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Seven Day Journey On The Bandwagon

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I did grow up in LA and at some point of my life I was a baseball fan.  I recorded baseball games on VHS tapes (another “Google it” moment) but never watched them again.  I collected baseball cards.  I went to Dodgers games w my friends and had fun hanging out.

 

But at some point I found it too boring to watch.  I would rail on it.  I would wish for it’s overall demise and collapse, like the entire sport to become extinct.  I would be irate if a playoff baseball game preempted a regular-season hockey or football game.  I would have moderately playful arguments on social media with friends over which sport was better, baseball or hockey, and which athletes were tougher (playful in quotes).

 

But then the LA dodgers made it to the World Series this year, and I couldn’t get a ticket onto the bandwagon fast enough.  I rushed out and got an LA hat just in time for Game 1.  I referred to the team as “We”.  I posted on social media joking about how I didn’t know how to keep score.  I was very obnoxious mostly because it made my wife roll her eyes at me.  She would ask me insider types of things like, “You don’t know why 4th in the rotation is important?  What kind of fan are you?!”  But I was genuinely interested and excited about the games.

 

Game 6 was on Halloween, which meant trick or treating.  Luckily about every 5th house or so had a Man Cave in the garage with the game on, and it was tense as we would get an update.  But the cool thing was, after Game 6 and they won to push Game 7, I went on Facebook and “Liked” a bunch of my friends’ celebratory posts.  It was cool to be a part of it.  It was cool to support “MY” local team.

 

I joined the LA Kings bandwagon for their Stanley Cup runs for similar reasons.  Hockey is the main sport I follow, and I am a huge fan of hockey in general, so I was going to watch anyway.  So I might as well root for a team.  I didn’t run out and get a hat or other merch, but I was tempted to.  It felt good to support a team with a mission.

 

You might think this is a stretch, but this could apply to people too.  Like regular people.  Like your kids.  Like your family.  Like your friends.  Like your co-workers.  Now, wait for it, even the coworkers you don’t like, especially those coworkers.  That one makes me cringe.  That is the one I need to work on, along with my overall positive attitude.  A lot of work.  Lots.

 

Have you done something nice for someone?  Sure you have.  Or have you gone on a missions trip?  Or a did volunteer work for a charity?  Or maybe even simply donated to a charity?  It felt good didn’t it?  Depending on what you were doing it felt good to be a part of something or to help make a difference.  Or just picking up that thing a stranger dropped can bring a rush of positive vibes (sorry for the scientific terminology).

 

It feels good to be a part of something that is making a difference or contributing in a positive way.  It can feel good to help people along with their mission in life, to help them find their purpose.  It can feel good to come alongside someone for their journey.

 

We live in troubling times with troubling events happening every day with very few solutions.  I hear that love is an answer, the answer, but is it?  Is that something I believe?  Is that how I live?  You wouldn’t think so if you read my complaints about work.  You might think twice about partnering with me on my mission, if that were the case.  You also wouldn’t think so if you heard how I respond to the news.

 

As fun as the Dodgers bandwagon has been the last couple of days, I doubt I have a permanent seat.  I know when next season comes around, my interest in 182,000 games will not be as high as it has been for the last seven, which is understandable, I think.  The playoffs are always more exciting than game number 65,887 on a Wednesday in the middle of July.  But I will do my best to decrease the vitriol I have had before this series.

 

The same goes for my life outside of baseball.  I am sure I’ve mentioned it in other posts (that’s the hint to go read my other posts after this) that I am a work in progress.  Progress may be slow, but hopefully there is progress.  Loving and being a part of people’s missions for a better life and world for everyone is something I hope to do more of, even if it’s in small ways like a more positive attitude or donating to people or causes that are making an impact in the world.  Showing love to the people around me that may not be my favorite people could make all the difference in their world.  Maybe just start with a smile.  There is always the being-a-good-example part of parenthood that is good for me and good for my kids as well.

 

From the Dodgers bandwagon to the bandwagon of love, I will make continue the journey myself and with others.  There’s plenty of room for you to hop on!

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The Uncomfortable Journey Towards The Uncomfortable

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What is the most comfortable place in your house?  If you ask wives or girlfriends, the answer for their husbands or boyfriends might be “The Throne”.  Can you really argue?  If it wasn’t true, you wouldn’t spend so much time there.  Which side of the bed is yours?  Mine is the left, possibly because I am left handed.  When my youngest moved out of her crib into a big-kid bed, I started to sleep next to her to help her get comfortable.  It became such a routine, though, that I sleep there sometimes even if she’s not there.  And so much of a routine that I have trouble sleeping in my own bed with my wife the few times a week I get to sleep there.

