A Year of gifts
SOMETIMES THE ROADBLOCKS, SETBACKS, AND HEARTBREAKS OF LIFE TURN OUT TO BE THE GREATEST GIFTS OF ALL . . .
How many times have you declined someone’s offer of assistance because you thought you could do something faster yourself? Maybe you didn’t want to take the extra time on the front-end to show someone how to do something new, even if it would save you time in the long run. I’m certainly guilty of this. I say “guilty” because when we refuse to work with others, we miss out on so much.
Some people enjoy working with others as a team. Others prefer solo acts. Still others like a combination of the two. Which do you prefer? I think you find magic when you learn to strike a balance between the two approaches. There is a time and place for both.
There has been a movement in both schools and the workplace in recent years towards more collaborative environments. Walls are coming down—literally. Open spaces are meant to foster more interaction and idea sharing. Instead of rows of desks, many classrooms now utilize tables. Group projects are the norm in high school and college. The athletic field has always been a place where kids learned teamwork, but now, more than ever, kids are also learning to be team players in the classroom.
So why this big push for collaboration and teamwork? Well, obviously there is no denying a group of people with a diverse set of skills can accomplish more than a single individual.
We can all benefit from the expertise of others when we work together. Everyone brings something different to the table. I’m not a huge sports fan but there is no denying the life lessons people learn when they participate in team sports. They learn there are important dynamics in every team. There is give and take, leadership and following, a game plan, and usually lots and lots of practice. When a group comes together and truly functions as a team, they can accomplish great things.
Kids are learning this in the classroom, too. It takes more than intelligence and good study habits to succeed in academics these days. Being able to function well in group dynamics is an important part of students’ grades. If a stellar student finds themselves on a group with three other students that don’t really care about working on an assignment, the “A” student needs to figure out a way to motivate the rest of the group or they’ll all be negatively impacted. Welcome to a lesson in real life, kids!
So many things in life are better when we work at them as a team. Our homes are cleaner if everyone chips in. Raising kids takes a village. We get lots more done at work and enjoy it more if we are surrounded with a good group of co-workers. We accomplish our dreams so much faster if we seek help from others.
Why then, if there are so many benefits of teamwork, do we sometimes hesitate to participate? One reason, at least for me, is because I tend to be more of an introvert. This probably comes as no surprise since I enjoy working with numbers and words. I enjoy working alone. Working with a larger group doesn’t always feel comfortable for me. I suspect people with more extroverted tendencies also find some aspects of group work unappealing.
Relying on others can be scary. There is a loss of control. We open ourselves up to disappointment if we put ourselves in a position of vulnerability.
If we flip some of this thinking around though, we recognize working together can be fun. It can expand our horizons. It can even give us the opportunity to mentor others, to share our own expertise.
I do feel there is a time for solo work. While some people may be at their creative best in a boisterous group setting, others (like me) need quiet and a distraction free environment to go deep into that zone where flow happens.
Last summer I read a fascinating book by Cal Newport called “Deep Work – Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World”. He raises some very intriguing ideas. In our hyper-connected world full of noise, speed and constant change, those that are able to disconnect from the chaos for adequate periods of time to allow themselves to think and work deeply are a much needed yet rare commodity.
As the saying goes, Together Everyone Achieves More. Work with others for enjoyment, success and fulfillment. But also enjoy deep work on your own and strike that allusive balance to find contentment in your days. Enjoy your own company and the company of others. It shouldn’t be all or nothing. There is joy to be found in both. Balance will look different for everyone but finding what works for you is worth it! Enjoy! Kim
And suddenly, autumn is upon us.
Last weekend we attended a beautiful outdoor wedding. The temp was in the low nineties, the humidity oppressive. As I sat on a white plastic chair, waiting for the wedding party to appear, sweat ran down my back. The wedding program, so cleverly designed, proved to be a handy shield against a blazing sun. You never know what kind of weather you’ll get in the upper Midwest in mid-September, but so much heat and humidity was unusual. I kept reminding myself to enjoy the warmth, the light, and the flowers, because we all know what is right around the corner.
Now, seemingly overnight, autumn has arrived.
