Monday, November 29, 2010

Feeling down and looking for a pickmeup

Irritated by some news today, I went searching the net for some comfort. And here it was.

Trees that Wood

Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, "Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty."
Then the second tree said, "Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull."

Finally the third tree said, "I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches, and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me."

After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, "This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter" ... and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.

At the second tree a woodsman said, "This looks like a strong tree, I should be able to sell it to the shipyard." The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.

When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, "I don't need anything special from my tree so I'll take this one", and he cut it down.

When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all what he had prayed for. The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end. The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark. The years went by, and the trees forgot about their dreams.

Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time. Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree didn't think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and he stood and said "Peace" and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.

Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.

The moral of this story is that when things don't seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. If you place your trust in Him, He will give you great gifts. Each of the trees got what they wanted, just not in the way they had imagined. We don't always know what God's plans are for us. We just know that His ways are not our ways, but His ways are always best.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bucket Lists

Yesterday I subbed in a room where listed next to the teacher's desk was a bucket list. It was just out there in the open for anyone to see. The students even commented on it. But it wasn't what I would expect from a bucket list. Not a compilation of crazy feats or adventures, but expectations of a good life.

There was:
Stay married to my wife my whole life.
State a positive comment for every negative comment.
Coach a state champion.
Go to church every Sunday.
Give out 10 compliments a day.
See all my kids graduate college.
Retire between the ages of 55 and 65.

There were some high adventures too:
Run a half marathon.
See Niagara Falls.
Go on a cruise.

I was just so impressed with the simplicity of these goals, but as I thought about it, some of them were rather daunting. Could you really accomplish some of these? What a great and bold thing to even write them down and attempt them, I don't know that I'd have the guts to do even that. These are things that you just say, or take up as short term goals. His list was dated 1988, and some things were crossed off with dates next to them. Others, I imagine, his family will look at after he is gone, and finish the crossing off.
Pretty cool! What's on your bucket list?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Getting over disappointment

Yesterday was the dance team's first competition. It was districts, we competed against 6 teams, and we didn't place. First place went to Cascade, the team to beat. They were AMAZING! Not a finger out of place, great music, high energy choreography.

We took our state pom routine. The same one we will compete against these teams with at the state competition. Against Cascade.

I'm not a very eloquent coach, who knows what to say when their team is disappointed. It wasn't their best performance. Some were scared, there were plenty of mistakes, and their energy could be higher. Some even seem bored with it. They still can't get their turns in second, or triples.

I did not say they sucked. I did not say they were worthless or horrible. I also didn't say that the team that took third didn't deserve it, that it was simple and wasn't sharp. I also didn't give the excuse that Cascade has year round strenous practice with a fully mirrored dance studio and a feed-in program that trains them from toddlers.

I also didn't say what I fear they feel: what is the point, if we are going to take this same routine to state, how will we get good enough to beat Cascade in 2 weeks?

What I did say was that they did well, I was proud of them, and now we know what we need to work on. It's just that I don't know how to do it. What do I say to get them fired up, to do their best?

And we will continue to face challenges after State. They seem to think state is "graduation" and that things will get easier afterwards. Moving ahead in the season, I want them to choreograph new routines to perform at every other home game. They have been resistent to this and to practice every day for 2 hours. When I told them about performing at the US Cellular center, one said we could take our hip hop routine from state. I said no, they would be doing a new routine. The seniors balked. How do I get them past that?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thinking out blog

I used to write in my bathroom when I needed to think. I would take a notebook, huddle up on the floor next to the heat vent, and just write. I write like I think, and I didn't worry about spelling or punctuation or proper anything. My handwriting is atrocious, and became much worse the faster I thought. Getting it down on paper helped me straighten out my thoughts, clarify what I really wanted, finish conversations, get the last word in. It also helped me solve problems, and let go of guilt or "shoulduves."

I'm not sure why it was the bathroom. I could be in there for a long time and no one would bother me or ask what I was doing (because they thought they knew!).

I chew on problems. No, it's more like mauling, even long after it's dead and over, like a huge woolly bear after it woke from hibernation. Or, like me with my daughters Halloween candy on a cold fall night. Endlessly mauling...

The only way to stop the carnage is to talk it to death. I review the case over and over with anyone who will listen; my friends, my neighbors, my husband, my parents, random strangers standing in line at the grocery store. Talk, chew, maul, talk chew maul...

But now I have blogging, and writing is still a great way to get it all out and say all I want to say, and look it over, and maul it over. I'm not really sure that anyone reads this anymore, which is kind of fun, but kind of strange too. Because I don't really write the thoughts out to get advice (sometimes, but not always), but to get them out there somewhere, so they're not stuck in my head.

