Tuesday, May 23, 2017

My First 5k

A few weeks ago, I ran my first 5k. I hate running, I have always hated running, but I wish I was a runner. I made the unfortunate mistake of mentioning this to a runner friend of mine. He has been on me for the last two months about getting out and running and to sign up for a 5k. In an effort to make him leave me alone, I finally signed up and began running several days per week. I prefer to run on a treadmill because it's easier, but I knew the 5k was going to be outside. Therefore, while training I ran outside one or two days per week. Another two or three days per week, I would run on the treadmill. On the other days, I either walked, did the elliptical, or rested. I loved having low impact days because I have an old knee injury that would sometimes nag at me. Rest days were also very important, especially in the beginning or when I upped my mileage. My muscles were definitely sore. To recover and build my muscles, I made sleep a priority. The body needs to recharge, so giving myself some rest was vital.

I preferred to run in the mornings, so whatever I ate for dinner the night before was my fuel. I stayed away from fried foods and simple carbs which made me feel heavy and a little sick. I also didn't eat just a boring lettuce salad. If I did, I wouldn't have enough calories to go as far as I needed to. Delicious complex carbs and protein is what I stuck with. I also included healthy plant fats and vegetables. On the off chance I didn't get enough food, or the right food, the night before, I would grab a bit of fruit for some energy. A few grapes or a glass of orange juice gave me enough energy for the run.

On my first run I couldn't do .6 miles without burning out. But I ran 3.1 miles in 33:33. I was very nervous on race day. I arrived early to give myself plenty of time to work myself into a tizzy then calm down and focus on the task at hand. I picked up my packet, got my t-shirt, and pinned my on bib. When pinning, I read the instructions. Mine said it had to be on the front of the body, facing out, right side up. I warmed up using dynamic stretching and smiled at all the cute kids and dogs running around. I also recommend you check out the tents and jam to the music being played to help get you hyped. I didn't, but I was there alone and too embarrassed to let loose.

When it comes to lining up, I chose the middle. I'm not an expert runner, nor am I complete beginner. I kept my muscles loose so when the race started, my legs were ready. Like most first timers, I went too fast in the beginning and I didn't rehydrate at the station. I would say those are my two biggest mistakes. Another observation of myself and my personality that I will take into my next race, is I don't determine the weather or the trail. There were small hills and it was very windy. I let these environmental factors slow me down, when I should have persevered. I was pleased to see the finish line and I pushed myself to finish strong. Tip: when you finish it is good to walk around a bit to let your muscles cool down. Oh and a tip I didn't know I needed was to remember where you park. I walked around for about as long as my race because I couldn't find my car in the parking garage.

After the race and I returned home, I ate...a lot...of carbs. I enjoyed my race and I was very proud of myself. I'm also pleased to say my running accountability partner was proud of me, too. So proud in fact, I have just signed up for my first 10k at his insistence. I'm nervous because it's longer, in the city, and there will be a lot of people there. But I'm going to start training tomorrow and will be ready come race day!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

An Adventure

I've never really been anywhere or done anything. I have helicopter parents that were too busy, too lazy, or too scared to take my brother and I on fun adventures when we were kids. I've never been to a beach, I've never been skiing, I've never been to concert--and I'll be 25 this year. Prince Oberyn in Game of Thrones says most people live and die in their corner of the world, but he wants to see as much of it as possible before he does. I agree, I'd like to see more than just my little Chicago suburb. Home is lovely, but it's a big world out there with so many wonderful people to meet and learn new things from. Therefore, I've decided to take an epic adventure that would make Tolkien proud.

I've decided to see all 31 archdiocese in the United States in an epic road trip. I'd like to stop and see some other things along the journey because visiting all 50 states is on my bucket list. I've begun dreaming and planning and I hope my readers can come along with me.

