Harvesting My Own Crops: A lesson is being grateful

Two days ago, I went to the grocery store. Not just any grocery store, I went to the busy one at 11:30 AM on a Sunday morning.

The store was packed. Aisles were hard to navigate, and the scene was like something out of a pile up on the freeway. Some carts were pulled over on the side trying to find something, while others darted through small breaks to speed to the next lane. Our turn signals didn’t work, neither did the brake lights and you could sense that tension in the air around every corner, and there were a few small collisions.

As I approached the registers, it was quite a sight. Every register was open, and there was a line of at least four carts in every line. Behind the carts was a massive group of additional carts trying to figure out which line to join, and how to navigate from the group to an individual line.

The manager made an announcement.

“We know that today is busy, but please turn your carts to the side because the lines are so long, we need additional space in the front of the store.”

It was at this moment, I began to observe everyone around me. I slowed down and just began to watch. I also noted the time on my cell phone.

Frowns, swears, and grumbling.

Angrily moving carts to the side.

Hands being thrown up in the air.

Then the voices began to chime in.

“I can’t believe that everyone is shopping today, there is no need for this, you would think we are having a snow storm!”

“Why do we have to turn out carts to the side? I don’t need this!”

My cart eventually found its way from the group to a line, and it slowly edged toward the belt. I loaded my groceries and kept looking around. The bagger was working furiously to keep this line moving and asked the person in front of me if they wanted some larger item bagged or just placed in the cart.

“Just put it in a bag, this would go faster if you didn’t ask such questions!”

They looked towards me for some sort of approval of their statement. I didn’t.

When I arrived at the register, the cashiers were changing shifts. They both looked at me through weary eyes and kept apologizing for the wait. The bagger looked tired as well.

I paused, looked at them all and then something came out of my mouth that I think surprised all of them.

“I just want to thank all of you for working so hard to help us get our groceries today.”

I looked at the assortment of items on the belt, and suddenly I understood what an amazing time it is to be alive. I saw bread, various meats, eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables, and some berries.

“I mean it, think of all the time your little team here has saved me. I didn’t have to harvest my own crops, grind my own grains, bake this bread, tend to my garden, raise a bunch of chickens, cows and pigs. I really should be thanking you for saving me so much time, I can go home and simply watch TV all afternoon if I want. So THANK YOU.”

Smiles appeared on those weary faces. The bagger seemed to stand more upright and kept smiling as they placed items in my bags, and asked me about larger items.

The mood changed. The actual situation didn’t change. The lines were still long, but the perspective changed.

Instead of being angry, I chose being grateful.

Instead of complaining, I chose to say thanks.

As I made my way out to the car, I checked the time again. It had been 17 minutes. Just 17 minutes to accomplish what it would have taken my great, great, great, great grandparents weeks of labor to create. Those grandparents would have never imagined fresh berries and fruit in the winter, or bread you simply grab from the shelf, or the leisure time that I am now afforded.

Where can you choose to be grateful? Where can you thank those around you?

“I am good as possible”

I live in New Hampshire. With the exception of my time in the Navy and a few years of grad school, I have lived here my whole life.

Every winter, it snows here…a lot. The world slows down, and we tend to hibernate and stay inside more.

I have a confession: I never learned to ski.

Combine this fact with the fact that I agreed to chaperone my daughter’s ski club helped prompt me to do something that I have been meaning to do for years: learn to ski.

At 44 years old, I decided to stop putting this off and start taking a lesson (the Sunday before a Wednesday ski club). Despite my initial fear, of falling and/or making a fool of myself, the lesson went well and I had enough skills to chaperone. Enough skills to get by. I stared to wonder if I needed additional lessons.

I told this story to a friend. This friend had a story for me. Years ago when their young child was learning to ski, their family would spend days on the slopes. Most of the day was spent in lessons, and occasionally they would “free ski” afterwards. Their child had good skills and some natural talent for skiing and could out-ski most of their peers. The lessons continued.

After lunch, most of the family was going to ski the slopes and the young child had to return to their lesson. The child wanted to ski with the rest of the family, but the lesson continued in the afternoon. A meltdown ensued with this youngster trying to find a reason why they didn’t need to continue the lesson.

“I don’t need another lesson. I am good as possible!” they screamed.

We laughed at the story, but those words remained. “I am good as possible.”

How often do we think we are good enough at something and fail to continue to learn and challenge ourselves? When does “good enough” satisfy us so that we stop refining our skills? Lessons can be boring, especially when compared to skiing down the slopes.

