StumbleCrawl

Keep Moving Forward

A return

I’m stuck in bed thanks to my back and doing some reflecting. This past year I’ve focused on work and getting into better shape physically (99% through work with the occasional hike/run thrown in). Lost some weight, gained some muscle and all in all I’m probably in the best physical shape of my life.

Then my back just up and decides to tweak and shut me down. Now I’ve never been a tough guy or someone most folks would consider the epitome of manliness but I am stubborn and prideful and being dependent on others can bring on not just depression but anger. I get frustrated and angry with myself for being incapable of performing normal tasks. Unfortunately this anger and frustration also flow outward. I am thankful the love of my life is patient (at least in my presence) and takes care of me until I can get through it.

Despite all my efforts to improve, there is still something in me that can lay all that to waste in an instant. I had to leave work early, skip a side job I had scheduled today and I’m still not sure I can return to work on Monday. I’ll probably (hopefully) be walking by then but lifting, carrying, climbing ladders, running power tools, etc. may be out of the question. God willing I’ll get back to normal soon but for right now many things are beyond my control. I can do what I know I need to do: ice, ibuprofen, rest, gentle stretching and walking. I sometimes remember what it’s like to feel “normal” but in the midst of injury I tend to focus only on how I feel at the moment. That little cluster of nerves in my lumbar region has succeeded in taking my focus off of nearly everything else.

Previous injuries like this have sent me to the emergency room or at least the doctor where they prescribe all the things I am doing with the addition of painkillers or muscle relaxers and “prescription” 800 mg ibuprofen tablets. Oh, and it comes with a nice hefty bill as well. This time I swore I wasn’t going to the doctor. I almost gave in several times last night and again today but then I started to feel a bit better. I even managed to shower. That may not seem like a big deal but when you can’t even stand without holding on desperately to a wall or crutch it is. I did what I needed to do previously to recover, minus prescriptions and bills, and it is working.

To get back to the reflecting I’ve been doing, I realized that everything I have, everything I worked towards can disappear in an instant. Sure, I’m recovering quicker thanks to being in better shape. I’m able to adapt to the situation by using arm and shoulder muscles to move things, including myself, without relying on my broken core, but let’s say I couldn’t. If my injury was severe enough I won’t able to perform the physically demanding job I have ever again. Then what? I have been working on physical improvement but if I lose the ability to use those improvements what is left?

I’ve neglected the emotional, intellectual and spiritual side of things. Trying to fall back on any of those is like leaning on a crutch made of balsa wood. I can make do with it but it will be slow and dangerous, an accident waiting to happen. I look back to the beginnings of this blog and remember that at the time I was leaning much towards intellectual and spiritual pursuits. Then life came along, I took a break from everything and basically checked out. Oh sure, I still read a lot of books, research the subjects I’m interested in and “keep in touch” with God but I certainly haven’t worked very hard at progressing or improving.

As people we are multifaceted. We aren’t purely physical creatures. We aren’t purely spiritual. We certainly aren’t just giant brains floating around. We, like our Creator, have many different aspects of what makes us what we are. We need to exercise and strengthen them all if we wish to not only survive, but thrive.

“Keep moving forward” proclaims my little blog. I won’t say I’ve failed to take my own advice but I have neglected it. I stumbled long ago but I forgot to keep crawling forward until I could stand again. Time to start crawling. I’ll be walking soon, then running.

I’m running long on this post because I haven’t written in a while but bear with me. Just 3 pieces of advice I’ve gleaned from looking back over the past year, a quick question or two and then we’re done.

