Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Patience and Perspective on I-15

Today on my drive to a 3-day conference, I had just passed Willard when traffic came to a halt. Both lanes of vehicles that were just going 75-mile-per-hour stopped.

I looked at the clock, and looked ahead. I couldn't see anything. I hoped that we'd get moving soon, or I'd be late for my conference. I put the car in park, drumming my fingers on the steering wheel impatiently.

Five minutes passed. No one moved an inch.

Ten minutes passed. I've turned my car off now. No change.

And then a Life Flight helicopter landed. And my impatience vanished.

Oh, I thought, someone is really hurt. I sure hope they'll be okay.

And as I continued to sit at a standstill in traffic, I began thinking about these cocoons of steel that we hurtle down the road in at mind-boggling speeds. At any moment any of us are just moments away from disaster. Obviously someone ahead had experienced just such a moment.

It sobered me.

Was it going to be so bad to be a little late for my conference? No.

Would being impatient effect any change? No.

Would sending up silent prayers hurt? No. And, if nothing else, it would help me realize my own blessings and remain calm.

After 25 minutes, traffic began to move. As I inched by the accident scene, there was Life Flight, an ambulance, an extra-large incident vehicle, and numerous police cars. And off to the far right, through the barrow pit and through the chain-link fence and into a parked tanker truck was a mooshed red sports car. No one was near the decimated car. Instead, they were gathered some 20 feet away attending to someone unseen lying in the grass.

As I passed I said one more prayer for the driver and resolved to slow down and be more aware.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Finding (and enjoying) Your Niche in Life

Long ago in high school and college biology, I learned about niches -- where a species fits in the ecological scheme of things. Here I am, some 20 years later, making metaphorical connections and figuring out where my niche is in life.

I have been able to rule out a few niches that aren't a fit for me. They include:
  • syndicated parenting columnist
  • skinny person
  • reading aide
  • downhill skiing enthusiast
  • runner
  • golfer
  • Mary Kay beauty consultant
  • tan-skinned person
  • hot dot eater
  • celebrity blogger
Whenever I find myself trying to occupy a niche that isn't really a fit, I end up feeling frustrated, uncomfortable, overwhelmed,  and generally miserable. I've also noticed that in every circumstance there is always someone else filling that niche with skills far exceeding my own.

Is it a mistake to try on a new niche? No. A little trial and error is a great tool for self-discovery. But what I've noticed is that much of my niche failures are often prompted by discontent -- either being dissatisfied with myself or my current place in life. I'm learning that seeking a new niche due to insecurity is almost always a recipe for an unhappy ending.

What's the solution? Finding and reveling in a niche that is uniquely suited to you. Here are a few niches that are a fit for me:
  • 7th grade reading and language arts teacher
  • walker and talker
  • gluten-free eater
  • wife to Eric
  • mother to Jared, Amanda and Natalie
  • interval cycler
  • journal keeper
  • occasional blogger
I know that a niche is a fit when it meets at least one of these criteria: only I can do it, it's highly enjoyable, it brings positive results, and makes me happy.

Good luck finding the niches that fit in your own life!