Saturday, July 30, 2011

Leadership Potential

I have never considered myself a leader.  I don't like the idea of me trying to convince anyone what should happen.  It is so contrary to my own belief system to say, "This is the right choice."  I have always believed that any path can be the "right" one if you commit to it fully.  I am not a leader, but I am a person who others count on to get things done.  If you have a project, you can bet that I will see it through.  In many cases "getting the job done" requires me to be a leader.  The problem is that sometimes it feels like I am herding butterflies.

Part of the problem is that I often associate with people who are not conformists.  Homeschoolers, atheists, free thinkers all pride themselves on sharing my philosophy that we all must choose our own path.  Unfortunately that makes many of them flighty and unreliable.  For example, when I plan activities for my homechool group I often have no idea who is coming until the day before.  Even then often the guest list has changed multiple times.  I know that inflexibility is something I struggle with, but dealing with homeschoolers feels like trial by fire.

The other type of person that I seem to deal with is the "senator".  This term was coined by a friend to describe someone who wants to seem like the leader, but in actuality does little of the real work and instead suggests a project then delegates the work.  He was speaking about one person, but as I thought about it, I realized that in all the groups I am part of there is someone like this.  Most of the time I have no problem with it, since I don't really want the label of leader anyway, but on occasion it annoys me.

It is especially bothersome when the senator suggests things that I know I am not capable or motivated to complete.  Then I get irritated because I know that I cannot suggest a different path at that point without getting in a battle for leadership.  I don't want to be in that battle, but I also don't like where we are going, and that it terribly frustrating...

So as in all aspects of life I have to make a decision about who I am going to be.  If I want to have control I have to be willing to take it.  If I don't want to be a leader then I have to be willing to allow someone else to lead...

For the time being I will just leave with this quote:

"People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. . . The leader works in the open, and the boss in covert. The leader leads, and the boss drives."
~Theodore Roosevelt

I am sure that I will never choose to be a boss, but I might be able to be a leader.

Monday, July 25, 2011


So the past couple weeks have been insanely busy.  First the girls both had theater camp.  It's just a program through our park district run by the wonderful lady.  The purpose of the program is to give everyone a chance to be on stage.  Curly has been doing programs with her for several years, but it was Bear's first time.  They both did well and had a great time although I think Curly has outgrown the program to some extent. 

This past week Curly has another theater camp.  The camp was a 45 minute drive from our house which presented a challenge just in getting her there.  Bear still had physical therapy and gymnastics, and so, even with my Mom's help, I spent the week feeling like a taxi driver.  I put over 600 miles on my car in one week.  That is CRAZY.

As for the camp... It was put on by Christian Youth Theater.  Yeah, I know that doesn't sound like us.  I was a bit wary, and John didn't like the idea at all.  However, CYT puts on some of the best children's productions.  Curly is interested in doing more theater, ang so I figured this would be a good litmus test without a long commitment.  As it turns out I am glad we went that route.  Before the first day I talked to Curly about what to do when the "religious stuff" went on.  I likened it to going to dinner at someone's house.  When they serve you a meal that seems "weird"; you are polite and respectful.  Likewise when the group starts to pray you bow your head and keep quiet.  I told her that they may even have church services.  I really thought I had my bases covered...

The first day when I picked her up Curly was really upset.  Apparently what was listed as "team time" on the brochure was actually a brainwashing session.  Now I have no problem with my kids learning about all kinds of belief systems.  How else will they develop their own beliefs.  The problem was that the conversation revolved around convincing non-believers to become Christians, and equating paganism to satanism.  The huge quantity of misinformation given in one short hour was staggering. 

So I spent the rest of Monday trying to explain away the damage without condeming Christianity.  See that's the problem I always have.  Even though I am not a Christian, I think everyone should be able to come to their own conclusion.  I don't think there is a right and wrong way to believe.  I think people who feel better with God in their life should have him there. Unfortunately many other people on every side of the religion issue don't agree with me.  They spend their time calling each other names and judging each other.  The discussion on Monday was a very personal example for Curly, and I had to make sure that it wasn't typical of all Christians.  In the end we ended up discussing things that wouldn't have come up in any other way. So I guess it was a good thing.

