Tag Archives: moment

Life in Boxes

I went out to the minivan to get the plastic containers so we could pack up our son’s graduation table. The last of family, friends, and other guests had sauntered off to enjoy the sunny Saturday afternoon. Graduation was still a day away but we held our graduation celebration a day early with two of his friends. Their families were tearing down their sons’ tables. It was a fun morning. We went through almost 300 breakfast burritos. Don’t know how many cups of coffee or slices of coffee cake we went through, but it was a lot. 

There were old friends and new. Small moments of conversations. My son (and I’m sure his friends) had to answer the question, So, what are your plans for next year?, a million times. Slide shows were on constant loop, revealing how the boys have grown. A window into their lives in six second intervals. 

I placed the container down that held all of his medals; sports, journalism, and science fair. Time to box it up all again. For a week my wife and I looked through boxes for material for the table (my wife more than me, but I had to lift the heavier ones). As I picked up this year’s second place medal and small trophy for basketball, I had to hold my heart together. 

Not because I was sad. Just the opposite. No one ever tells you how joy can break your heart. Honestly, that kind of heartbreak is just as painful. Partly because on the edge of the joy is the realization that no moment lasts forever. Yes, we have the memories, the pictures and trophies to draw upon. But when you are in the moment, however big, like a state championship game, or small, like teaching your daughters how to play H.O.R.S.E. on the driveway hoop, is when we know we are living. Fully engaged with who we are, connected to those around us. Living life.

And then those moments pass. Many of them are captured in photos, medals, certificates, and home videos. Others are relived through stories told around the dinner table or at holidays. We laugh, we cry, we feel the moments again. Then we box them up. In our hearts. In plastic containers. In our phones.

I got all the medals, photos, certificates, and trophies packed up. We got the extra plates and cups gathered together. We divided the few breakfast burritos among the three families, and left the conference room to enjoy the sunny Saturday afternoon, ready to experience the next big moment: Graduation.

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There is only the moment.

Yesterday was the first day of school for us. A little different with masks and all the cleaning requirements, but overall, a somewhat normal day. It was nice to have a sense of normal life. But this post isn’t about the pandemic or school… it’s about bubbles.

My youngest daughter wanted to play outside after dinner. I will admit to being tired and tempted to tell her no. She was still excited from going to school, and I could see she needed to spend some of that energy, so we went outside.

She decided to play bubbles. I would make the bubbles while she chased them down. Then I got my turn to run after bubbles. We also took a small walk to the “second stop sign” (it is a boundary marker we use for their freedom to run around the neighborhood).

There was nothing more to life than bubbles and my daughter. Nothing more than smiles with random conversation. My youngest daughter can talk forever.

Without making this a deep post about the theory of Flow, I will simply state that life is this moment. We do worry about the future. We do fight the chains of the past. Life can be difficult. But in the middle of political turmoil, a pandemic, hate and division, the first day of school… I felt joy as my daughter chased bubbles.

All we truly have is this moment.

Decide how you are going to live it.

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What Happens When You Strive for Your Goals

Last Friday the country artist, Hailey Steele, visited our school to sing a few songs and to share an inspirational message about chasing dreams.

You may or may not recognize her name (I share a music video at the end). Hailey was part of the duet, The Line, on season two of The Voice.

Hailey shared part of her story with us in between singing some of her songs. She decided to drop out of college after her first semester to follow her dream of being a country music artist. She was only 19 when she moved to Nashville. You can learn more by reading her story at her home page linked above.

But that wasn’t the part that stuck with me. Hailey shared the advice we all hear, to follow your dreams. Which I agree with, but that is for another blog post. What stuck with me was when Hailey shared how pursuing her dream led her to opportunities she had never dreamed of. That by going after her dream she was able to do lots of cool things along the way.

Hailey Steele doesn’t have a number one song… yet. She is still working on her dream. But because she is working on her passion, her path is filled with moments that couldn’t be experienced if she had never went for her dreams.

Reaching our ultimate goal is never guaranteed. Not everyone wins. But reaching for our goals creates moments that enrich our lives. By working on our passion, by striving, moving forward, our paths take us to new opportunities we would never have had otherwise. Those moments should not be taken for granted… they are milestones for our hard work.

Thanks, Hailey Steele, for reminding me of that.

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I Wish Life Was More Like Family Feud

Seriously, I wish life was more like Family Feud. I know your chuckling to yourself, but hear me out. Here’s my reasons.

