Monday, June 27, 2011

The new routine is no routine

The new routine is no routine. I need to remember that when the next few weeks tempt me to think there is a routine again. 

Since the start of the year -- after many years of starting work in the morning and going into the late afternoon or early evening -- I've gone to an ever-changing schedule that is all over the place. The first two or three months it was mostly 2 or 4 p.m. to midnight. Then it was a few months of basically 2-10, 2-12, 2-6, 12-8 and 3 pm-1 am, Monday through Friday. In June it went to Sunday through Thursday, except when I wasn't needed on Sunday, so I worked Friday. 

A mid-June vacation without a schedule fit right in with the confusion, and the vacation was punctuated by pulling an all-nighter for Relay for Life. 

And now I'm working days again, noon to 8, which in the past would have seemed normal but now is just another change before going to a month of 10-6 Monday through Friday, unless something different is needed. And that will be for just a month, and then it will probably be back to the afternoon to night shifts.

What I am so aware of is that even when -- or especially when --  my work schedule lacks routine, it is imperative for me to build structure and maintain discipline in my life.  Patterns of eating, sleeping, exercising, reading, praying and meditating are important. Most days I keep a pretty specific list of what I need to do and when. I went through a period this month of viewing that as a weakness. But today as I walked, after waking up on target after a within-range amount of pillow time, I embraced my list and willingness to use it as a strength. 

As I was walking, I thought of my Dad, whose life example includes all kinds of work schedules, including true graveyard shifts. He and lots of people, including one of my sisters, have often worked far from ideal schedules. Their examples remind me to do whatever it takes to make it work for me. For me, that  includes keeping it healthy,  which is probably why it is more of a challenge, because keeping it healthy requires discipline for me.  

That also made me think of Daddy's newest thing. A couple of days each week, he'll be going into town for pulmonary therapy. Why? To continue to build up his strength. He wants to be as healthy as he can be, even at 85. I am proud and inspired.

I sometimes wish my life were more routine or automatic. It seems as if what comes naturally for me is to do nothing. (I had some thoughts about that, too, while I walked today, that renewed my hope that I can change.) I'm grateful that I keep fighting that instinctive inertia. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Vacation memories

My vacation from work did not go according to plan. I had two big household cleaning/organizing projects I wanted to accomplish, plus several smaller tasks, but I really can't claim any measurable success. Toward the end of the week, I started to lapse into regret and despair. I felt as if I had wasted the week.

Then I looked closer.

The main reason I scheduled this week off was so that I could be assured of having the Friday for Relay for Life in Perry. I accomplished that, plus I had time to buy and break in new shoes. Mom and two of my sisters, in addition to the sister who is my relay team captain, all spent some time at relay. That was so nice to be there with Mom, a cancer survivor. And she wouldn't have been there unless Daddy, also a cancer survivor, was OK with her leaving him home alone overnight. Mom's trip also included a shower for her great-grandson, due in September. There were many treasured moments for me.

I was also glad my vacation timing worked with the Dallas Mavericks NBA championship win. It allowed me to watch the game and postgame and even the victory parade. Unfortunately, that's probably what kept me distracted from my work projects. About midweek, I was experiencing those regrets and shame about how I'd spent my time. But even as that happened, I kept reading Scripture and devotionals that reminded me my worth is not based on what I accomplish. A couple of readings even made it seem possible that what to me seemed like wasted time might fit into God's big plan for me. So I kept looking and praying for guidance, even as I seemed not to heed it.

Another confusing but memorable aspect of my vacation was that it coincided with the Youth Force mission project at the church. I had not realized that would be the case, and when I did make the connection, I decided not to alter my personal work focus. By the end of the week, as I accomplished so little, that seemed like a big, selfish mistake. I did go to two of the worship services, and even though doing so seemed selfish, I think it was part of the plan.

There is so much more to write about my vacation, but it's deadline, so I'm posting, with grateful memories and a smile.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Let's Hear It For the Team: Dallas Mavericks, 2011 World Champions

As Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat wound down Sunday and a Mavs championship looked imminent, I found myself thinking I wouldn't know how to react if they actually won. It turns out the reaction is that neat kind of happiness that results when you see what looks like positive efforts and hard work being rewarded. I liked that, once again, the team that played like a team, that put the team before the individual players, won the prize.

Life and sports don't always work out like that, but that's the second time this year it's happened with a team I care about. The other was in the spring, when the Texas A&M women beat Notre Dame to win the NCAA Women's Basketball Championship.

Interestingly, in both cases, it was obvious that, as far as the media (particularly ESPN, but not just ESPN) was concerned, first the Aggies and now the Mavericks wouldn't be the story whether they won or lost. I remember watching the sports coverage the day after the Aggies won, and it was all about what Notre Dame did wrong and why they should have won and what they need to do in the future. About the only coverage featuring the Aggies was what couldn't be denied: Game highlights and the trophy presentation.

Last night and today, it's been that all over again. It's all about LeBron James and what he didn't do, not about Dirk Nowitzki and what the Dallas Mavericks did. The thing is, all the focus would be on LeBron and the Heat if the Heat had won, too. So, I'm very happy the Mavericks won! Analysts and observers and even players can talk and speculate all they want, but they can't take away the Mavs' championship trophy and Dirk's MVP trophy.

I think these excerpts from an article by Mike Fisher, a journalist who has covered the Mavericks for 20 years, hit the highlights that resonate most with me today. He's talking about how Dirk, the superstar, and the whole team were playing with each other and for each other. For the team.

"This," The UberMan (Nowitzki) said, his new "NBA Champions" hat sitting crooked on his head, "is a win for team basketball." ...

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle spoke, too. ... "This is one of the unique teams in NBA history. Because it wasn't about high-flying star power. Come on, how often do we have to hear about 'The LeBron James Reality Show' and what he is or isn't doing? When are people going to talk about the purity of our game and what these guys accomplished? That's what's special. … We knew it was very important that we won this series … because of what the game is about, and what the game should stand for. … (The Mavs) have made a statement that's a colossal statement."

They made a statement, alongside Dirk and for Dirk. They did it with nary a word. They did it with a two-week-long, 48-minute-at-a-time flurry of basketball punches to an opponent that had foolishly questioned who they are and what they stand for.

As is often the case, there are lessons and there is inspiration for me from the world of sports. I may write about those later. But for now, I'm just happy to see a hard-working, and as far as I can tell, pretty humble and classy team of players win the championship. I hope victory doesn't change them. And I hope having two teams I root for carry home the prize this year doesn't change me, unless somehow it makes me a better person.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Time? Now!

Why does it always take a seemingly worse situation to help me appreciate what I had?

After a pity party that I hope is now over, I'm back in action. No excuses. Just do it.

I've written about it before. The work schedule seems to get worse and worse, but in the honest analysis, for today, it's still a good job, and I can do what's asked of me. Yes, I squandered some opportunities for spending the off hours of the "better schedule" productively. But stewing over that is pointless and decreases the chance for future productivity.

So, today I walked. I'm blogging. I've checked off from my list a number of things large and small that as recently yesterday it seemed like I would delay just out of self-pity. And who would that have helped?

God is surely showing me again, so many things:
-- No matter how many opportunities I squander, He doesn't give up on me. He gives me another chance.
-- What looks bad to me (a schedule, etc.) usually isn't as bad as I think.
-- What looks bad to me often holds an opportunity for blessing if I will just keep my focus on God.
-- In all things, focus on God's will and give honor, glory and praise to Him.

Thank you, God.