How often do you sit down and think about where you are, what you are doing and how you could be doing things better? Who has the time, right?
There have been several different things that have happened recently (or are occurring now) that have lead me into a retrospective phase. I wish I could say that I, personally, go through a continuous cycle of doing-reviewing-correcting. But, like lots of you (I'm assuming), I sometimes get into that day in/day out rut. I see a series of MTWTFSS - one after the other - and just go through the motions trying to get through the weeks. I find that when I realize it's happening and THEN do something to stop the cycle, I'm much happier. So in a way, I'm glad life has thrown me a few pretty blatant messages lately.
First there's work. Work is work. I'm definitely not one of those people who live to work. I work to live. I enjoy what I do (most of the time) and I really like the people I work with, which is super important considering I see them more than my family. But the 45-50ish hours a week I spend doing my job is not my passion. It's not how I define myself - not entirely. Recently at work we've gone through some training in preparation for a bunch of process changes. For anyone "in the business" my company is embracing Agile. I happen to have worked in an Agile shop before, so the training isn't new and the processes we are hashing out are mostly ones I've done before. (Which may be why I get the "pleasure" of helping to define all the new processes.) One of the main features of Agile is a regularly scheduled (and very consistent) retrospective ceremony. We meet to discuss what's working and what's not. We aren't afraid to point out weaknesses and errors and areas for improvement. It's sometimes painful, but the goal is always to get better. And who can argue with that?
The second thing that's pointing me to do some self-review is simply the time of year. We're wrapping up school next week. We are done with another season of sports. We are moving on to new schedules and new challenges and (hopefully) more fun times this summer. We found out that Zane is moving to the "big" preschool room for the summer because he's ready for pre-K in the fall. Beckett is not a baby anymore, but more a BOY every day. We are about to have 4th and 5th graders in the house. Change is rapid right now, so it's naturally a good time to investigate what's working and what might need some changing. I don't love the attitudes we get from the big boys sometimes (every parent out there just rolled your eyes because it's such a common thing), but I'm not willing to accept things like greed or selfishness or lack of compassion willingly. I am prepared to be the bad guy and to make some angry boys if I think I can change the ultimate outcome for the better. If we simply "got through" each day, there's no way I would be able to recognize trends that point to a path I don't like until it is too late to change course. Retrospection, for the right reasons, is a powerful parenting tool.
And then there's Facebook. Ahhh Facebook... This website has turned into a filler of my time, a way to keep up with friends and family, and (somehow) a primary source of news for me. I can't even tell you how many times I learned of some big world or national event first through the pages of Facebook. I saw a link to this short video (less than 10 minutes) the other day. It was posted on FB by someone I went to high school with. Someone who has posted other thought provoking links and messages. I was intrigued and so I set aside a minute (while having my afternoon snack at work, if you must know details) to watch. Wow. Universe speaking. I love the message. It is simply another way of portraying one of my all time favorite quotes. "Most people are about as happy as they make their minds up to be." ~Abraham Lincoln If you have a free snack break, I HIGHLY encourage you to take a peak at that short little video. Maybe book mark it to watch again later if you find yourself caught in the MTWTFSS grind.
Here's a good example of a school-related event that happened just yesterday. I had a choice in how I felt about this. I will honestly say that I chose badly (at first) and felt sorry for myself (for a while) and got angry at the imposition (for a minute) before I caught myself and realized that this was NOT a big deal. I changed how I felt about the whole event and can say that I now am glad it happened - really! Here's what happened:
Spencer is learning about economics at school. As part of this lesson he had to determine a product to sell and has had to put together marketing, pricing, etc. On Friday the entire 4th grade will open up their "stores" and the 3rd graders (hey, I've got one of those too!) get to go shopping with pretend money. Spencer didn't choose something he could make himself. He didn't choose something simple. He didn't choose something free. He chose to make caramel apples and fruit kabobs. Oy vey! I knew this was going to cost me more money than the kid who was making duct tape wallets (which Quinn has already decided he's going to buy). I also knew this was going to take more of my time than the kid who is making those rubber band bracelets. So last night I told Spencer to get his shoes, we were going fruit shopping.As we were walking out, Quinn saw us and asked if he could go. He asked LOUDLY and from across the room. I cringed a bit and said yes. (Side note to point out that I nearly ALWAYS grocery shop alone.)And wouldn't you know it, Zane overheard the whole exchange. He also asked to go. I suppressed a groan and agreed that he could. I didn't do it (at the time) because I wanted him to go. I agreed because I didn't want him to get left behind when I was taking his brothers. I didn't want to hurt his feelings.Off we went. We bought all variety of fruit. We found caramel and kabob sticks. We picked up some milk (because apparently 5 gallons is no longer enough to get us from Saturday to Saturday, sigh...). It took us way longer than it should have. I had to remind a certain 9 year old to walk slowly way more often than I wanted to. I had to stand and wait for a curious little boy to get his fill of the lobster tank. At one point I sent a text to Bob that I needed a drink. And I meant it!But then a funny thing happened. I had a moment of retrospection which saved the night. And I chose to stop feeling sorry for myself and to have fun. We stopped in the frozen food section and I let each of them pick out a treat. We bought the good stuff - Ben & Jerry's. Zane hand picked 18 different things before settling on psychedelic-colored push ups. I let them put stuff on the check out counter by themselves. I let the big boys pack the groceries into the car and didn't modify the placement of the milk jugs. I let Zane hold his melting push ups on his lap all the way home. I stopped and enjoyed the moment. In the chaos of a grocery store, I enjoyed my kids. (Can you see now why that video made such an impact?)Here's a picture of the fruits (ha, pun intended) of our labor on day one. Tonight I will arm my boys with knives and we will make fruit kabobs for the 4th grade store until we are all sticky up to our elbows!
Goodness, this email turned a little preachy. Sorry about that. No... actually I'm not really sorry. I am listening to all the signs and taking direction from some higher power here. I'm sharing thoughts and feelings that are important to me. I want you all to listen and to do a little retrospection in an effort to be happier. I want to do what I can, while I am able, to make this crazy world just a little bit better. And honestly, if you are offended or think I'm smoking something or simply don't have the time, that's OK too. Just hit that little delete button and move on with your day. (But save that link and watch it sometime! You won't be sorry!)
This weekend we are going to be in packing mode. I want to try to get most of our stuff packed for our beach trip (which is a few short weeks away) and for Quinn's camp trip. We pick up our new puppy next weekend and I'm sure it will be a little more difficult to get chores done after that. Lots going on - all of it fun!
Have a great week everyone!