Don’t Panic

KC Blog PicLife just really sucks sometimes.  Yes, let’s start right there.  Let’s just dive right in and get to the heart of things.  Sometimes you’re just plugging along in life, hopeful for the future, anticipating the good things to come, and then, bam! The crap hits the fan and bits of poop particles are hurtling hard and fast in multiple directions all around you.  You can’t tell left from right, up from down, and you’re just sitting there in the middle of a crap storm wondering who flipped  the “on” button.

Although I’m a pretty chill person even in instances of crisis, there are times when life throws you into a crap tornado and the ferocity of the storm causes you to think and react in ways that defy logic.   Shortly before my most recent F-5, I became irrational, overemotional, and irritable because I could feel the wind kicking up and the pressure of an oncoming storm weighed heavily on me.  When the tornado finally touched down, I was thrown violently in a million directions as emotional debris hit me on all sides and tore me apart.  I could feel the life being rapidly sucked out of me and there was nothing I could do to stop it from happening.

Since I am fortunate enough to have not experienced many F-5 moments in my lifetime, I quickly needed to figure out ways to cope.  Over the next few weeks (although weeks felt like years) I did everything I could to deal with the aftermath of the tornado: I sought advice and prayer from loved ones, exercised, drank and/or ate my feelings (sometimes I couldn’t eat or drink at all), and did whatever I could to restore normalcy to my life.  But none of these coping methods seemed to do me much good until one day when I was brave enough to delve back into the world of baseball (side note: baseball is an integral part of my tornado which is why it took some courage to step back up to the plate).

My magic moment occurred when I came across an article about the Kansas City Royals .  In short, the piece talked about a recent rough patch the winners of the 2015 World Series have been experiencing in this new season.  When asked about the struggle his team was going through, General Manager Ned Yost, seemingly void of stress, replied, “I mean, it’s easy,  because we’ve gone through this before. We went through it last September, when we went like 10-18 in a very crucial part of our season. We were trying to get home field advantage, and we struggled for most of the month.”  According to the author of the article, this streak of difficulty Yost referred to happened right before the Royals went on to win the World Series.  Struggle proceeded glory.

Yost later went on to say in the article about his team, “It’s a group that doesn’t panic. They’ve stayed very calm, even through this little rough streak that we’ve gone through. And when you do that, you break out of it quicker.”

Staying calm and not panicking doesn’t necessarily guarantee you a win in life of World Series proportions (maybe it will…. hopefully it will), but it will break you out of a storm that much faster (You know, this information would’ve been quite helpful when the updraft of my F-5 was turning into a supercell.  Pretty sure I did everything but stay calm.  Geez.).

I soon learned after a storm hits and the winds begin to settle, a period of recovery and rebuilding takes place.  You’re still muddling through debris, tending to wounds, and attempting to figure out where to start the clean up process so that you can move forward.  And sometimes accomplishing small tasks such as remembering how to breathe or function like a normal human being during the search and rescue period can prove to be more difficult than being caught up in the initial storm.

Fortunately, a couple of the mighty Royals have some insight on search and recovery efforts:

Salvador Perez, catcher for the Royals and World Series MVP, was quoted in the article, “We’re not doing great right now, but that’s part of the game, ” he said. “So we just need to keep coming to the ballpark, playing hard, and it’ll take care of itself. We don’t have to feel like we don’t know how to do this. We’ll come to the park, play hard, and we’ll start to win. It’ll happen.”

Left-fielder Alex Gordon echoed this sentiment about the importance of showing up to the game day in and day out and letting the chips fall where they may.  “Whether you played good the night before or bad, you come back the next day with the same attitude,”says Gordon.

Although talking specifically about baseball, Perez and Gordon highlighted some key points about storm survival and recovery.  Perez acknowledged that “not doing great” is part of the game, you don’t have to have it all figured out, but eventually, as you keep showing up to play, you will start to win.

Gordon’s quote proved there are good and bad days when enduring a storm but to just continue to play with a calm and steady attitude.  In other words, do your best to focus, stay in the game, and give yourself grace for the bad days and praise for the good.

There have been so many times over the past month or so when I just didn’t know what to do.  The storm and its aftermath can be overwhelming and you just want to curl up in the dugout and hope that when you emerge everything will be as it was, untouched by gale force winds and perfectly in place.  Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out that way.  You are required to put on your helmet, grab a bat, and keep swinging.

The good news is that storms, though sometimes devastating, are temporary and usually survivable.  And according to the magnificent Royals, the key to breaking out of a tough streak is to stay calm, acknowledge the good days and the bad, and just do everything you know to do to keep playing the game.

