Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Accelerated Life

In case anyone doubts that my life has been a touch out of the ordinary thus far, let me recap. I was married nearly 10 years ago and am still married. Not very unique? Well then, consider WHO I got married to. I don’t know about you, but I think that makes me one DLD! (Downright Lucky Dude) LĂ©onie has had the patience to put up with me for a whole 10 years, and that is SOMETHING!

I went into the professional field of Speech and Language Pathology. Most people have no idea what that even means, but that’s okay. What’s different about it is that it is highly dominated by humans of the female persuasion; Even more so than teaching, nursing, and the like. I have no problem with that, as many competency components draw from some of my personal strengths. I have seen good success with clients across the whole range of the lifespan, from really tiny to very old. Plus, I don’t really mind women, so my colleagues and I get along just fine.

I moved to Central California. It’s hot, brown/yellow, and populated such that I am a ’visible minority.’ Don’t get me wrong here, I always have been and continue to be comfortable in a highly multicultural environment. But the location and climate?! If there is one thing consistent about people who grew up in British Columbia, it’s that anywhere they relocate to is a decided downgrade in beauty, and thus livability. I am no exception to this rule. However, here I still am!

Although I am only 33, I have already retired! Not from my career, mind you. But this week, I officially stepped down from being the Director of the Pathfinder Club after leading it for five years. Talk about a rapid growing experience. It was that, and a whole lot more. However, the time has come to re-focus my life on what really matters.

Another unique thing is that I RETIRED from gymnastics and acro-sport fully 15 years ago. The knees and other parts of my body told me emphatically that it was high time that I do so, and (for a change) I wisely listened to it. And yet, this week I logged over 12 hours in the gym at Gymnastics Beat! I worked out some, taught, spotted, and conducted leveling assessments. Aside from the expected sore muscles, though, it was trouble free. And I really, really enjoyed it!

Now, very little of what I’ve stated thus far has anything to do with the title, right? Yeah, I kind of gathered that. I may be old and get easily side tracked, but I’m not senile. (I hope) Besides the early retirements and the late resurrections of long dead ‘careers’, here is where the “accelerated life” comes into play.

Forty months ago, my household consisted of my wife…. And myself! (We’ll overlook the fish for the moment.) Fast forward 4 months, though, and we now had a 150lb boy and a cute little puppy with a funky name. This made for some really interesting times, but I do have a few warm fuzzy memories in spite of this period of dynamic learning.

Only 8 months later (28 months ago), the other shoe dropped. That was when we went up by 6 more kids and one more dog! Not only did that make for SEVEN children, but four of them were also already Teenagers! (and nary a diaper changed had I!) One is autistic/low functioning and requires a lot of energy as he is not self-automated. This was the beginning of the period that I call ‘shock and awe’, because I was perpetually in shock. And any time anybody asked me a question, all I could say was, “Aaaaaaaaw. (pbbbt)”

By the time December of that year came around, or 20 months ago, we were fully rounded out to our current complement of three ‘parents,’ seven kids, and THREE dogs! It’s all ho hum and status quo from then on, right? Well, not really. At present, I am still close to the experience of watching my father pass away. Never mind that he was fit, healthy, and loving life at the ripe age of 64 years young, he went away so quickly! And here I am, now with SIX teenagers and THREE college students!! Nobody is even in Elementary school anymore.

Today marked yet another new phase in life; one of me playing the part of an empt(ier) nester. James went off and left home to go to college out-of-state this morning. He is one of the few subtractions in a period of rapid additions. And, like losing my Dad, I’m beginning to really dislike these ‘subtractions’ from my life. … True, my boy will still be around from time to time, but this marks the beginning of yet another trend of inevitable shift; one where life will be punctuated by subtractions rather than additions. The result: Something is missing, and it just doesn’t feel right.

But I’m going to have to get used to the idea, and quickly, too. It cannot be changed, only accepted. (if never embraced). Such is my lot in this ACCELERATED LIFE.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Not the Leader Anymore (But I got to Hire my new Boss!)

I fired myself and got a new boss last night, but at least I was able to choose and hire him! Being the Pathfinder Club Directors over the past five years was an amazing blessing, but it was time to hand it off to someone new because we ran ourselves all out of energy. The board meeting made it official. I didn’t even have to make a fancy and well-worded presentation on the spot. All I had to do was sit and listen as the board chairman read my letter of resignation. (Which, of course, was fancy and well worded! At least, being articulate is what I attempted)

The letter ended with me thanking the board for the opportunity to serve, and asked them to accept our resignation. This they did, ‘with regret.’ In fact, they made it a point to make the “with regret” part official in the minutes. Several people were visibly upset with this turn of events, but it couldn’t really be helped. It was time to close that door, at least for now. And I am finally okay with it.

But now, I’m yesterday’s news. Here’s a little about my new boss. The really rewarding thing is that I discovered him! Well, actually Keith discovered us, so I can’t take any credit. (sounded good, though) We marched by him one November 11 during the city’s Veteran’s Day Parade. It was the first time we’d invited all of the area clubs to take part with us, and I had coordinated an estimated 250 Pathfinders, Adventurers, and staff. They were assembled in multiple marching formations and pulled by two flat bed trucks. It was pretty awesome to see, and I always wonder if he would have noticed us if it had just been our own club by itself. Perhaps not, but God works in interesting ways sometimes, so we’re left to wonder.

Anyway, he tracked us down through an old acquaintance and showed up at the clubhouse soon after the parade because it seemed like just the thing he wanted to get his daughter into. An ex Eagle Scout Troop Master, he almost immediately found needs and started to fill them. He increasingly became a big help with the Adventurer program, which his daughter was in. He eventually followed her into the Pathfinder club, and in his quiet and unassuming way, became an integral part of the overall Club.

Today, he is a member of my church and a leader in the Junior division. His daughter attends the academy and has developed some great friendships there. And now, Keith is also the (so called) fearless leader of the Pathfinder and Adventurer Club! I know that huge challenges face him in the months ahead, and I can relate to how he must be feeling. But regardless of how smoothly or bumpily things go, I have to say that I’m very proud of him for stepping forward. Here’s to you, Keith!