Life Always Curls!

Two winter Olympics ago I fell in love with the sport of curling. I loved the idea that mortal men and women could stand on the ice and push a 42 pound round flat stone on a sheet of ice roughly 150 long and 16 feet wide. I can barely remain upright when there is just a tad bit of ice on the ground. I am in awe. LOL. If you want to know more about curling check Wikipedia which has an excellent review of the sport, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curling. Also check out the about curling page on the World Curling Federation http://www.worldcurling.org/learn-more-about-curling which has educational videos.

In short curling is shuffleboard, or bags, or corn hole on ice. You slide your rock across the ice and try to score points by coming closest to the center. Nothing is guaranteed as each team can knock the opponents stone out of scoring position. The match lasts eight to ten ends (think innings).

What is amazing about curling is that sliding the stone puck would make it a fast-moving game. The reality is that a puck can move fast as fast as the curler wants it to go the whole idea of curling is to be precise. Curlers bend their way around the other pucks in play to score points or take out the opposition.

curling stones

Some say the game of curling is chess on ice. https://curlnews.blogspot.com/2007/06/chess-on-ice.html I think it is a metaphor for life itself.

Life is never easy, but it is good. We all experience victories as well as defeats. Sometimes the path we seek in life comes true. Other times we think we have positioned ourselves properly to reach our goals but then we get knocked off course by some unseen event. Our only choice is to move forward even if it means we may have to change or bend our course to get around some obstacles.

The key in curling as well as just about any other sport is that you must forget about your good shots and your bad shots because the only important shot is the next one. When a curler or a baseball pitcher throws a bad shot or bad pitch they need to put it behind them as soon as possible. Likewise, if they throw a good pitch they cannot bask in the glory because with every throw the game changes.

Whether it is life or curling or baseball or other sport where individual efforts matter we always must move forward, even if it is just an inch at a time. It is the movement through life that sustains us. It is our calling and the gas for our engines even in tough times.

My father died when I was 17 during my high school senior summer. I was scheduled to leave for college in September but dad suddenly died at age 43, in August. My worldview was destroyed. Everything I thought I would do was predicated on the idea that I would have two living parents in my only child life. Now everything changed.

It was strange not having my dad around. It was difficult trying to pick up the pieces. When someone dies prematurely it is never easy for the survivors. Slowly I shifted my thoughts and direction. I enrolled at a local university so I would not have to leave home. I found local employment and maintained my friendships. My relatives were very helpful during this time as they rallied around us.

Little victories popped up. I didn’t cry one night when I went to sleep. My dad’s friends could tell me stories about their exploits. I felt like going out and doing something on the weekends. After one year I felt like I had moved forward. In some areas of my life an inch and in others several feet. It would however take several years before I could put my father’s sudden death in perspective and move on.

Life during that first year, so slowly like a curling stone trying to find its way through a mess of stones. I started to place myself in positions to succeed. I took jobs that were shitty, so I had money coming in. I went away to University. I met my future wife. I recalculated my career path from banking to ministry. Rarely did the moves come quickly. Some were well plotted out others where chaotic, but all were made with the idea that I could only move forward. Staying in place or moving backward was not possible.

I write this piece not only for myself but for all others whose life has been turned upside down. I pray for those who lost loved ones in the  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Right now the tears and emotions are raw. It is a time of mourning and remembrance. Your lives will never be the same but your lives will move on. Inch by inch, minute by minute until there is a time when the horror will fade and only the good memories exist. God will help you navigate through life. You may have to curl into it and you will have good days and bad days but eventually you will move on. Moving on is the greatest tribute you can make to those who died for nothing. Make your life be about something no matter the obstacles in your way.

My thoughts and prayers are with you as you continue your journey.

Frank

Should we watch the Super Bowl?

The biggest television event of the year will one day cost family and society as some of the players succumb to CTE due to concussions.

I know I am troubled by this fact. I have to work a Super Bowl party by a local Lions club. The money raised will fund college scholarships. Does a good deed cancel out the bad? It is an ethical question that many are now trying to resolve in their own minds and then society.

What is your opinion? Will you watch or will you obstain?

Write an essay for a great life!

Last week I shared a quote from Charles M Schultz (Peanuts creator) “Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, “Is life a multiple-choice test or is it a true or false test?” …Then a voice comes to me out of the dark and says, “We hate to tell you this, but life is a thousand-word essay.”

In my life, I have been a banker, and IT consultant, and a pastor of a church. I have earned two master’s degrees, one a Master of Divinity and an MBA. As I look back over my journey, I realized I never jumped into any of those positions because it was easy. Each time I started a new essay I did the research, sweated and had plenty of sleepless nights. While my journey has been a little crazy, I would not have it any other way. The common thread through my life is that I was willing to write an essay instead of choosing a 50/50 opportunity or guessing my way through a multiple-choice test.

My life essays have allowed me to meet a wide variety of people, visit several companies big and small. Along the way, I helped people make good decisions through assisting them good essays for their lives, companies, and organizations.

