Monday Mayhem: Dare to do what you love/hate!

We met a pediatrician recently who shared a story of his early days of clinical work. He and several other interns would see patients at a walk-in clinic. A nurse manager was responsible for doing the initial assessments then she would assign each patient to one of the doctors for treatment. As it was a clinic, there were no appointment, so on any given day one never knew what kinds of patients he or she would see.  However, this particular doctor noticed that he was getting all of the mental health patients while the other doctors were getting a variety, and often the “easy” stuff–runny noses and the common cold.  Annoyed by this apparent disparity and worn out by the more difficult patient load, he confronted the nurse manager.

“Why are you givng me all of these patients and not giving any to the other doctors? It’s not fair!” he complained.

“Why do you think?” she shot back. “You’re the only one who has proven you can actually help them. When I give those patients to the other doctors, they sit with them all day and get nowhere! My waiting room gets backed up and it’s a mess. I give them to you and you get them in and out.”

My doctor friend wasn’t sure how to respond to this, but vowed that once he had put in his time at the clinic and was able to open his own practice he would see to it that he would only see the kinds of patients that he wanted to and he would pass on those others…

Fast forward decades later this same doctor is now well-established and, indeed, in a position to choose the kinds of patients to treat, or not. And guess what? His pediatric patients who have come in with mental health issues have found his knack for counseling to be good medicine.  Word has spread to the wider community and his services have begun to fill a need. He now sees far fewer pediatric cases and far more mental health cases.

“Isn’t that something?” He said as he slipped into his crisp white coat and prepared to leave us. With a sigh and a shrug he waved goodbye and let the office door close behind him.

Then his nurse leaned in as if to share with us a little secret.”Don’t let him fool you,” she said. “He loves it, and he’s good with them. They come in here all down and depressed, then, next thing you know, you hear them in there laughing and talking. He’ll get down on the floor with them and draw pictures, all kinds of things. Before you know it, they’re leaving out of here all smiles and feeling better! He acts like he doesn’t like it, but he was meant to do this.”

Wow.

For some reason, her words hit me.

We usually assume that the things we’re meant to do are things we enjoy doing. Things we know we’re meant to do, not things we dread doing or things we try to avoid! Here’s a man who spent his entire career trying to avoid this type of work and yet he apparently has a gift for it. Is it possible that our gifts could be things we despise?

Might it actually be necessary to wrestle with the gifts and talents that we have as we figure out what we can and should be doing with them?

It seems to me that the moral of this story is that if we have a knack for something, if we’re naturally good at it–even if we don’t particularly care for it–we should not run from it. Maybe we aren’t meant to do it all the time–but for a time.  

But, when that time comes we must not turn away (if you’re good at it, and it can help someone, how can you say no?)… because some of our gifts we love… and some we hate.  It’s ok.  Do it anyway.

Happy Monday!

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P.S.Who’s on first? I make A Case for Second Place

Monday Mayhem: Go to Your Happy Place!

Sometimes happiness gets a bad rap. It can be depicted as flighty and fleeting, something we shouldn’t put stock in or count on too much. It’s a temporary feeling, like infatuation, that we warn teens against. Preachers say it’s far better to have joy than happiness and that God intends for us to be holy instead. But when I listen to Pharrell Williams’ song and watch this video I am reminded of what we all know is true:

Happiness is joy personified!

Sure, it’s a feeling that passes when times get hard. Of course, we don’t always feel like dancing, but happiness is also a vital part of our well-being.  It’s what gives life to our lives! Without it, I believe we would surely die—or at least we would want to (Prov 17:22)!  Besides that, it’s the very temporal nature of happiness that gives it its value. Precisely because happiness is a temporary state of being, we should cherish every happy moment that we enjoy.

My friend Chandra has reminded us that summer, too, is a temporal state, so, quick, while there’s  still time, find your summer time happy place—the beach, the pool, the park–wherever–and revel in it! Grab your favorite drink—ice tea, ice coffee, ice cold lemonade—and sip slow! Because it’s these kinds of moments that you’ll want to remember with fondness when the winter winds blow and you’re feeling low. It’s the glorious days of summer music in the park and fishing off the pier, kayaking in the rapids, scuba diving off the coast, cruising in the Caribbean—or just staying up late and watching Netflix ‘til dawn!

Whatever summer looks like to you, wherever you find a little happiness that you can tuck into your pocket to save for a rainy day, take it! Think of these final, fleeting days of summer as the precious memory-filled days that they are and enjoy every moment.

