Thursday, June 23, 2016

Perspective is everything -- Day 239

This past weekend was Father’s Day, and it got me to thinking about some of the more famous quotes that are attributed to my dad (in my world. I’m not saying that all of these are original, created by him, just that he repeated them often enough that I will always think of him as the originator.)

“Arrive alive” and its corollary “Look both ways, live more days.”

When I was in high school, my father was the principal of Christ For the Nations Academy, a tiny private, Christian school in the South Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas, Texas. CFNA was on the campus of Christ For the Nations Institute, a 2-year evangelical Bible college, and offered Kindergarten through high school education to the children of the students, staff, and faculty of the Institute. Being nestled in between two major highways, with several residential roads going through the campus, there were plenty of opportunities to be hit by careless drivers. My father’s morning announcements almost always included the exhortations to pay attention while walking through the campus and crossing the busy streets.

And then you take a step back, and apply it to your whole life. I redefine “alive” as more than just “having a life” but being full of life! When you show up, bring the party! Or at least as much energy and life-force as you can, so that you can share with others and enhance their experience. Perception is reality, so if you can “look both ways” at your situation, you can realize that there is always another side to the story. I had a friend tell me about accidentally putting a $100 tip in the starbux jar, and she turned it around from “I’m so stupid for doing that” to “I hope that it really made someone’s day.” Dad’s life lessons are deep, y’all.

“You never know what kind of day someone has had” and “Give flowers to the living.”

Following on the change in perspective from looking both ways, my father once explained to me that just because you may have been treated badly by someone in that moment, doesn't mean that their actions had anything to do with you. The guy that cut you off on the freeway? He was trying to get to his daughter's dance recital and was running late. That cashier that wasn’t particularly friendly? Their child was home sick from school, and they are worried about them. Since there is no way for you to know anything about the history behind your chance encounters, it’s much easier to try to make their day brighter. Giving flowers to the living is about honoring people that you see in your daily life with some thoughtful kindness, or even just sincere well-wishing. We will often beautifully eulogize the recently deceased, sometimes when we didn’t even like the person while they were alive. They get a beautiful bouquet of flowers on their grave, but how much better would it be if they got to enjoy the flowers while they could actually smell them?

“Remember these three things: 1. Don’t step on Superman’s cape, 2. Don’t spit in the wind, 3. Don’t pay people to scare you.”

While these have obvious, face value relevance, I think there is still deeper and broader applications. Obviously, if you get the chance to meet Superman, you probably want to stay off his clothes. But you know what’s interesting about Superman? Even the people that interact with him on a daily basis don’t recognize him out of uniform. So you should be kind and respect the personal space of others, no matter who you might think they are. This also includes being kind to yourself, by not spitting in the wind. There are enough people out there that will mistreat you, whether intentionally or not, so be kind to yourself. And don’t reward behavior that is detrimental to your mental health, or pay people to scare you. There are better things that you can find to do with your money, or you can ask me and I’ll help you spend it. :)

“I don’t call you sun because you shine, I call you son because you’re mine.”

This is one of the corniest, and sweetest things that my dad used to say to me. It makes more sense when read aloud, and sounds best in my father’s gravelly voice. The sun is the brightest object in the sky, and to think that I could be confused with that heavenly body is nice. Coupled with the verbal statement of patrimonial claim, regardless of actions either past or future, is nice.

I love my dad, and he loves me, too. Happy Father’s Day, Papa.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

How is it already JUNE? -- Day 217

It's June 1st, which means that we have officially been here a month. They say that time flies when you're having fun, so we must be having a LOT of fun. Either that or we're experiencing relative velocity time-dilation, but I think that we would have noticed that.

This job has afforded me lots of time to think, and there have been some really wonderful ideas that have come up while I'm working. Sadly, by the time I get to my computer, most of those ideas are gone. I need to have a stenographer follow me around, or maybe a guy like Kal Penn's character in Van Wilder. Plus, it would be Kal Penn, ya know? How cool that would be!
Kal Penn (from

The biggest lesson from the month of May was ADJUSTMENT. You would think that after so much time, and so many things happening not-exactly-according-to-plan that we would have the whole "roll with the punches" thing down to a science. Well, friends, I'm here to tell you that adjustment is not a science, but more like an art. A martial art. If you aren't learning to "flow like water" you are likely to get your ass kicked by life. It's not malicious; the pounding surf doesn't hate the rocks that it's turning into sand, but pulverize is the name of the game.

Life is really good right now, because we are learning to flow better. Each new challenge is no longer a crisis, just another opportunity to adjust and grow. Being here in the forest is a different kind of living than any we've ever done, and it is an amazing experience. Figuring out the grocery situation has shown us that there are some really wonderful people in the world that love to help out others. Our jobs, while maybe not the most mentally stimulating, are still filled with lots of opportunities to serve others with love.

As Anya and I clean rooms, we are trying to fill each space with love and blessings, both on the people that departed and the people that are coming in. It helps to dispel any negative feelings that may crop up from having to clean up after people that are not your own children, contrary to the evidence left behind. (And to those of you that may travel this summer and stay in a hotel/motel/cabin/resort: your housekeeper will be going through the room with a fine toothed comb. Be courteous with your trash, and leave them a tip. You never know what a huge difference a little appreciation can make in someone's day.)

My favorite part of this job is my co-workers. A group of people from all different backgrounds and ages getting to know each other by hanging out at campfires every night. There are six couples, two that are retirement-age, two that are are our age, and two that are younger than us. The dynamics of the conversations are super interesting to follow, if you can keep up, since there are usually at least three separate conversations going on simultaneously. This is going to be a really fun summer.

Zoe with Dell and Sophia at the campfire

Random fun fact: I met an amazing young lady at the pub on Monday night. She is bicycling down the Pacific coast (Anacortes, Washington to Los Angeles, California.) I was so inspired that I bought her a beer, and then she played Jenga with Zoe. If you get the chance, check out her blog: Bikewridings

Zoe with Michelle of Bikewridings

We're off today, so I will be enjoying some of the fruits of my labors. Since I cleaned and treated the pool yesterday, I figured it would be awesome to actually get in it today. It will be my first, and hopefully not last trip to the pool here, and I'm really looking forward to it. 
Lessons in flowing like water from the water itself?

Last thought: 
"The most profound statements,
 be they political, religious, or philosophical,
 are not spoken,
 but lived. "
~Sensei of Truth~