Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Revelations on Vacation

I can't believe it has already been a month since my last blog post. Although school has taken a backseat to some other things in my life, I have been very busy none the less.  Part of this "busy-ness" was a nine day trip out west to South Dakota with my mother and father in law, my wife, and her brother. I experienced some new things, stretched myself, but also found that I am still struggling with some things I've always had a hard time with.

I would consider myself a cautious person.  I don't usually take too many risks with my safety, and like to keep my feet on the ground, literally. So, I was surprised that I took so easy to this:

Now, I have (as of this writing) never been on an airplane before. The furthest I've been off the ground is probably jumping off a trampoline.  My wife even bought Dramamine as a way to help me cope with this. However, I never had an issue. We went up, floated, came down, and there wasn't a moment I feared falling, got motion sick, or ever was really in a state besides wonderment. It was an amazing experience. Fear of the unknown could have closed me off, but I was determined to believe it would be an awesome experience, and it was.

I also got to ride a horse for the first time.  If you never have, I highly suggest you do. Something cool about horses.  It also gave me a chance to connect with one of my wife's big loves.  Once again, this is something I typically would have been nervous about, but I jumped on and enjoyed the three hour trail ride, even doing well with the trainer's instructions.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Once again, it was all about my outlook. I was determined to have a great time, and I did.

However, I wish I could saw everything went well. It didn't. We had a camper malfunction.  As of right now, it is still sitting at a mechanic's shop in Custer, SD. The initial discussion was needed to stay an extra couple days for it. I got extremely concerned. Would we get back in time? I have to be back! What about our cat? I need to get ready for school! What about my stuff?  Things worked themselves out, no thanks in part to my worrying.  Why couldn't I change my outlook for this to simply enjoy the opportunity to be out there? My worrying couldn't change the outcome.  

I also had some other inner struggles rear up.  They are stupid, and petty, but ultimately things I need to work on and that make me who I am.  I have a grill.  It is a nice travel grill. I have this ritual of cleaning I do after each usage.  Cleaning tools, soap, and lots of paper towels and wipes are the key to this.  We didn't have my cleaning tools, any soap, and a low amount of paper towels and wipes. I tend to get a little OCD when it comes to cleanliness. Believe it or not, this drove my insane. Not being able to clean my grill to perfection ate at me.  This came after I conquered heights in a hot air balloon, and spent three hours on the back of a live animal. 

As with everything in my life, I always look for a way to relate this to students.  I take three things from this.  First, outlook is everything.  If you decide to see the world through rose colored glasses, nothing will get you down.  If you decide to see everything as too hard, too boring, too much, then it will be.  Change your outlook and you'll change how you experience the world.  Secondly, don't be afraid to try new things. It doesn't have to be a ride in a hot air balloon (which is quite expensive, by the way), but it may be trying a new hobby, a new sport, or a new class in a subject you don't know a lot about.  Third, we aren't perfect. We all have struggles. Comparing ourselves to this ideal of perfect will only drive us crazy. We need to understand who we are and what we need to work on.  Then, it simply is a matter of improving ourselves. Not as a comparison to some standard, but as a way to learn and grow from our mistakes.  For me, it is getting over obsessive about certain things. For students, it might be blaming others for problems, a struggle with social skills, or a lack of self-advocacy in class. 

If we all can change our outlook, try new things, and continue to work on making ourselves better people, then we are well on our way to making the world, our world, a better place.  If anything, it will be a much more enjoyable ride!