 

Jealous?

 

Most people strive to be comfortable.  A comfortable couch, comfortable chairs, comfortable clothes, comfortable car.  Some people have “their” chair that no one else is supposed to sit in.  There is even comfort food, which I have been eating too much of lately.  People work hard to be comfortable.  Work hard and save a lot of money to buy a house to store nice things that make life easier, have modern conveniences to assist with that goal.

 

For some people, life is war and they never get comfortable.  They don’t really get to sit and relax.  Life is a battle in some way as they try to stay afloat and dream of getting ahead.  People are looking for just a little bit of slack in their lives.

 

The last couple of years, I have been lucky.  I have been rather comfortable.  There have been some challenges, but they were not the kind of challenges that make or break people.  They have been more like hurdles to step over that put a slight strain on current life.

 

So I’ve been comfortable for a long time.  You may not know it depending on who you are, what question you ask me, and the answer I give you.  If you asked me how work was going, it might sound like I hate my job and am about to go postal soon (if you’re too young to know what “going postal” is, Google it).  Neither of which are true, but I had to clarify with my wife that I don’t hate my job or the work that I do, because she wasn’t sure.  I am dissatisfied and hoping to contribute more to the world.  I just should could complain less is all.

 

In light of current events, I feel a need to activate, to get involved, which I have never done before.  There is not a lot I have done other than email politicians and contribute with some donations.  There are many places to participate, and I haven’t taken the time to find a good place to do so in between my job and my family.  However, some podcasts and sermons I’ve listened to over this year have been talking about stepping out of comfort zones, and I’ve felt a desire to step up and step in.

 

Regarding work, like I said, I feel dissatisfied.  The job is good-I feel I am contributing positively and am helping people; I am doing something I am good at and comfortable with.  Also, the company I work for is good.  It is stable, and I am paid well, given an opportunity to support my family.  The leadership at the top wants to bring the company into that prestigious arena of “Best Places To Work.”  They send out surveys, suggestion boxes, and I express my opinions, because I do want to be a part of the process and make it a best place to work.  Last year I joined the “People Committee” that was formed to improve morale and the company culture.  The company has a recognition website that everyone can give encouragement to one another.  Managers and People Committee members can give points to fellow employees to recognize their hard work that can be cashed in for shopping gift cards.  After I joined the committee and some of my coworkers started noticing I actually had points to give out, they were a little nicer to me.  I wonder if that was a coincidence.  Hmmm?  Some other benefits to my job include autonomy:  I sit at my desk, I do my work, and I am allowed to listen to as much music, audiobooks, or podcasts I can in an 8-hour shift.  My boss is good and considers me a positive contributor to the team.  Like anyone, there is room for improvement, but overall I put in satisfactory work.

 

I’m disappointed, though.  My career is not growing, or I am not getting opportunities to shine, from my perspective.   It is frustrating, but I am trusting in God’s plan and purpose that He has something great in mind for me.  I just wish He would hurry up and make it clear to me.  That would make my life much easier and much more comfortable.  It would be comforting to know what was in my future.

 

My home life is good.  My kids are growing, learning, and developing into people of their own, albeit sometimes frustrating.  They have their own interests, friends, and activities.  My five year old wants to have playdates just about every day either going to her friend’s house, or they come over to our house, which is tough during the week.  Between school, karate classes, hockey games, and homework, there is hardly room for dinner and bath time.

 

My wife’s business is taking off.  We spent a year being a little uncomfortable with our finances saving, anticipating it would take a long time for her start-up to start up.  Fortunately, it didn’t take very long to get going.  And, fortunately, my wife is a good planner and built things up slowly before leaving her corporate job.  Now she has a growing client list, she’s had to hire employees, and, most importantly, she’s happy doing it.

 

So we’ve talked about it, and maybe it is my turn.  Maybe it’s my turn to step out.  But I’m in a rut.  But I don’t know where I am supposed to go.  But I don’t know what I am supposed to do.  So I pray.

 

One day, I was incredibly frustrated.  I wondered why things were not happening for me, why it seemed other people were getting ahead, why it appeared no one cared, why it felt like everyone else was getting away with not having to work hard.  I wanted to run and scream, but that would make me sweaty, and, in turn, uncomfortable.  I wanted to do one of those viral video job resignations, like where the radio DJ gets drunk on air and tells the audience what they really think of the station they work for.  Or where the news reporter shows everyone “who is number one” on live TV.

