2! 4! 6! 8! Who do you underappreciate?

Image

I just spent over two hours of my life familiarizing myself with an editing program, (it’s my first time), and then actually editing a song for my daughter’s variety show, because it had to fit within a certain time frame.  Good grief!  One three minute song was all I needed!  I even had someone offer to do it for me but, I crave knowledge like dark chocolate.  I can never get enough.

Now I know some of my friends in this field of engineering would read this and laugh, thinking something along the lines of: “Two hours?  I would’ve had that song edited in 5 minutes!  Four, if I put my coffee down first!”  And, I have no trouble believing them.  This brings me to my point.

Appreciation.  It’s such a rare commodity these days.  We pay for something, we expect it now, no excuses, no delays.  Appreciation has fallen victim to the new age of entitlement.  Many of us are so busy either demanding services we paid good money for, or trying to ferret out why we were denied certain services we felt we deserved, we don’t stop to think of all the steps involved to make our craved product so conveniently available.

A fantastically talented musician friend of mine just posted a list on Facebook, detailing exactly what you are paying for when you hire a professional musician.  People often assume it is very expensive and over priced, “just to have the experience of live over recorded music” and yet, there is so much more to it!  People expect to benefit from years of training, good quality instruments, promotion fees, rehearsal, transportation, basic living costs to be healthy and perform to their best ability, and the list goes on. 

Music soothes the soul like nothing else!  It has the amazing effect to transport us back to a memory, or cause us to tense up when the bad guy is coming onscreen.  When my daughter was two years old, we were in the car and a dirge was playing softly.  In the midst of the dark, drawn out notes, I heard a sweet voice from the back seat say, “Mama, sad.”  People react to music and respond in a myriad of ways but very few ignore it, even if they are not consciously aware music is playing.

So, how do we keep from underappreciating people, from the barista who took extra time to shape your latte foam into something beautiful, to the musician who just shoved thousands of dollars worth of equipment into their cost effective car to travel who knows how long to play for several hours to earn a couple hundred dollars?  Here’s a challenge:

Do it yourself.  In high school, I played guitar for my youth group and spent hours teaching myself chords and keys and songs and learning from others.  I also marched in the band and finally landed first chair clarinet in concert band after many private lessons over the years.  I played my clarinet from junior high through high school and decided in order to really appreciate each musician’s effort, I needed to learn an instrument from different sections.  Did I mention my insatiable curiosity?  The Elephant’s Child has nothing on me!  I learned our school’s fight song on the tuba, the flute, the saxophone, and even gave the trombone a try. I have so much appreciation for the discipline of learning an instrument and making a career out of it.  I did not and so both of my children have taken violin for a year and have a guitar in their rooms and we have a keyboard so they can experience the art of learning.  We made the sacrifices (and still do), necessary to expose them to dance and sports and art classes and adventures of camping in a tent and fishing and life in general.

When my children ask for something, I try to instill in them the value of what they are expecting.  They help me bake from scratch, hopefully showing them, it takes time to create something out of nothing.  Desire of brownies to tangible chocolatey goodness on their tongues takes time.  Standing by while they create their own school projects with little physical involvement or verbal input from me is a lesson in patience and value for both of us! 

At restaurants when they are impatient for food, we discuss just what that food had to go through to become our meal, from seedling (or whatever origin is appropriate), to harvest, to processing, to presentation.  Then we practice common courtesy by looking the server in the eye and thanking them sincerely for the part they played in safely delivering our food.  No, this doesn’t happen every time, but it’s good to have goals, right?

How can you slow down and avoid the pitfalls of instant gratification and demand?  Who can you thank for being so diligent in their craft, they are a pleasure to experience?  I’d love to hear your stories and methods, leave a comment if you like!

Advertisements

How are you connected?

I’m in a coffee shop, watching the swirl of humanity wash in and out like the tides.  I see acquaintances, intimate relationships, big business meetings and consultations.  All are making connections.