Also, as it turns out the leader of "team talk" on Monday was just an overzealous teenager.  The talks for the rest of the week were more respectful and tolerant.  There was still a lot of praying and pointing to the sky.  They still told the kids to practice their lines every night because Jesus wants them to, and I overheard a mother tell her son to not stand on the couch in the waiting room because God picked it out himself.  But overall, it was an ok experience.  We have no plans to send Curly to anything else run by CYT, but we did survive this one.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bad Dream

I just woke up from a terrible dream.  I have always had very graphic dreams.  As a kid, at least once a month I would wake up screaming.  It would take my parents forever to calm me down.  Sinc emany of these were recurring nightmares I can still remember them. The one I had most often was my kindergarten teacher with no head.  It was weird because even within the dream I knew it wan't possible because she was still teaching, but she shouldn't have a voice...  Even though my rational mind knew, I still woke up terrified for years and years from that one.

Sometimes my dreams although cryptic seem to have a small glimmer of truth to them.  For example, while I was pregnant with Curly I kept having this dream that she was born the size of Thumbelina.  She was perfect in every way, but she was tiny.  As it turns out that wasn't all that far fetched.  She was born very small, but perfect...

Since I became an adult I don't have nightmares very often.  Even when I do they tend to be tragic more than terrifying.  I have had a few scary dreams about the kids getting hurt or lost, but overall my bad dreams are just overwhelmingly sad.

Such was the case with this last one.  I don't want to go into detail, but I was sobbing in the dream, and I woke up sobbing into my pillow.  It was a terrible way to wake up.  Sometimes after these dreams the "feeling" lasts all day.  I don't want that and don't have time for that today.  So how about a quick thankful list to put me in a better mood...

  1. I am thankful that Bear seems to be back on track with gymnastics.  Last week seems liek a small hiccup now.
  2. I am thankful that Curly found her new dance team.  I really think she will get what she has been searching for from this group.
  3. I am thankful for the 3 1/2 hours I get to myself while the girls are in camp today.
  4. I am thankful John gets his bonus and raise in less than a week.
  5. I am thankful for google calendar.  Without it I would never get anyone where they needed to be.
  6. Speaking of that, I am thankful for my van.  It is a nicer vehicle than I needed, but considering how much time I spend as a chauffeur it is really nice!!!
  7. I am thankful for the beautiful weather we have been having.
  8. I am thankful that my family is healthy.
  9. I am thankful for Bear's physical therapist who is teaching me all kinds of interesting things while she is helping Bear recover.
  10. Lastly, I am thankful that it was only a bad dream!!!
I remember my mom saying that when I was a kid, and it never gave me much comfort.  In this case it really does.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pack Mentality

Apparently, at Bear's gym, her level and their families are regarded as a pack who will stick together no matter what.  My first instinct was, "So true!"  If by sticking together you mean sticking up for each other, supporting each other, helping each other strive for the best, etc.  then yes I think those sentiments are what make our girls such a great team.  In fact I have never personally been involved with such a TEAM.

Of course the word pack was used in the context of us making decisions as a group.  Anyone who knows me knows that I don't do that.  I'm flexible and have no problem compromising when necessary, but I do not make decisions just to follow the crowd... or do I?

Bear's team was offered an extra day of practice each week for the rest of the summer.  It would cost $75 total for 4 weeks.  Not too bad of a deal, but Bear has been struggling with burnout.  As much as I would like to get her into that damn gym to work on that stupid kip (more on that later), I know it isn't what is right for her right now.  From the beginning I said that to the "pack".  As it turns out most of them felt the same way, but what if they hadn't?  I know that if it turned out that most of them were planning on doing the extra day I would have seriously considered it even knowing that it was too much for Bear.