After sharing my idea with my brother and friend from work, they have both displayed enthusiasm at the idea of being part of it. I hope to go with or without them, and not to rely on them as a crutch which I have a habit of doing. Keith is like me, in that he hasn't seen much of the world, but he has seen more than me. Growing up in the same house has caused both of us to develop and unhealthy fear of the unknown, strangers, and the dangers they poses. On the other side of the spectrum is my friend from work. He is a free bird, flying the nest while still a teenager. He has seen much of our beautiful country and seems very excited about the prospect of leaving this corner of the world. He has lived in several states, hitchhiked, and moves ALL THE TIME. I'm hoping to learn a lot from him about being courageous and adventurous.

Hopefully our gang will see some things, meet some people, learn some stuff. I am looking forward to getting out of my comfort zone and having the opportunity to meet some of the wonderful people that make up this country.

Subscribe to my blog and YouTube channel, so you can come along with me on this adventure. And let me know some of the things I should see when I go. Have a sparkly day!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Art of Parenting an Adult

Daddy says parenting is an art not a science. I agree, just from being a kid once myself and now working with children. It is so difficult to know just what to say, how to say it, and what to do with kids. You want them to explore who they are, learn new things, and to be independent and responsible. But, unfortunately, all children are different, their needs are different, and the environment they are growing up in is different. There isn't an ultimate how-to guide to raising perfect kids. So all a parent can do is their best.

A couple weeks ago I had a big argument with Dad. It was ugly and we both said a lot of hurtful things. But there was one thing in particular that he said that really made me stop and think. He said, "I made the mistake of thinking if I raised you and your brother like adults, you would be adults by now." The reason this made me reflect so much was because I don't think my parents raised us like adults at all! I will say they spoke to us like adults, there wasn't a lot of goo goo ga ga that I can remember. Whenever genitals came up in conversation, they used the real words, but I don't think they treated us like adults.

I've never had chores. Chores are meant to teach kids responsibility, handwork, one's role in the family. I never had chores and I never really learned these lessons. I never had to keep a clean room, I never had to make my bed, I never had to do the dishes or take out the trash, nothing. So when I consider my parent's assessment of my brother and I being lazy, part of me wants to say, "duh." All my friends had to do things, but we never did.

I never had to stick with any activity. If I wanted to dance, I could. When I wanted to quit, I just had to finish the year, then I didn't have to do it anymore. I didn't have to explain my reasoning or choose an alternative activity, if I didn't want to, I didn't have to. I realize it may not be wise to force children to stick with a sport or instrument, but it isn't helpful to create the expectation that when things become difficult or no longer fun, you can just walk away. Adults have to do things they don't want to do all the time. Plenty of people don't like their jobs, but they get up and go to work everyday because it is expected of them. Making a kid continue an activity, can help them understand and accept this fate as an adult.

My parents also never taught us good social skills, now my brother and I have difficulty relating with others and spend most of our weekends at home. I have many memories of coming home complaining about someone at school and Mom saying things to me like, "you don't need them" and "don't be friends with people who annoy you." For much of my life, people have been tools of survival, not fellow creatures in this world trying to survive and thrive. I never learned how to value other people and their troubles; instead, it is all about me and what someone can give me. Similarly, I was taught all men are drunk, drug addicted, violent, rapists. Thanks Lifetime Movie Network. I was never taught the values of honesty and emotional connections. Men can't be trusted and women are all annoying. As a result, I'm 24, alone, and fearful of the intentions of others.

Finally, Keith and I have spent time talking about how they weren't honest with us, therefore we aren't honest with them until the pot has boiled over. I used to think, Mom and I had very honest and open conversations, but as I reflect on my teenage years, the only things I spoke to her about were things concerning other people. I never told her about my struggles, unless I'd already solved the problem myself. When I sought her advice, she usually told me to throw people away. I never talked to Dad about things unless they were accomplishments, but never struggles. Mom and Dad never showed us how to deal with challenges, they didn't create an open environment where it was okay to struggle. Keith has said, he asked Dad about certain things in his past and Dad would say, "I'll tell you when you're older." This isn't something you say to someone who you are trying to "treat like an adult." As my brother and I have entered into adulthood, we are learning new things about how our family isn't perfect. We realized, we don't know anything about our parents or their failures. The problem with this is we think they're perfect, therefore we have to be perfect. But we aren't perfect, but we can't tell them we are struggling until it's too late.

