My husband organized a trip for young people from our church to go to an International conference for youth and young adults. There were many amazing experiences at Generation Youth for Christ, but more than the amazing meetings and meeting people from all over the world – there was the trip itself.
Personalities not previously seen finally become known after nine people travel 14 plus hours in a van that is packed full. One way.
Traveling back home to East Texas from not so sunny Orlando, Florida, was with the knowledge learned about the personalities of traveling companions. It changed everything. We had learned about each others’ strengths as well as idiosyncrasies. We knew what to expect of each other and how to make it work better – and where firm boundaries needed to be drawn.
GYC was an incredible experience and I’m so glad that it happens again in 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. But I learned just as much on the trip itself.
There was always one answer missing. No matter how hard I looked on those multiple choice forms, there was never a “Heinz 57” on the list. So I grew up filling out Iowa Tests of Basic Skills forms with resentment each year (as well as many other forms) with the plain old “white” or “Caucasian” because I don’t have enough of any one thing in me to be predominant. But then again, that’s a good thing. Like last night.
Last night was our church’s annual International Christmas Festival. We celebrate all of the cultures represented in our church as well as this special time of year. Folks are invited to dress in a way that reflects their heritage, if they so desire, and bring a food dish representative of their culture. Last year, Karl and the kids went as the Germans they are (I have a little in me) and I went as a Native American. Karl took Streusel Kuchen, and I took Native American Fry Bread. But because of our varied heritages, we were able to choose a different culture to represent at this year’s festival. Last night we went with the English-Welsh side of the family (Karl’s mother and who knows where it comes from in me).
We dressed in lady and knight costumes and served English scones with preserves and tea. Evidently English scones are hard to come by in East Texas. The leftovers were claimed, with quite a bit of demand, actually. Even the peach/apricot preserves were victims of kidnapping by the church media director. We also got to enjoy guacamole made by our Honduran friends and cassava cakes by our friends from the Philippines. What a night!
What culture will we represent next year? Well, since my DNA test came back 19% sub-Saharan African, it might be time to represent the soul side of me. This is what makes being a regular Heinz 57 of races and ethnicities so much fun. I want to proudly celebrate each and every part of my heritage. Why limit it to only one? Things have gotten better over the years on those dreaded forms demanding to know my race and ethnicity. They haven’t figured out “melting pot American” yet, so I click the best answer I can which is finally now available. “Prefer not to answer.” If I can’t claim every single part of my ethnicity then I’d rather not say anything at all.
I admit it, one of the favorite parts of my job is being a woman getting to tell a group of grown men to watch themselves and pay attention to safety concerns. It must be the mom in me, but as a safety assistant for a small general contractor outfit, I take my job seriously.
We cover OSHA requirements, staying in compliance with our clients and seasonal issues such as the recent rains we’ve had leaving pools of stagnant water around that can breed mosquitoes. Since some pretty scary stuff has been creeping into East Texas via these little insects, the guys needed to be reminded to be on the lookout for mosquito breeding grounds on the job site.
I often bring up common safety violations, such as climbing a ladder with stuff in your hands (because it causes accidents and even fatalities), but today we talked about distractions. Even if you are following all of the safety rules – you can still get distracted. Number 1? Mental distractions. What happened over the weekend, at breakfast that morning or the talk you know you’re going to have to have with your kid after school; all of these things can weigh on a person’s mind and lead to distraction. In the construction and general contractor industries – distractions can put yourself and others at risk.
What about you in your work? Distractions are dangerous and can even be deadly. Are you taking care of issues at home so you can focus on work at the office? Have you managed to lasso that runaway calendar and make it work for you so you don’t get distracted by how thin you are spread instead of paying attention to the job at hand?
Now flip it around and ask yourself the same questions. Have you left work at the office so you can focus on your family when you come home? Have you practiced good time management at work so that when you come home you are home and not bringing work home with you?
Distractions are dangerous on the job, but they are also dangerous at home. Stop and take a deep breath and ask yourself am I distracted at work? Am I distracted at home? Am I distracted in my relationship with God? Be honest and then be intentional as you go about staying connected in daily life to what matters most.
I have a Wii fit system. It’s amazing how this board and all of its balancing mechanisms and electronic programming is able to monitor how well you are doing an exercise and whether or not you are really getting the burn you need. Just to make it more interesting and humiliating, I have the Biggest Loser game to go with it. There’s nothing like having Jillian Michaels screaming at you to quit “phoning it in” and get real with your exercise. Better yet is having Bob Harper and his smug little smile torturing you with intense yoga workouts. Wow!
I also have a cruiser bicycle. It reminds me a lot of the old bicycle that my grandpa repaired and allowed me to use while I was at his house over the summers. My cousin and I would ride and ride and ride. We loved racing down hills and going places where the cars couldn’t go.
I have some exercise goals in mind. First of all, I’m trying to reclaim what Crohn’s Disease has tried to take from me in the last 8 months or so. I’ve had it for nearly 30 years, but the last 8 months have been brutal. I’ve signed up for a beginner’s triathlon for June 2013. My goal is to prove that anyone can do something. I want to show the world, and myself, that Crohn’s Disease doesn’t own me.
Now that the mornings in East Texas are resembling an average day instead of the humid ovens they have been most of the summer, I’m enjoying a bicycle ride in the morning for my exercise. Jillian and Bob aren’t yelling at me, pushing me harder, but I get to see my neighbors and greet them as I ride by. They are going to hold me accountable. Riding past the house that often wins the yard of the month award, I can see if my neighbors have had a successful run or not with the latest landscaping they are working on. As I ride along in my pleasant little tourist town, I’m showing visitors what a quaint and peaceful place this is to live. There is such a connection when I exercise/ride my bike, out in my community.
Besides all the wonderful opportunities for staying connected, I’m also getting a great workout in a way I’ve always loved. You doubt? My husband led out on our ride yesterday morning, being sure to include lots of uphill climbs. I could feel the labored breathing in my chest and at one point I was sure I would vomit if I didn’t get a break. Sorry Wii fit and sorry to Bob and Jillian, but you’ve never pushed me that far. So I think I’ll stick with pushing my limits with bicycling and staying connected to my community. It’s a win-win situation.