Saturday, February 21, 2009

A DAY TO REMEMBER: February 19th, 2009

This morning I just can't stop crying. I opened the Spokesman Review and on the front page is a picture of the runners at SCC running in memory of their beloved coach, Erik Anderson. Erik was killed in a freak accident this last Thursday, February 19th. February 19th is also my Mom's birthday.

Erik Anderson was a kindred soul, a colleague of mine for 12 years. He was unassuming and had a smile that lit up all outdoors. He and I were on the same page when it came to encouraging students. As one student said, "He believed in me when I didn't believe in myself," Another said, and this was a young man I held while he cried on Thursday..."Erik was my father, my mother. What do I have left?" This young man escaped from the violence of war torn Sudan, making his way to Washington in 2000. He lived with a number of foster families and finally came to SCC. He was a raw talent and became Erik Anderson's special project.

Thursday, the 19th, when three hysterical former students found me and said that "Coach has been killed"...I literally raced to the Lair and was confronted by a scene out of a horror film, a nightmare . Police were everywhere, fire fighters and medics were around, the athletic department was holding watch in abject horror, students were pressed into fetal position balls sobbing.

How could this wonderful person, this phenominal teacher, this beloved coach be an instant? There were and are no words to express the loss.

What I will remember about Erik is his lack of arrogance, his genuine smile, his inclusive spirit, and the authentic kindness he displayed to everyone. I know lots of athletes who are judgemental and critical of those who are not in shape or don't make the right choices. Erik was quite the opposite. Where some might look at those who are overweight with distain and disgust, Erik sought to educate them (us) with a loving hand. He knew that people are more than sports, they are a combination of heart, mind and spirit. He was a dreammaker, not a dreambreaker. People felt loved in his presence.

I saw Erik a number of weeks ago. He called me quite unexpectedly to see if I could talk to him about one of his female athletes. One of the older coaches said that "Linda might have some help to offer" him. When he phoned he humbly asked if someone who was so busy helping everyone could take the time to meet with him. He didn't want to inconvenience me. He was confronting a very awkward situation with this student athlete and wanted to handle it properly. Normally, he said, when it came to running, he would know what to do. But this issue wasn't about running. He needed some help with communicating a tough message. Interestingly enough, I knew the student we talked. I will always remember how grateful he was for my insights.

That was Erik in a nutshell. He always wanted to do the right thing.

February 19th has always held a special place in my heart. When I woke up this February 19th my first thoughts were about my Mom. I miss her every day. Her love and devotion shaped my life. She was my rock and my greatest supporter. She wanted to know who I really was, how I really felt. Erik Anderson was someone my Mom would have loved.

Things won't ever be quite the same at SCC. One of our finest is gone. He "got" what it meant to be a teacher and a coach. Those roles, along with being a husband and father, were sacred to him. I will think of him often and fondly. I will see his hard work in the eyes of his students and the dedication of those he coached.

His death reminds me of this quotation:

"Death is a challenge. It tells us not to waste time. It helps us to recognize how much we need each other and share how much we love each other."

God Bless!
Love Linda

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Heart-To-Heart Talks- The Greatest Valentine's Gift

February has been an amazing month! First...a birthday where I felt loved and celebrated and then following on the heels of my birthday, Valentines day! It has, however, also been a month of deep reflection, long talks, self awareness and some raw honesty! I am up for it ALL!

Bring it on!

Those of you who know me and love me know that I love "heart-to-heart" talks. These are the kinds of conversations where masks are peeled back, the phones are turned off, no one talks on a cell phone to someone else while I am there, and the focus is just on "us"...whoever "us" might be!

When the girls were growing up we had family meetings. Sometimes heart-to-heart talks happened there. More often than not they happened in one-to-one conversations, sometimes by a fire, sometimes on a porch huddled in quilts. They were affectionately (and not so affectionately) called "A Come To Jesus Meeting!"...which holds a certain ominous sound of...yikes this is a tell the truth moment..the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

While I savor this kind of honesty, truthfully I often enter these intimate moments with some fear and dread. What will I hear? How will I need to grow and change? What if this relationship isn't strong enough to withstand this truth telling moment?

Many of the heart-to-heart talks I've had in my 62 years have been initiated by me. Others have been initiated by the other person. In every case, "The Talk" was long desperately needed to happen to restore life, honesty, vibrancy, clarity, integrity, and mutuality to the relationship. The air needed to be cleared, even though the cost might be the end of a relationship as I previously knew it.

In short, as I reached fifty I said more of what was the truth in my heart, no matter the cost. As I reached transparency and authenticity doubled! It seems that life is short and pretence sucks the life out of me.

Now please do not think that my self disclosure bleeds all over the place. I am not one to dump my feelings all over another person inappropriately. I also know (usually) when it is "smart" to keep my mouth shut.

I choose this JUST DON'T SAY IT option when:

*Nothing is gained by more honesty. I have put myself out there, and there is no positive return to keep doing so. I have built in radar for well-constructed facades, and I'm no longer very good at pretending that things are OK with some folks ..when in truth they are not. Some relationships can't be "fixed", even when you wish they could be. My radar knows when a person genuinely likes me and cares about me...or they don't. It's all about behavior, not just words. So when they really don't care, but pretend to care, I eventually shut down. It is just too painful to be the only one who cares in a relationship. We may both know it's
a done deal, but ettiquete says just move them out to a distant emotional ring and as John Lennon said.."Let it be!"