Since I've spent all this time bashing the art of parenting in my own life, I want to say one of the greatest things my parents taught me, the value of family. They did create a space where we learned to value our extended family. Mom made a point to take my brother and I to see my grandparents about once per week as children. As a result, we have a very close relationship with our maternal grandparents. While my grandfather was in his final years with Alzheimer's disease, I was with him most days. I call my grandmother just to say hi, and go to see her when she is sick. They also built a home where we were comfortable being, although we were never allowed to have friends over. Family movie night and Sunday breakfast have always been important to Mom and Dad.

I had a lovely childhood, as I can remember. But I struggle now, as an adult, dealing with Dad thinking I'm lazy, shallow, and stupid since he raised me to be lazy, shallow, and stupid. But how long can one blame the failures of their parents on their lack of positive character qualities and values? Probably not much longer. I know the problems, I know the root of the problems, it is now my responsibility to solve them. But how?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Observations

He is risen! I hope you all had a very blessed Lent and a terrific Easter Sunday.

While at Mass this morning I was inspired to write a post about Chreasters. For those of you who do not know what that is, you are probably one of them. A Chreaster is a person who only goes to church on Christmas and Easter. I go to Mass first thing in the morning most weeks and there are usually about 200 people there. Today, it was more like 2, 000. There were so many people, I had to stand in the back of the church throughout the celebration.

A good Christian would say, "That's wonderful, I'm so glad so many of our brothers and sisters made it to church to celebrate our Lord. I hope they feel inspired to return each week." I am not a good Christian, I try to be, but I'm not there yet. My thought was, "I come to church week in, week out; holy day of obligation in, holy day of obligation out; I tithe 10%; I volunteer with the kids in religious education, and I have to stand in the back of the church!" This feeling lasted much longer than it should have. Once we got to the homily, I started to loosen up a bit.

Catholicism isn't about how many times you receive your sacraments, it isn't about how much time you spend volunteering, and it certainly is not about how much money you give. Catholicism is about family, it is about connecting with our brothers and sisters in Christ. By the end of Mass, I felt so pleased to see so many young families and young couples celebrating the resurrection of Jesus with me over a shared meal of His body and blood. It is a privilege to be Catholic that so many don't understand. I am thankful for the opportunity to share in the Divine Life by being united to 2, 000 people in my home church and the 1.2 billion others around the world.

I do want to say one thing to Chreasters, we would like to see you more often. We break this bread at least once per week, more like everyday in most places. Come celebrate and share a meal with us more often! Next week is a fun feast, you should definitely join the party.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Believe in Tomorrow

I saw a picture on Pinterest once with a quote that said, "to have a garden is to believe in tomorrow." I love this quote because it communicates the hope of another day. So often we get sucked into the drab of today, the clouds and cold rains of this season (figuratively and literally) keep us from having confidence in what is to come. But, I think planting a garden and experiencing nature, can help all of us draw into a greater hope for what the future holds and an appreciation for the beauty around us.

We have all heard the phrase "stop and smell the roses." But how many of us actually do it. Taking a walk around a preserve can be so relaxing and bring so much comfort to my heart. It is such a joy to have the opportunity to do that in one's own backyard. Taking the time to plant and foster a garden can help you live each day in the present and to grow in love for the world around you. We live in our concrete jungles, islands of artificial life and structures. The beauty of nature can help us develop a greater admiration for the simpler things in life.

I'm not very good at gardening. In fact the only things I have successfully grown are lettuce and carrots. But let me tell you, they were the sweetest, most delicious carrots and lettuce I've ever had. That's the other thing about gardening, the food is infinitely better than whatever you can get at the grocery store. Of course, part of the reason it is so sweet is because you grew it yourself, fostering the little life from seed. But it is also made without the use of all the artificial gunk that will inevitably give you cancer. Food grown on big farms isn't meant to taste good, it is meant to look good and taste good enough to get you to buy more. Have you ever had a real strawberry, a real, fresh, homegrown strawberry? They taste like jam! So sweet and watery, I'm getting hungry just thinking about them. But the stuff they have at grocery stores, is nothing like that. This comes from a variety of reasons, partially that they probably aren't in season. But growing your own food can do amazing things for your mind and body.

