Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Seeking the Best

I was talking to some moms/fellow runners at a party tonight. Yes, I have friends. And, I sometimes even get invited to parties. I try to behave.

{Not two minutes after leaving the party and getting in the car, however, I let one fly. Ken says, “Nice, hon. Wait all night to get into an enclosed area with your family and let one rip. Classy.”}

But, I digress. Why is it always about farts around here? Stop getting me off subject.

Anyway, the moms were all commenting how we have these ideals about the holidays – we expect it to be all Christmas music and baking cookies and board games and smiles. We have visions of sipping hot chocolate by the fire and getting lost in the the beauty of family and the holiday spirit.

But, then the shit hits the fan. The kids start bickering. The one-eyed dog is pissing on the floor and staring at you with his good eye. The Christmas tree is dropping needles and you get your period. You find yourself having this out of body experience where you’re yelling at the kids so hard your vein is popping out of your neck and your voice is shaking.

One friend admitted throwing unwrapped Christmas gifts at her son. Another talked about months of trying to get her kid to take off his muddy shoes before entering the house. Finally, yesterday, she lost her mind and just started shouting, “SHOES! SHOES! SHOES!” uncontrollably and without any ability to stop. Happy holidays.

We’ve got the ideal. Then, we’ve got the reality. It’s not just about the holidays and kids. It’s about life.

I’ve always thought the point at which we lose it is when our reality does not meet our expectations. We have this plan of how things should go. The race. The fancy dinner. The vacation. The family reunion. Then there is the way things really do go. What gets us in trouble is that nothing ever goes as planned. Never. Yet, we keep doing it. Setting ourselves up.

I don’t know what the answer is. It’s tough to not have ideas about how you want things to be. It’s called dreaming and fantasizing.  I just know that every time I think I have it all figured out, this wrench steals its way into my scenario and takes over. Changing out the pieces, disorganizing my grand plan.

Case in point. Denver Marathon. I had plans. Grand plans. I was on track to bust my PR of 3:42 wide open. Every training run told me so. I could not in my wildest of dreams have thought up getting a hip stress fracture ten days out from the race. I worried about weather, crapping my pants, not keeping my pace, but NEVER this injury.

That’s the thing. It’s never ever what we expect. Yet, just in the way that we can’t anticipate the tragic and sad stuff, we can’t anticipate the good stuff. I could not of dreamed up a life for myself that is as good as the one I am living right now. The kids, the husband, my mom and dad, life in Colorado, opportunity. Blessing after blessing. So, it works both ways.

What does all this mean? Personally, I like having high hopes and expectations for my life, so I don't want to give that up. But, I also want to be able to roll with the punches when things don’t go as planned.

I have the sweetest book called, “A Touch of Wonder.” A dear friend gave it to me about 20 years ago. It is filled with heartfelt stories, each with their own lessons. My wedding vows came out of this book.

I remember one story called, “The Search.” Very simply it spoke of a father and his kids going out to the country one day for a hike. The father happens upon the tombstone of a “beloved wife” who had died in 1865, during the Civil War. Beneath her name was the statement, “Ever she sought the best, ever found it.” This woman had lived through a horrible war, fraught with losses and devastation. Yet, she always looked for the best and somehow always found it.

“What you look for in life, you will surely find. But, the direction you look is up to you. You don’t have to look very far. No one does. It’s around us all the time, the goodness, the wonder, the abundance of living. The miracle of it all.”

You see the damn rain, I see the earth soaking up goodness
I see unending traffic, you see a chance to talk and sing with the kids
You see extra fat around your middle, I see someone who made great babies
I see ugly wrinkles, I see years of wisdom and experience

It’s all about perspective. Attitude. Making the most of it all.

Ever seeking the best,



  1. It really is all about perspective. I like how honest and real your friends are...they don't try to make their life seem perfect. I agree that you need to have high expectations in some areas of your life but really you can't think everything is going to be perfect. Once again...awesome post. You always are able to mix humor into really important subjects, love it!