What is a life essay? According to Dictionary.com, an essay is a short literary composition on a particular theme or subject, usually in prose and generally analytic, speculative, or interpretative.

In the case of our quote, I would say an essay is an effort to write the meme or/direction of one’s life. Life is not true/false or multiple choice. Life is much more expansive that only the essay can fully encompass what a life might contain.

I would say an essay would include:

  • 1) What type of life do you want?
  1. a) be an at home parent
  2. b) entrepreneur
  3. c) IT administrator
  4. d) carpenter
  5. e) nurse
  6. f) writer or artist

 

  • 2) What type of relationships do you want? Who do you want to surround yourself with in terms of the people you will interact on a daily basis?
  1. a) other at home parents
  2. b) creating sales opportunities meeting lots of people
  3. c) maybe your more of an introvert and want to manage things instead of people
  4. d) surrounding yourself with people who need help
  5. e) solitude so you can create
  6. f) family and friends

 

  • 3) Where do you want to live?
    1. City, suburbs, rural, house, condo, farm?
  • 4) What are more important people or possessions?
    1. Do you want to keep up with the Jones or do you want to know and treasure the relationships you have with the Jones family?
  • 5) Do you prefer self-expression or doing a good job someone else designed?
    1. Do you want to be an artist or an accountant?
  • 6) How will you give back to the community or will you give back?
    1. Volunteering is a way to strengthen your ties to your community.
  • 7) Kids? No Kids?
  • 8) Pets? Vacation places?
  • 9) Homebody on the go all the time?
  • 10) Hobbies?
  • 11) Sports?

As you can see, there are many decisions you make to create a life.

Life is complex and ever-changing. The essay you write in your twenties will have a bearing on the essay you write in your thirties. The challenge we face is that every life decision has consequences and influences what happens in the future.

After I graduated college, I went home and felt the pressure to find a job. My dad had died four years ago, and it was hard for my mom and me financially. I had an inkling that I might want to be a banker, so I started working in a banking related industry and then for a couple of banks until I made a change.

I almost always worked Saturdays. We partied on Saturday night. Visited family on Sundays. On my weekday off I did things around my mom’s house. At night I studied for my MBA. It was a good life but a life that was not thought out well, except for my marriage to Karen. Marrying Karen was the best thing I ever did.

I would like to say that I had thought all of this through and had written an essay to match my reality. The reality was much different. Banking was a hot career. I will go into banking. Everyone was getting an MBA. Everyone was buying a house. Babies were everywhere. Looking back my decisions were made based on what other people were doing and not what I wanted to do. I was answering true/false and multipl- choice questions until the answers were no longer satisfactory.

After much prayer and pain, I decided to change careers, so I went to seminary to enter the ministry. The challenge I faced is that I had ten years of life I as a banker and thus I was saddled with those decisions. We had to sell a house. We had a child. I completed my MBA with a few student loans. We moved on campus only to move a few months later to a church parsonage. In fact, we moved five times over six years. Life was definitely on the move. It was after I decided to enter the ministry that I started writing an essay for my life.

After 40 years in the workforce, I have retired early to write and pursue other interests. I have decided to write another essay for the next ten years. I am much freer now because I only report to myself. Sure, I have family obligations like anyone else. There are hobbies and volunteering. There are friendships to continue and friendships to come. I have some model railroads to built and a wall quilt to sew.  This is all part of my carry my essay.

This blog is part of my essay for life. I am outlining a mystery book and learning more about writing in today’s world as part of my essay.  My life essay will flush itself out over the next month or so. Once I have written it, I will move forward because I have designed my life with my own hands rather accepting someone else’s true/false or multiple-choice questions.

Don’t let someone else determine your life! Take the time to think your life through, your full life with family, friends, vacations, hobbies, and type of work or service you will do. If you are willing to do that you will have written your life essay and life will be much more fulfilling and enjoyable.

May your best be yet to come!

Frank

If you want a great life write an essay!

To create a life worth living one you need to realize that life is an essay.

Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, “Is life a multiple choice test or is it a true or false test?” …Then a voice comes to me out of the dark and says, “We hate to tell you this but life is a thousand word essay.” Charles M. Schulz the creator of the Peanuts. 

writing-828911_1280Charles’ words are ripe for discernment in today’s climate. Whether it is politics, relationships, business, yes even kids sports and other activities, people are looking for quick and easy answers. We wish to identify what to undertake so we can proceed on to the next task. If life was a true false test, you have a 50/50 chance for accomplishment. Mathematicians tell us that if you flip a coin 100 times the results would most likely would be 50 heads and 50 tails. When someone has a 50/50 chance to succeed in life, living would be a breeze.

I enjoyed multiple choice tests because I knew the correct answer was there somewhere. If I did not recognize the answer I could eliminate say 2 out of the four choices and I could have a 50/50 chance at being right.

