Getting It All Out

I have so much in my head, I’m not sure where to start. I’m still struck by feelings of humility and gratitude. I am a little emotional today, too. Not sure why, but little things are twisting my heart-strings and making me cry. I’m still decompressing after the last 2 days.

Yesterday, when I was done unloading my car at the office, I went home because all I wanted was to sleep. However, once I was lying down on my bed, my stomach decided it was going to challenge the need for sleep. My stomach always wins. Well, almost always. I really had no energy to fix anything so I decided part of my unwinding would be to treat myself. I spent a day and a half serving others and putting everyone else ahead of me and it was time to take care of me. I got out of my stinky polo shirt and went to hiko-A-mon for some sushi. It was fairly quiet and not busy. I read my book and enjoyed my food without feeling rushed.

When I left, I felt like I needed to stay outside since it was such a beautiful day. I put my book in the car and walked around Westport Village. It probably wasn’t the greatest idea since I was more exhausted when I returned home, but I got some sun and actually got to check out some of the stores I keep telling myself I will check out. Westport Village is a little shopping center that was very run down until it was mostly torn down and rebuilt. It’s very quaint and now full of restaurants, a gym, a coffee shop, ice cream shop, and a lot of boutiques. I didn’t go into many of the boutiques since I’m sure they are out of my price range and from the clothes I could see in the window, they weren’t my style either.

I lied down on the sofa when I got back and caught up on some TV shows. Or at least tried to. I had to stop in the middle of 24 to take a hot bath with mineral salts because my body was screaming out in pain. Yet, when I got in there, I couldn’t stay in long because I was so exhausted I was close to falling asleep in the tub. Not good. So, I got out and started back on the TV and intermittently closed my eyes in an attempt to sleep that never succeeded. In the midst of all that, I called the spa to schedule a massage. Luckily, they had appointments available today.

I finally decided I had enough and needed to do something for me again. This time something interesting and fun. I wound up at Village 8 to watch Green Zone. Yes, I’m a Matt Damon fan. Especially if it’s Matt Damon in an action movie. Those of you who know me, know that I love action movies. They are cathartic for me. I can be stressed out or angry or what have you and have that all go away while watching an action flick. Most of our DVD collection is action. I really enjoyed the movie, not only for the obvious and the cinematography, etc. The message I got from the movie really stirred me and made me think. At the climax of the movie during a double pursuit, I sat there thinking and hoping that the movie would somehow end differently than I knew it would since it was based on the search for WMD in Baghdad back in the Summer of 2003. I knew how it would end, yet I couldn’t let the hopeful part of me still think, Maybe, just maybe, it will work out the way I want it to. No such luck. But it did make me think more about our place in this world.

Who are we to think we know more about ruling a nation than others? Who are we to think we are better than people in other countries or even each other in our own country? I don’t think of myself better than anyone else. Sure, I may have skills that are better than someone else’s, but in the end, I’m no more important than you. I may not agree with the reasons for our Presidents sending troops to other countries, but I support our military. These men and women give up so much to serve for us and it’s the least we can do to support them even if we don’t agree with why there are where they are. I had the privilege of eating lunch with a former soldier on Monday at our conference. He now owns his own business refurbishing computers that are donated to his company. He talked at length about how he had no idea what to expect when he was going in, how it cost him his first marriage, how being a soldier was a priority, and how he didn’t know what returning from Iraq would be like. I have so much respect for my family, friends, and everyone who chose to serve and are currently serving our country. Yet, I keep coming back to that question, Who are we to think we know more about ruling a nation than others? There was a character in the movie that was the sage of the movie. He was the one that had the wisdom that needed to be passed on. In the end when he was asked why he did what he did, he simply said, “It is not for you to decide what happens here.” Indeed.

It took me awhile after that movie to get my thoughts sorted out. Well, I’m still sorting them out. But there is nothing wrong with that. These are the kinds of thoughts that become fodder for my writing.

I woke up this morning still sore and in pain, but I slowly got ready and dragged myself to the spa. I thoroughly enjoyed the massage since it’s been over a year since I’ve had one. I knew I’d need to return soon, too, because my body is a complete mess. I may be taking care of it nutritionally and physically, but I’m not taking care of it in the way I should to allow it to recover from stress. So, while I was feeling good and being led out of the massage room, I scheduled an appointment for a month from now. I need a happy body!

And that brings me to the fact that I know I’m not doing my NEWO workout today. I didn’t do it yesterday or Monday, but I was very physically active. Running around a hotel, taking stairs, standing, and dancing will get you a great workout. I have to keep telling myself that it’s okay to not do my workout today, or even clean, because my body is in recovery from the last 2 days still. Listening to Jonathan’s show today keeps helping me remember that. I’m already “in the game” as he says, but even people in the game need a breather when overexerted or injured. And our bodies do need recovery periods. I have to keep telling myself that to keep myself from putting on my shoes to go out for some interval training. Crazy right? I was just glad to have found something to help me add that exercise into my daily routine without making it complicated and I don’t want to lose the momentum I’ve built up.

I hope this wasn’t too unfocused. I just needed to get it all out!