* I have apologized and have not been forgiven. For me, this shuts a door. It's a statement that the person is done with me. I make mistakes. I am flawed. But so are those people. I think forgiveness sets US free, even if it doesn't change what has happened. If they truly can't forgive me that is a signal that it is time to move on. I still love them, that doesn't change, but I distance myself from them and there is no point in trying to make the relationship closer.

*It is clear that I am not a priority to the other person. They only kinda, sorta put up with me out of obligation of some sort. Not my cup of tea!

I will make a run at making almost all relationships work better, but when my run hits roadblock after roadblock...common sense kicks in. Sometimes that takes me a long, long time to come to .
I never want to "give up" on anyone, and I don't want them to give up on me.

We took the Jay Hall Conflict Inventory in Graduate School, and I was off the charts in wanting to try and try again...even after a relationship had run its course. My faculty advisor asked me a thought provoking question: "Linda, why do you keep trying to revive something that is clearly OVER?" Great question.

So, in summary, I am letting go and letting God when it comes to some folks. I still love them, but I'm not going to try to improve a relationship that the other person really doesn't want to be in with me. There are too many others to focus on where mutuality, respect and love abound in great measure!! That's where I will put my energy! :)

I WILL have heart-to-heart talks all day long with :

*Those I love who also love me. These people are CONGRUENT. We have a problem? You are mad at me about something I did or said? Let's put it out on the table and talk it through!! There are often glorious results to those chats. Our mutuality requires a commitment from them and from me. This is NOT a one-sided relationship and I am not having to second guess what their remarks mean. They want honesty, but they also give honesty to me.

* Those who WANT to be in a relationship with me and are committed to our mutual growth!
In those relationships heart-to-heart talks bring clarity, new understandings, and a greater depth of self-awareness and other awareness! This sense of being a priority to them makes a difference. Am I a PS in their life? An after thought? Are they someone who gives as much to our relationship as they take?

My favorite Valentine's gift this year was a heart-to-heart talk with my beloved hubby Bert that began on Friday night, February 13th, (and I stayed up until MIDNIGHT because we were still talking). Some of you are reviving yourselves right now at the thought I stayed up that late. Since I am usually up at 3-4am every day, I tend to go to bed early. But NOT this night.

And we were still talking and trying to understand the next day! After 25 years of marriage, we are both STILL committed to personal growth and growing as a couple! This heart-to-heart talk was water to my thirsty soul!

It's Sunday morning, and my Valentine is now up, so it's time to set aside this post so Bert and I can talk again in person!

On that note..I send you love and a huge God Bless!

And by the way, if you read this post and say to yourself..You know what? I am overdue to have a heart-to-heart talk with Linda, I invite you to call me and open that door! I am waiting on the other side!

Love Linda

Thursday, February 05, 2009

YES, IT'S TRUE...Today I'm 62!

Ever since I was a little girl I have ALWAYS loved birthdays. In my photo albums growing up, lovingly constructed by my very own Mom, there are countless pictures of me at my own birthday parties in frilly, tafetta dresses decked out with a large bow in the back.

I always wear a huge grin on my face as well!

Birthdays in my family are not just a day in which to be celebrated, but also a chance to celebrate the people who bless our lives. So today thoughts of loved ones, here and gone, flash through my mind and heart! God has really blessed me by surrounding me with such wonderful soul mates for life...folks who love me and support me, real angels!

My Mom and dad were and are angels in my life! I was adored and cherished, the greatest gift you can ever give a child. Toni Morrison, an acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize winning author once said,

"Every time my children walk in the room I want them to see me "light up"! I want them to know that they hold the key to my heart!"

My parents "lit up" when I walked in the room! They gave me a gift of unconditional love that I have tried to pass on to everyone I meet! I held the key to their hearts.

My precious husband Bert is an angel in my life! When I met Bert my heart was broken. I felt like I might never find someone who could truly love me...for me. Just as I am, flaws and all.
Every day since I've known Bert...I have been loved like my parents loved me. I feel adored and cherished. What a gift to my soul.

And there are NO words that could ever express the gift God gave me when He blessed me with my precious daughters....Jessi and Amy! There are tears streaming down my face as I write this. They hold the key to MY heart! They are angels in my life! I light up inside when I think about them, talk about them, or see them. I remember THEIR birthdays so vividly. You two, and your wonderful families, are my best birthday present EVER!

And then there are my angel grandchildren...a "renewal gift" from God! Another chance to love and be loved. I adore them all and they are a gift to my heart!

And then there are my dear, dear friends...companions in life and truly a blessing from the Lord!
Their love and support makes my world a better place! I am so grateful to each of you for caring about me.

And then there are my students , old and new, whose lives have touched and blessed mine. They have come out of the woodwork lately to say "Thanks!" Nancy, Myia, Holly, Patty, Michael...thank you for your letters and phone calls. I heard from Nancy who was in my class when I FIRST started teaching! What an honor! You are angels in my life!

And to all the other clients, the folks at my church, the gals from my espresso spot who got me flowers yesterday...I am blessed to know you all!

And to my God who made me, one hand and all, who made me Linda, just as I am...I am grateful for your deep and daily love. May the way I lead my life...glorify YOU!

Yes, it's true. Today I turn 62! And I'm living EVERY day as if it was my last!

May God Bless you and keep YOU! May He make His face to shine upon YOU and give you peace!

Love Linda

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