Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Do we recognize privilege when we have it?

Me and a couple friends
I had the "privilege" to attend a luncheon today where the featured speaker, Dr. Jeremy Suri, talked at length about successful leadership.  In the context of his speech, he talked about opportunity, which got me to thinking......

This is always a dangerous thing because at one point in the presentation he even talked about the importance of words and how they told a story.  The story had to be engaging enough to keep the audience (in this case, specifically me) focused and involved so they would not be thinking about other things.  So, with that being said, I really was paying attention.  I took a few notes to remind myself of what I wanted to ponder later, and then... I did!

First of all, I believe opportunity and privilege could be used interchangeably.  And I think many of us focus on these two words often in the context of what we DON'T have.  Perhaps will never have.  And therefore, we may end of feeling "less than", or as if we are missing something.  But I started thinking about it from a different angle.  Even different time frames, and I came up with a different viewpoint.

Where I am at in life right now, is very comfortable.  I am "privileged" in a number of ways.  I enjoy the full benefits of being employed (monthly paycheck, health insurance, holidays, etc).  I am privileged to have a husband who loves and respects me; I am privileged to be a parent to six children - all of whom enjoy good health and of whom I get to see fairly regularly.  I am privileged to be a "Mimi" to five grandkids I would not trade for all the gold in China (bad example based on recent stock market activity but you get my drift).  I have a beautiful home, a bad-ass car, the benefits of a post-graduate education, good friends, etc. etc. etc.  I really could go on and on.
The younger years!

So let's dial it back a few years.  When I was growing up my mother worked two jobs to ensure we had food on the table and a roof over our head.  My siblings and I all enjoyed good health and grew up "fighting" close.  We saw our grandma every week for as long as she was living and we all had bicycles, radios, Monopoly games and whatever other "age appropriate" toys were around at that point in time.

I will tell you that my life then and my life now look very different.  Some folks would say I was "under-privileged" growing up.  Our house was small, our clothes were few and we all got jobs by the time we were 15 to offset some of the expenses of growing up.  I am certain at the time I wanted more than I had.  But even then, I had so much more than a very large population. When I read about kids going hungry, homeless, suffering from terminal illness, I am reminded that I am and have been "privileged" my entire life.   I guess my point is sometimes we are so busy wishing we had more, we forget to be thankful for what we have.

Certainly not a life without loss (never promised), or challenges (have had my share of hard times)  but upon reflection, a life rich with privilege, and opportunity.

I don't know a lot but this much I know for sure.  Given the amount of blessings I have enjoyed over the years, it would certainly be my privilege to recognize opportunities where I can give back.

Please join me.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Does it have to be such a struggle?

Apparently the answer is yes.  I have been following a daily devotional lately by Pastor Phil Ressler and we are studying the Book of James.  On one of the days, Pastor Phil was discussing life's purpose and a particular line resonated with me.  "No matter what, life will be a struggle.  Will you choose the right struggle?"

There is so much truth in those two small sentences.  At what age did life become such hard work?  I would not say that this "work" cannot be rewarding, but it certainly presents a diverse basket of challenges on any given day.  Long before adulthood arrives (and I mean REAL ADULTHOOD - not to be confused with the legal age to vote), the days become littered with decisions to make, different paths to go down, choices that seem small at the time; all of which can impact outcomes. Not only at the end of that given day, but the domino effect of day over day.  And that's if we make the RIGHT choice.

How many times have you heard "I am really struggling with this" or "I am really struggling today" over the course of your life?  And truly, the meaning could be as fleeting in meaning as "I didn't get enough sleep last night" to "I miss my (son, husband, brother) so much.  Struggles are as physically limiting as they can be emotionally crippling.  I have seen people struggle with their spending habits, their eating habits, their smoking habits and their life choices.  Each one can have a strangle hold on desired outcomes.

And for every struggle I have witnessed, at one point in my life, surely I have experienced a struggle somewhat similar or identical.  Because like Pastor Ressler reminded me today, "No matter what, life will be a struggle."  I wonder why we thought it would be anything but?

Anything worth having is worth working (struggling) for.  None of us are any better than anyone else so we certainly are not immune to the challenges life has to offer.  And yes, some struggles seem easier to get through (though not always at that moment in time).  Many struggles are life lessons and we only need to go through them once (if we learn anything at all!!).  And then there are those struggles that we simply never get over, we simply just "get on with".

So how do we choose the right struggle?  It sounds relatively simple but that in itself is deceiving.  Should we think "big picture" before we decide what we want to resist each day?  Is it as easy as "not sweating the small stuff"?

For all those days I struggled with not being able to wake up; to not being able to fall asleep, for not being able to start something; to not being able to finish something, for desperately trying to understand and then not wanting to understand at all, I shake my head in wonder.  Is life really a game of tug of war of which we play both ends of the rope?

I believe we all "struggle" with something daily.  Sometimes serious, many times not, but this much I know for sure and am eternally thankful for.  At the end of the day, I never struggle with my salvation.  This has been bought and paid for.  And for that I give thanks.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

How Am I Doing? So Glad You Asked!

Go ahead, ask me how I am doing?  I am not the type who wears my "heart on my sleeve", or carries a "chip on my shoulder" but I will take a quick look at my wrist and give you the 411 on what's going on with me!

Let me digress a little.  Although it seems like yesterday, apparently it was on May 17, 2012 when I could first access my information on the IPhone (although I believe I had my first Fitbit for about a year by then).  As you are aware (because of my OCD nature), I am a counter my nature and was counting steps long before it became popular or there were even gadgets available for such frivolity.  I did go from "counting in my head" to the little pedometers we would get every year at the health fair.  I like to have proof of my accomplishments.

