Sunday, June 26, 2011

Trust is letting go of the need to control all aspects of our lives and letting God take care of the details.

For the non-religious, another version of the quote in the title is:
"Trust is desiring an outcome while giving up control of the process."

As I noted in some other postings, I hit a fairly prolonged period of worry, stress and anxiety recently.   All of the worry, stress and anxiety added up to restlessness, worried thoughts and plenty of sleepless nights.   Fortunately, I've had plenty of support as I worked through this period.  It certainly hasn't been easy by any means and I think I still have a few things to work out.

The one thing I realized that stressed me out was my over worry about a situation and trying to control as many aspects of the situation as I could.   I think most people can relate to this.  When you are worried about something, it's because you feel you don't quite have control over every aspect of the potential outcome.

Coming from a sports background, I think the best example would be a coach worrying about how his particular team will do during a game.  The coach can have his own team practice and prepare for the next game perfectly.  Yet, the coach can't control how each player will actually perform during the game.  The coach can't control how the OTHER team will perform during the game.  That is why in sports, even so called "bad teams" win games too.  Teams with chemistry and talent will prevail the majority of the time over weaker teams.  However, even good teams have bad nights and weaker teams have good nights.  It is a fact of life.

Alas, even though I understand that from a sport perspective, it's been difficult to accept on the particular situation I've been dealing with.  Yet as I as struggled with my stress and trying to come to terms with things, I realized I had to do something about it.  I ultimately decided to put some faith (or trust if you must) into God.  I realized life is too precious too continually worry about future outcomes where there is so much to do TODAY.

I will say that trust and/or faith in life is not easy to come by sometime.  About 14 years ago, while I was in college, I enrolled in a class that was part of a community involvement center program at the school.   As part of the program, we went on a weekend retreat to bond together at a camp.  One of the lessons taught was to trust and have faith in all of us that worked in the program.  The lesson was taught by having people pair off.  One person was to leave the second person.  The catch was the second person was to have their eyes closed.

I remember I had difficulty keeping my eyes closed.  A lot of "What If's" went through my mind.  Yet, after the retreat had concluded, the lesson stuck with me.  I remember thinking that I finally understood the nature of faith in God.  Even though we spend all of waking hours with our eyes open, we are blind to what will happen in the future.  You have to trust and have faith that God will not steer you wrong.   Alas, it has taken me even more year than that to really understand the impact of it all.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sleeping Is NOT Overrated

One of the unfortunate side effects of my stress recently is the lack of sleep.  For a few years now, I usually made do on about 6 to 6 1/2 hours of sleep on weekdays and more on the weekends.  Alas, with the stress around me and my mind all over the place, I had difficult even getting my 6 hours of sleep for the better part of two weeks, even on weekends.

As I've gotten a handle on the stress and settled my mind down a little lately, sleep is slowly getting better though it's inconsistent.   Some nights are ok while some nights are not quite so good.  In reading something online, I think having my sleep disrupted as it did got me to "worrying" about getting to sleep.      If you've ever tried to do anything while feeling pressured, you'll know that it's not easy and sleep is one of these things.    Now that I know what has been going on, I need to step back a bit and be more positive about sleeping rather than worrying.

With all of this, I realized sleep is definitely not overrated, especially when you've been disrupted like I have been.  Alas, I do think there is an interesting learning lesson here.  I've definitely been thrown out of my comfort zone in recent weeks and I've been trying to get back into it.   However,  I realized that if I ever get married and/or have kids, then life will be all about adjustments, including sleep.

These last few weeks have not been easy by any means.  I can't even say I have enjoyed the experience as I have gone through it.  Yet, if I step back a little, the experience is a necessary for me to move on to the next stage of my life.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

I Don't Wanna Grow Up, I'm a Toys R Us Kid......but eventually you have to......

For those of us who grew up in the 1980's, there are plenty of commercial and other catch phrases that we remember:

Wendy's - "Where's The Beef?"
McDonald's - "You Deserve a Break Today"
Grey Poupon Mustard - "Pardon Me, Would You Have Any Grey Poupon?"
Nike - "Just Do It"
Toys R Us - "I Don't Wanna Grow Up, I'm a Toys R Us Kid......."