I hope during this spring season you are working on your garden and are enjoying your time outside. If you are growing food, don't forget to share with your neighbors, especially those that do not like to eat their vegetables!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Your Kids, Your Responsibility

I teach Religious Education at my home parish. I find it to be so rewarding to volunteer my time to help nurture young Catholics and to help guide them in their budding spiritual journey. It's not all roses and butterflies, though. I worry constantly about the kids because I don't know if I'm doing a good job teaching them. They are small sponges now and in third grade, a strong theological foundation is not exactly vital. No one is going to them on the playground asking them about the transubstantiation of the Eucharist. But I know the things I teach them now, will be the building blocks of things they will need in the future when they come across more complex theological topics. I also struggle because I only get them for a couple hours each week, the rest of the time, I don't know what spiritual battles they are facing. The worst battles, which too many children are dealing with, is their parents lukewarmness. 

As a parent, it is your responsibility to be the primary spiritual director of your young child. We, as the members of the church community, are secondary. We are here to inspire discussion, answer questions, and set an example to the kids. Parents should be having those discussions, doing further research, learning together, reinforcing the lessons, and being the greatest example of Christian virtue. You are with the child far more than the RE teacher is and when you send your child to us, we have a very difficult job to do. I teach third grade this year. They obviously don't have driver's licenses or cars in order to get themselves to Mass and Reconciliation. It makes for a very awkward conversation when we get to the 10 Commandments and we talk about how important it is to keep holy the sabbath day, and some of the kids haven't been to Mass since Christmas. 

This post is inspired by a specific little girl in one of my classes this year. She is smart, charismatic, and engaged in class discussion. One day, she came to me and said, "I don't really believe all this stuff. I know Jesus died on a cross, but I don't believe He is in Heaven waiting for me." As you can imagine, my heart shattered. Here we are with a month left in RE, we just celebrated Easter, and here is one of my beautiful little girls coming to me with a major spiritual battle. The whole interaction was odd because she asked to speak with me in private, so I knew the conversation wasn't going to be good. But here I find myself, needing to put on my big girl Catholic pants on and guiding a tiny soul back to Christ. 

I asked her how often her parents take her to Mass, because that's the best place for us to encounter the Risen Lord. As expected, she said whenever they feel like it, which isn't often. Next, I asked her how often she received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the best place to encounter the tender love and mercy of Jesus Christ. Her answer, only when we go during RE, twice per year. I then did the best I could and told her about St. Teresa of Calcutta and her dark night of the soul. It is not uncommon for the greatest saints to feel a disconnect from God, yet they persevere and are rewarded in Heaven for their steadfastness. I recommended she sit quietly with God as often as possible, learn new prayers, and to read her children's bible. That's all I could think to do for her in that moment. 

Later, I told the Director of Religious Education and she informed me that the parents of my darling student had pulled her two older siblings out of RE for their spring/summer sports. Yes, with only a few weeks left in RE, the parents pulled the kids out for sports. I'm sure her parents thought this was a reasonable thing to do, but I have to ask parents like this, where are YOUR priorities? I can't blame the children for this because they don't know the consequences of sin the way an adult should. It is the responsibility of parents to teach their children how to set priorities correctly, and one's immortal soul, should be at the top of the list. But I know we are in this place because her parents don't think their immortal souls are under attack. 

After learning this news, my greatest concern was that she was only receiving a religious example in the church, where she wasn't spending much time; her parents and family were not being the spiritual leaders she needed. Even worse, I was concerned someone was telling her that Heaven wasn't real or that Jesus wasn't waiting to bring her home to Him. Third graders are still at an age where they will believe most of the things you tell them, they ask questions, but once they receive a satisfactory answer, they will accept it. For her to come to me and say she doesn't believe Jesus is waiting for her, I think someone told her that. 

