Practice being who you want to be

Practice being who you want to be has been the saying on our kitchen chalkboard this week.

You get better at what you practice. If you practice the right things you get better at them. Holly, our softball pitcher, won’t get better at pitching just thinking about it or hoping to get better. She won’t get better at pitching by playing with her iPod or talking to her friends or going to the movies.

To become her best as a pitcher she needs to pitch the ball. She needs to do her warm ups and her preparations. She needs to exercise. She needs to be around good pitchers and learn where she can improve. She needs to put effort into it.

I read that almost anyone can become good at most things with about 500 hours of effort. With that amount of effort and dedication you can usually say you are good at something. (That is except for me playing the guitar!) Think about how many classes in college it takes to get a bachelor’s degree…

However to move above that first level of achievement and set your self apart from others who are “good” it could take 2 to 4 times the effort to improve another 10 to 20 percent. That’s like getting a master’s degree. Then to move into the truly professional level it could take ten or twenty times the effort again! Hello, you just earned your doctorate…

I like that description to measure what it takes to get good at something. It’s also a good way to remember that proficiency takes a lot less work than becoming a professional or specialist..

So often we practice things we don’t want to improve in. Things like procrastination, negativity, gossip, vulgarity, over eating and envy all come naturally, but how much time are we going to practice them?

Do you want to be physically fit? Do you want to be respected for your skills or your talent? Do you want to just be be good at something, or do you want to be exceptional?

Practice being who you want to be and you’ll have a chance to become that person.

Were you wondering?

Hello!  Were you wondering if I was just a figment of Rob’s imagination?  I’m Jennifer, Rob’s partner in life for the last 25 years (and in this blogventure as of five minutes ago!)… but until now I have been invisible in this blog because, well, because life happens here…

I am the wife and mom in this busy household of seven, and I relish the quiet when the kids return to school- and that finally happened this week after a two week holiday break!  The celebrations are behind us and second semester is before us, and I have the time and opportunity to think uninterrupted thoughts, and to write what I hope will be meaningful paragraphs, and to begin honest  conversations with you, the readers of injustamoment…

I chose the name for our blog, I think Rob already told you that in an earlier post.  I said, “I don’t have time to read long posts, and I don’t take the time to watch videos.  I have about five minutes right now, and that is what we need to do- write things that others will find helpful when they only have five minutes to stop, and read, and think.”

It’s true.  Life happens in five minutes.  What meaningful thing can happen in your life in five minutes today?  Oh, I know…  So many moments of my day seem so less-than-important, like when I am cooking yet another dinner (btw, I hate to cook!), or starting another load of laundry, or checking another page of homework, or cleaning the bathroom (three boys, not fun) one. more. time.

But there are also those five minute moments that are full of meaning!  Braiding my daughter’s hair, and hearing her hurt, and saying, “It will be okay.”  Watching my son bundle up as he prepares to drive the truck to another town, 45 minutes away, on a day when school was cancelled because of the wind chill.  And as he walks out the door, I pray, Dear Lord, please keep him safe.  Sending a message via facebook to my oldest daughter who lives too far away, just to let her know I really am as close as a message or phone call, and calling her “sweet pea” once again…

I only have five minutes sometimes.  It’s up to me to give them meaning.  So, when I am cooking, or doing laundry, or checking homework, or (heaven forbid) cleaning that bathroom one more time, what can I do to give those moments meaning?  It’s simple really…  I just need to be aware of the people I am doing those things for, and remember the love that I hold in my heart for them.  I need to be willing to do the things that test me and try me and sometimes bore me because I am doing those things for and with my family, the ones I love.  I need to be mindful.  And aware.  And grateful.  Because somewhere, someone is wishing that they had only five more minutes to spend with the one they loved…

Enjoy the next five minutes…

Until I write again,



What if it were your first day…

This week I had a discussion with my son Daniel.  He mentioned that he’d heard in New York City the police have made adjustments and virtually all categories of their arrests or fines have dropped significantly.  His impression was that the public was responding positively to this change.

In this article from the New York Post dated December 29th 2014 the writer describes a disagreement between the police, the Police Union, the commissioner and the mayor of New York City.  In New York City there were some police incidents that included deaths.  These are terrible situations and I don’t want to get into those issues.  I want to focus on the pressures of leadership.

Remember we are all leaders.  We don’t have to be a policeman or a mayor to be a leader.  We lead in our family by our actions and consistency.  We lead or influence people all around us at work and in our community.  Leadership is our actions and attitudes.

As Daniel and I discussed the situation I noticed something that often results when a tragedy occurs.  People stop thinking about the initial situation and move into emotional concerns.  Feelings like guilt, fear, paranoia and insecurity rise up and distract us.  These feelings are common to everyone.

What matters is that we notice them and determine if they are real or imagined.  Then, after becoming aware of our own emotional issues, we can exercise good judgment and continue to make good decisions.

My opinion is that many times too much time is spent on fear of what might happen when we make decisions.  We always need to consider everything, but we must make decisions without being fearful.

We need to let go of the fear and be courageous leaders.  You can’t live wondering when something bad will happen because eighty percent of the time the what ifs don’t happen.diversity

As a family member or a community member you will have to make decisions, and sometimes there will be a positive result, and sometimes there will be a negative result.  Either way, stress can result, and then what happens?  We. stop. thinking. We immerse ourselves in the feelings that come with the stress, and then we become even more fearful of being decisive!

What we say at Quakerdale is we will just keep making good decisions no matter what is happening all around us.  Keep making good decisions.

Another way to look at this is provided by Andy Stanley.  He asked the question, “How would you act if it was your first day on the job or new to the problem?  If you didn’t have the relationships and attachments or the history?  How would you see things differently and what would you do?”

So take a fresh look and set aside your predispositions.  Make a good decision!