Paducah for a Bring Your Kids to Work day tomorrow. We have about 65 kids from age 7-15 coming to learn more about the barging industry. Every kid is supposed to have at least 1 parent along, so quite a few people will be spending their day at our facility in Kentucky.

I’m running the lock & dam exhibit. It’s a cool display that shows how gates open and close and how the water raises and lowers to shift heavy boats from one elevation to another. We’ve got a Coast Guard rescue exhibit, and a towboat tour. They’ll learn how to throw a line, if they want to, or at least watch how the deckhands do it. There’s lots to learn about our industry, and I think it’s really cool that company is taking a day to teach the new generations what it’s all about.

I’ll have lots of connections to tell you about Thursday night when I get back. Until then, here’s something for you to work on.

DAY 194 HOMEWORK: Take the day to find 10 positive things about yourself to pour into your life. It will energize your spirit and give you a bit of positivity to carry you through the day.

Day 193: Who tells you the truth?

On the way home from work today, I heard an artist talking about one of her songs on the radio. She said she never writes songs that she can’t live authentically, because the moment she does, someone will call her out. She said it was God’s way of keeping her honest. She actually said she welcomed the accountability from those who know her. Then, she emphasized that the devil’s biggest tool is to make people feel isolated, and that we should not let ourselves fall prey to that trick.

Her comments made me think. We’re not all songwriters (though most people in Nashville think they are), so we don’t all have a band or fans to hold us accountable, but what kind of accountability could we have?

Some may be lucky enough to have good buddies close by. If that’s the case, someone who is a kindred will hold them accountable. Some may have an affinity group or a small group of some sort and can have people in that group to hold them accountable. Another way of finding an accountability partner is to hire someone. I don’t mean buying a friend…but what about a coach? That works in exercise, and in business, so why not personally? And then some, like me, have many good friends far away. There have been times in my life where those long-distance friends have held me accountable. We’ve done Bible studies online, and keep in touch digitally and by phone, but we rarely get time in person. Still, it  is a viable option. Of course, having connections in person is important, but accountability doesn’t have to be in person. It can come from lots of different places, as long as we’re not letting ourselves be isolated. That’s the key.

DAY 193 HOMEWORK: Who helps you live authentically? If you don’t have an accountability partner, figure out what you need do in order to get one in your life.

Day 192: Empathy or opinion?

I’ve been following this guy from the TBI that I saw at a seminar. He talks about micro-expressions and body language, and I’m pretty sure I’ve written about him before, but this fascinating guy deserves a repeat. Today, he was talking about the limbic system and psychopaths. Most people, in fear, raise their eyebrows, open their eyes and their mouths. Psychopaths have no reaction, no emotion, he says, about anything…not babies, not puppies, not anything that would bring the most stoic amongst us to tears. These people are not moved.

I have a hard time imagining that. I’m so on the opposite end of the spectrum. Too much of a good thing can also be a problem; I tend to be moved by everything. It’s a trait I usually like, but it can be a weakness. If someone is upset, my empathy can let me defer to that person, even if I know that I have better direction, and they would agree after they calm down. Many times, I let people have their way if it doesn’t make that big of difference to me. It’s can be a disservice to them, but it’s part of the weakness. I’m working to determine when it matters and when it doesn’t, and even more, I’m trying to decide when my knowledge is really a better direction and when it’s my pride holding on to an opinion. I know there’s no shame in apologizing when I’m wrong, but I’d rather be thoughtful before pushing an agenda that is either unimportant or off-base.

As I work on my weaknesses (that can be strengths) and strengths (that can be weaknesses), I realize that knowing and understanding is half the battle. I’m hoping my kindreds will come alongside me and help me to grow.

DAY 192 HOMEWORK: If you disagree with my thoughts, please set me straight. Is it better to push an opinion and have to apologize if you’re wrong, or to let an opinion go if it doesn’t seem that important?