Happy Monday!

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Stay cool this summer with these Food Network Snacks that Taste Better Frozen or check out my own favorite recipes. Also, find more Monday Mayhem here!

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Revamp Monday: Don’t Waste Time!

What advice  would give to your son or daughter if you had only a few fleeting moments left with them? Don’t have any kids? What final words would you say to the one you love? Sometimes it takes standing at the edge of a cliff to consider the gravity of our words and the magnitude of time. Today’s challenge: don’t waste it!

Writer’s Challenge: Make a TOP TEN LIST OF YOUR LAST WORDS TO THE ONE YOU LOVE. Use it as a springboard for a short story.

For all the mom’s out there, Tanzy has a special message just for you!

 

Check out the Monday Mayhem series and check back every first Monday for Tanzy’s Revamp Mondays! Also, don’t forget to check out my healthy recipes and there’s also more for writers here.

Happy Monday!

 

Monday Mayhem: Happy Mid-Year!

So, remember way back in January when you made your “New Year’s Resolutions”? Why would I be talking about those? It’s June! Well, isn’t now a perfect time to talk about them, precisely because you’ve forgotten? Aren’t you tired of it? Beginning the new year with all that hope and promise only to slip back into the same old rut by February? Now, here we are, half way through the year and what do we have to show for it?

Why not break the pattern?

Consider this is our mid-year check-up! Half way through the year we should re-visit those resolutions that we cast aside and see if we can breathe some new life into them, or maybe we need to re-assess. Were we too ambitious or unrealistic in January? What has changed since then? How do we need to round out this not-so-new year?

I’d like to surf into the second half of this year with renewed energy, how about you? Let’s commit to something new!

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So, when I looked back at my Welcome post for this blog I realize that I had some lofty goals. For example, I intended to have a monthly “Writer’s Block” challenge, to have a “Writing 101” column with writing tips from my writing courses and to feature writing samples as well as commentary and stories on other topics of general interest.

As I read over this list I see that I’ve done quite a bit with this last item. I’ve shared creative pieces, writing samples and plenty of general interest commentary, but I would say that I need to work on bolstering my writing tips and challenges for all of you writers out there!  I also had some New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Write daily.
  2. Allow yourself to write poorly. 
  3. Build a community of writers.

I do not write daily, but I have at least been writing more this year than ever before. I have certainly allowed myself to write poorly and that has been painful, but productive, and I have built a community of writers AND readers–that’s YOU! And I want to thank you for being here! You have helped me to stick pretty closely to these resolutions and I couldn’t have done it without the motivation that comes with having a real audience.

I hope that you will find the motivation you need to assess your own mid-year resolutions or make new ones! Come on, it’s not too late to make a new start.

Happy Monday!

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Click below, Emily Bacetis reveals how we can succeed at keeping our eyes on the prize!

Is the Use of Letters and Memos Becoming Obsolete?

Today’s Daily Post on “Paper” reminds me that I had an interesting and shocking exchange with a group of students recently when I asked them to include with their end of semester portfolios either “a letter or memo to me” in which they were to explain their writing process and revisions. I did not have any specifics in terms of format other than, you know, “a letter or memo,” which, in my mind, was explanation enough for what format was required.

Although the assignment was not going to be graded according to the format of the letter or memo, I expected to see something that at least resembled the SHAPE of a letter or memo and I didn’t think that I needed to provide a detailed explanation of the letter or memo format in order for these intelligent, talented, savvy young people to know what to do.  These are writers who had created some of the most brilliant creative works I’ve ever read!

Ah, but I was sadly mistaken.

Rather than letters or memos, I received notes and messages from my students in various formats–paragraphs mostly–of varying lengths, on separate sheets of paper with no particular rhyme or reason. I was baffled, but when I raised the issue there was near unanimous surprise! “Oh,” they said. “we didn’t know you wanted our reponses to be in the actual form of a letter or memo!”

“Huh? Did not my instructions to write a ‘letter or memo’ indicate the actual form of a letter or memo?” I was lost, but my befuddlement became utter bewilderment when another student informed me that his concept of a “memo” was a “Post-It” note!

Wow.

So, what does this mean? Have the ancient forms of letters and memos been co-opted by the modern forms of emails, texts, Tweets and other social media “posts”–even Post-its? If I, as an English teacher ask for a “letter or memo” I must not assume that the old forms come to mind?