“It’s experience that you fall back on.  I won’t do anything differently.  You start doing things differently, and you prolong your inability to break out of whatever streak you’re in. So you keep your same routines, you keep your same mindset, you just say steady as it goes  until they break out,” Yost said.

Storms will come in your life – it’s inevitable.  They might not all be of the F-5 persuasion, but the winds are sure to kick up and throw your world into a whirlwind.  And when the upheaval comes, remember the Royals: don’t panic, find your focus, stay steady, maintain hope, keep showing up to the game, and eventually you will win.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Band of Gold

Sometimes I really don’t know if owning up to my nerdy interests is hurting or helping my social life.  I’m the kind of girl who reads for fun (gasp!), digs superheroes, loves British television (Downton Abbey, Doctor Who – I’m officially in love with the 10th Doctor, btw), and would much rather attend Comic Con than a girly tea party any day… unless that tea party happens to take place in London in which case I’m grabbing my biggest hat and heading out the door (supposing a Tardis isn’t already available, of course – see Doctor Who reference).

But whether or not you’re as well versed in the nerd culture as I am, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about the fandom that is the Lord of the Rings.  You know, hobbits, wizards, creepy, balding, bipolar creatures obsessed with jewelry – that stuff, them peoples.  The movies are epic, the books are… difficult, and the soundtrack is inspiring.  It’s the stuff that great novels and their spin-offs are made of.

One of the more famous characters from the Lord of the Rings franchise is Gollum.  He’s that creepy, bone thin, overly cooked hot dog, wide-eyed, creature who openly expresses his obsession with “the ring.”  The sight of him creeps me out and every time he calls the ring his “prrreeccciouuuusss” I just want to throw him in the river.  Yes, I feel that passionately about him.

However, as much as I don’t like him, he’s probably, in my opinion, one of the most well written characters throughout literary history.  Tolkien didn’t settle on creating Gollum to be a one-dimensional character; Gollum is, in one body, two people.  He is Gollum (the evil version of himself) and Smeagol (the nicer, yet equally creepy version of himself).

Gollum is the guy who is overcome with selfishness, greed, and obsession.  Smeagol, meanwhile, hates the ring for the way it has overtaken his life.  He wants the ring destroyed because the ring is destroying him.

I don’t know if Tolkien purposely wrote this character to show the human battle between flesh and spirit and right and wrong, but that’s exactly what he did by creating this literary enigma.

There was one time in my very early years when in a toy store I spotted a kid-sized red car with a yellow top.  According to my parents’ legend, I climbed in the car and it was a… “struggle” to get me out.  They said I never reacted that way to any toy and was never the kind of kid to get all crazy over stuff like that.  I’m still not, but I’m pretty sure if you put me in a Camaro or Dodge Challenger I’d have a similar reaction – just sayin’.

As it turns out, I did end up getting that car.  Just to clarify, my parents didn’t buy it for me that day – they didn’t reward bratty behavior and they’d definitely be the first ones to ship me off to Singapore if I ever acted like “that kid.”  Although my parents recognized my extreme passion for motor vehicles and would give me the world if they could, they understood the value of raising someone who isn’t given what they want simply because they demanded or felt entitled to receive it.  I’m thankful for having parents who know how to give me what I need over what I want.

I can say with 100% certainty this instance was the first and last time a material possession caused that kind of reaction in me.  I’ve learned that stuff is just stuff and if I really want something then I’ll work to get it and be content if it never becomes mine.  I am a non-material girl living in a material world.

My dreams on the other hand have become my “rings.”  Getting married, having the dream job, etc., have at one time or another turned me into the Gollum/Smeagol character.  These things, while certainly not bad in and of themselves, have caused me to act, well, crazy.  I’ve cried, whined, yelled, kicked, screamed – all the things extreme fits are made of.  At times, I’ve gotten so focused on WHAT I think my dreams should look like and WHEN I think they should happen that instead of being content and trusting in God’s plan and timing I straight up turn into a Gollum.

Fortunately, God – in all His love, grace, and mercy towards me – hasn’t given in to my crazy fits or demands.  He’s helped the Smeagol to overtake the Gollum in me and has given me the strength to overcome that nasty, obsessive, think I know better than the Creator of the Universe, mentality.

Yes, it’s an ongoing process, but He’s teaching me how to let go of my will so that His can be done.  And so far I’ve found that His way and timing (though not always to my liking) is far better than my own.  Oh to think of the bullets I have dodged.

Whatever your “rings” are in your life, stick ‘em in your pocket and continue on in your journey.  Yep, they’re going to call out to you, tempt you, and drive you crazy until you reach your destination, but it’s far better to own the ring than to be owned by the ring.

So carry on, Hobbits! Enjoy the journey and remember that the Author of your life knows the beginning, end, and every twist of your story.  You are His precious.