Awards, Achievements & Actions to Help Others – No One Cares

Winning a track race

My oldest son found a music box my dad had given me when I was very young, tucked away and honestly forgotten in a safe place, in the same beautiful condition it always has been in, and packed to brim with award ribbons and medals of achievements.  I went for many years, to a Christian school who would give out award ribbons for sports activities, art competitions, and even (in Elementary years) ribbons for having good qualities like a positive or encouraging attitude.  As a result, I accumulated many ribbons while at this school – some not so deserving of an award in my opinion, and some that I know I earned through either talent (painting or writing children’s stories) or hard work (medals for hurdling).

My son is fascinated (or maybe a little obsessed?) with this box.  Ever since he found that it even existed a few months ago, he has enjoyed taking it out, laying out all the color ribbons, holding up the heavy medals and inspecting the designs on them that represent track and field or musical instruments.

My parents were wonderful growing up, they were very attune to things I was naturally good at, or inclined to succeed in, and therefore they encouraged me to go in those directions.  They also curiously encouraged me to go in directions that challenged my nature and innate talents, which in the end, has made life so much more interesting and fulfilling to me rather than had I only stayed in my comfort zone of doing well at things that came too easily.  They are both musically, artistically, and intellectually fascinating people, and I do not for one minute discount or seek to take for granted the beauty of life they aspired me to enjoy living.  But seeing my son handle my past (and forgotten) awards and medals with such longing and fascination has made me realize something: No One Cares.

This is not me trying to diminish achievements, but to intentionally point out how hollow many achievements in life truly are.  No one cares that I may have a box tucked away with now decade old awards and past achievements; people might have mild (polite) interest if I were to display them in some kind of showy case, but when it comes down to it, no one really cares about things like that.

Awards & Achievements, while they may boost our own confidence and add greatly to our own life experience, and while our children or grandchildren might greatly appreciate them/admire them, to onlookers or friends in our lives, they take a very back seat place in the trunk of the car that is driving and traveling our life.

My son’s first academic medal

Our oldest son is very athletic.  He was doing crunches with his dad and yoga with me when he was only 2 years old.

This last summer, we decided to let him play soccer on a team that would have practices and games every week.  We are, hands down, probably biased parents, but it was amazing watching his ability come alive on the field, with his teammates, and his raw success

He was so determined and yet had such a great attitude of teamwork and humility.  A natural leader, he was not afraid at all to make the scores, to encourage and even hug his teammates if they didn’t do as well.  A grandfather of another player pulled him aside after one of his games and told him to his face that he was the star on the team.  How does a 4 year old handle that kind of achievement?

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He is the fierce looking one second from the right.

We live in a day and age where every child gets a medal if their parents sign them up.  Every child on my son’s team, whether they were at practice (or games) or not, received a medal of achievement.  While I didn’t at all want to make my son arrogant, I wanted him to explicitly know that he actually earned his medal through his dedicated hard work (and yes, even at 4 he was dedicated and played his little heart out on the field).  We watched one game where he was called upon to play for more than his share because the other kids were either throwing a tantrum or absent that day.  We watched him curl up and relax in a little hole in the ground beside the field, sweating profusely & trying to get relief, only to be asked to come back in and play because his substitute was having a tantrum, and our son, with his amazing attitude and genuine love for the sport, got up, and went back in to do soccer battle.

He undoubtedly, hands down, earned that medal.  And he is rightfully proud of it and knows it’s worth all the more because of his dedication to achieving it.

This sounds like a depressing post from the title, however, that is not at all the way I’m intending it to be.  How can I help my son understand that these medals, any achievements in life really, even though they might have been acquired through the beauty of hard work and dedication paired with raw talent, are ultimately meaningless and forgotten or unappreciated?  Unless they are paired with having also lived a life of integrity, they are only slightly (sometimes greatly) admired at best, or can lead to arrogance and pride at the worst.

How can I help him understand that even if he achieves great feats in science, literature, or medicine, and consequently ends up helping millions of people, he will still face those who will refuse his help, misunderstand him, or may end up completely forgotten in time?

It might be a harsh lesson, but a critical one to living a full, well-lived life.  Our awards, achievements, even our earnest efforts to help others are only great in that they add meaning to ours and other’s lives; they are only fulfilling when we ourselves are built on foundations of principle and morals.

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Harsh Letter to a Career Mother (Marriage)

 

This letter is harsh, it is honest and raw, but it encapsulates what I believe some families may go through when both parents are super career-orientated.  I must confess, I’ve always loved working, ever since I was a child as young as 9 I had strong ideas of what I wanted to do for work… for the rest of my life!  So I’m posting this letter from a husband knowing full well what it is to have a huge drive to work, and lots of untapped ambition pent up.  Being a stay-at-home mother, at least for me, is wonderful and fulfilling in a multitude of ways, however there is always a part of me that can’t wait to work – even part-time again, or to get my tiny business off the ground.

