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Monday, October 24, 2011

Just Focus and Go Deep

Tonight while I was driving around in my car I was listening to a lecture given by Brad Feld at Stanford University on entrepreneurship. Brad graduated from MIT and has started, sold, and invested in many successful business ventures. Despite the fact that i cringe at the way he pronounces "entrepreneur" (which i will forgive him for. Poor guy is too smart for his own good.), he is pretty fun to listen to. After the lecture, he opened up the mic for a Q and A session.  One student asked Brad what MIT taught him about entrepreneurship. His response was: "I don't think MIT helped me as an entrepreneur. What MIT did was teach me how to think. My experience was very simple. MIT was a constant assault on my self-esteem. From day one all the way through. continuous. I was top of my class in high school and got a 20 on my first physics class at MIT. What do you do when you are 17 years old, fresh into college and get a 20 on your first test? You go to your room, shut the door and cry for an hour. But I look back on it and it taught me how to go deep on a problem, and stay on a problem even if I was lost, and keep doing it and digging at it until I got somewhere. You just focus and go deep."
Here's why i loved what he said: There comes a time in our lives, several times even, where we look at our lives and realize we have no idea what the crap is going on. Or atleast that's my experience. Half the time I feel like my life is characterized by a run-a-way horse and I'm the goofy pig-tailed girl flopping around behind it hanging on for dear life. Through it all, I've been blessed to learn that a loving Heavenly Father is at the reigns and I just have to "focus and go deep" and keep trying to fight my way back up to the saddle. Right now I feel lost about a lot of things...my health, my next step...but I know I must be patient and put first things first. So I'm going to focus....focus on my health and doing what i can to feel better so I can move foward. And so I start my cleanse tomorrow...ready or not (and i'm not, but what the hey). I'm gonna have to dig deep in the beginning. Its no easy feat to cut out all processed things, my beloved caffeine, dairy, bread, sugar, etc. But I have to keep my eye on the prize and know it will be worth it to not feel like i'm dying every day if this helps. So thank you Brad for your words of encouragement, even if they were meant for business and not my personal issues.  "Focus and Go Deep" just might make it up on my wall with some of my other favorites such as being  "Creatively Disciplined" and practicing "Diligent Joy". I'll leave you with those thought provoking little tidbits....

Friday, October 21, 2011

"I'm waiting for my friend...."

We all have the occasional awkward and unusual encounter with perfect strangers out in public. I thought i'd share my latest.

My friend stefanie needed a ride to the airport in the middle of the night/early morning so i volunteered because a) i'm usually up at odd hours of the night and b) i'm awesome.  Don't forget that. We stopped to get gas on our way out of winston and I went in to stock up on caffeine since I was already feeling a little tired and i had atleast 3 hours driving until i got back home. As i went to get my drink of choice, i ended up in a minor altercation with the door of the cooler thingy. Don't laugh...it was hard people. I approached the counter to pay and, being my usual friendly self, made a joke about the drink cooler being jill-proof. Nothing. No laugh, no obligatory "i hear ya", not even a smile. Just a blank stare from the girl. okay fine, no talking. you hate your job. i get it. I was about to walk out the door when i hear behind me a random "I'm waiting for my friend."

I turn around to face the counter girl and find her about 5 feet away, holding a shiny dime in the air.
"Do you see how shiny it is?" she asked, clear excitement in her voice.
"I do...that is one shiny dime you have there" I replied.
 "Do you know what year it's from? 1964!" she exclaimed, "This dime is real silver, not like the ones we have today."
"Oh," I said, "Are you a coin collector?" (I should note that i'm now half inside, half outside the door with stefanie just watching and waiting for me, probably wondering what the heck kind of conversation i got myself into now)
"No, I don't care about coins. I just save them for my customer friend. He comes in almost every night to get coffee. He trades me cookout shakes for them."
"Hey now, that's a nice trade!" I told her. I then waved and smiled and hurried out the door before she could keep going. Its not that i'm mean, i just have places to be.

So here's my question, a point that stefanie made as i recounted the story once we were back on the road. If she trades the coins for cookout shakes, does that mean her drawer is always off at the end of the night? Certainly she "buys" the coins from the store first. And what was with the silent act until i'm almost out the door? As for the encounter....Strange? kinda. I've had much stranger. Awkward? Definitely. But hey, it's these kind of things that make life interesting, yeah?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

You Can Make Your Pathways Bright....

Sometimes I have a hard time accepting my reality. And so, in order to deal with it, i choose not to deal with it. Instead I find myself waiting....waiting for the day when "it" is over.  Whatever "it" is. Somedays its being depressed. Somedays its being overweight. Somedays its being irritable or anxious. Somedays its the pain that has taken over my body.  Speaking of that pain....did you know it is a 3 month wait to see a specialist? 3 MONTHS. My doctor recently got lab work back that warrants sending me to see a rheumatologist. My appointment is literally not until january. I guess its a good thing i'm not dying. Just one more thing to wait for. But you know what? I'm so so so so sick of waiting. I'm sick of not being able to get out of bed until I absolutely have to. I'm sick of being energetic and happy one minute and being irrationally angry the next. I'm sick of crying for no apparent reason except that i feel guilty for my mood swings or my lack of willpower lately. I just want to be ON THE PATH....on the path to healing, in whatever form that is going to be. Does my medication help? absolutely...and i'm grateful to have it right now while i'm learning to cope with all of this. But I don't really fancy being on medication for the rest of my life. That's right, i said fancy. There are things going on with me that I legit cannot control. But there are things that i can, things that i can do for myself that will make my path easier. Like getting more sleep (check on that one...almost too much if i do say so myself), eliminating foods from my diet that don't support healing, less stress (doing well with that one too...go ahead, pat me on the back. i don't bite).  Why have I not done many of these things already? Well, please feel free to reference that sentence up there....yeah, that one about the willpower. I don't know why except that i just...couldn't. (Please keep all of your opinions about my willpower to yourself, they won't help my guilt problem.)  And so, I can see my path....all lit up and lined with rows of spinach. Imma gonna go get my Popeye on....anyone wanna come with?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Letting Go

