Blog

Past Informs the Present

Things are not always what they seem. And, for better or for worse, history tends to repeat itself.

I’m a big fan of historical dramas. Namely, stories centered around British royal families. As a certified history and English teacher, I suppose that’s true to form.

Since this pandemic began in March, I’ve gone from watching The White Queen, The White Princess, The Spanish Princess, The Tudors, to now, The Crown.

(With only a slight deviation when watching The Borgias.)

Between watching shows, teaching history, and obsessing over assorted readings about British history, there‘s one major thing I’ve learned: As much as times change, much stays the same. Because human nature is the one constant element in this ongoing experiment.

And, as dictated by human nature, those with power and privilege are often not what they appear to be. Underneath the polished image, there can be greed, corruption, power struggles, deception, and a whole host of other things that distort the character of true leadership. 

Like an apple, what can appear good on the outside might actually be rotten at its core. And sometimes, an ugly or bruised apple can still be added in a recipe that produces the most delicious pie. 

In short, while it may look like someone or something is working for our better interests, look a little harder. Just to be sure.

Because past informs the present. And right now, we can’t afford to forget that.

The Best Laid Plans…

I grew up with a certain, and very specific, plan for my life.

I thought that was what I wanted. You know, college, marriage, house, babies, career success, retirement, travel, grandbabies… I had it ALL laid out.

But then, as they say, life happened. All kinds of plans were thrown out the window.

And, oh, was I panicked. I went through such a period of growing pains in my early 30’s. I’m not gonna lie — going through it was kind of a nightmare.

However, I’m super grateful for it, all the same.

It led me to re-examine my life choices. All of the time I spent making plans and setting down a laundry list of crazy expectations for my life. And I say “crazy” now because, while the plans themselves were relatively realistic, planning decades in advance is legit insane — and not a little bit controlling. Also? To have your whole life planned out in advance is SUPER boring. What if some amazing opportunity comes along that is TOTALLY off the beaten path of your life’s plan? Because you don’t know the outcome, will you avoid taking the risk?

Will you, unknowingly, reject the purpose of your life, just because it’s not “part of the plan”?

I’ve learned that while letting go and embracing the present can be tough — and maybe something many think can’t be done — it’s actually necessary.

COVID-19 is teaching us ALL this, am I right? What plans have been completely altered because of the pandemic?

Circumstances change, people change, and the only thing we can control is our own reaction to these changes. Roll WITH them, and grow FROM them.

Or sink.

As Oprah once said, “Doing the best you can in this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.”

I think that’s all we can really do. Focus on doing our best now, so that our future is set up for success. After all (to throw out yet another cliche), success is where hard work and opportunity meet.

And life is to be enjoyed.

Virtual Road Rage

Before I write about any topics, I want to establish something.

Learning how to effectively communicate matters. And frankly, as a culture, we’re losing it.

There are many factors as to why… social media is, far and away, number one. How many times do we read posts and comments from others that they wouldn’t dare to say in person? As for myself, I usually try to keep it diplomatic on social media, but my comments can sometimes wander into that territory.

It’s kinda like road rage, only the former takes place behind the computer screen, while the latter behind the wheel. Whether you’re honking your horn and throwing up your hands (and perhaps a finger) at another driver, or you’re responding to a post from a “friend” with obvious sarcasm and condescension, you’re communicating something. And it ain’t super productive, except for MAYBE feeling satisfying to the ego in the moment.

But. Who’s lived through a flash of road rage, and then, come to find out that this person, whom you were blowing your top over a couple of minutes ago, is now pulling in right beside you at your place of work? Or at a doctor’s appointment? Your kid’s school?

Oops.

I don’t know about anyone else, but remembering those few moments in time help keep me in line both on the road – and online.

Cause the thing is, communication is far more than just words or actions. Behind the wheel, there are no words and very little human interaction; in the moment, it’s between you and another car. It’s “the car” doing something stupid on the road that could possibly result in an accident. And behind the computer, there are just words on a flat screen – there’s no body language, tone, or facial expression to convey additional meaning. That person could be standing in line at the DMV, sitting on the toilet at work, or (also very likely) sitting with a loved one at the dining room table. Your verbal tete a tete? Barely reality.

So, where am I going with this? Well, I’m going to be writing a lot of things on here. Inevitably, things that people will vehemently disagree with – and that is totally cool. Because listen, effective communication is key to the quality of our lives – in our relationships, in our careers, in our parenting, and ultimately, in our world. I welcome disagreement and, in fact, encourage it!

And yet. While I want to keep it real, I also want to discourage engaging in virtual road rage on here.

[Deep breaths]

Come on. We can do it, you guys.