 

Just as I was thinking that, a possible realization hit me.  I wondered if God is making me uncomfortable to force me to step out and really be uncomfortable and put my faith in Him.  When it was apparent that it was time for my wife to, it took some faith.  It took some trust on our part that He would provide for us.  Past experiences of God coming through for us, even when we hadn’t put our faith in Him, made it easy for us to do so this time.  Well, maybe not easy, but at least easier.  Or maybe it only seemed easy.  Just last week my wife told me there were periods when she wasn’t too sure it would go well.  Apparently, that’s when I reassured her and told her she was going to be able to do it, and everything was going to be fine.  I didn’t remember that at all, but at least it resonated with her.  It’s always interesting that the line you think is a throw away is the line that sticks with someone else, good and bad equally.  That might just be a topic for another day.

 

I spend a lot of time wondering how I can be an example of how I live by faith and seek God’s direction.  I want to be an example of faith to my kids.  I want to be an example of works to them.  I want my faith to have action, to have works.  The book of James says faith without works is dead.  In high school, a mentor of mine explained it as faith-works.  They are not separate ideas.  One leads to the other, and the other leads back to one into a kind of feedback loop into a kind of feedback loop

 

This may be the first step towards that journey.  Like any journey, one step at a time.

 

Where are you in your journey?

 

Is it time for you to start a new one?

 

Tell me about it.

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“The Journey Is The Reward”

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Most days, we are just trying to get through the day to get to the next.  Survival.  Living for the weekend.  There are those days we all have with our kids when going to the bathroom or doing the dishes feels like a vacation, even though you are still doing work and trying to do it as fast as you can to get to the next thing.  You get to the end of the day, and just sigh.  Maybe you (and by you, I mean me) snap at your kids because they are playing instead of getting in the bath, then they are not getting dressed after their bath, then they are not falling asleep.  

 

But then they finally do fall asleep.  You might have fallen asleep first, but whatever.  You take a glimpse of them sleeping, and you smile.  It all feels worth it.  At least in that moment anyway.

 

The day-to-day task of parenting is a chore.  Some might even say it is a bore.  Some, sadly, say no more.  Ok, I’m out of rhymes for now.  As challenging as parenting is, there is a reward that doesn’t include when they leave the house for the night to stay at the grandparents’, or when they leave for college, or when they eventually leave to start their own lives and families.  Those are rewards, sure.  The reward of, hopefully, raising, training, and teaching your kids how to be good adults, I would think, is what we strive for as parents.

 

It can be hard to remember that, though, in the moment.  Parents have so many things to worry about regarding their kids.  I have mentioned before in previous posts, just keeping everything afloat.  Kids grow up so fast, and parents spend so much time just trying to get them to the next thing-out of diapers, off of baby food, walking, talking, out of the stroller.  Then there are all the events we have to go to:  birthday parties, play dates, family parties.  There isn’t much time to sit, reflect, and enjoy your kids.

 

Both of my kids are in karate right now, and my oldest is bouncing back and forth between that and roller hockey.  Ultimately, I want them to do their best, but that doesn’t mean I need them to be the best.  As much as I want my girls to be the next Serena or Venus Williams, Michelle Wie, or Rhonda Rousey, the physical and mental toll of living as a professional athlete is not always worth the cost.

 

I also hope to teach my kids to rise up to the challenges that life puts in front of them and never give up.  We have a plaque with family rules on them, and one that we often go back to is to “never give up.”  This is often because when “Time to go to karate!” is announced, sometimes a groan is let out followed up by “I don’t want to go.”  We struggle to get them dressed and out the door, and then they are there in class and they are fine.

 

Not much different than you or I, I would imagine, when our bosses ask us to do something hard or out of our comfort zone at the moment.  Or something that simply inconveniences us and what we wanted to do that day.  Or just getting up and getting out of bed for the day and being an adult is required.  Why would we think our kids would be much different?

 

But as much as we hate working, we never give up and, hopefully, do our best.  We do it to provide for our families and set an example for our kids of the benefits of hard work.  Hopefully we also do it because we enjoy the work we do and the difference it makes in the world.  That might be a lofty idealism, but you get the idea.  

 

And if they don’t become pro athletes, whatever their profession is, they don’t need to be the best.  They just need to do their best they can and enjoy what they do.  They don’t need to be CEO, unless they want to be or feel like God is calling them to such a position.

 

What is more important is to teach them to enjoy the ride.  Enjoy the journey of life and not get caught up in the destination alone.  Don’t forget to have fun along the way.  Strive for the best but don’t be so focused on getting to be the best.

 

The journey is the reward.

 

Life is short.  Life moves fast.  It is not slowing down for any of us unless we make a choice to do so.  It can be easy to get caught up in the rat race of life, even as a kid.  One of my favorite authors, Hunter S. Thompson said, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”  So enjoy the ride.

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