  2. You didn't mention, or maybe the writer didn't mention the birth date of the woman who died in 1865. Sometime, if you get a few minutes, and want some perspective, go wandering through an older grave yard. Look at the birth dates, and death dates, and do some math. We now think someone dying at 60 to have been cruelly cut off. Not so long ago, 60 was an astonishingly old age to live to. Bickering kids are trivial, since you almost certainly have all the kids you gave birth to. That's new. Very very new.

    I get angry when people look at reality today, and they aren't happy. Compared to most of the people who have ever lived, we are living better lives than they imagined for their gods.

  3. Thank you. Everything hit the fan here on Sunday so it's nice to be reminded that those things aren't what is important. I need to remember how blessed I am more often than I do.

    Also you have awesome friends. Only a real friend will a) listen when you tell them what a crap parent you think you are and b) tell you that they are the exact same way. Their stories made me laugh out loud. I'm totally going to go tell them to my husband now...

  4. that is the thing....everything is and will not always be perfect that if LIFE right...the people who accept this are much happier then the ones who fight this...Making the most of it...that is the way to go...for sure!

  5. I really like this post and I want to give a good and thoughtful comment. Maybe even share a story from my own life with my kids that would go along with your blog post to show that I really did read this and give it some thought. but really, i'm tired and I think I'll just say that I love that you let one rip when you got in the car. The best time to let one fly. Maybe tomorrow when I'm not so exhausted, I'll have something more thoughtful to say. Until then....

  6. When the house is full of noise and mayhem and I've almost hit the wall I have to remind myself I'd rather have all of the bedlam than be alone. Perspective is incredibly important.

  7. Great post. So many people expect perfect and always want more, more, more. We all need to be thankful for now and appreciate each day we get.

  8. This is a Great Post. From the anecdotes to the quotes... really hits home for most of us, I reckon. Certainly did for me. Had the vein-popping thing going on this afternoon.... Time to shift the direction I am looking. Thanks so much for this.

  9. "...Another talked about months of trying to get her kid to take off his muddy shoes before entering the house."

    You see, this is exactly the reason parents should re-commence beatings (not abusive mind you). That will give the kid some "perspective!"

  10. Thank you. I need to remember this - awesome post!!

  11. Another great post. I did a lot of my starting runs in a local cemetery. So peaceful and eye opening since one of them was one of the first in our town. Life in general was to short as it is today but they didn't think that back then like you said.

  12. impressive post! I have to say that I am right there with you. Its reality and perspective makes all the difference. Thanks SUAR!

  13. Great post! Thanks for the reminder.

  14. Thanks for another great post, one that is truly fitting for the holiday season.

  15. Here's hoping we can all see the best this holiday season! Another meaningful post - thanks!

  16. I totally agree!! It's all in your perspective. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and I'm sure those at the party thank you for waiting until you were in the car! Merry Christmas!

  17. Excellent post and very needed this morning!

  18. Nice post! I was reading it, and getting all emotional, and then the dog peed on my foot. Which fits the general theme, doesn't it?

  19. Good post and with very good timing - I'm anticipating a trip over I-70 in 2 days and I'm sure *something* is going to happen! Either way, I'll enjoy the scenery slowly passing by and spending time with my husband...

    Happy Holidays!

  20. You said it all girl. I seek the perfect holidays because my mom was the overwhelmed one whipping the whole raw turkey across the kitchen.
    We all have hurdles. It's our choice how we get past them.

  21. Great great post.

    It is all about perspective. Karen (my wife) just told me to not do anything today regarding looking for a job. I told her I could not do that because others were taking the holidays off and I needed to keep pushing. She told me nobody was going to call today with an offer so relax.

    It truly is all about perspective. I am going to still look but only in the AM, then in the PM I am off. Going to the grocery store for her and just taking my mind off of it all.

    Thank you again.

  22. "What you look for in life, you will surely find." That is so true! Thanks for this great post and the reminder to always make the most of it and see the good things in life! I know my holidays are going to be crazy with 3 boys (5, 3 & 1)! but we're going to have fun!!

  23. hear hear !!!

    reminds me of a book i read a while back that i might have to pull out. the invitation.

  24. Perspective is nice, but you still have to feel for your family.

  25. It always comforts me to recall that whatever mayhem the season brings, it also brings an unending supply of sugar-laden treats.

