Monday, September 9, 2013

Go for the Gap

I run almost every morning. It's something that my family and neighbors have come to expect. That's how I came up with the name of this blog. If the kids get up in the morning, and I'm not home, they don't even wonder where I am. They just know, "Mom's running." I want them to see me taking care of myself physically, but that's not the only reason I run. To me, my morning run is my morning devotional. I listen to podcasts, devotionals, conference talks, lessons, audiobooks, and anything else that I feel drawn to that day. This morning I listened to the most recent BYU-I devotional, The Promise of Renewal, given by Kari Archibald. She told a great story that caused a shift in my mindset, and I've been thinking about it ever since:

"Some years ago, I took professional development leave to help do research for the Department of Conservation in New Zealand. My husband and our three teenagers set out on a grand three month adventure in the Southern Hemisphere. In New Zealand, drivers drive on the other side of the road. When we had purchased a minivan for our family, I asked a New Zealand friend to ride with me as I got used to driving on the left side of the road. We started out on some quiet residential streets, and a little busier road with some oncoming traffic. All went well. But then we came to a two-lane roundabout. Yikes. All the lanes were full, traffic was traveling fast and coming from four different directions into the roundabout in what seemed to me to be the wrong direction. I froze. Traffic began to back up behind me. I just couldn't see how I could get into the roundabout. I just saw cars and cars and cars coming at me fast. My friend encouragingly and cheerfully said, 'Go for the gap, Kari. Go for the gap.' I started looking for a gap instead of cars. I saw a gap, and away I went. That expression has become somewhat of a philosophy of life for me now. When I see perceived obstacles in front of me, I take a deep breath, look for the gap, and try to take action. A resilient person looks for opportunities, not obstacles."

When I heard Sister Archibald's thoughts, I started thinking about all the things I want to do and all the obstacles that seem to stop me from doing them. I want to study the scriptures more. I want to work out more or more effectively. I want to be a better mom and do everything right all the time. I know that's a bit much, but you get the idea. What stops me from doing these things? Obstacles. Never enough time, attention span, patience, skills, and the fact that I'm human. That's probably my biggest obstacle. I know that through the grace of my Savior, my efforts are enough as long as I'm on the path and moving forward. (This is a whole other discussion, and a very beautiful one.) But sometimes I still sit frozen at the sight of these obstacles and don't know how to move forward. Maybe I can start to see the gaps instead of the traffic: the opportunities that I am given each day to jump in and do good things. I'm sure I'll still fall short, but I want to think this way from now on.

Those are my thoughts about the daily roundabouts I face. But, I'm at a point right now in my life where I am sitting at the entrance of a bigger roundabout, waiting and hoping for a break in traffic that I might enter and move forward in my career. Problem is, traffic doesn't stop. Obstacles don't stop being there. I am guilty of being sucked into the line of thinking that says, "This is it. You can't move forward. There are too many problems to overcome, and you will never make it." What are my obstacles to employment? 1) There are few jobs available in this area, and I am not willing to relocate. 2) I have little work experience outside the home. 3) The health/fitness/nutrition industry is a competitive field, and I don't necessarily agree with some of the commonly accepted practices. 4) Family absolutely comes first, and it is difficult to figure out how to balance family and work, so I almost give up before I begin. 5) I am older than most entering the field, and no matter what anyone says about "it's never too late", that is still an obstacle to overcome that no amount of inspirational quotes can quash.

All of these obstacles are real and have to be addressed. But, maybe I can change my focus from the obstacles to the gaps, or opportunities. I know they have to be there. I have honestly tried to follow my heart in my studies. I've worked diligently to prepare myself for a career in this field while striving to put my Heavenly Father, family and church before school, in that order. It's not like I didn't have obstacles along the way while I was going to school and completing my internship, and I made it through those. I hope and pray I can figure out where my path will lead from here, and I think looking for the gaps will be a key tool in helping me do just that.

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