1. Family is important

OK, I know the game show is called, Family Feud, but the importance of family is highlighted in the show. From everyone in sport jerseys to wearing the same color, families show their solidarity on the show. And they show support for each other, even with the craziest answers, by saying, “Good answer!” after each response. Many times, each family gets to share an important aspect of their family, like accomplishments or unique situations that defines the family in some way. Imagine what life would be like if families showed this kind of bond everyday.

Also, even though families compete against each other, they shake hands before each toss up question, then both families come out to celebrate the end of the show. Doesn’t matter where the families came from or what their ethnicity is. What would this world be like if we treated each other with that level of respect?

2. The show is fair

There are two aspects to this fairness. The first is when the judges make a mistake with a situation or answer the show brings back the family to play again. The show owns up to the mistake and makes it right.

But the show doesn’t let a family just win… How many times have you seen the Fast Money round end in 199 points?

It takes 200 points to win the 20,000 dollars. No extra help to get over that limit. That’s fair.

3. Laugh… a lot

The show is filled with laughter. Contestants laugh at themselves, laugh with each other and with Steve Harvey. There is some serious money on the line, or two strikes, but there is always room to laugh, to enjoy the moment.

And when a family wins, pure joy!

So, yes, I wish life was more like Family Feud: Importance of Family, Fairness, and Laughter… and 20,000 dollars would be nice.

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Decisions in Seconds

I am still amped-up. Less than 30 minutes ago I was almost in a serious accident.

This is a diagram of downtown Hastings, which has a number of one way streets. Second street is a one way street (west to east) downtown. I had to drop off some mail at the post office this morning. I was heading south on Colorado, which is one way also. There is a light at the intersection of Second and Colorado, but it only faces the traffic flow of the one way streets. I was half a block away from the intersection when the light turned green. My lane has a green arrow (Colorado turns into two-way traffic after the light) and I slow down a little to make the turn. The roads are still snow packed from the snow storm on Sunday. That’s when I notice the headlights of a beer truck coming the wrong way on Second street, right where I am supposed to turn.

I wish I could tell you everything slowed down in my mind and I handled the situation like a hero. It didn’t. I remember everything now. But at that moment everything seemed to move into hyper drive.

I could see the truck’s left turn signal blinking on the hood of the truck. I remember thinking in my head, “What is he doing?” because he doesn’t seem to be stopping. There is no traffic light for him because he is traveling the wrong way on the Second street.

Decisions. Choices. Sometimes we see the results of our decisions immediately. Sometimes the effects of our decisions manifest themselves later; maybe a minute, a day, a year, or sometimes never. Making a decision can be a heavy responsibility… in fact every decision we make actually creates the life we live. And most of the time our decisions affects other people’s’ lives. I don’t know when the driver of the truck decided to drive down the wrong way. I don’t know why he chose to do it. Maybe he didn’t want to navigate the extra turns it takes to get through all the one way streets downtown, so he decided to take a short cut. What I do know is that his decisions and my decisions (to drop of the mail and drive down a certain street) was about to meet at the intersection of Second and Colorado.

I decide not to slam on the brakes to try to stop. The intersection was snow packed and helped me in this case. I was able to drift into the right lane on Second street. Missing the truck who also decided not to stop and turned left onto Colorado to drive away. I came to a stop to watch his taillights disappear at the corner of a building.

Decisions. Choices. Some of them seem more important than others. But in reality, every one of them matters. Everyone of them makes an impact in our lives. Makes an impact on other people’s’ lives. This morning I am glad that the driver’s choices and mine did not collide, literally.

 

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Turning 40 “The Past”

“Today is the moment when your past and future meet.”

I have been struggling with how to articulate this idea with out writing some deep philosophy book.  Simply stated, what I’ve learned is that our past is important, but we don’t handle its power well.

On the extreme edges we either ignore it or let it cripple us.  Somewhere in the middle is where we can use it to improve today and build for tomorrow.  Our past affects us, even if we don’t always recognize it.

The crazy part is it doesn’t matter if the past was 10 years or 10 minutes ago.  Over the years I’ve seen how the past affects my students.  I’ve seen how the drama of the last class took 10 minutes for them to get focused, to the way a movie we watched in class brought back the pain of the loss of a parent.

I have been guilty of not seeing my students fully. Wondering why they just did that?  Or frustrated with their work ethic.  I am guilty of not considering their past and how it might play a role in their behavior.  To use my English teacher vocabulary, we all are round dynamic characters in this life.  We all have a past, we all have dreams and goals we want to achieve. And today is the moment when our past and future meet. If we are aware of this I think we can tackle issues with a clearer objective.  If we can help our students see that, maybe we can help them build a better future.

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