I approach the fall season with mixed emotions. I love the vivid golds with smudges of red and orange in the trees and on the ground where leaves wait to be raked up or whisked away on a cold gale. Pumpkin spice and caramel apples hold special appeal as the air turns cooler. Sweatpants and cozy sweaters replace shorts and tank tops. Suddenly sandals lose their appeal and chipped polish on the toes hide inside shoes once again. Annual flowers, leggy now after months of heat and North Dakota wind, are cut back and replaced with brilliant fall mums. Orange and white pumpkins begin to grace front stoops.
While I love the fall season, there are fewer things I enjoy about winter. There will be brutally cold days, icy roads and far less sunshine. For those of you that know me well, and despite living in this state all my life, you know that I’m a chicken when it comes to driving on icy roads. There is beauty to be found in bleak winter days but the weather can play more of a factor in our daily activities and its unpredictability can be frustrating. With so many hours of darkness, it’s easy to get lazy, curling up in front of the television and mindlessly watching Netflix for hours on end.
Like so many things in life, the changing of the seasons is inevitable. There is a rhythm in nature that continues on, whether we like it or not. If we are fortunate enough to grow old, we pass through seasons as well: a time of birth and renewal, a time of growth and expansion, a time of rest, and finally the inevitability of death. Never forget to make the most of whatever season you are in and recognize the blessing in making it to each point in time.
There is a predictability to the changing of the seasons and I find joy in the continuity if I look for the good in each stage and try not to fixate on the negatives. The variety can be refreshing. While it’s fun to visit warmer climates during the cold winter months, I don’t think I’d be satisfied living somewhere that didn’t have four definite seasons.
Beyond just the weather, I’m working to practice this attitude in other parts of life as well. This isn’t always easy but I find it useful to keep in mind.
Parenting is a good example. As parents, our role in our children’s lives must evolve over time. Personally, as our kids reach young adulthood, I try to focus on today and not wallow in missing the days when they depended on us more and they were always by our side.
Don’t fight it. Enjoy the variety. Recognize the reminder that change is constant.
Sometimes things happen unexpectedly, “out of season” even. We lose a loved one much too early. Our car breaks down before we have money saved up to replace it. And sometimes opportunities pop up before we think we are ready for them. It can be scary and intimidating. These things test our resolve and push us to be brave.
Last Sunday, we had high-wind warnings in the area. Much to our surprise, a tree blew over in our back yard. We knew the tree couldn’t be saved and intended to remove it come early winter, when the ground was frozen and there was less chance for damage. But like so many other things in life, the fallen tree served as a reminder that you think you can wait for a particular season but some things are outside of our control.
How do you feel about the different seasons? Do you enjoy some more than others? I know some people love the cold of winter and hate the heat of summer.
With only a few months to go yet in 2018, I’ve decided to avoid the temptation to curl up on the couch and coast between now and the holidays. Normally, I love getting a new journal and sitting down with it between Christmas and New Years to plan the year ahead. I plan to do this again, but this year I’m going to first concentrate on accomplishing as many of my 2018 goals while there is still time.
Yesterday, I stumbled across a post about a “Last 90 Days Challenge” put out there by Rachel Hollis. I recently finished Rachel’s inspiring book “Girl Wash Your Face”. I love this woman’s style and think this is a brilliant idea. It isn’t anything complicated, making it that much more achievable as far as I’m concerned. I commit to myself to do a few key things every day for the next 90 days. I’ve mapped it out and the 90 days will take me right up to Christmas. Then I’ll give myself permission to rest during that week before the end of the year— rest and plan out how I intend to make the most of 2019.
If finishing out the year strong interests you, check out Rachel’s challenge on line. I’d love to hear what you want to do between now and then! I’ll also use this blog to let you know how I’m doing with the challenge as I get further into it. It’s always a tad bit easier to stay on task if others know what you are up to!
Enjoy the changing of the seasons, be it in your life or the weather outside your window. Recognize the gift in seeing another season and make the most of it. And if it appeals to your taste buds, enjoy a pumpkin spice latte before they’re gone.
My best to you, Kim
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a self-published fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!