  26. @kovas... lmao!

    nice post. blessings to you and yours during this special time of year.


  27. I see a little extra around my middle, and it reminds me of beer, so it ain't all bad.

    Thanks for the positive post this morning!

  28. Thank you for posting this. I used to love the holidays. Then I grew up, and now find them crushingly stressful. Family members who will not tolerate anything less (or more) than a Norman Rockwell painting. Ideals I simply cannot live up to, both because I'm eccentric and loud and because life is chaotic and my home will never be perfect. So the positive post is a good reminder to stay sane!

  29. Excellent post and sentiment! I knew you had a soft side ;)

  30. It's deep and we are not talking about poop either!

    Wow what a great post. May we all keep seeking the best and embrace finding it in unexpected places!

    Merry Christmas.

  31. It's very helpful to me today to know that I'm not the only one who MAY have lost it the other night when a baseball crashed into the Christmas tree and MAY have broken an ornament. Thank you

  32. SUAR
    me cry
    reading her post
    [and not in laughter].

    Do I get a shirt?

    I loved this.

  33. Amen sistah! I'll repeat a comment I left on Q's blog.

    "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape"

    Merry Christmas!

  34. Great blog post! It can be hard to appreciate what you have and how blessed we all are. No one lives a cookie-cutter life and that's what makes life a great journey :)

  35. People are risky. If your goals require other people, then the risk of not succeeding or accomplishing something different go up. You can easily get disappointed if people regularly sabotage your goals.

    Look at the people that succeed in doing technical things - things we think are hard. They do them in a lab or a basement or a garage, and they do it all by themselves - not relying on anyone. Then we label them as captains of industry.

    Now look at people that succeed by getting people to work together on a goal - too few to mention. We even give awards to those who tried but failed.

    In the end we need to judge our success based on the effort we put into it, and not necessarily where it ended up in the record books.

    Here's an inspiring little video. It's related to a lot of other videos. It's a good afternoon of watching.

  36. If you give up hope, what do you have??? Nothing!

  37. Great post! I think part of the reason everyone gets so worked up around the holidays is the expectations we all have about our time time off. Traditions need to take place without a hitch, holiday parties need to go smoothly, family needs to be on their best behavior, everyone needs to be prepared ideally sometime before Christmas eve...and of course, none of that ever happens. Which is why some of my favorite Christmas memories are the ones when everything that could go wrong did go wrong but somehow, I ended up laughing and staying in to play wii with my sisters. We're always looking for perfection when it's right in front of us, but I think we can only see it in our peripheral vision.
    I think you have a great attitude, and I know that will pay off and help you enjoy a wonderful holiday season :)

  38. Great post! It's so true- it totally depends on perspective and whether you choose to see the glass as half full or half empty. :)

  39. What does all this mean? Personally, I like having high hopes and expectations for my life, so I don't want to give that up. But, I also want to be able to roll with the punches when things don’t go as planned.

    THIS !!

  40. Nice post! Can't believe I missed that conversation...I would have had plenty to add :)
    So, here I am reading your blog...and love it. SO nice seeing you and hubby and kids...all fun and sparkly.

  41. I needed this. At this very moment. Right now. Thank you!

  42. Anon - I know who you are!!! Nice seeing you too. Even though you're missing a couple of body parts.

  43. Wow, that brought everything back to center stage for me--thanks for the post.

  44. This was an awesome post Beth! Thank you for it!

  45. It's not like you can fart at the party so that's where it has to be done! LOL.

  46. Great post Beth! Especially as we are approaching the beginning of another year.

    Totally believe that a person's happiness is up to them (for the most part).

    Enjoy life . . . Enjoy your life . . .

  47. Life is what happens when you're making other plans - John Lennon - This has always stayed with me. I stumbled across it right after a very difficult divorce. Got to roll with the punches and look for the silver lining, and read great running blogs! Learning to prioritize, seeing the great in the mundane, setting goals but cutting oneself a break - balance
    Have a great Christmas!!

  48. So true! Thanks for the attitude check.

  49. Meh, I'm like you - I like living in an idealized world. I'm faster than everyone in the world and more endowed than Ron Jeremy.

    How did the appt go!?!?!

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