Archive | August 2012

Watching the Olympics

What do non-sports enthusiasts gain from watching the Olympics?

Ok, I must confess I only like to watch sports when it gets up close and personal. Maybe it’s because growing up, I did not have an athletic bone or muscle in my body. When teams were being chosen in gym, I was always last or next to last to be chosen. Somewhere, though, my kids picked up some talent – either a latent gene or one from their father. That said, when they played I was their best cheerleader. A few years ago when the Phillies were vying for the pennant and the World Series, I gave them my unwavering support, and now when the USA takes on the rest of the world, I’m right there.

My kids would look at the techniques and strategies, I look at the scoreboard or the position in the race, but that’s not what won these athletes their position in the roster. It wasn’t their innate talent or ability. That was there, but the victories came from hard work – preparation and determination.

Listening to Carmelita Jeter, the silver medal winner in the 100 meter run, talk about the grueling paces her trainer and coach required made her cry and me cringe. I’d have never made it, but Carmelita did. Her coach’s efforts produced resilience in her and earned her the silver.

Resilience is one of those characteristics that will do you well away from athletic events. Wherever life takes you, learning to persevere and focus on the task at hand produces a quality that will carry you through the current challenge and beyond. Maybe I should pay more attention before the next Olympics rolls around. There’s a lot more to learn than the score.

The monarch is coming

In our area, August ushers in the last weeks of summer and with it the emergence of the monarch butterfly. The monarch egg hatches into a green caterpillar with black and gold stripes. By now he has had his fill of leafy greens, spun his chrysalis, experienced metamorphosis, and is preparing to emerge. What is interesting is that each year the process is repeated four times with four generations. You can click here to read more but that is not where I’m headed.

You may have heard this story about the monarch butterfly before, but I think it bears repeating. A young boy happened by the chrysalis of a monarch butterfly just as it was beginning to emerge. He watched the intriguing process and was touched by how hard the emerging butterfly had to work to break through to his new life. He wanted to help, so he slipped his pen knife from his pocket and began to gently cut away the butterfly’s prison walls so that he could be free. He continued to watch as the monarch spread his beautiful wings and died. When the troubled boy recounted this event to his father, the father explained that the process of breaking through the tough shell is what makes the wings strong enough for him to fly. Without the pain and struggle, he was too weak to live.

I like to be reminded of this illustration especially when life’s dramas tend to wear me down and choke out my hope for the future. Just like the butterfly, I need these struggles to change me and make me strong so that I can fulfill my unique purpose in life. Through such times I learn to see just how great God is. He uses these experiences to make me kinder, more forgiving, more compassionate and able to extend grace to those who are in need of it. And through it, I am prepared to continue to follow the plan God has for me. Isn’t it exciting to see how God uses His creation to explain many of the mysteries of life?

Perception or deception?

 

 

I enjoy watching the birds at the feeders outside my window and often observe life’s lessons as I see how they interact with one another. Though the titmice would not eat with the pineskin finches or the cardinal with the purple finches, they did share. They actually appeared to take turns, though sometimes reluctantly. I observed their pattern of orderly coexistence until a raucous call disturbed their meal. All of them scattered to distant points. None challenged the loud newcomer.

 

The blue jay in all of his blue and white splendor landed on the deck rail, and with one more call seemed to shout, “I’m here now. Out of my way.” His beauty far surpassed those of the smaller more common avian species, and he appeared to know it, and played it to his advantage. Taking his time, he picked at the seed and took his fill. He seemed oblivious to the line of birds on the house roof fearfully hoping for another opportunity. It was all about him.

 

Don’t you know people just like that jay? Everything revolves around them. It’s all about what they want and how it suits them. They don’t even consider others exist. I confess, loud people like that who push their way in and take over, annoy me. I decided there might be a lesson here, so I researched a little about blue jays in hopes of finding some applicable example to follow in dealing with such aggravations so this type of people could change.

 

Interestingly, I discovered that the cyanocitta cristata, more commonly known as the blue jay actually displays a high level of intelligence as he can solve problems, gather a cache of food rather than just consume it, and communicate more than many of his feathered friends. His hawk-like scream that scatters the birds at the feeders also sounds an alarm of danger in the forest when intruders approach. He does add value apart from his good looks.

 

Oh, and the lesson I learned for myself? Annoyance with jay-like people is not necessarily an indication of right and wrong in a situation, but it might be a gauge showing my perception filter is clogged.  Rather than seeing the negatives, the obstruction prevented me from looking deeper and focusing on the good to be affirmed and encouraged. Instead of pointing the finger, I had to look in the mirror. Don’t you hate when that happens?