At this point, I don't know what to do other than to pray. RE is over and she is no longer under my tutelage, I have to let her go and let God handle this. I pray she will draw close to Him, but I also pray she doesn't have to learn too many lessons the hard way. I pray her parents will make a personal relationship with Christ a priority in their lives and the lives of their children. I pray they will see the magnificent gift the Father has bestowed upon them to nurture a tiny being made in His image, designed to spend an eternity united to Him in Heaven. 

In the comments below, I would love to know if any of you have experienced anything like this and how you handled it. Have a sparkly day!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

I Hate Running

I want to be a fit chick, but I hate to run. Is it a prerequisite for all fit chicks to be marathon running, yogis? I have the yoga thing, but the running is such a drag! I've always wished I were a runner, runners have such great legs. I have...had dancers legs. They're fine but they tend to be a bit more bulky and less lean. I'd like to have lean, strong legs. So I've decided to try running. A couple people at work are runners and they swear by it! They love it, and run several days a week, one runs everyday. After talking with one of them, he said the running isn't so much fun but the feeling afterward is what you run for. The high you get from all that endorphin rich blood in the brain, I guess is worth the torture. He is pushing me to do a 5k in a couple weeks, but I'm not ready. I can't run 3 straight miles. I can run 1 straight mile, which I am very proud of. I found this running article that said if you followed their plan for 30 days you would fall in love with running after two weeks. I made it the two weeks--I still hate running. I am surprised by my improvements though. On my first day I was able to run .6 miles, by day seven I was able to run a full mile. I say run, I mean a REALLY slow jog, like turtles on beach slow. Slow and steady wins the race right? I looked at the 5k times from last year for the race my co-worker recommended, and people were finishing them in less than 30 minutes. It takes me 12 minutes to do one mile! I don't yet have my confidence, and I haven't been running in a few days. I'm calling it the weather, but I think it's more my loathing attitude toward the activity.

I guess sometimes you gotta do what you don't wanna do, right?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Christian Yogi

For the past year or so I have been on a journey of health and fitness. I looked at myself in the mirror one day and realized I was not treating my body with the level of respect it deserves, being a masterpiece of the Father, temple of the Holy Spirit, and worth the Son's death on a cross. So I began watching what I eat and going to the gym regularly. I have definitely seen some improvements, and I think at the end of time, when I have to give my accounting for what I have done with God's resources, I hope he finds me a good steward of my body. But this post isn't really about my entire fitness story, it is about a relatively new aspect of my fitness journey: yoga. I know you are probably thinking, "Can Catholics do yoga?" Well I haven't read anything that says no, I've checked the Scriptures, Catechism, and Vatican writings. I haven't found anything that says a Catholic cannot do yoga. What I have found is a quote from Pope Francis saying that yoga, among other things, does not lead us to God. My question for that statement is, does my morning commute lead me to God?

It is my opinion, that you get what you put into things. If I spend my morning commute praying a Rosary, contemplating that days readings, or doing an examination of conscience, then I have just baptized my morning commute. I've turned it from something dead and uneventful, and turned it into a spiritual expression and devotion to God. In the same way, yoga practiced without Christ in one's heart, is a waste of an hour. I use the word baptize purposefully. We are all dead to sin before we are baptized. But by God's grace we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and then are able to draw into deeper relationship with our Father in Heaven. Does that mean we were not touched by God before we were baptized? No, all things in existence only exist because God allows it to. God is omnipotent and omnipresent, EVERYTHING is touched by God. We just have to find him.

That is a Catholic practice, finding God in all people and circumstances. Jesus tells us to love our neighbor and the Church teaches the way we do that is by seeing that our neighbor is also made in the image of God. The Church is against the death penalty no matter how heinous the crime, because who are we to deny someone the opportunity of repentance and reconciliation? Because of this, I baptize my yoga practice. Where Buddhist yogis use "om" as a mantra, being the sound that started the universe, I have "Jesus, I trust in you," the words of St. Faustina. Where Hindu yogis meditate to clear their mind, I meditate to drill down on the great m
ysteries of our faith like the incarnation.