In the past few weeks, I ran into some personal struggles.  In thinking about those struggles, the first thing that came to my mind was that I was a "Toys R Us Kid".   Read on to see why......

Some of my struggles may have been indirectly due to the following things happening all within the span of a few weeks in April:

Job Lay Off / Pondering the future for jobs / school
Traffic Ticket
Owed IRS Taxes

But most importantly,  I believe the one that had the greatest impact on me was when my mom got Bell's Palsy.  While Bell's Palsy is not a serious thing (fortunately),  my mom was scared and I think it scared me too.  For the first time, I realized that my parents will not always be there.  I think that affected me more than I realized and unintentionally caused myself some undue stress as I pondered an uncertain future.

My recent struggles has woken me up to how much of a comfortable and even maybe sheltered life I have lived.   For all intensive purposes, I have almost been living the "Toys R Us Kid" lifestyle.  I go to work, go have fun and come home with parents around to take care of everything at home.

My recent stress had come with the realization that this lifestyle will not always be there and that eventually I will have to grow up.   In many ways, this is an uncomfortable feeling.   It is very difficult to change how you've lived for so many years.

Fortunately for me, I've had plenty of support as I go through this and it has been suggested that I draw up some daily, short term and long term plans for my future.  I have put together a short list with some immediate things I want to do.  I've begun some of these things and begin the self improvement plan that will eventually change me from a "kid" (figuratively) into a more "mature adult".

As I write this, there is a some sadness in me.  I think it's because it feels like a graduation of sorts.  When we've graduated at every level of school, there is happiness at the accomplishment.  However, there is also sadness as you leave behind the school, friends and other memories of your years.   I am sad because I've enjoyed my life for many years and it's tough to change.  Yet, it is a necessary change that will lead to bigger and better things.

This is definitely an unusual blog post for me but I appreciate people reading.   In many ways, it is a way to let out a bit of the struggles I have been facing in recent weeks.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Adapting To Change

While I can't speak for everyone, I would guess that just about every human being on the planet Earth is a creature of habit in one way or another.  There are dozens of things in our daily lives that we do without thinking.  It might range from brushing our teeth or to how we shoot a basketball.  

However, there are wide differences to different people in how they adapt to changes in their lives, especially when it affects their daily habits and routines.   There changes could be as simple as having to travel to another country or something more involved such as having a new baby in the family.   Some people are very adaptable and adjust to changes without missing a beat.  Some people are very slow and any changes throw them out of sync.  

In thinking about myself recently, I believe I am on the slow end of the scale when it comes to adapting to changes which affect my habits and routines.   While I am not 100% sure why I am like this, a part of the answer lies with why people stick to habits and routines. 

For some, habits and routines bring a sense of comfort and familiarity during stressful times.  With the uncertainty with the economy, jobs and other things in recent years, having something to fall back to is a great benefit to many. 

Alas, for the slow changers like me, getting your habits and routines disrupted can be disconcerting.   I've had that happen before and trying to get back to a normal routing sometimes can be a challenge.  This made me think that I need to open myself more to change and be more adaptable.  

How to do that?  That is the $64,000 question.  If anyone had any answers, let me know!  

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

20 Years / Seasons of Basketball

On a nice sunny evening here in the Bay Area,  my summer basketball team open it's league season tonight with a victory.   Tonight's game signaled a changing of the guard.  A good number of my regular friends and teammates for much of the past 6 years / seasons were all absent.  The majority of the guys who chose not to play are over 30 years old with family obligation so this was understandable.

In the place of my friends were a stable of young bucks.  Tonight we had ten players present with nine out of the ten being under 30 years old.   The only person over 30?  ME!   I originally wasn't going to play as most of my older friends were not playing.  However, at the behest of one of my other teammates (whom I've played with since 2007), I decided to assume "player / coach" duties for the team.