Humble Reminders

I am truly humbled. The last two days were spent working our conference. Monday was all day. I mean all day – 8am to 11pm. I knew as soon as people started arriving and registering, the tenseness I was feeling would turn to joy. I melted once I started seeing people I met at last year’s conference and throughout the year as I was going around the state teaching. Their smiles and excitement were what the last few months of stress and preparation were all about. Many of the people who come to the conference don’t have much in the way of material possessions and can barely afford the $40 we charge. What they lack in tangibles, they more than overflow in heart and spirit.

I was blessed with all kinds of hugs, waves, and smiles as people arrived. I asked in earnest how they were doing. I know I could have received all manner of complaints and even a seemingly never-ending monologue about everything wrong in their life. What I got in return was enthusiasm. These are people that could easily complain about how they don’t have the money to pay for their medications and bills. How they not only have mental health problems, but physical ones as well. How life keeps hitting them with one problem after another and won’t let up. I got to spend a day and half with all these people that emanated positivity in the face of negativity.

One of the highlights was seeing a “kid” that I used to work with, who is no longer a kid. He’s an adult living on his own, working, and acknowledging what his limits are. I think we were both seeking each other out during some down time to catch up with each other. It’s amazing that after all the years that have passed, we fell into the same rapport and banter we had way back when.

I was reminded about gratitude during the Anger Management workshop I was teaching Monday afternoon. We were discussing positive self-talk ideas and one young man who came in late spoke up and said, “I think about everything I have that I’m grateful for.” How many of us can say we do that? How many of us can say we even think about that when we’re angry? I’ve been focusing on gratitude for the last year or so. I have so much that I’m grateful for. I’m thankful that I have what I have in order to be content and not desire more. What I have is so much more compared to many. But how many of you with money and material items can say you possess the heart and spirit of the people I was surrounded with? What would you do if you had to give up things you are used to in order to get by?

Our first Keynote Speaker regaled us with the tales of her cat in order to convey the message of the power of reframing. Reframing is an awesome tool. I find myself reframing all the time for myself and for others. I have quite a few friends and family who post “FML” statuses. I can understand venting and I’ve done it once or twice. However, some of these people do it repeatedly. One right after another. I don’t get it. I can’t wallow in self pity or whatever you want to call it. I just can’t spend my energy on that. I’d rather spend my time enjoying my life no matter what I’m faced with. Things that go wrong in my world become learning experiences, even if I don’t see what I’m learning in the moment. Reframing helps me focus on positives when I’m faced with negatives.

Our second Keynote Speaker was amazing. He spoke about achieving our dreams no matter where we are in our lives or what we have. I’m probably going to ruin this quote, but he kept saying, “Don’t let what others think of you determine your future.” He showed slides of people who started with nothing but a dream, and went on to succeed. He also reinforced the need to be around people who will support you in your dreams. This is something I’ve been doing the last few years. Not just for dreams, but for focusing on the positives. I want to be surrounded by people who are going to be positive, support me, and lift me up. In turn, I want to be the friend or family member that does the same for others.

We had a dance Monday night. I didn’t stay for the whole dance last year, but was ordered to stay until 11pm this year. Okay, maybe not order. It was important for my boss to have my face out there for everyone to get to know. At first I was at the door helping make sure people were getting tickets for the door prizes. Then, I was called to the dance floor by The Electric Slide. Yes. It called to me. It’s something that’s played back home at pretty much every wedding and major party that has a deejay. Imagine my horror when I was out there and couldn’t do it if you paid me. I knew I was doing it wrong and I had no one else to follow because they were doing it wrong, too! So what did I do? I stayed out there and kept going. I stayed on the floor for a few songs before sitting down and taking a breather. Before I knew it, one of the women, 53 years old, beckoned me to the dance floor. God love her. She was out there all night long and loving every minute of it! I had to keep taking breaks. Nothing like being out danced by a woman 15 years older than me.

Later, after calling my husband, the “Kid” literally took my hand and dragged me out. This was 10:30pm. He worked that floor and made me work it with him. I asked him where he learned to dance like that. His response, “Two years of ballroom dance.” I was blown away. The song turned out to be a nearly 30 minute mash-up remix and he told me when it was over, I was off the hook. Off the hook is what it was. I couldn’t believe all the dancing I had done on top of all the running around and taking the stairs I had done all day.

I went to bed that night the sorest ever. In fact, I think the pain was keeping me from sleep. My feet and legs were hurting! I wouldn’t have had it any other way though.

Tuesday was more running around and standing on my feet. I was trying to get a fork for a sweet woman I met back in January while we had another speaker at the end of breakfast. While I was making my way through the ballroom to find one of the serving staff, I kept getting stopped by people wanting hugs and to take pictures of me and with me. I could have easily blown them off, but I knew that it was important to them. Who am I to be that important to people who only see me a few times a year? I know I’m called to this work to serve not only the very people I spent the last 2 days with, but God, as well. So, getting recognition of any sort is just odd to me. I’m just doing what I know I’m supposed to be doing. Yet, I know these people don’t always have the supports in their lives.

I will go to bed tonight with memories of the last 2 days in my head, love in my heart, and dreams of how the world could be if we were all like these new friends of mine.