Why would I do that?  Why would I allow myself to be swayed into a decision that I know in my heart is the wrong one?  Hmmm... it may be pack mentality, or more accurately herd mentality.  I think of myself as immune to such nonsense, but I guess I am not as cool as I thought especially with regards to my kids.  I told myself that she should do it is because I didn't want her to fall behind the others.  If they were practicing the extra day and she was not, she might end up progressing slower than the rest... The truth is, I was really worried about her being left out.  If they are all together for the extra day and she was missing,  she would be less a member of the pack.

It really feels weird to be in this position.  I pride myself on not being a follower.  I chose to homeschool even though it sometimes makes me feel like an outsider.  I am not a Christian even though within the homeschool community many more opportunities would be open to me if I was.  Even some of my good friends do not understand how my decisions to let my kids do such time intensive competitive sports meshes with our homeschool philosophy, and so I feel somewhat judged.  In all these cases I feel no pressure to change my decisions because others don't agree with or understand them.  So why would I allow myself to be led in this case?

I think that her team is something very special.  I see such potential for greatness and it is hard to imagine not wanting to be a part of that.  Of course being a part of something great should not mean losing yourself... I'll keep working on that :-)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Just Keep Swimming...

I finally have my pool going.  I mean it has been running on and off for the past month, but then the pump died, or rather was in the process of suffering a slow painful death.  So I ordered a new pump, added the salt for the saltwater system, killed the algae that was making it a strange greenish gray color and now we are good to go... Well as soon as I buy a handle for the vacuum that seems to disappear over the winter, and buy the stuff that reduces cloudiness, and add some more water, and...

It seems that all the things we have added to our lives become bigger responsibilities than we expect when we get them.  Obviously I knew that a pool was work, but I thought once you got it running you could enjoy it and check the chemicals every few days.  I didn't factor in the work required when something goes wrong. And of course things do go wrong.

My house is not that big, and yet it seems as if I am always cleaning or fixing something.  It's partially my fault for taking on the project of my grandparent's house, but even my friends who bought new houses have lots of maintenance issues.  Also, we got this house when I was in my mid twenties, so we have lived here for 12 years.  We did a bunch of repairs to the house then, but of course I didn't really know what I was doing so some of them were cheap shotted.  Also, it was 12 years ago so even the things that were done well need to be updated.

Sometimes, I dream of having a little condo where I can pay a set fee and they take care of everything.  Hell, maybe I can even have a cleaning lady come in every week to scrub the toilet and sink.  I wonder what that would cost.  Surely it would be less than what we spend maintaining this place...

But of course that won't be happening any time soon.  Can you imagine the complaints from the neighbors about how noisy we are.  Bear is constantly tumbling around the house, Curly is practicing her tween door slamming, and of course there are the endless screaming matches.  Yeah, I think we would be kicked out in record time.  So for now I guess I will have to follow the immortal words of Dory in Finding Nemo and "Just keep swimming, swimming swimming..."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Update on My Resolutions

So the halfway mark of the year has come and gone.  I meant to evaluate my progress on my on my resolutions for the year, but time got away from me, but today is as good a day as any so here goes...

1. Nurture my family relationships
* More field trips I have made this a priority and am making good progress
* Delegate more Haven't even tried this yet
* More one on one time with each of my family members Need to keep working on this one

2. Nurture my soul
* Slow down Need to keep working on this one
* Practice thankfulness Even when I don't post about this, I do feel it, so mission accomplished :-)
* Meditation  Haven't even tried this yet

3.Nurture my relationship with the world
* Write more  Definitely met this goal
* Volunteer regularly Haven't even tried this yet
* Reduce clutter I have been working on this but it is a slow painstaking process

4. Nurture my body
* Serve at least one vegetarian meal per week Haven't even tried this yet
* Start a maintainable exercise program I have tried this one several times, and I am still trying
* Spend at least 10 minutes outside each day This is easily met right now... talk to me in January!

