Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lessons Learned: HR BBBS Amazing Little Race

2011 ALR Planning Committee (Hampton Teen Center)

Yesterday was the Hampton Roads Big Brothers Big Sisters "Amazing Little Race," as I'm sure many of you know because I've been spouting off about it constantly. LOL  It was a long day.  It was a GREAT day.  It was a bittersweet day.  I've enjoyed the planning process and working with the people that I have immensely, but it was also nice to see it all come together.  At some point during the final celebration last night my Operations Committee Co-Chair, Meisha, looked over at me and said just one word: "fruition."  That said it all.  Months and months of hard work and dedication to this event and to this wonderful organization that builds future generations with the wisdom and love of the current generation had finally culminated into something we could all be proud of.  Did everything go exactly as planned, and was the event quite as big as we'd initially imagined?  No.  However, it was bigger than any event most of us had ever dreamed of planning, and in almost every way it was still successful in its own right.

As often happens with these big events, the organization will soon have a final meeting regarding what went right, what went wrong, whether the event should be ongoing in the future, and what changes should be made if it does.  In thinking about my involvement, I think it's necessary for me to do the exact same thing now. I need to analyze the positive and negative aspects of my involvement and see if I think I should participate next year (if it happens) and if so, what changes need to be made. goes:

The Good
  1. I met some absolutely amazing people during this process.  We've used the word "amazing" so much in the past few months, that it's almost become passe.  Just a moment ago I tried to use an online thesaurus to come up with a different word, since this seems to be the only one my brain will spit out right now, but I just couldn't change it.  Yes, we've used the word a lot, but it is so fitting for these individuals.  It has been SUCH a pleasure to learn with them and from them, that I will call them "amazing" forever. 
  2. Not that everyone doesn't already know this, but giving back feels SO good.  Many who give their time and efforts to causes such as this know exactly what I'm talking about.  For me, it simply solidified what I already know to be true.  I love being part of something larger than myself that gives back to the community and will survive long after me.  Simple, but true.
  3. This next thing is a little hard for me to say, and it makes me squirm a bit to admit it, but if I'm going to be honest, I might as well go all the way: I like being a leader, and I feel like I'm good at it.  Ugh...that sounds a little egotistical right?  I really don't mean for it to be.  I just feel like I'm in my element in leadership positions...not necessarily in the corporate sense, as much as in the community sense.  I was the Operations Committee Co-Chair for this event, and the Site Coordinator for two of the venues (Great Wolf Lodge and the Virginia Air and Space Center).  I like being positive and trying to pull positive out of people.  I know some people think my energy is a little over-the-top, and I completely understand that, but I also feel like it gives other people energy they may have needed.  This part is just hard for me to we'll just leave it at the fact that I think God is building me for a leadership project at some point and I look forward to Him using me for that, as long as it's His will and not my own.
  4. I like projects.  I like beginning, middle, and end.  I like "fruition."  Once again, I like projects.  This is why my "real job" feels so overwhelming at times...not because it's too hard, but because there's no beginning, middle, and end.  Instead, it's just an endless flow of paperwork: no middle, no end, no fruition, just pecking away at infinity.  I like my company.  I appreciate what they have done for me.  I need and appreciate my job very much, but at some point, something is going to have to give, I think.  As always, I'm constantly praying for guidance about it.
  5. The HUGENESS of this project gave me the ability to see some of my faults and the negatives, and see where I need to get a grip on my priorities.  This is a big positive because if we are not able to see our mistakes, then we are not able to correct them.  Sometimes it takes something BIG to highlight these mistakes because in the world's eyes, they may not look like mistakes at all.
The Bad

Only one, but it's a doozie:  In the process of preparing for this event I lost focus on just about everything: God, family, work, school, house, relationship, and health.