I also totally understand why feminists have labored so hard to have equal rights for women, which have gratefully extended to equal opportunity in the workplace.  Like most things meant for good though, too much of it is not a good thing, and feminism has crossed the line when it glorifies the liberated, career-orientated mother who sees her children only an hour or two each work-day, and has to try to cram in some quality time on weekends only.

Now that I’ve effectively been in both roles to some extent, I can tell the difference in how much more attune to my son I am when I am the one teaching him, and when I’m the one spending quality time with him everyday together.  There is no denying the truth (except if you’re staunchly feminist) that I make much more of an impact in my son’s, and even my husband’s, life when I’m not super career-orientated.  This difference is often trivialized, but its a lie that is promoted by people who want you to think that you should be able to have the privilege of doing whatever you want, to the detriment of your children.  I know that can be a hard pill to swallow, it is for me as well.  I have plans of achieving a pharmacy degree, but they won’t happen until my youngest is a little older.  Even then, I may only work part-time in effort to handle both roles “mother” and “career-woman” well.

Also, this is something that is seen after years of impact, in this letter from a husband to his wife, it seems clear that they’ve probably been married over 10-years.  To be honest, I believe that couples usually don’t start to face issues head-on like these until after 10 years of marriage.  Before that they are too caught up in the early years of marriage without kids, and then the struggle through the trenches of having very young ones who aren’t in kindergarten yet.  It takes 10 years + to realize some of these things that really matter in a family.  Here is the letter:

“I’m learning more as the years go by that you are a career-orientated person who doesn’t have a clue or understand the essence of what it means to be a wife and mother.  Call me traditional if you like, but I firmly believe that mothers need to spend more time at home, perhaps 100 percent of their time at home, to nurture a family and develop a home.

Far too often, there are too many things that get overlooked by you as a wife and mother as it pertains to this family.  Our kids lack focus, training, and discipline.  They have no routine and there’s no order about anything they do.  Mothers, in my opinion, are nurturers and teachers who ought to spend as much time with their kids to teach them things, skills that they will use to cope with life.  To put it bluntly, you haven’t been a mother.  Our kids have been left too often to cope and figure out things for themselves.

When it comes to being a wife, you put no effort.  And I think you don’t love me anymore.  Making love is not high on your agenda of things to do, and showing any intimate interest in me isn’t either.

I’m feeling less and less interested in you and less and less motivated to keep our family together.  I’m feeling like you are married to your job and that you are more committed to it than to us as a wife and mother.

I’m not claiming that I’m the perfect husband and father.  You and I both work too many hours, but I believe you underestimate the importance of the mother in a family.  Mothers and fathers play different roles in a family.  I’ve never discouraged you from pursuing a Ph.D., but I don’t think it’s high on the list of priorities of what I think is best for us as a family right now.

I want to love you, be with you, support you, but I must confess that I’m feeling like we are losing each other and our kids.  I don’t know what the complete answer is, but I know it has to start with us spending more time at home to grow, develop, and nurture our family and our relationships.”

The wife’s response?  A quickie solution to go on a 2 week vacation to Disneyland.

Copy of a letter sent in to Dr. Laura when she was writing Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands

Help Your Husband Get Ahead

helpyourhubby getahead

Last night I was at a meeting of wives who meet after their busy days, at an office that has been closed, after dark, bringing all kinds of food for each other (and our kids) to eat, all for the purpose of supporting our husbands in their profession.  Usually we talk about various projects we can do for our husband’s, events we hold, and general budgeting and planning… but last night we touched on a topic that inspired this post: How to Help Our Husbands Get Ahead.

We talked about the different things we can do to help them pursue promotions (and get raises), practical tips like helping them make notecards, or studying certain things ourselves so that we really know what we’re talking about with them.  Being up-to-date on any changes that would affect them or their job tasks such as news items, new laws, and political decisions.  It was a great topic, we even went into financial strategies for the quickest ways and safest ways to invest our money so that it would have triple return.

It made me think about how we in this day and age, usually just let our husbands worry about such things and go through them alone – wives aren’t usually making notecards for their husband’s huge exam, or studying his material so that they know how to converse with him about it… wives now-a-days are extremely busy – we’re always running our kids to different activities, handling usually the bulk of the household chores (whether working or not), and the bulk of parenting (whether working or not)… add in a full-time job, and how on earth do we survive let alone help our husbands?

