Tuesday, June 12, 2018


It was just End of Grade Test season in my world.
The season of teachers imploring me to please be sure that my children are 
well fed and well rested so that they can please 
for the love of all that is holy
 get a decent score on an evaluation that everyone agrees has limited value.
We have all entered into a social contract where we will 
participate in this ridiculous farce until these kids are adults.
I like to think of EOG season as training for seasons that come with
adulthood and also make zero
taxes or swimsuit season or Christmas card photos.

EOG Testing also reminds me of a funny story.
When my son was in first grade,
his class had a practice test that simulated end of year grade testing
to give the kids some exposure to testing without all the pressure.
Hah.  I laugh at this because kids feel energy like a fish feels water.
Whether is was supposed to matter or not,
the kids felt that is was important and they should do their best.

My bright little guy hadn't yet learned jedi mind-tricks to curb his OCD.
He basically resolved every challenge he encountered into a 
life or death struggle at this age.
EOGs were a clear and present danger.

He has always had a couple of traits that show up strongly during test taking.
If you set a timer on him and he will accomplish whatever task in about a quarter of the allotted time.
Once he's done, he has no interest in reviewing said task.
It is dead to him.  He has moved on.
So, he takes tests as quickly as possible and 
finds it completely unnatural to spend time on it once it's 'done'.

The timer started and per his usual form, 
he was done with lots of time to spare.
Since he had time to spare, he did 
what any person with a speck of empathy 
would do in this situation.
He started to help everyone else at his table with their tests.

He started rubber-necking and decided that he needed 
to fix his friends' answers.
His teacher didn't appreciate it very much and 
we had to have a conference about it.
The principal was there and everything.

When asked about it, he had a few 
VERY IMPORTANT thoughts on his actions.

They were getting it WRONG mom!
I HAD to help them!
It was such a mess-they needed me!

There were looming, undefined consequences for not 
getting the right answer to every single question.
My little 6 year old was going to save his whole table 
of friends from those scary consequences
and he could not understand why everyone around him 
didn't understand that this was the right move.
What a sweet little hero, right?

I think this is a prime example of why God grants us children.
To hold that adorable mirror up to us and show us ourselves.

There have been so many times where I've spent energy 
looking at someone else's work-
evaluating and judging them for their success or failure,
holding them to a bar of my own estimation and 
making sure that they're living their best life (as defined by me).
I like to sit down with the life story of other people 
and arm-chair quarterback it.

Special note: I am particularly good at this when I have 
not been asked for my opinion.

I really want to give you a full picture of the depth of my dysfunction here, 
my persistent attention to everyone else's life before my own.
Let me cite some examples for full disclosure in case you

 think I'm exaggerating my farsighted focus. 

If I think someone is struggling in their marriage, 
I would be happy to expound for days on resources and strategies 
to get them to a more healthy place.
A young couple getting together under less than ideal circumstances?
I have podcasts to listen to, books to read,
a couple of therapists and maybe a reality TV show that would help.
Have a conflict you need to work through with 
your best friend and just don't know how to approach it?
I am here for you-available to strategize until we both feel 
that you've made the best possible moves.
What qualifies me for this relationship expertise?
Not a damn thing.

How about in the professional sphere...
Want to know whether you should work at a certain company?  
Should you take a new job or title?
How about just being evaluated on the way you carry 
yourself through meetings or conferences,
the energy you give off into the professional sphere?
I have mentored and counseled some truly impressive people 
around these very items.
Giving advice, setting structure and goals, working with them 
for several years to get them to the place they wanted to be.
Does that mean that my professional path is clear and focused?
Actually...I'd prefer it if we didn't talk about me ok?
I will just do the next action that is expected of me or 
solve the next puzzle that comes along.
I will shirk a title or a radical career move
faster than a 3 year old can take off their pants in public.

Surely I'm able to focus on my own life in some sphere.  
I am after all, an adult, with bills that are paid and teeth 
that are cleaned semi-regularly.
Health and self-care maybe-is this where I pay attention to me?
Oh, this is an extra special area-one that I can really talk 
a good game around.
I would be happy to discuss ways that I think people heal 
 through diet and exercise.
Give up the gluten and eliminate dairy.
No caffeine after noon and make sure you get 8 hours of sleep.
Processed food has no place in the human diet and 
every knows that you cannot get enough vegetables.
Get rid of screen time, minimize social media, 
set some boundaries for goodness sake!
I would be happy to discuss this with anyone-
as long as I'm eating 'just a few' cool ranch Doritos.
Or a bite of chocolate cake.
And about 9 gallons of cold brew while managing my 
multiple Instagram and Facebook accounts.

I have Bojangles once a week.  It's to balance all the healthy food.
This is just the truth.
I will happily focus on everyone else's paper instead of my own.
Rushing through my own test so I can get around to 
helping everyone else with their answers.

What would life be like if I just paid attention to my 
work, my calling, my life?
(I almost wrote...what would life be life if everyone 
just paid attention to their life....
look at your own damn paper girl!)
This is one of those forever tries kind of areas....I will likely be working on staying focused on my own paper for the rest of this lifetime.
It is not a natural habit-I have to work at the practice.
Every time I think I've got it, I realize I've been judging or 
supporting others in places that I'm struggling personally.

I'm going through so many shifts lately-
things that I am pretty sure I was supposed to learn or understand much earlier.
I guess you understand what you understand when you understand it.
Not one second earlier.
I'm right on time, the ship has not sailed, it is not too late.
My practice of examining my own paper
has become actual instead of theoretical.
My intention to set my own course
has led to meditation, daily reflection
and actual change in my brain, heart and body.
It's pretty cool and also...kind of crazy.
That I can rewrite my old patterns in favor of another perspective.
Just by focusing on my own life
instead of spending all my time and energy focused on other things.

I guess what I'm saying is...
I am definitely capable of getting a good grade on this test.
But only if I spend more energy on my life
than on someone else's.
I'm focused on my own work,
finally after decades of focusing on everyone else's.
The path of my life is so much clearer-
it was there all along but I wasn't looking at it.
I was too busy shepherding everyone else's lives.

Homework from The Bigger Yes class with Laura McKowen

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