I never want to avoid something because someone says it isn't from God, I'd rather find God in it. I love Harry Potter, sorcery is strongly against all Christian teachings. Yet I watch it because I find my Lord in a young man willing to sacrifice himself for the good of his friends. Rather than locking ourselves in our beautiful stained-glass towers, maybe we should see what other people are doing and show them how Christ has been trying to touch them through it. God is everywhere, including yoga, we just have to find him.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Yoga: Gym vs. Studio

For about a month now, I have been going to yoga several times per week at my local yoga studio.  I love it! It has done amazing things for my mind and body. I think yoga is such a beautiful practice and experience in self-aceptance. When I first started yoga, I was surprised to see it was like a real workout. Many believe yoga to be just a bunch of stretching, but in the studio, my heart gets pumping, I sweat, and I can feel my muscles working. One of the guys at work says yoga is for girls, men shouldn't do yoga. After the hot yoga class I took, I think yoga is for the strong; and girls are strong. There have always been men in the classes I have taken. The sweat and grunt their way through the difficult poses and work very hard. I certainly admire their commitment to a craft that silly people, like the guy I work with, think is emasculating. Studio yoga can be used as a substitute for the gym. Depending on the class, you can experience: cardio, ab workouts, strength training, and increased flexibility. Not to mention the flood of endorphins you get in the brain after a good workout. My favorite part about the studio yoga is the attention to detail in the atmosphere: electronic candles, smooth music, steam and humidity to achieve a detoxify sweat. Plus the amazing cool washcloths with essential oils to calm us while in corpse pose after a killer workout.

On Sunday, I went to a yoga class, with different friend from work, at her gym. It was nice to get together and do something fun outside of the office. For this class, we were in a gym that definitely serves many purposes. The first thing I noticed was that we wore shoes studio. There are no shoes allowed on the yoga floor in a studio, but because this room served multiple functions, we took our shoes off once we set up our mats. There were punching bags in the way of the side mirrors; this wasn't a huge deal, but they did get in the way of me checking my form. The music was really cool, it reminded my of History's Vikings. I don't know the types of instruments used, but I certainly enjoyed it. Yoga uses the Sanskrit language, which I am not fluent in--duh. So when I do yoga at home, I tend to choose yoga videos or apps that use the English translation of the poses. Example: cat-cow or Marjaryasana-Bitilasana, downward dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana, corpse pose or Savasana. Studio yoga uses both the Sanskrit and the English translations while the gym class pretty much only used the English. I liked this a little better because I didn't have to constantly be looking around or at the instructor about what we were doing. In studio yoga, the teacher demonstrates some moves but also does a lot of walking around to offer "hands-on assist." I love this hands-on approach because I want to make sure I have the right form in order to reduce injury and expand my practice. Gym yoga didn't do that, the instructor was at the front of the class exclusively, going through the motions with us. It isn't my preference, but I know a lot of people would really like that. The type of yoga was similar to a yin yoga in that you get into poses and you stay for awhile, there wasn't a lot of 1 movement to 1 breath like in more intense yoga practices. It wasn't exactly yin yoga either, we weren't in each pose for like 3 minutes. I would say this yoga experience wasn't not a workout substitute, it was a nice add on to whatever else you are doing on your fitness journey. My final thought was on the demographics of the class. I'm sure this is dependent about the time of day and what day it was, but there was only one man there, that I think was gay. All the rest were women, young women. I would say all of us were between our 20s-30s. At studio yoga, there are only ladies and young ladies, middle aged ladies, young men, and middle aged men. I've never seen old men at yoga, I think the oldest I've seen was probably in his 50s. The point is, I can see where the guy at work gets the idea of yoga being for girls, if he only sees people doing yoga at the gym.

I think both experiences are fine. Like with anything in life, you need to know what your goals and abilities are. Obviously, it is easier to get to yoga if you are already at the gym. It is cheaper to go to yoga if you already have a gym membership. That's actually a really important point to make: studio yoga is not cheap. You are defiantly paying for all the cool perks like cool washcloths with essential oils, hairspray in the bathroom, and a fireplace in the waiting area. I would recommend if you are new to yoga, to check out your gym's classes and eventually move on to studio yoga, if you would like to really expand a yoga practice. 