In our feminist culture, a selfish ideology is projected of I want ME to excel… he can handle his own career, you rarely see a wife that is truly interested in her husband’s career advancement – to the point of involving herself to make sure it happens.  The thing is, marriage is a partnership, you’re supposed to help each other throughout all of life – many men would help their wife study – its part of their loyal nature and desire for quality time together to readily accept helping her study for an upcoming exam.  Women, on the other hand, are usually quick to turn their husbands down, mainly due to all the extra things we’re trying to juggle.

It was an interesting topic, it made me really think about how it’s a privilege to help your husband get ahead – and you will certainly reap the rewards afterwards.  Finding the time to really assess what it would take to help him get a promotion or take more classes to advance his career, seems to be worth it for your family and your marriage.

So pay attention, ask him questions, see if he wants to do anything else with his life, and help your man get ahead!

Work with Passion

Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt.

Meaning is something you build into your life.  You build it out of your own past, out of your affections ad loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. 

The ingredients are there.  You are the only one who can put them together into that pattern that will be your life.  Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you.  If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account.

John Gardner

I cannot stress the importance of doing your work with passion.  It doesn’t matter necessarily what you do – but it definitely matters how you approach that work.  You attitude, demeanor, and interest are crucial to making the best environment for great work to take place.

People with a bad attitude are not the ones who ever create or demonstrate passion in their work, and therefore, usually only accomplish their work at the lowest percentage of exertion as possible, leading to very little long-term success or accomplishment.

Companies that keep employees like this run the risk of the very life being drained out of their work.

If you happen to work in a place where the people or team have no passion, creativity, or desire to accomplish above and beyond what is called of them, realize first that to make changes, you have to start with you.

Changing your attitude – no, choosing your attitude – is the BEST way to create energy in your work environment.  To be playful with co-workers, to be creative in coming up with innovative ideas, to be open-minded and positive about whatever work you apply yourself to, is to ultimately, make your work fun and find great meaning in it as you watch yourself start to affect others positively.

The choice is yours to BE:

  • Angry
  • Disiniterested (no passion in what your company is working toward)
  • Bitter (at life or at your work)
  • Do the very least required of you to accomplish your work

OR:

  • Energetic
  • Caring
  • Vital (full of life and positivity)
  • Supportive
  • Creative
  • Go above and beyond to ensure that your work is the best possible – and that your customer or team has fun

Enjoy your work – whatever it is, it truly doesn’t matter, even if it is boring as hell, show how passionate you are in the way you give of yourself at work.

Go out of your way to make people’s day!  Be a positive influencer and energetic motivator, it will increase your happiness in life and your overall contentment like none other.

Love your work… & work with passion.

 

 

(Points from novel Fish! by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, & John Christensen)

Our European Stay-cation

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“Cruelty & wrong are not the greatest forces in the world.
There is nothing eternal in them.
Only love is eternal.”

“Failure means nothing now, only that it taught me life.” -Elisabeth Elliot

These few weeks being home and getting to enjoy my son and be a woman who takes great care of her life and house and family – have been so beautiful! My son is learning more with me being the one to teach him – he was in an “advanced class” at his daycare, his wonderful teacher who loved him like a second mother urged me to let them bump him up – she was afraid he would be bored. But when I started to really work with him at home that first week, I could tell he was having major trouble recognizing numbers and letters (which would put him behind and not advanced right now, even though he is incredibly smart). He’s always been ahead mentally, I think he fooled his daycare teachers! He’s an incredible guesser, but with me tutoring him one-on-one, he is actually learning everything – and learning it incredibly fast!

I teach him Reading, Writing, Math, Music, Science, Art, Cooking, Geography, Languages, and World Culture. Sounds intense for a 3 year old? I only do 2 hours of “classes” a day, and usually one of those classes is a soft class like Music, Art, Culture, or Languages. I want him to have more of a European upbringing, they take raising their children very seriously. Women in Europe usually take 1 to 2 or 3 years of maternity leave just to be able to focus on this new change in their life and family, here you are lucky to get 2-3 months! Taking time for your family is valued in Europe. Being a wife and mom is valued in their society. The average work week (even for men) is 35 hours – not 40+… they know how to enjoy their life – and a major part of their enjoyment of life, is enjoying it together with their family. Not to mention they drink wine all day and eat carbs. 😉 That’s paradise right there.

Fridays are our field trip days with no classes – I want him to understand how important having fun is, which I believe, is just as important as academics. What use is having all the scientific knowledge in the world without the ability to enjoy your life? I take him anywhere and everywhere – downtown, Sea World, the Zoo, to beautiful gardens, to stunning museums, to parks – we have a blast together.

Here’s to living life simply, in beauty, with delicious home-made pizzas and frittatas, scones and pastries. Thank you Europe, I appreciate the impressions you’ve made on my life.