Day 191: DIY disappointment

I learned today that I’m not as able as I used to be, but my brain doesn’t stop thinking up home projects. I love to work hard and be a great assistant, but I’m at a place where I’ve got to hire some things done if I want to see them finished in my lifetime.

The family stopped by my sister’s house after church today to see how her renovation is going. She’s got someone adding on a family room, laundry room and bathroom to the back of her house, and it’s looking good. It’s taking time, but it’s getting done well, steadily. As much as I love renovation and home projects, I can’t do it consistently with my work schedule, and without the camaraderie of my family working alongside me. That’s half the fun of renovation; seeing what we can accomplish together. Of course, not everyone has my same taste for projects, so it often just feels like extra work to them, and we’re all so busy these days, running in different directions.

So, I’m working on my backyard and we bought some blocks today to level out one portion of the yard. Clearly, my husband is not able to work these heavy projects anymore. With soft massage hands the past few years, he is not calloused enough, and I don’t want him to have any issues that would be a detriment to any of his clients. Poor guy ripped his hands open lifting the blocks into the truck. He did help me get all the stuff into the back yard. Once I got the first block placed, we saw how much gravel and other filler we’re going to be needing before we can even start on the rest of the project. That’s when it hit us…we need to hire someone. That makes me a little sad, because there’s nothing like the satisfaction of creating something yourself, but I would like to see it all done while we’re still able to enjoy it. So I’m going to start looking for someone who can do some handyman work for us.

I’m hoping that the process will allow me to get involved along the way, but I’ll keep you posted throughout the summer. One thing I’ve learned is that these types of projects are a great way to connect for me…it’s community-building, and doing things more on my own just isn’t as fun. Maybe Habitat for Humanity is the way I’ve got to go.

DAY 191 HOMEWORK: What are those things that give you joy when working with others? If you don’t get the chance to do them like you used to do, maybe now’s the time to find another outlet as a substitute.

Day 190: 26-year-old wisteria dream

I love days like today. Of course, it was a Saturday, so that is a good reason. It was also perfect weather. Sunny and blue skies, warm with a gentle breeze. Absolutely perfect. My daughter-in-love and I drove into Nashville to visit a large nursery that had wisteria.

I’ve been wanting grow wisteria for 26 years. I actually planted a very small wisteria “tree” up north when my son was little bitty, but the tree didn’t take off and I said I wouldn’t try again until I had a place that would work well. I researched what I needed for soil amenders and also looked up the hardiest types of wisteria for this area. Then we took off.

Before we dropped by the nursery, we stopped for lunch at Barbara Mandrell’s house. Ha! It’s a tourist place now, but they have a great little cafe there that has delicious food, and it was only a mile from the nursery.

Then we stopped by the nursery to pick up the wisteria. While there, we found some other flowering vines, so I bought a couple versions of honeysuckle that had come up as hardy to middle Tennessee. I also bought a bit of ground cover and some stuff to break up the clay soil in our yard.

The wisteria was too big to fit in the car (it’s an SUV), so we opened the sunroof. I’m sure we looked adorable driving down the interstate with a bush sticking out the top of our car. And we drove slowly to make sure everyone had the chance to see how adorable we were. 😉

We dug up the yard for the plants as soon as we got home and when we were done, I didn’t want to go in the house, despite being full of mud and sweat. It was so gorgeous out, and I was admiring the work we did today. Such an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction and joy!

But I needed to take a shower to get ready for dinner. We were taking our son out for his birthday tonight. He turned 26 this week, and this was our first chance to celebrate together. I know we’ve done all we could to help our son to grow into the man he is today. I’m so proud of who he is and his heart that’s as big as Texas.

As far as the wisteria goes, I hope that we’ve done everything right to make it grow. Time is the best indicator, but I can sleep sweeter tonight knowing that we’ve taken some solid steps to try this dream again.

DAY 190 HOMEWORK: Do you have an old dream? Pull it out and dust it off. As long as you have breath, it’s not too late to work on it, even if it seems too faded!