For me, I decided to continue with the lessons. But this story and those words caused me to look to at my own life to see where I have shouted “I am good as possible” instead of realizing that I could improve with just a few more lessons.

Learning to Ski

P.S. For anyone who thinks they are too old, tired, experienced, afraid, (insert word here) to try something new, my instructor told me about a 78 year-old grandfather who decided to learn to snowboard so he could go down the slopes at least once with his grandchildren. And he did!

100 Blog Posts…100 Lessons

This is it, my 100th Blog Entry.  A friend suggested that I write about what I learned over the past year (and a few months) when I reach this milestone.  These are the lessons I learned along the way.

1.  Some days blogging is hard.

2.  Some days blogging is easy.

3.  Writing is much different from presenting or speaking.

4.  Writer’s block stinks.

5.  Writing takes discipline.

6.  Discipline is not my favorite thing.

7.  Blogging connects you to the world.

8.  Blogs encourage other people to write.

9.  Keep reading and learning.

10.  Kids provide a lot of material.

11.  Work provides a lot of material.

12.  Life provides a lot of material.

13.  Be open about your own failures.

14.  Write about when you fail.

15.  Write about when you succeed.

16.  Remember that not everyone in the world reads your blog.

17.  Remember that not everyone in your own circles reads your blog.

18.  Try to write at least once a week.

19.  Don’t beat yourself up when you don’t write.

20.  Your followers are important.

21.  The number of followers is not important.

22.  Be vulnerable.

23.  Read other people’s blogs.

24.  When you have an idea for a blog, write it down, or make a voice recording in your phone.  If you don’t, you will forget.

25.  Find a time and place to write that doesn’t distract you.

26.  Find a great editor.

27.  My wife is a great editor.

28.  Don’t expect your editor to edit at the last-minute just because you want to get your blog posted.

29.  The titles of your blogs matter.

30.  Don’t be obsessed with checking the stats counter.

31.  Some people find your blog by accident.

32.  Some people try hard to become a blog entry.

33.  Some people are horrified at the thought of becoming a blog entry.

34.  First, do no harm.

35.  Your stories are your perspective, not absolute truth.

36.  Think.

37.  Think before you write.

38.  Read your posts before you hit the publish button.

39.  Save often.

40.  Don’t be snarky.

41.  The posts you wrestle with the most, resonate with most.

42.  Write about what you need to change in yourself.

43.  Sarcasm is not your friend.

44.  Humor works, but not at the expense of others.

45.  Suggest, don’t direct.

46.  If you get a ton of hits in one day, it is because they are looking for something or someone else.

47.  Take the risk.

48.  Be yourself.

49.  Respond to comments.

50.  This is halfway through the list of 100 Lessons.

51.  Don’t be frustrated when it doesn’t save, the next draft will be even better.

52.  Don’t place limits on yourself.

53.  Use spell check.

54.  Observe life.

55.  Follow through is important.

56.  Don’t be afraid.

57.  When you re-post something, like a Ted.com talk, some people consider that cheating.

58.  When all else fails, re-post something.

59.  When you are stuck, try a survey.

60.  Try to leave this world a better place.

61.  You are creative.

62.  Be creative.

63.  Share your gifts.

64.  Your Narrator will fight against you when you write.

65.  It is fun/scary when your kids read your blog.

66.  It is fun/scary when your parents read your blog.

67.  Helping just one person on their journey is worth it.

68.  Don’t rant.

69.  Only make a list of 100 things once (it is harder than you thought).

70.  Be humble.

71.  Set yearly goals.

72.  Be accountable.

73.  Connect with other people in real life.

74.  Don’t be upset that your most popular post was not about you.

75.  Listen to other people’s story.

76.  Sometimes great story’s will find you.

77.  Be the hero in someone’s story.

78.  Fame and importance are not the same thing.

79.  Be important.

80.  Try to be better in your actual life.

81.  Be thankful.

82.  Dream big.

83.  Brace for failure.

84.  Get back up.

85.  Remind yourself that you are okay.

86.  Remain teachable.

87.  Coffee helps…but not too much.

88.  Bounce ideas off others.

89.  Don’t take criticism too personally.

90.  Find your voice.

91.  Help others.

92.  Tell your story.

93.  Try.

94.  Try again.

95.  You will get better the more you write.

96.  You will make an impact.

97.  You cannot make an impact by keeping your thoughts inside.

98.  Don’t give up.

99.  Know yourself.

100.  Keep trying to Change the World!