Saturday, July 14, 2012

Challenge Accepted

So, I've come to the realisation that I've gone away from the original intent of this blog, to keep you up to date on my life in Omaha.  Well, once again, I've been inspired to write a blog, and it's nothing to do with the goings on in my life.  However, that'll happen at the end of this blog.

I spent 9 amazing days in Colorado.  I started in Grand Lake with Keya, my mom and dad, and Jeff and Abby.  We had a freakin' blast.  I got to waterski, something I've not done almost two years.  It was... cold. Shadow Mountain Reservoir is COLD.  I got to do it though.  The second part of this trip was working the Total Player Camp at Regis University.  Now, I could easily spend time talking in depth about the camp, but the stated goals of the camp are what got me thinking about challenges.  We want to teach them skills, get them better, help them have fun, and challenge the campers/players who spend the four days with us.  My group had a wide variety of abilities.  My background and experience as a teacher allows me to take each camper where they are and help them improve, but my experience with a camp in June had told me that wasn't what they wanted.  I was encouraged to ask these girls to perform skills they didn't have the fundamental skills for.  (That sentence is awkwardly worded)  As I was winding down camp, I thought about the ways we challenged the athletes we were working with.

Honestly, at a lot of camps, there is an athlete or two that I want to buy piano lessons for.  Not everyone has what it takes to be an athlete.  I don't say that to be mean, I say that honestly because we all have abilities that make us more capable in certain arenas.  I, for example, am not terribly artistic (and that's being generous) whereas my brother is.  My strengths lie in instructing learners and athletes. That being said, I had at least one (really more like three) in a group of 12 that probably should look at music and drama rather than athletics.  At the other end of my group, I had girls who had played club volleyball and had been instructed by many (I assume) talented coaches.  I had to push some girls in the very basics.  I had to challenge them to perform in a way most of us in volleyball take for granted, they're things we tend to do without thinking.  These athletes found themselves challenged physically to perform not only in isolation, but later in camp in 4-on-4 and 6-on-6 competition with these skills that they'd just mastered earlier that week.  At the same time, I challenged my more experienced players (4/12 in my group) intellectually.  They were tasked to be positive, encouraging leaders with players who were far below their level and were often negatively affecting the outcome of their points, games, and matches.  I was incredibly proud of three of the four of them, they rose to the occasion.  Sadly, the fourth wore her disappointment on her sleeve during team play, and made it hard for her team mates to have the courage to test their newly acquired skills.  While mostly I was so happy with the four days worth of work we put in, it's illustrative of how challenges aren't always explicitly stated, but situations are presented to us regularly and we get to decide how we handle them.

It all got me thinking about the ways I've been challenged in my life.  By and large, I feel like I've responded well, if not always appropriately, to all the challenges.  I'm really thinking of my life since I left Fireside Elementary.  Ultimately, it's been moving to Nebraska that's been the high point of this challenge.  They say that God never gives us more than we can handle.  Let's be honest, I've lived a pretty charmed life.  Then I got to thinking about it.  Have I?  One of the speakers at the camp (and I'm paraphrasing here) said that we make our own luck.  I think that's true.  I've worked hard to be where I am professionally.  I have made good connections that have helped, but those only take you so far.  I've definitely felt a challenge from God of late.  It's been everything from my personal to my professional life.  Most recently, it was when I had planned a trip to Okoboji with Keya and her sister, Meredy.  The day before the trip, I find out I have an interview in Lincoln on Thursday (we were at Boji Wed-Fri).  What'd I do?  Drove to Boji, left Boji at 5:30 Thursday morning for my interview in Lincoln.  Oh, it's 4 hours from Okoboji to Lincoln.  I interviewed and drove back.  We played.  I told Keya it was the best interview I'd ever had.  I got the job.  It was awesome.

When we're young, we're challenged daily by parents, teachers, and coaches.  As we age, our relationship with our parents changes to the point that they don't necessarily challenge us as overtly as when we were little.  Hopefully, the lessons they taught us start to pay off.  Sometime between the ages of 16 and 25, we no longer have teachers challenging as we move on from our school days, save those of us who return for advanced degrees, or schooling to advance our careers.  A very few of us end up having a career with a coach, so by the time we hit the "real world,"  the dynamic changes.  That authority figure who challenges us is almost always our boss/manager.  Often, this person challenges us in a way that causes us to be defensive or shut down.  They have a lot of people they are responsible for, and not enough time.  They often aren't great with relationships, and don't take time to see how we should best be challenged.  In that case, we have to challenge ourselves.  Think about your friends who've advanced their careers and reached the goals they'd set for themselves when they were young.  Are they self-starters?  Are you challenging yourself everyday?  And I don't just mean at work.  If we're going to be happy in our lives, personally and professionally, we have to challenge ourselves to be better, to do better, than we would have done that morning.  I'm not saying this to brag on myself or say that I'm a prime example (by and large, I'm DEFINITELY not).  It just seems to me that the most satisfied people aren't just people who love what they do, but people who push themselves to be better.  They make mistakes and rise from them.  They even find challenging bosses and co-workers as just that, challenges.  When faced with a challenge, they attack it.  I spent three days in June feeling like the coach who was running the camp was breathing down my neck, like I couldn't do anything right.  This camp?  I compromised what I thought was right with (not FOR, but WITH, an important distinction) what he wanted for the campers.  He left me alone and was happy with my work, and I was satisfied with my results.

I also didn't intend this post to be advisory to you, my loyal readers.  It just kind of evolved into it.  Again, find little places to challenge yourself.  Date someone you'd never have looked at before, do the job before the boss sees it.  Don't push for credit, credit will come.  If you're not feeling challenged, challenge yourself.  You'll be surprised with the results.  Look more closely at barriers and obstacles, they may just be challenges issued by God or the universe that'll lead to wonderful things.  I have to be honest, I never could have dreamed that this move would have been so fruitful.  I also thought I'd be done with teaching.  As it turns out, God brought me here for a reason, and teaching was part of the reason.  Part of the reason I'm SO excited about the move to Lincoln is the fact that Markeya will be there, as she starts school in mid-August and UNL.  We will not only be two hours closer (as we originally thought), but in the same city.  As it stands right now, hopefully about a mile apart.  We're both rather excited.

On to the update.  I guess the only thing missing from this is the fact that I will also be working with Calvin Jones, former Husker great, writing for his website, foreverahusker.com.  Okay, I THINK I'm going to be doing that.  It's not for sure yet, but we have a verbal agreement in place.  It's a long story that I'm happy to share later.  I may also do some sales for him to help supplement my income.  In case you're wondering, I will be commuting from O-town to Linc for a few months because I have to finish this lease here, or it will get expensive... fast.  I would owe an extra month's rent as I moved in under a special that included a free month's rent.

Okay, I'm off to check on Micah and Dan's dogs.  Don't worry if you don't know who they are, it's Keya's sister and brother-in-law.  They live less that 10 minutes from me.  Enjoy the rest of this summer, and STAY COOL!

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