I've always thought that I was someone who forgave easily.  "Forgive and Forget" seemed like something i was pretty good at....until i discovered that it wasn't.  I've admitted to myself recently that i never really forget. Bothered by this, I've often wondered if that means I don't truly forgive people. I certainly want to. Maybe I just don't really know how. I suppose I can't "forgive and forget" properly because I look at the situation selfishly. How could they possible do this to me after I've loved them so much, how can they not understand me, why can't they just love me for me when I love them for them?...etc.  You know the drill. When I look at most of my heartbreaks over something or another, I realize it was hardly about me at all. It had to do with them. Still, I struggle with letting go. Letting go of my hurt, letting go of my victim-hood....because at some point along the way I've earned the right to feel jaded. OH THE INJUSTICE OF IT ALL! Laughable, am I right?

Being faced with the need to let go isn't easy for me. Especially not when it comes to matters of the heart. Those who know me know I love deeply no matter what the relationship. But sometimes the love you have for someone needs to be set free...so that you can truly move on and be happy for them in their life's events as they become separate from yours. I've learned that the longer I've loved, the harder it is to let that love go. I refuse to feel like all those years of loving are for naught. Instead I will try to find happiness in the lessons learned and the memories shared, and feel gratitude for opportunity I had to feel love in my heart. And then, with only a slight grimace, I will wish them all the happiness they can bear in this life and let go of them once and for all.

Friday, October 14, 2011

My House of Horrors

I was at my sister's house yesterday when she asked me "hey jill, do you ever feel anxious when delivering pizzas?" I knew she was referring to that horrible time i was robbed at gunpoint and they jacked my car while on a delivery. I answered yes to that question, but surprisingly not because of the robbery.


I recently stepped down from my position as a general manager and took on the role of special events manager (wake forest football games, basketball games, concerts, etc) due to health reasons. Because special events only takes up a day or two a week, i fill in my time by running some shifts here and there and mostly driving. I was transferred to a store that has quite the abundance of country. At night sometimes i find myself delivering to houses out in the middle of the woods where, upon driving up to the house, i think to myself "wow this would be a fantastic setting for a horror movie." And while that might seem funny to most people, we all know my inability to tolerate movies like that. So, what makes me anxious? The other night I was delivering to a customer. It was rainy and dark, and as i curved back and forth on the back-country road I started to come up on a small bridge over a little creek when it happened...a flashback. One i hadn't thought about in a while, or at least since the last time it was rainy and i crossed over a bridge like that in the middle of nowhere.

I was eight years old. My dad, my sister, my brother and I had all been in High Point visiting my grandparents. It was pouring....like flash flood type of pouring. As the roads even became flooded my dad decided we needed to hurry and get home before it got worse. In those days, the best way to get to High Point was by back road i believe. My dad had a pickup truck with one of those camper tops on it. We often sat back there on bean bags (yes, lets hear the collective gasp. These were in the days before "click it or ticket"...ya'll remember, right?) Anyway, I remember looking out the window and being amazed at the flooding that was happening. Knowing me, i was probably also a little paranoid. We were driving near the Davidson/Forsyth county line when we came upon Muddy Creek.  There was a car ahead with flashers. And when we looked to the left....there was a large woman stumbling up the creek bank covered in blood. Those of you who know me know that this quickly became a jill-unfriendly experience. My dad pulled over and hopped out of the car. Apparently this woman and her fiance (they were to be married the next day) had run off the road and into the over-flowing creek. The car was in the creek bed and the water was so high that the car could not be seen.  She was bloody from fighting to get out of the car and fighting her way up the briar-infested bank. Her fiance had not made it out of the car.  My dad came back to the truck to get a rope...he was going to tie himself to the bridge and jump in to try and save him. I was terrified watching this all from the truck. I kept fearing that the bloody woman would come up to the truck window where us kids were....and i was very scared of her. I was further terrified when i saw that my dad was going to jump in the now rushing river. As my dad prepared to go, he got a strong impression that it was too late and he need not risk his life by jumping in. Now as an adult, i cannot imagine the horror that woman went through, not to mention losing her fiance the day before their wedding.

Whenever i cross a small creek bridge on a rainy day or night, the fear of that experience comes back to me like a flash of lightning. And then i get a feeling of gratitude....gratitude that i have a father that had the courage and compassion to try and save a stranger. gratitude for the knowledge of what happens when we die. gratitude for a loving Savior that comforts us in trying times such as when we lose a loved one or when we are scared. And gratitude in that same Savior who paved the way for us so that we can live again.