Lessons from Granny

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I don’t see my 88 year old Granny Searby nearly enough, but this past week we spent a few hours with her and I quickly realized that I still have a lot of lessons to learn from Granny. As 2013 comes to a close, here’s the reminders I picked up from her during our visit that I’ll keep close to memory for 2014:

– Slow down…Granny isn’t in a hurry to get anywhere, she knows where she’s going and enjoys the getting there.

– Eat just a little each time, but eat several times throughout the day…Granny doesn’t eat a lot at meals, but she takes little snacks throughout the day. Maybe that is why she’s always be thin and fit.

– Exercise a little each time you can…Granny has decided to get a little exercise each time she walks back to her room by walking all the way to the end of the hall and then back to her door before going in – those extra 20-30 feet add up over the course of a week.

– Friends matter…Granny looks as good as I’ve seen her in 5 years and she attributes a lot of it to spending time with the new friends she’s made over the last 6 months at the assisted living center.

– Be thankful…Granny mentioned several times during our time together how thankful she was for the staff, the exercise room, the library, the weekly bingo, the good food. Seemed like she was able to find thanks in the simplest things and it showed on her face.

– Live simply…Granny lives in a small apartment with a living room, kitchenette, bedroom, and bathroom. She doesn’t have a lot of ‘things,’ but she told me that she’s got everything she needs and is as satisfied as she can be.

– Live life to the fullest and cherish each breath…Granny has had a tough year, but she has made the most of it and seems happier than ever.

My hope and prayer for 2014 is that I’ll take these lessons and apply them to my own life. I think they are valuable lessons for us all.

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Unexpected Emotion

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I completed my first marathon today and it was mostly what I expected – physically painful at times, fun to run that far with a large group, mentally challenging to finish, and satisfying. There was one thing that happened, though, that I didn’t expect…

After I crossed the finish line under the huge MARATHON FINISH banner, I immediately burst into tears and sobbed for several minutes. This unexpected emotion wasn’t because I was hurting or sick, it was because of The Journey that was involved in getting to that place. The Journey wasn’t just a physical trip that I took making a commitment to train for 9 months with a focus on one thing – this race. No, it was also an emotional Journey. It was a Journey of finding a new level of discipline inside myself. It was a Journey to find a way to spend a few hours each week away from my job, my family, my obligations, and my failures and just quietly put one foot in front of the other. And it was a Journey to experience a mindfulness that has helped me deepen my faith and improve my relationships.

I didn’t expect it, but I understand why my body burst forth from the anticipation that had built up about this important event in my life. My body understood, better than I did, how much good has come about inside of me because of The Journey and it allowed that celebration of tears to express that joy.

I don’t know where my running Journey will take me next, but I do know that it doesn’t end here. 

Eat an Elephant One Bite at a Time

This year I’ve been training for a marathon and this Saturday – December 14, 2013 – I’m going to finally run it! Training for a marathon has really illuminated the saying we’re all familiar with: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” It would be very difficult to decide to run a marathon one week before the race or even 6 weeks before the race and expect to be mentally and physically prepared. It is a large task and it requires you to consistently train and prepare over a long period of time. Many days it seems like you are making very little progress towards the goal, but each run builds a cumulative effect on your body to be up for the task.

Similarly, this lesson has been going on in my life in 2013 as well. During the first half of the year I was in a very difficult work situation. I continued to try to ‘bite off’ the whole problem at once and it seemed to get worse every time I tried to do that. Finally, not out of enlightenment but frustration, I just threw up my hands and stopped trying to ‘fix’ the problems all at once. I turned the situation completely over to God and just asked that HE give me bites that I could handle when I could handle them. The job situation didn’t get better, but I did feel a sense of calm and confidence that I could handle each day’s bite. It wasn’t long until a door opened for a new opportunity that has led to a new career that is the most rewarding and satisfying I’ve ever had professionally. I have brought the ‘one bite at a time’ mentality along with me to the new job and I have seen tangible results from this approach.

What I’ve learned from all of this and have seen results with over the last 6 months is that you need to just focus on eating what is in front of you each day. There is no need to try to take a bigger portion because you feel great today and there is no need to worry about how big the problems or opportunities are going to be tomorrow and shy away from what is on your plate today. All I can do is focus on the moment, eat what the good Lord puts in front of me each day, and remember that life is marathon training and can’t be done all at once.

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Even when you don’t want to…

Doing things even when I don’t want to seems to be one of the most rewarding and peace inducing things in my life. 

When I put on my sneakers and go out the door and run even when I don’t want to, I always feel more satisfied than on the days I feel great and look forward to pounding the pavement.

When I pick up the phone and have the ‘tough conversation’ that needs to be had even when I don’t want to, I always feel an inner peace that calms my mind and settles my nerves.

When I finish that expense report and get it off my plate even when I don’t want to, I always feel like I’ve freed up tons of time in my life (even when it is usually only a 30 minute process).

Today, I’m going to be more mindful of doing the things that I don’t want to do because I know that not only will I feel better when they are done, but they will make me a better person for having done them.