I wasn't planning to play too much (if at all) this season and just remain a coach.  Alas, the opportunity to squeeze in a few minutes proved too much of a temptation tonight.  We were able to get a lead and I felt I could squeeze in a few minutes (about 15 or so) without affecting the outcome of the game too much.  Overall, all the young bucks played about 20 to 25 minutes overall which was good.  I hadn't seen them play much so it was good to get a feel of the team.

By playing in my team's game tonight, I have officially participated in this particular basketball league for 20 years / seasons.  I first played in this league during the Summer of 1992.  In total, I have played in 19 seasons with one season where I didn't play at all due to injury.  I did not realize this until I got home tonight from the game.

In thinking about my participation in this league, I've seen this league grow and play in many different gyms through the years.

My first season in the league, there were only two divisions ("A - Competitive" and "B - Non Competitive") .  The "A" league were primarily men while the "B" league had a mix of men, boys, women and girls.   There were around 20 teams total (10 in each league) in 1992.  As the league grew in the next 20 years, more men's divisions were added ("A - Platinum, "BB - Gold", "B - Silver", "C- Bronze") along with divisions for women and youths.    This season, there is almost 70 total teams.

While the league has grown, it has also played in many different facilities over the years, each with their own quirks and charm.

Salvation Army 1992 to 1994 (SF Chinatown) - The gym was not regulation.  The court had decent length but the 3 point line was cut off in the corners.  Despite the size of the gym, "A" league games were still played in there.  There was plenty of space for fans as well and it made for a great atmosphere for games.  I played in my first CCU championship game here in 1994 (we lost).

Francisco Middle School 1992 to 1994 (SF North Beach) - I don't quite know if the court was high school regulation but it was pretty close.  It was definitely longer and wider than Salvation Army so real basketball could be played.   My best memory from this gym was when one of my then teammates hit a buzzer beating three pointer to win a game for us (45-43).

Cameron House 1994 (SF Chinatown) - Cameron House is a historic place in Chinatown.  On the site of Cameron House, there are a couple of basketball courts, one downstairs and another upstairs.  So while there is technically a ceiling to the lower basketball court,  the court is basically outdoors as there is nothing to seal off the elements (wind / rain / etc).   During 1994, the basketball league was forced to move some games to Cameron House.  It was an interesting experience as there is a staircase exposed plus the court was slippery.

Washington High School 1995 (SF) - We only played one season at Washington and I don't recall anything super memorable from any of the games.   The only challenge in playing at Washington was that the league was playing games side by side on two courts.  Whistles from the other court could stop play on the other court.

Star Of The Sea 1995 (SF) - Like Washington, we only played one season here.  Nothing particularly memorable except it was good to play on a court that I coached and officiated so many CYO games over the years.

Ben Franklin Middle School 1996 - 2004 (SF) - With two courts, Ben Franklin ably served the summer basketball league for 8 years.  As a public middle school, the courts weren't particular well maintained.  The courts weren't high school regulation as well but it was better than Salvation Army.   I have too many memories over the years to easily share here.  I was sad when the summer basketball league was forced to move away from Ben Franklin after the summer of 2004.

El Camino High School 2004 - Present (SSF) - El Camino High is like Ben Franklin with two courts.  However, the courts are high school regulation and well maintained.   This is easily the best facility the league has had in the years I have played.   Again, there are too many memories that I can easily share here.

Lincoln High School 2005 / Holy Trinity Church 2010 - Present (SF) - A couple of other courts that were used that I don't have a lot of experience with.  But the courts are regulation and the facilities are very nice.

Overall, the past 20 years / seasons have certainly gone by fast.  I certainly did not remember it was my 20th year when I arrived at the gym tonight  I don't know what the future holds for me in terms of playing in this particular basketball league.   However, I am certainly thankful and grateful to my friends and other teammates that have allowed me to play with them over the years.  Win or lose, it has always been fun.  Here's to 20 more years!!!!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Appreciating My Friends

I won't elaborate too much right now but I had a rough week last week.  A few of my friends know what happened to me but I don't feel ready to share with the public quite yet.  I'm still trying to figure things out on my end as well.

However, I do feel I owe a shout out to a few of my friends who know they are.  These friends listened me to talk about my issue, offered suggestions and were there for me when I needed reassurance.