Talk to me!!!
So here we are 4+ years later, and I am now the proud owner of a Charge HR!  Believe me, the Fitbit (or Karibit as I call mine) has come a long way since the beginning of its inception.  There have been times when I could have been their best sales person (it would be appropriate at this time to comment if you bought - or received as a gift - your first Fitbit because of my finesse in this skill set).  DON'T WAIT FOR ME TO CALL YOU OUT.  It would take an entire paragraph (but could show up next week, if I don't see your names)

What CAN'T this little gem tell you?  First, we start with the time of day (say goodbye - Mr. Watch). Following a quick time check - and this is necessary because you can't expect to get 10,000 steps in a day by getting a late start,  the Karibit reveals just how many steps I am at- REAL TIME.  So, for example, at 4:46 pm on Tuesday, I was at 7,240 steps.  Not too shabby.....  Since I was sitting down when I did this check, my heart rate was at 64 beats per minute.  THAT'S RIGHT (hence the name CHARGE HR).  Next up was how many miles I had walked that day.  I came in just under 3 miles at 2.92 but let's face it, the day was young.  I had successfully burned off 1,221 calories from this frenzy of activity called my life (again, wasn't even bedtime yet) AND I had climbed 9 sets of stairs.

Now what is important to note here is this.  I have a dream!  My dream is that one day, I will walk 10,000 PLUS steps EVERY DAY.  I will climb no less than 12 flights of stairs on a daily basis and that I will be able to do this without my heart rate escalating to triple digits out of control.  I will walk 5 miles every day and my waist line will boast of this accomplishment.  And I won't wake up from this dream until it happens.  (Speaking of sleep...)

But wait, there's more.  This little beauty syncs with my IPhone and tells me SO MUCH MORE!!! Go ahead, ask me how I slept last night?  Why, very well, thanks for asking.  While I woke up one time and was restless 10 times, it appears I met my goal (8 hours) by getting a total of 8 hours and 28 minutes of sleep.  I LOVE THIS THING!!!!

I don't know a lot of things but this much I know for sure.   I know when I ask my sister Katy, how she is doing, and she looks at her wrist and tells me - it's time for me to upgrade my Fitbit.  At this time, I would like to thank Katy, Amazon Prime, and my husband who supports my addition to counting.

And I do know one more thing, if you call me, my little Karibit will be buzzing my arm and when I look, it will tell me YOU are on the PHONE.  I KID YOU NOT!!

Until next time,
your pal,
ummm, Kari

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

My cake is on fire!

Tear it up?  Really?
My little grand girl, Averie, had her first birthday on Sunday.  A year has gone by already and as we all know, that first year is filled with...well, many firsts.  And once a "first" happens, it can never be repeated as a first, but can only be refined.

As the only grand girl, Averie has had her fair share of attention.  She has two older adoring (and adorable) brothers, many aunts ready to buy dresses after a season of boys that started 14 years ago (not that there is anything wrong with that), not to mention Mimi and Grandma's.

I started thinking about Averie's big day from her perspective and wondered what her impression must be.  Imagine for a minute, you are again, a small child.  Much beloved and taken care of and you wake up, just like any other day......

For me?
It's a regular day except today when my mom picked me up, she said, "It's the Birthday Girl".  Is she talking to me?  Hmmph.  Every time someone sees me, they say "here comes the "Birthday Girl".  I was just getting used to being called Honey Pie or Averie.  Now I am quite certain I am the Birthday girl.  This makes everyone else smile when they say it.  I am smiling now, too.

It seems we are having a lot of extra people in our house today.  I know many of them but some of them I have only seen in pictures.  And quite frankly, some of them I don't know at all.  But all of them are bringing in bags and boxes that look like they might be fun to play with.  And everyone is friendly so it's all good.  When I start to scoot over to see the boxes, they quickly are moved out of my way.

Yay, kids that I have seen before are here that are almost the same size as me.  Well, when they sit down, we are all the same size.  I am going over to sit with them.  Mom is bringing over those colorful boxes now and letting me tear the paper.  THIS NEVER HAPPENS.   Fun toys are in the boxes but  apparently I can only look at them, because once the box is open, it's time to move them out of my reach and start on another box for me to tear.  This happens many times.  Every time I tear the paper, people clap and smile.  WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?  This is not the reception I usually get when I am tearing things up.  I like being the Birthday Girl.

Looks like fun...
Soon we have tore up all the packages and there are new things to look at all over the floor.  All the paper has been picked up and the fun boxes are gone.  Some of the big people are playing with my new toys.  Are they for everyone?  As I start to reach for one....

I am scooped up and taken to my high chair.  Wait, what's happening?  Who turned out the lights?  Who picked me up?  I already had lunch but someone has now buckled me into my high chair.  In the dark.  Wait, I smell something.  Is that smoke?  I see lights...oh my gosh. What is going on?  My mom has just taken a perfectly good cake and lit it on FIRE!  FIRE!!!  Why is everyone surrounding me?  All these people in the dark, chanting something about a Happy Birthday.  HELP.  Is  that my MOM coming at me with that cake on FIRE?  What kind of sick, twisted ritual is going on around here?  Oh no, I'M THE BIRTHDAY GIRL!!!

None for me, thanks.
Then we wonder why she knocked that serving of cake across the room when it was served to her. Seriously, the "party" was over for her.  My daughter told me she was fussy and ready for nap but I knew the real reason.  She wanted out of that room because, knowing she was the BIRTHDAY GIRL, she wasn't confident that she wasn't next.

And now after all these years, I understand why, whenever someone sings Happy Birthday to me, I find myself fighting back tears.  I always thought I was just being silly.

Until next time,

Your pal, Kari

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