I lived overseas for 9 years of my younger life.  Family connections with those this side of the ocean were few without the fascinating far reaching power of the various social media apps we have now.  So, we missed many events, weddings, funerals, reunions even, all of which would have kept us connected.  Now, through a mention of a Christmas card sent to my mom from a cousin I have only seen a few times in my life, I searched and found her online.  Because of her, I am now connected to another cousin who has been doing genealogy on my family for 60 years!  I am so thankful for the connection and can’t wait to hear all about that line of my family.  Making connections, it’s what I do, perhaps because of feeling the absence of them when I was young.

Is it who you know?  Is it what you know?  We spend hours upon hours connecting our lives and making those connections perhaps without really thinking of how they work.  We’re hard wired with a natural design for community.  Even as a person who really enjoys my time alone, I have a desire for communication.  Are you intentional about how your connections are made?  I just spent the last two hours, without realizing how much time had passed, with a good friend discussing a ministry we are both so passionate about, organizing and melding our visions into the most powerful connection we can fashion to reach the youth we cherish and invest in constantly.  Now, she’s gone and I’m making other connections, through text, email and even here, with you.

There’s a lunch date made and the connections continue throughout my day.  Some intentional, some results of intentional interactions invested upon for years before.  Isolation can often lead to depression and self imposed deceptions for some people.  Why not stay connected and involved?  With this suggestion comes a warning.  Beware with what and whom you are connected.  Ask yourself, are you strong enough to be who you are and still enjoy a connection or do you get sucked in, and lose your identity?

What now, 2014?

Image

I’ve started three posts and deleted them all.  Suffice it to say, I’m feeling a little like the girl ready to sing in the cherub choir in this picture.  She’s me, just about 3 decades ago, maybe a tad more.  She looks so confused and I’m sure the boy, who’s name I have forgotten is trying to help her but, she’s just not sure she wants help. 

Recently, I have been transforming my Dad’s old slides into digital images and it is time consuming and nostalgic and fantastic!  My family hasn’t seen any of these pictures since they were taken!  What all these pictures create is a tapestry of my past.  The boxes are mixed up, so one box is full of animals of our time in Africa, the next flies forward into high school in California and formal dances and a youth group trip to Catalina.  Then back to Belgium as a toddler, and again, back to pictures of petting a cheetah at a sanctuary in South Africa.  My brain automatically jumps from moment to moment, as my memory fills in pieces of the days the pictures tell only a fraction about and I am swept away remembering lessons learned and memories created.

So, what now?  Now, I build on all that has happened in my past, good and bad. Here are my beginnings, I’ll be checking back on this post at the end of the year and maybe even a couple times in the interim to see how I’m doing with all my different projects.

I’m starting to write 500 words a day to get back in the groove of writing regularly.  (Hopefully, this blog will reap some of the benefits.) After all, I have two books in the works and although it scares me to get to the point of preparing them for publishing, I’m finally ready to risk it! 

I’ve started a reading plan to go through the New Testament of the Bible and I’m sticking to it!  Hey, I believe in celebrating success early and often!

I’m starting a new leadership position in an excellent weekly ministry series for jr. high and sr. high students, called “I am Second”.  If you haven’t heard of it, check it out for fantastic, current resources to help our youth deal with priorities and be set apart in our entitled world.  It feels good to be part of an outreach again.  Actively participating in young lives is a passion and a calling for me. I can’t wait to see lives transformed by God Himself!

My monthly writer’s group is starting up again and we have some great plans for this year.  Challenges and growth, community and encouragement.  And of course, writing! 

I’m planning on running, (jog/walking?), a race or two and competing in Eppie’s Great Race, the kayaking portion of this fantastic triathlon, which I have missed sorely the past couple of years.  This involves training and again, regular activity. Maybe the new trampoline in my backyard will help, when my children let me use it!

Surrounding this all is a net of school involvement, art docent for my children’s classes, field trips with both of them and, whatever class participation with parties and plays and special events goes along with doing my best to be an engaged, hands-on parent.

I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution and I’m not going to start now.  I don’t make lists, it’s too confining for my scattered personality.  This is a plan however, a rough outline of things I know will benefit me if I stick with them, and maybe writing them down will make an indelible mark on my brain and create an accountability by sending this out into the vast cybersphere.

What’s your plan?  How do you stay accountable?  I’d love to know your ideas on what’s going to happen to you this year!  I wonder how the little girl in the picture would respond to the big girl writing this blog!  I think her expression would probably be the same!