  1. Don’t ignore the little things inside that can cause you pain. Physically, mentally (patterns of thought), emotionally (hanging on to anger, letting depression rule, etc.), and spiritually (sin, ignoring/hiding from God) we all have warning signs that things are sliding downhill. Learn to recognize them and try to nip them in the bud.
  2. Use knowledge and wisdom from previous experiences and other people to help you get back on track if thing aren’t going the way they should.
  3. Focus on being a whole person. Try not to focus exclusively on one aspect of your life for improvement. Sure, if you are planning a marathon run you have to focus on physically being able to do it but don’t neglect the other aspects of yourself in order to do so. Ramp up the intensity of your physical workouts but not at the expense of rest, prayer time, time spent with family and friends, etc. Work on keeping a balance.

Finally friends, a few questions.  Have you gone through seasons like this? Have you found yourself focusing on becoming better at “X” to the exclusion of Y or Z? What impact did that have on your life? I’d love for you to share in the comments and I want to thank those of you who kept checking and waiting for something new from me. I do apologize for my absence and offer no excuses. I’m hopeful we can pick up where we left off and continue our journey.

Tony

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A Short Break

My friends, I’m taking a short break from SC but should return next week. A death in the family means a shift in focus for awhile.

The Five P’s That Lead to Success

You may have heard of The Five P’s before. There are variations, but normally it goes something like: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. I’d like to present you with my version of the Five P’s.

My version doesn’t work out so well as a catchy phrase, but the principle (another “p” word!) is sound.

The Five P’s are:

  • Prayer
  • Preparation (Planning)
  • Persistence
  • Patience
  • Perspective

 

You can use the 5 P’s for any project you have to do, but I’ll use an example from my day job to illustrate each point. We’ve been working on a remodel project and we replaced some windows in a lake cabin. We reused the old, wooden jamb material and installed new MDF casing.  Even with the paint grade material we use it takes quite a bit of work before it’s ready to paint. Let’s see how the 5 P’s work in this instance.

Prayer- Really? Yes really. I may not pray before I start sanding a piece of material or caulking a seam but it’s amazing how different a day goes when I start with prayer.

For those of you who don’t pray, think of it as “mindset”.

When starting a day with prayer, meditation, whatever you use, you are just that much better prepared to deal with the little frustrations that are sure to come up.

There isn’t really a set order to my version of the P’s, but I find that it’s best to start with prayer.

Preparation (Planning)- Any project works best with some sort of prep work as opposed to just jumping in and hoping for the best.

I plan my flow through the house from one window to the next and keep materials nearby to minimize walking back and forth.

Persistence- Once started, it’s important to keep moving! It’s easy to run into a problem and want to stop..

Today I was sanding the jambs and casings and I noticed several areas that needed to be caulked again. Caulk shrinks as it dries and there were gaps that I needed to take care of. I noted them in my mind and kept moving on what I was doing.

Granted, there will be times when something needs to be fixed before you can move on, but don’t let little hiccups ruin your momentum

Patience- Ah patience. You know, I prayed for God to teach me patience once, I’m still waiting. Patience is knowing that things will get done in their due time.

Once the trim pieces were up I had to caulk all the seams where they met the wall, the window, other trim pieces. Rushing when using something as messy as caulk leads to more work down the road. Not waiting for it to cure sufficiently before sanding pieces around it leads to having to redo work.

Be patient and take things one step at a time. Planning ahead of time can help with this. You feel less rushed with a plan.

Perspective- I’m working on a post regarding perspective, but for now let’s just say perspective is your point of view.

When I was sanding jamb material to scuff the old finish so it would take paint I had to change my perspective often. The spots where the old finish remained had a sheen to them that I could see when the light hit it the right way. I also had to make sure I was close enough to control my actions but far enough away to keep from getting a ton of dust in my eyes.

Maintaining the right perspective may mean keeping some distance from your project in order to see it as a whole or it may mean focusing in tight on particulars to get them right.

If you run into problems it never hurts to ask for a coworkers point of view, sometimes they can spot things that you have missed.

 

There you have it, the Five P’s from a construction standpoint. Don’t let the project or terminology trip you up, if you apply Prayer, Preparation, Persistence, Patience and Perspective to any project you have from writing an essay for school to cleaning the house you will succeed.
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