March 21, 2015: Perspective

View on my drive to our morning run
Today was an ordinary day in Omaha. Amen to that. I have missed my sleepy, but satisfying days aglow with Midwestern pleasantries.

I now sit in my art room sipping on a Leinenkugel's Grapefruit Shandy as Nat King Cole croons to me from the spinning vinyl. Windows are cracked with the sound of boys playing basketball as background noise coming from the front drive. Basketball also plays on the big screen in the living room with a big and a not-so-big boy tracking their brackets.

With bellies full of a take out meal of wings and chicken baskets, my two oldest have set off with friends to enjoy a Saturday spring night. Life continues to hum for us in Omaha. Home.

I began my day with a run through Boy's Town with my running gal pals. Our routine of coffee complimented with shared bananas and peanut butter followed. This same routine with a varying cast of characters has gone on at the same spot for over ten years. Some years it has been a weekly occurrence. This year, we catch these times when we can. Needless to say, my slow pace mirrors my lack of consistent running.

This weekend I have had the added blessings of Ben home from college, Zach home from Denver, and my step-son visiting us for the weekend. The house is bustling with energy, happiness, and activity. The animals aren't quite sure what to think. They had accepted a retired existence with Grant as an only.

It is now 9:29 p.m. and we have successfully accomplished a day filled with a run, a bike ride (with wipe out), a first high school soccer game, fishing with friends, countless errands, many pick-up basketball games, and a sunny drive from Downtown Omaha after enjoying the best burger in Omaha.

Yes, after a 25 year tenure as an Omaha resident, I have finally eaten the burger proclaimed as 'the best' per the signage facing the busy Interstate. I have heard about Dinker's and driven by it hundreds of times, but have never taste-tested their prize menu item.

Today I took my Colorado husband and Colorado step-son to give it a try. We all agreed. It was very good. I would also agree that it's the best I've had in Omaha. And the atmosphere of the dive bar was divine. A nice little adventure to our laid-back day.

Life has been hectic as of late. Very busy as we work to a 7/6/15 open date for Think Whole Person Healthcare. Although sleep is lacking and spare time, virtually non-existent, work is fulfilling. Our team works with passion and diligence in our shared quest to bring to patients and healthcare the experience they deserve when we open our doors.

Perspective is what keeps us sane and on track.

The end goal is always at the forefront of our thought process. And our personal lives need to avoid neglect. A balance difficult to achieve, but attainable if we continuously work to keep our perspective.

It is perfectly normal for me to go from corporate board meetings and large financial decision-making to worrying about feeding my pets at home and time management for a grocery stop. With many deep breaths, I try to enjoy every minute of being a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend. Although lacking in time, I don't lack in desire to fill each role simultaneously. Far from perfect, I do my best. This perspective keeps me both happy and sane.

I will end my blog today with a short story. If you were to ask me to name the best thing that happened to me this week, it would be this little encounter. A Godwink. After a busy day, it provided me with clarity on life and the definition of importance.

My story begins with my mind drowning in pending deadlines and high stakes decisions. 125 e-mails grew in my in-box throughout the day and were awaiting my reply. Voice mails accumulated during meetings and a hungry 14 year-old sat at home waiting for my arrival.

Life was not only humming in my conscience, it was screaming in my ear.

Determined to prepare a much needed home-cooked meal, I hustled into Baker's grocery store for a quick purchase of grilling essentials. Successfully filling a small cart with my mental grocery list, I made it to check-out in record time.

For those who haven't shopped at Baker's, let me share that this grocery chain has a long history of employing special-needs employees for bagging and carting duties. As I frequent this grocery store, I recognize the mainstay of employees who have served these roles for years. Then there is a flow of employees who I only see for short periods of time.

A friend of mine with a Down's Syndrome son once shared with me the specifics on Baker's special work force. The grocery chain works with the school systems in training high school special-needs graduates through short work internships. Some are short-lived stints to give a work experience and others turn into full-time employment.

My friend's son spent a few weeks working at the grocery chain. Although a scary experience at times to the young man who rarely was outside his comfort zone of home or school, it was ultimately very fulfilling for him to learn to work independently.

On this particular Monday night, a familiar face bagged my groceries. He made small talk like a pro while I buried my head in my iPhone, multi-tasking in an effort to knock out some e-mails. And then an unfamiliar face joined in the bagging duties.

"I hurt my ankle," was the statement from this Down's young man. His statement came out as a sad whine. The regular special-needs worker was a bit dismissive to his co-worker. Although nice in his tone, he was firm in telling boy #2 that bagging groceries was real business, trying to convince him to get back to work.

Still buried in my phone, I smiled to myself as I listened to their cute exchange. The dialogue continued until boy #2 gave up on garnering sympathy from his co-worker and turned his efforts to me.

"I hurt my ankle."

This time I knew his eyes were firmly focused on me alone. I put my phone away and listened. He went on to answer my inquiries on the events that led up to the injury, explaining that he twisted it and that it hurt bad.

At that moment in time, I looked into his sweet eyes and knew this young man, with the innocence of a child, needed a mother. And I gave him just that. I listened and offered motherly advice of not putting too much weight on the noted ankle. I further offered to take my own groceries out while he rested.

He listened and nodded his head while continually reminding me that his ankle hurt. I gave him a little sympathetic pat, telling him that it was okay to tell the manager if it kept hurting. With this final statement, he seemed eased. So I smiled and pushed my cart to the door.

Behind me I heard a final plea, but it was not what I expected.

"Will you pray for me?"

An innocent request from a child of God. My heart melted.

"Yes, of course I'll pray for you."

My injured grocery-bagger grinned from ear to ear. His hurt ankle seemed to be a distant memory.

Unknowingly, this fine young man just gave me the most subtle, yet important, reminder of what really matters in how we carry ourselves in life. The time I needed to give to him was just as important as the deadlines looming on my calendar.

God always sends us reminders of our life mission, both long-term and during the rhythm of our ordinary days. But we can only hear them if we keep our hearts and minds open for the moments.

I'm glad I chose to look away from the chaos on my phone last Monday night. The lesson learned was a Godwink. Amen to that.


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