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Does this mean that technological changes in the way we communicate have made traditional forms unnecessary, even irrelevant? So, not only do we lose paper, we also lose the format of documents that were once printed on paper too?

I’m not one to knock the new forms or formats for communication, but it hurts my heart a little to think that the tried and true conventions might be becoming less necessary to our daily interactions. Letters and memos are still a part of business and I made it clear to my students that they can not disregard them just yet, but their ignorance caught my attention because they have apparently been able to go so long without knowing about or using these types of documents enough to consider them necessary.

I learned about and began using these forms in middle school!

Perhaps future generations will have less of a need for letters and memos in order to conduct business, but somehow, to my 20th century mind and fingers accostumed to the touch of paper and hard No. 2 pencils, this just seems wrong.

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For samples of my students’ amazing works see Woman Enough and Flash fiction: Life’s a Challenge–Face It!

6-Word Stories: life condensed

I love the compressed complexity that 6-word stories require and I’ve intended to write some 6-word stories for this blog, but when I read today’s Proverbs 31 I was shaken to the core by Tricia Lott Williford‘s skillful demonstration of how powerful words can be and how easily a few words, carefully placed, can get to the very heart of what we’re feeling–whether lighthearted or heavyhearted.

This is a must read! Your Story in Six Words

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Monday Mayhem: STRETCH!

I’ve always wanted to be a dancer.

It’s a truth that not many know about me! But there it is. In black and white now, for all the world to see. When I was a little girl my mom spoke often of putting me in ballet, but the cosmos did not align in my favor for many things that I wanted as a little girl.

Life happens.

You grow up. You tuck away your childhood dreams and go on.

I admired ballerinas from afar, attended Alvin Ailey performances and with my daughter watched the Nutcracker with awe and wonder.

Fortunately, when she expressed a desire to dance, I was able to enroll her in a little studio not far from our house and I’ve watched with awe and wonder as she’s developed grace and poise in a very short time. When I registered her for the summer the studio owner reminded me, again, that they offer “adult” classes and I told myself, again, that I’m “too old for this” now. My time has passed. I’m past my prime.

It would be a stretch to take ballet at my age…literally!

But, then I thought, why not stretch? Stretching is good! Physically, stretching increases range of motion, prevents injury and  improves balance, but psychologically? Emotionally? Professionally? Stretching can be scary. Reaching for goals that are not just beyond my reach, but beyond my zip code!  Extending myself to attempt things that are so far outside of my skillset that I have to do research before I can even start? No. My courage is a bit atrophied from decades of settling for tasks that fall safely within the parameters of my paygrade, from sticking with activities that lie limply under the canopy of my job description. So, the thought of crawling out from under that safe, yet confining space was frightening!

When atrophied muscles begin to move, the result is resistance. When we wander into unknown territory, the initial move is hard. To stretch beyond the comfort zone is to pull away from the familiar and to risk pain. That’s why it’s easier to stay where I am, to stick to what’s expected of me at my age, to settle, rather than to stretch.

But, there’s another reality:  if I do nothing I die! For years I’ve watched others do things I wished I could do. I’ve spent much of my life on the bench, observing from the sideline. At the end of my life will I be content to say, “boy it sure was fun to watch everyone else living their life!” No! It’s high time I get in the game and do some living myself!  Physically, if a person doesn’t move, they will deteriorate. Psychologically, emotionally and professionally the same is true too. Because anything that is not moving is declining; anything that isn’t living is dying!

The bottom line is, I have two choices. I can either get old or I can grow old.

If I get old I stay where I am, in my comfort zone, doing what’s safe, completing the easy tasks that I know I can do, never stretching myself to do any more or to try anything new. And every year I’ll get older.

Or I can step out of my comfort zone. Break away from what’s safe, challenge myself to tasks that seem too hard for me, stretch myself to do more than I think I’m capable of and to try new things that I never thought I could. And every year I’ll grow older.  I’ll stretch, I’ll change; hopefully I’ll be stronger and better for the effort and experience.

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So, what about you? Do you need to stretch? Have you settled into a safe space and allowed your literal or metaphorical muscles to atrophy? Maybe it’s time to peek out from under your canopy. In the meantime, if, you’ll excuse me, I have some stretching to do, my ballet class will be starting soon!

  • Learn more about the benefits of stretching from Prevention
  • Learn more about my favorite little dance studio Arabesque Dance Arts
  • Also, check out “Hi, I’m K” where I’ve uploaded pictures from my ballerina daughter’s birthday “spa” party!

*Want more Monday Mayhem? Click here!

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