So it appears that I have fully met 4 of my goals.  I need to keep working on 4 of my goals, and I have 4 I haven't even tried.  I think the plan for now is to work on the vegetarian meals for the rest of the summer.  I will also continue to try to reduce clutter, spend more individual time with each family member, exercise, and slow down.  Hopefully by the end of summer I can say I have made significant progress on all of those.  Then in the fall I can attack a few more new goals.

Maybe she's just constipated ;-)

You know the show Two and A Half Men?  I don't usually watch it, but on occasion when it comes on after the evening news I see reruns of it.  Well, one of the few episodes I have seen has the following plot...

The kid, who is probably 8 or 9 in this episode, is acting all mopey.  He sulks around the house.  He doesn't want to talk to anyone.  He doesn't seem to take pleasure in any of his favorite activities.  The Dad and the Uncle are worried sick.  They start by trying to convince him to talk about what is bugging him.  Then they try to give him extra attention and do things to cheer him up.  The eventually take him to a shrink because they are so worried.  Finally the housekeeper steps in. The kid is back to himself the very next day.  What could she have done to solve the problem that eluded everyone else in such a short time??? She gave him prune juice.  Apparently the kid was just stopped up and not feeling great.

I bring this up because I have this habit of reading too much into both my kids' moods.  Bear has been having some difficulties at gymnastics recently.  I found out on Thursday that she has been phantom pains that keep her from completing practice.  My initial response was to expect some big dramatic reason for it. I started considering these big changes.  My mind goes overboard.  It is too much for her.  She is so much younger than the other kids that she feels out of place.  Her heel injury has made it where she is in constant pain and can't keep up...

As it turns out she is just a normal kid.  She figured out that she can miss the stuff she doesn't like by faking an injury.  So that's what she has been doing.  So no need to take her to a shrink :-)  She just needs to be reminded that choosing to be a competitive athlete includes choosing to do ALL the work, not just the fun part.

I did, however, come up with some ideas that I think will be good for her anyway.  I think that at the ripe old age of 7 she has already tied her identity to being a gymnast.  There's nothing wrong with that, but I think she needs to be reminded that she is more than a gymnast. That way when it does become to much for her, she won't be lost trying to figure out who she it without gymnastics.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


As usual time is giving me trouble.  This summer has been as far from what I wanted it to be as possible.  From the time we got back from Florida I have felt like I was rushing to beat the clock.  I feel late all the time.  I know this is stupid because nothing we do is so all fire important that I need to get worked up about it, but after having a little taste of what I want summer to be this past weekend I can really feel what I am missing.

 I had a weird dream last night.  I dreamt about my best friend from high school.  We met up by chance at a mall, and although we hadn't really spoken much in the past 15 years, it felt like old times.  It was wonderful and amazing.

Part of what I have been missing this summer is having that close friendship.  I really wanted to spend long leisurely afternoons on the deck with friends, just hanging out.  But we are all so wrapped up in their own lives, that can't happen.  It sucks because the obligations we have towards gymnastics, dance, etc. take precedence over the fun stuff we want to do so that eventually we are forced to make choices between things when we want to do them all.  It can be very frustrating.

I know recently I have been having problems because I am tired of choosing between things I want to do.  Our calendar is so full of things that I helped schedule, but most of them aren't for me.  Don't get me wrong, I want my kids to have their dreams.  Still I feel like their dreams are sacrificing the lifestyle I want for our family.

So yesterday I went crazy. Simply by luck Curly had to be pulled out of one of her dance classes.  I decided to take a break from Bear's private lessons.  I decided that I need to schedule the things I want just like I do for their activities.  So today when I get to sit on the deck and visit with a good friend we're going to plan for more leisurely afternoons because right now THAT is MY dream.

*** Today I am thankful for good friends***