So I guess you could call it thinking out blog.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My family and God's plans

I've missed my family lately. Sometimes I leave at 7:30am and don't get home until 6:30 at night. I see my husband and kiddos for 30 minutes after they get up, and 30 minutes before they go to bed! That's just not long enough, but I know other families do this 5 days a week!

My husband, who I'm so thankful for, is such a wonderful parent, and a saint of a husband. He bears the brunt of the work about 3 days a week. He gets them up, feeds them, dresses them, takes them to school and the sitter, goes to work himself, then comes home and picks them up and brings them home, and cooks supper for us.

Sometimes, (more often than not) I feel like a big sack of poop. Perhaps I know why God's plan and my plan didn't match up these past few years. Maybe my family couldn't handle me being gone this much 5 days a week if I was teaching full time. I'm not really good at staying home with the kids. I can never think of cool crafty learning projects to do with them. I'm not a domestic goddess. I hate to cook and my cleaning skills are pathetic. I can sew, but I don't. I'm sure my mother-in-law is horrified that her son is subjected to such squalor. It's a good thing this isn't the archaic past, when my husband would have had all the grounds in the world to kick me to the curb.

But I love my family more than anything. I show it by making sure there are vegetables on their plates at most meals, clothes are clean and picked out of "Mt. Washmore" and laid on the bed nearly every morning, the necessary dishes are clean and waiting in the cabinet known as "the dishwasher" most of the time. And when I do get home, I try to "take over" so he can have a break and I can spend some time with my lovely children.

So, if it is God's plan to someday have me working in a job where I feel he gave me a talent and passion for, teaching, I pray that he also has a plan for including my family in it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Coach Rudd

I don't get as many "aha! moments" when I sub, so coaching fills that passion. I get to struggle with the team as they work toward their best, and celebrate when they have reached their goal, and then motivate them to set and reach yet another goal. And for that, I get the title of coach! I love to be called that! Coach Rudd!

My first experience this year was fabulous! When I was hired as the cross country coach, I wasn't even sure there would be a team, as they ended with 3 last year, and it had to have 8 to run. I was given a list of all kids and phone numbers in the school, and I just went down it and cold called. I got laughed at. But 6 said yes by the start of school. Then they recruited, and then they recruited more, stealing two away from volleyball and one away from football. I had 11 varsity runners, which was enough to run a full boys team and a full girls team. I also had 6 junior high students, which will hopefully carry over to next year. This led to something the team hadn't seen in almost 4 years... taking a bus, a whole bus, to a meet. We took a whole bus to every meet!

I worried about how I would create an atmosphere of fun and ambition to get their best times. But the three returning runners and some spirited new comers set the tone for an extremely close-knit and supportive team, and bestowed upon the younger their techniques for running their best. I could not have asked for a better team to be my first cross country team.

Now I'm in Dance Team season, which is a whole other beast. All girls, a lot more drama, and more stress to compete well and place high at state competition. I'm trying to foster a healthy team atmosphere, but this team was beat up and badly bruised from their coach last year, who was apparently a negative perfectionist. Nothing they did was right, and she let them know it. I like to motivate in a different way. I get the impression that the 5 seniors and 2 other returning members have their loyalty split between her and me, and sometimes they attempt to manipulate. Not sure how to get around it, but I'll figure it out. By the end of this season, I'm positive they will be a better team and better dancers. After all, I'm the coach!

Monday, November 8, 2010

My thoughts on the mandate aka what voters want!

Announcement: The world is not ending now that the election is over. Just as it did not end in 2008. The nation is not ripping apart. The Republicans were not given a mandate. The nation did not lose it's mind and vote back in the crazies who destroyed the surplus and our nations reputation. You want to know what I think the swing is? I don't care, I'm going to tell you anyway! A cry for gridlock. The thought that one party, who won by 53% (president), controlling the entire congress and the white house, is alright until you realize what checks and balances mean. If the majority of people think that the party's agenda is good, fine. But the majority doesn't think all of it is. And the way things were moved forward was too fast without compromise. They were very smart to push so hard and so fast to accomplish all that they did, because that's the only way it would have passed ever because you can't please everyone, or even a majority. So I think the massive swing was in the hopes of providing some checks and balances to the Fed again, to bring legislation back in line with what more people want.

Another opinion: I don't agree with a lot of what was done, but, I don't think it was done with the intention of harming anyone. Sure the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and politicians make my skin crawl and stomach lurch, but the people that voted one way or another, in 2008 and 2010, voted that way because they feel it was the best solution to the problems we all agree need fixing.

So we have different perspectives. Don't assume I'm stupid or heartless or just don't know the facts, or the propaganda has me in its grip. I'm not, I do, it doesn't. I'm pretty thorough in my research, have strong convictions, and try to keep an open mind.

But trust me, I'm right!