Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Father

Big Al.

That's my Dad; Perhaps the most amazing and intriguing man to ever walk the face of the Earth. He is my hero and yet I am scared to death of him..... or, at least, I was....

I can remember as a little girl Dad and I used to play this game. He would lie on his back on the floor and lift his legs to the ceiling and, like a little monkey on a tree, I would crawl and climb and clammer my way up to his feet. I would prop my wee little tootsies right on the soles of his behemoth feet and, balancing ever so carefully, stand as tall as I could hands reached to the sky in victory. Perched on the solid foundation of the most powerful creature I knew, I would sing and dance and strike a pose. I would attempt balancing acts that were humanly impossible knowing that if I even teetered, the soft net of my father would protect me from any harm. By his mere presence, my father empowered me to tempt fate, challenge the possibilities, and fearlessly endeavor to conquer the impossible. At 4 yrs old, I knew I could do anything cause Big Al was right there pushing me towards new heights.

My Dad can do anything, fix anything, he knows just about everything and he sees things when everyone else is standing in blackness. Of course, I didn't realize all of that until recently..... sigh.... He is a big guy, towering over pretty much everyone he ever meets, with a face that is stoic and firm. His lips are set in a line and his posture is erect. Mammoth hands and naturally strong arms warn you that he means business and that only a fool would dare cross him. Sometimes, you might wonder if he is imagining just how to crush you. Until he smiles, that is. And then, his eyes twinkle and and his skin crinkles and you suddenly realize how much pleasure he gets out of intimidating the crap out of people. Dad taught me to shoot a gun and to swim. He taught me to fish and ride a bike. He came to every soccer game he could possibly make, even the freezing cold ones. Once, I guess I was maybe 6 yrs old, he snapped the neck of a dove right in front of me. He offered no apology, just the simple explanation that it was better for the bird. Come to think of it, Dad never offered any apologies for any of life's hard lessons. Why be sorry to learn a lesson? And in fact, you might as well learn it sooner than later in his mind.

Twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays, Dad and I workout together. I can honestly say, that these two hours have become the most precious moments in my week. We rarely talk about anything important but we talk about everything, even when we don't talk. We explore the people we have become and share the thoughts and opinions that shape our choices. I would love to know my dad better. He fascinates me and I feel like if we were ever to sit and tell the stories of our lives, the unedited version, the true and real nitty gritty of our experiences, we would find that we have so much in common it is scary. I would love to hear Dad's stories of love and loss. I would like to hear about the unmentionables and the secret thoughts, regrets, desires and dreams that float around in the cloud of his life. I am pretty sure Dad never envisioned having children and settling into the life that he lived. But, what did he see? What did he want to do that he didn't? And, possibly most importantly, how did he reconcile those two worlds and become the man he is today?

I doubt we will ever have these conversations and that's ok. You see, I can see the acceptance in Dad's eyes. I can see that from the moment we first battled each other in the Clash of the Titans, he knew. He knew I wasn't destined for the life and mold I continued to try to fit into time and time again. He knew my road was going to be hard as hell and I would have to be tougher than the average person to overcome the status quo and have the courage to embrace my life. My father imprinted me from the first time he challenged me to do something I didn't want to. He stared into my stubbornness and begged me to match his intensity. My father poured a lot of love into me. But from the first time I made the journey to the top of his feet and stood victorious, he gave me something else. He gave me the knowledge that more than anyone else in the world he was FOR me and no matter how many times I toppled, I could always climb back to the top. And no matter how hard the climb to the top might seem, he'd be right there, the firm and steadfast foundation he has always been.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

True Knowledge in a world of Information....

I love information. I enjoyed school and I still enjoy school, probably more than I should admit actually. For me, knowledge is power and I seek it relentlessly with classes, certifications, trainings, books, anything. But, in this 29th year of my life, I have come to realize that perhaps I hold knowledge up on too high a pedestal. You see, as I have become more and more educated I find that maybe I am a bit "cocky"... no that's not the right word.... I find that when I share information with others, even though it makes me feel good to help them, I feel like I should just give myself a big ole pat on the back. "Good job Becca! Way to help that person out! Boy, you are one smart cookie!" Aaaah, but how easy that is when you never challenge yourself and purposely enter a situation where you are, the LEAST knowledgeable person. What a perfect challenge for someone who holds her smarts so dear....

December's Challenge: Sign up for a course in Manual Therapy.

This might not seem so hard to some people but for me, it was. I was signing up for an advanced class and would be in the room with people who had been doing bodywork for YEARS. I have never ever given a massage, much less gone to massage school. Sure, I know anatomy and physiology and biomechanics. But, I was going to be sooooo exposed and soooooo unconfident one we started doing the practicum. I was going to have to ask for help ..... GASP! I was going to have to have someone remediate the lesson for me!! So uncomfortable, so very, very uncomfortable... I went to the three day workshop knowing that this was something I needed to do. I need this to further help my clients and I need the swift kick to my brainy ego, as well.

Day 1 was a breeze! All book stuff, all knowledge. I was a whiz! Ha! Take that!

Day 2 not so much. I had borrowed a massage table from a friend and when the time came to set that sucker up, I could not for the life of me figure it out. ugh. I took a deep breath, swallowed down the bitter taste of ignorance and asked for help..... and so it went for the next 2 days. I asked for help again and again and again. And you know what? It wasn't so bad. I opened up my ears and my mind and allowed people to share their knowledge with me. It was great! I devoured their stories and their real life wisdom drinking it up like water in the desert. And you know what I quickly realized? Something that I already "knew" but often forget. Information does not equal knowledge. I have so much information crammed into every cell of my poor brain. Those cells are firing at 15 bazillion megahertz all day long bouncing around and banging into each other and munching on information like it is the manna of life. But, it's not. TRUE knowledge, I mean the real stuff, the kind that truly and really helps people; that kind of knowledge comes from life experience. It comes from slowing down and listening to someone who has tried and failed or tried and succeeded. It comes from trying for yourself and getting it wrong. Heck, maybe getting it wrong two, or even three, times. It comes when you evaluate what went wrong and then change the approach, or the variables, or even the mindset.

I feel really empowered this month. I went in to begin the process of getting a license in massage and I walked away with so much more. I felt so connected to the people in my class. I sat and I listened and I learned from them. I gathered wisdom way beyond what any book could teach me. And I gained friends.

Granted, it's pretty hard not to become friends once you have massaged someone's uvula, right Robert!!?? :-\ OY!