Unfortunately, as Charles Schultz once heard from God or the Universe, “We hate to tell you this, but life is a thousand word essay.” Too many politicians, companies, churches, and other institutions peddle the illusion of easy answers. Just commit to my 3-point plan for solving global warming states a politician. Companies sell their products because they are the instant answer to your anxiety, your fear, or your need to get the stain out, or make raising your kids easier.

Unfortunately, life is not that way. We may prefer the easy road out but in life there is no easy answers. Why? Life is very complex for easy questions and easy answers. To create a life worth living one you need to realize that life is an essay. Successfully answering an essay takes time, research, sweat, and a sleepless night or two to build a good result. Creating one’s life is worth a similar effort.

In my life I have been a banker, and IT consultant, and a pastor of a church. I have earned two master’s degrees, one a Master of Divinity and an MBA. As I look back over my journey, I realized I never jumped into any of those positions because it was easy. Each time I started a new essay I did the research, sweated and had plenty of sleepless nights. While my journey has been a little crazy, I would not have it any other way. The common thread through my life is that I was willing to write an essay instead of choosing a 50/50 opportunity or guessing my way through a multiple choice test.

My life essays have allowed me to meet a wide variety of people, visit several companies big and small. Along the way I helped people make good decisions through assisting them good essays for their lives, companies, and organizations.

If you are finding yourself wishing for an easy test for your life’s quandaries I urge you to consider writing an essay instead. What does writing a life essay entail? Stop by next week for more.

Frank

 

 

 

 

Four statements of Wisdom

The Chief Inspector Armand Gamache book series is written by Louise Penny Louise Penny’s website

Penny originally began writing a historical novel but changed to mystery writing after finding trouble finishing. She entered the first book of the series, Still Life, in the “Debut Dagger” competition in the United Kingdom, placing second out of 800 entries.

The series is based on the character of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. The stories take place usually in the village of Three Pines, with Gamache investigating the murders of various people in each novel. They have been described as “character-driven” mysteries that explore the relationships between characters with each book in the series. Three Pines is a fictional location set in the province of Quebec, with Penny setting up the characters using the history of old Canada to show their personalities and backgrounds. In the series, a few of the plots are set outside of Three Pines.

Inspector Gamache is a likable, honest man who gets placed in the most trying situations in a dirty police department. One of the reasons he survives is that he is a kind soul and plays by four statements of wisdom. Those statements are:

I don’t know

I was wrong

I am sorry

I need help

Throughout the Inspector Gamache mystery series, these four statements have helped him solve crimes, patch relationships, and become a better man. He tries to teach these four statements to his recruits and reinforce those statements to senior officers.

What I find amazing is that these statements do work. Recently I stepped in it big time. As I tried to manage the situation, I found that each of these statements worked for me. It did not change the outcome, but it provides wisdom to me as I walked the path I set in motion.

So I challenge you to think about something in your past and follow these statements to see if the statements provide wisdom to you.

Until next time,

Frank Szewczyk

 

Why I like January and yes I am crazy!

pexels-photo-688660.jpegI have come to like January for a couple of reasons. First, January signals the end of all the holiday madness. I love the holidays, but I also crave resumption to a routine. The holidays disrupt our normal flow of life which in turn disrupts our souls.

In December we are torn between meeting the needs of family and friends and living our lives in a peaceful way manner. If you have kids to buy presents for there is always the pain of them wanting too much versus what’s in your wallet. Add to that parties and gatherings and life gets very messy. When I hit January, I breathe a sigh of relief because now I can focus on the new beginnings that a new year holds.

Second, I like January because January provides a starting point to orientate our lives. Some of you may call your new year resolutions. I prefer to call it a reorientation for the new year.

For example, I recently retired early to pursue my dream of writing full-time. In the past week, I have created two blogs, outlined a mystery novel and took steps to add a stream of income. Reorientation is more powerful than any new years resolution because a resolution is singular like losing weight or reading more or being a better parent. The challenge is any change in our lives takes multiple steps. Losing weight not only means making healthy food choices, exercise, and a shift in psychology. A dieter needs to eat to live instead of living to eat. Most dieters just make one change, choosing different food, thus they fail because they have not addressed exercise and the mental changes they need to make.

When we are committed multiple steps in our change process, we are telling the universe/God that you are committed to changing your life thus the universe/God responds. Why? If you are committed there will be no wasted resources. For example, when you join a gym you might employ a trainer. If you are only half-hearted in your efforts, you have wasted the trainers time and you have spent funds that could have been used differently. If you are dedicated to reorientation and making the appropriate changes, then the power in the Universe/God works behind the scenes to bring the right people and information into your life.

Contrary to some beliefs, the Universe is charged by God to support us in our journey thru life. We have a choice. We can either find the stream of life that supports us or swim upstream trying to make something out of nothing. So I say let go and let God supply what you need as you reorientate yourself in 2018.

Peace,

Frank Szewczyk