Well, okay, it wasn't really the event's fault.  It's not like I dropped EVERYTHING to concentrate on the ALR and everything else got put to the side (as a matter of fact, there are many ways in which I feel the event, itself, did not get the focus it deserved from me).  It's not like I was juggling 9 things and dropped all of them to just play with this 1.  Instead, it was more like I was juggling 9 things and added 1 more.  With 9 I was struggling, and adding 1 made things a lot messier.  Here's the deal though, you wouldn't know that unless I told you because on the surface everything is fine.  I still went to church and prayed.  My kids are still fed and alive.  My work still got done.  I still have A's in my classes.  My house is a mess, but none of you will see that because it's easy enough to hide if you don't have people over and I'm about to clean it.  My relationship with Josiah is still AWESOME because he's just wonderful and stuck by me and my unfocused self the whole dang time.  My health...well, yeah, I got sick as a dog this week, but a lot of people have been sick right? 

Yeah...not so much.  I still prayed and went to church most of the time and the kids still went to Awanas, but I still feel the slight disconnect from God internally.  My kids are fine, but they could definitely use my focus on them right now, too.  My work got done, but with less mental mishmash and less need to go here, there, and everywhere for the event, I probably could have gotten a lot more done.  I still have A's, but I haven't dedicated the time I should have to REALLY learning what I'm studying, and that's just a waste of an education.  The house just should NOT be this messy.  It's not good.  Also, taking on so much made me sick.  I always get sick when I decide I can take on the world.  It's like my body is insistent on making me hit a wall to slow me down.  The last one (relationship)  needs its own paragraph, and yes, I know I'm writing a book, but this is what's going on in my head folks.  Sorry. LOL

My relationship with Josiah is still strong because of HIS undaunted dedication to me, which luckily, is completely and totally out of my hands.  The man has spent his last two Saturdays off completely dedicated to helping out with the ALR because he knew that's what he would have to do if he wanted to spend time with me.  He was right next to me every step of the way, there whenever I needed him.  He drove for me, made sure I ate, made sure I had what I needed, and helped wherever he saw anyone had need.  I cannot possibly express my gratitude.  What compounds that appreciation exponentially is that he didn't agree with me taking this on to begin with.  He knew I was overextending myself.  He knew I was taking on too much and he cautioned me against it.  However, once I dedicated myself to it, he continued to dedicate himself to me, and he helped me through it in every way anyway.  As Janet Sellers from NASA said yesterday, "He's a keeper." LOL  I know in the future I need to make sure I prayerfully consider his guidance instead of refuting it right away because I wanna do what I wanna do.

It all goes back to what Susan (Josiah's mom) has been trying to tell me since she met me...doing good things can be bad if your priorities aren't straight AND when the world thinks we look the best is probably when we're heading for our worst.  A really good Biblical of this is Solomon and his massive building projects in Jersusalem.  He started out with wonderful intentions, but he lost focus on God and His instruction and, therefore, the kingdom of Israel that David united began to fall apart (see...I learned SOMETHING from the Bible class I'm taking).

Will I participate again?

This has been such a hard question for me.  How do you eliminate something from your life that you feel driven to do, yet falls much lower on the list of priorities than the things I already mentioned.  Answer: you pray.  I don't know if I'll be able to participate next year.  I think I probably will on some level, but maybe just not the level that I did this year.  Maybe I'll participate more.  We'll see.  It's hard not to want to, and even Josiah was talking about "next year's event" by the end of the day yesterday.  It's hard not to let the enthusiasm of this group infect you.  I'm going to pray, seek God's guidance, and seek the guidance of the wise people around me who love me and ALSO pray about it.  "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed" (Proverbs 15:22).  I'm going to see what doors God opens and which he closes because more and more each day I see that His will in my life is what I should be seeking, and if I do that, joy is sure to follow because in hardship and happiness I will know He is working in my life. 

The participants ready to start the race! (Great Wolf Lodge)

Aaaaand they're off!

Elizabeth Chisolm, CEO of HR BBBS (aka my "sista from anotha motha" LOL) and I giving a Big Sister and her Little medals with the help of Hampton's Vice Mayor, George Wallace (way left) and Les Kayanan (way right).  All the participants received medals, and the top three teams received trophies. 

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