Family Reunions – Chill or Thrill?

Soon I willing be heading off to Ocean Shores, WA., where my sister, Penny has a place.  She has plotted and created a family reunion of no small sort.  We have family from Alaska, Phoenix, Virginia, Florida and Montana (I am certain I have missed a few places as well)– all making their way to Ocean Shores – where apparently there is also a major motorcycle event happening as well .  Sounds a bit wild to me.  Family!

I believe I may have been to one other family reunion when I was much younger, my mother’s family.  At that time my grandparents were still alive and we went to someone’s cabin or house up in the mountains of Virginia.  There were probably 30 or 40 folks there including cousins and everyone.  I think it was fun, though I was little and mostly running around playing outside.

 Now close to fifty years later, I am going to another family reunion of my mother’s side, this time her siblings and my cousins and their kids.  I find myself a touch nervous.  One, because some of the folks I haven’t ever met.  Though that doesn’t bother me too much, I like meeting new folks.  No, I think I am nervous because some of these folks I haven’t seen since childhood.  Our lives went in very different directions.  I believe there was at least one other reunion a while back – but I wasn’t there.  So some of these folks I have some vague story of mine own making about who they are and what they are like and it’s all from the past and not much else. 

Actually one of my cousins I have been following on Facebook.  Now that has been kind of cool.  She lives in Alaska and seems to have a great family.  So I am excited to meet her in person.  I am equally curious about others.  It was so long ago and I know I am very different than I was back then.  Or am I?

Back then I was the family jock. Played tennis, basketball field hockey – pretty much any sport that let girls play.  Today I bike, hike, play golf and still enjoy any sport this older body can play.  May be I am not as competitive, though I imagine my sister might disagree.  I still consider myself a bit of an odd duck and I was back then as well.

Part of me wants to be closer to normal this weekend.  I find myself trying to find cute clothes and wonder what I could bring along that would let people see a window into this life I love.  CrisMarie isn’t able to make it, so one of my best assets and some might even say, a calming, stabilizing factor, won’t be by my side.  No wonder I’m nervous. 

Our family has had it’s differences over the years.  We see the past very differently.  As long as we don’t talk too much about that, we get along quite well.  We all seem to have found partners, jobs and hobbies that have inspired and called each of us towards lives that we love.  I guess I assume most families are like that. 

Still sometimes something comes up and we get ourselves into trouble trying to sort through the various stories and land on some type of truth.  I guess that is my biggest fear.  Basically a family reunion sort of invites looking back.  Myself, I am more interested in now.  Not so much how we got from there to here, but who we each are now.  I am hoping others will agree and we can enjoy the similarities and the differences – without having to settle on any truths.

 Now that is the type of reunion that sounds quite cool.  I will let you know how it goes!  I guess if the family reunion isn’t quite to my liking, I have always had a desire to be a biker – so who knows, I could maybe join a different crowd as break. 

 I sort see the weekend as a chance to see how I’ve grown – if I’ve grown.  Interestingly, the weekend after this reunion, my other family of sorts, The Haven Institute up on Gabriola, is having their 30th anniversary.  I am hoping to make that as well.  Ah Family – Reunions – Anniversaries  – such a rich, fertile opportunity for growth – be it a chill or a thrill!


Living with the “Ouch”

Summer in Montana is awesome!!  Yes, it has finally stopped raining and the sun is a consistent part of the day!!  However, that wasn’t the intended storyline for this post.

No, what I wanted to write about was the challenge of standing forth.  In the past week, we have finally launched out new website, www., became finalist for a speaking event which now involves others voting and we stepped in for the running for another event and did not get picked.  I find myself feeling a bit like I did in elementary school at recess when teams were being picked.  “Pick me, Pick me!”  I imagine there are folks out there that really don’t doubt themselves.  If that’s you, I am sure this post isn’t going to hold your interest.

I pick you, I don't pick you
I pick you, I don’t pick you

Me – I doubt myself.  Though I can and have many times boldly stepped onto the stage and a number of times been knocked right back down.  In fifth grade I ran for president of student council.  I lost horribly even my teacher felt badly for me.  Still I had stepped up.  That’s sort of what I tell myself whenever I get knocked down.  I love the line, “It’s not how you fall, but how you rise that counts!”  However, the part I don’t often acknowledge is the part that feels the pain.  The sting that comes when I don’t get picked.

It’s true spending too much time there is not helpful.  However, not even taking a moment to say – “ouch” – well that has a cost as well.

I wonder how others deal with rejection.  Like I said, I tend to give myself a pep talk and move on.  I am getting better at providing some extra time for the part of me that needs to say’ “ouch” and cry.  (I hate crying – but most admit I do! – please don’t tell anyone).

I am a true believer in feedback – all kinds of feedback. Now having said that, I am also someone who reads the negative stuff more than once and can get stuck there.  I do my best to take the pieces that fit and integrate the information into the bigger picture.  Sometimes that works and sometimes all I see is the red lines in the edited story, the negative comments from the survey monkey or that someone thought I was too loud, angry or reactive.  (yes, I do have my favorites – those words I see or hear amplified – even though they are rarely any louder than any other comment)

I am learning that toughing it out and pretending none of that stuff bothers me is not so effective.  Usually, if I give that part of me that doubts and feels hurt or sad a bit of space to cry or pull in, I am quicker to come back, quicker to step back up for the next opportunity.

My mentor, Ben Wong, one of the founders of The Haven Institute, once told me, “Don’t wait for the fear or pain to pass, find one person who knows you are scared and understands the pain, then step out on the stage and lead.”  I know those words have taken me to many places and stages.  I do know I have that someone in my corner.  Still I was hoping as I got older some of that doubt, fear and pain would ease up.  HA!!!  However, as I step out further and continue to speak my truth and use my voice, I have yet to overcome that inner self-doubt.  No, it doesn’t stop me, but sometimes I do get griped by how strong those voices can scream.

Again, I would love to hear from others.  How do you deal with those moments when your confidence is shaken?  Let me know.  I am committed to standing forth and I also want resources for those moments when everything in me wants to run away and hide!