I hope you enjoyed this post, in the comments below let me know your thoughts on the different types of yoga you have experienced. Have a sparkly day!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

If I Ran the World

When I had writers block and I took to Pinterest to find some inspiration, I stumbled upon a lovely question: What would you do if you ran the world? I love this question! So here are 5 things that came to mind:

  1. Uplift: My primary goal as leader of the world would be to lift all people to higher levels in all positive aspects of life. That means lifting people out of poverty, food insecurity, homelessness, mental illness, and educational disadvantages. I’m sure this is at least one of the goals of all world leaders, yet they are all unsuccessful in solving all the world’s problems. I think this is sometimes where things go awry for those of us being led by those leaders. One cannot make everyone happy all the time. For example, taxes must be raised in order to provide basic human rights like health care. The people who are now receiving amazing affordable care are delighted they now have access to well trained medical professionals, but the people who have to pay more in taxes are displeased because they could use that money for their families needs. I guess having the goal of lifting ALL people is ambitious and impossible. There will always be hunger in the world, there will always be a homelessness in the world, there will always be limited access to drinking water in the world, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight to solve these problems. It means we should work hard, pray harder, and enjoy the merits of the corporal works of mercy.
  2. Teacher and Student: At a bible study, I once heard that at all points in our lives, we are both student and teacher. If I ran the world I would want have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge of other people, cultures, the arts, the sciences, and all the things this glorious universe has to offer. I would also like to lead by example and share my knowledge and experience with those who may benefit from it. I would want to be the type of teacher that talks the talk and walks the walk. Rather than just raising money in my cushy castle for the hungry, actually going to soup kitchens and meeting people where they are to look them in the eye and shake their hand. This, I hope, would encourage others to do the same.
  3. Honesty: I would like to be honest about my failures. I’m not perfect, none of us are. We should all be striving for perfection by attempting to be the perfect model of Christ, but all fall short of the glory of God. We live in a world where failure is shameful rather than being a stepping stone on the way to success. We only ever hear about really successful people failing, after they’ve already achieved success. I would like to be a symbol of imperfection constantly standing back up. So many of our leaders, political and cultural, are not honest with us: butt injections, hair medication, how much money is being stored in offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes. I would want to be the type of leader that people can know isn’t always right, but is always trying to become better.
  4. T.E.A.M Work: I believe Together Everyone Achieves More and I would want to bring this to my leadership. A family succeeds when all members support and encourage one another, a community works when everyone does their part, a country prospers when people listen and have dialogue about the important issues they face. If I ran the world, I would want to be the type of leader that knows I may be the first among equals, and everyone has a voice that deserves to be heard. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Our cultural and political leaders build their microcosms of people who reinforce their views, and when someone defects, they are kicked out of the herd. This is no ways to lead, and it’s no way to live. The success of a leader is dependent upon the success of the people they are leading and visa versa. I wish everyone knew this, and if I ever had the chance to run the world, I hope I would remember this.
  5. Culture and Sport: Everyone loves music in some form or another, everyone loves art in some form or another, everyone loves sport in some form or another. We spend all day fighting about the important issues of the day, but manage to come together to celebrate our favorite football team. We spend all day discussing the challenges the people around us are facing and how the other side of the isle is holding us back, but we come together to enjoy movies. Debate and dialogue have a critical part to play in the continued evolution of a society, but culture and sport are unifiers. These things should be encouraged, not defunded. We need them in order to keep us from falling into a perpetual pit of division. If I ran the world, I would participate in cultural explorations and at least watch competitive sports. They have so much to teach us about healthy competition, good sportsmanship, respect for others, and expanding our minds so we do not fear the unknown. 

This prompt was so much fun! I realize it is very unlikely I’ll ever rule anything but a few kids in a classroom, but I still enjoyed writing this post. It is a two edged sword, to rule anything, because you can’t make everyone happy, and sometimes decisions have to be made by the leader that the followers won’t understand. But that doesn’t mean our cultural and political leaders shouldn’t work to always make the world a better place than the way they found it. These are the things I would try to do, what about you?