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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Quiet Focus of Cars...

After discussing my husbands response to what does he get out of all that time in the garage...the logical next question for me was...

How do you FEEL when you are there?

He was quite cooperative in continuing the conversation, and responded...

"How do I feel? It's not something I have really thought about until now--so I suppose a surprise is in order.

The one word I could use is focused.

I know that may sound odd, but that's what it is. Perhaps it's because the focused attention tends to keep out the stress we are under...business, kids college search and funding, home repairs, you know...life. That probably explains why I don't always welcome interruptions.

I also think the draw is especially strong during the winter--in the summer, we have other activities (trips to the beach, crew, baseball, golf...etc) to look forward to during the week.

Not that I don't enjoy the work we are doing with Cove Group (our business http://covegroup.com ) but in the end it is work.

Building a car never seems like work.

So does working on my cars give me a happier life?

Having a temporary escape from troubles is what makes my time in the garage help provide a happier life.

I don't chase other women...
I dont take drugs...
I don't drink excessively.

Working on the car is a positive escape that doesn't hurt anyone. Without that, especially in the winter, I'm afraid I would have too much idle time...

too much TV...
too much surfing the net...
too little motivation...

I love our time together, but you have to admit, after working together all week a little separation isn't a bad thing.

As for getting through difficult times with you or the boys...

It doesn't work that way.

For example, if we have argued and I leave for the garage, I am not in the mindset to create.

My best hours in the garage are when I know I am not taking something away from anyone...allowing me to give myself this gift freely"


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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Expressing Himself Through His Car...

I live in quite a male world.

For me, that means lots of sports and car talk at the dinner table with my husband and 17 and 18 year-old sons.

So it only seemed logical in my quest for understanding what quiet time brings to people that I would ask my husband, who spends a lot of time on the weekend in the garage.

Here is part of his response to the question...

What about being in that garage all alone is so special to you?

"Surprisingly, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly why being in my garage, building or rebuilding cars, is one of my special times and places.

It was apparent very early that I have a natural mechanical aptitude. I can--and have-- built or fixed just about everything. There is always a tremendous satisfaction in making something new or making something old better.

However, most of my ability has been required out of necessity:

  • Fix the car or we have no transportation
  • Rebuild a generator because my income required it
  • Repair the house so the family will have shelter

Building a car is not required. I can do it at my own pace, in my own way and in the end, have something to be proud of that's uniquely mine. It was a major surprise to me that building the Cobra was as much fun as having and driving it!"

My husband and sons built a Factory Five Racing Cobra Kit car in 2003 and have renovated other cars since then. During that time, the agreement was: every Saturday was "car day" and no
time constraints were placed on the guys. This helped keep balance in our lives. For those who may not know what a FFR Cobra is, here is a picture:

My husband goes on to say, "I don't look at cars - or most mechanical systems for that matter - as inanimate objects. They don't have feelings or emotions, but they definitely have a soul. Creating a car from a pile of parts is not very different - in my eyes at least - from creating a new life.

From a spiritual perspective, the conception, growth and nurturing process is very similar. Our children were born with a basic personality into which we injected our beliefs and values. A Cobra has its basic personality, too: my goal is to make it a unique being.

When you think about it, the car did reflect my personality in many ways:

  • I did not paint it a flashy color (silver); yet it was noticeable - but not too loud.
  • It was fast, but not ridiculously so.
  • It is a classic...with a touch of the modern."

It is amazing what you can learn about yourself by simply spending some quiet time reflecting on why a place, person or activity brings you such contentment in your life.

The greatest gift of this exercise is that it was shared with me. It brought my understanding of my husband (who I've been married to for 20 years) to a new depth.

And yes, I think the Cobra (affectionately called Tweek) is a beautiful reflection of my husband, Rich.

How perfectly fitting that our sons helped him with the creation of Tweek.


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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Meet Rajai Davis...

Allow me to introduce you to a friend of mine.

Rajai (pronounced "Ra-jay") Davis is a young man that I have had the privilege to know for about four years. By profession, he is a professional baseball player with the Pittsburg Pirates organization...but that is what he does...not who he is.

Rajai is a spiritual, charismatic, sweet, loyal man who is connected to his higher purpose in life. He feels that he was put on this earth to mentor inner city boys.

Rajai came to me to find his "voice." As an athlete and role model, he was asked to speak to groups about how he'd made his dreams of playing professional ball a reality, and he wanted to be a better speaker.

This post is part of the story of Rajai finding his inner voice through his quiet.

As I've said in my earlier posts, we all find our quiet in different places at different times. Rajai found is quiet in a hotel room through prayer. The son of a very religious mother, praying was always a part of life in his household...but just something "my mom did for many years."

In a conversation with Rajai Davis about his first foray into the minor leagues and how he dealt with the feeling of loneliness, he shared his struggle with me.

Prior to getting drafted, Rajai had only been away from home for two months at the most. Now he was faced with leaving his home and his family for long periods of time. "They're a phone call away, but they're not there in person which makes a difference, a big difference," Rajai explained.

Despite the anxiety of leaving behind what was familiar for the unknown, he embraced the challenge and told himself, "I've got to do this thing on my own. I've got to find out what's really going to push me because it was my mom that did, so much for me, but now it was time for me to do things for myself so that I can grow, so that I can learn."

One of the first things Rajai learned was that the power of prayer could counter his loneliness. He began to converse with God on a regular basis, asking for advice and sharing his thoughts on issues he was facing. It was then that Rajai realized why his mother had spent so much of his life praying. Able to release his emotions through prayer, Rajai was then able to focus on the task at hand: playing baseball. He admits, "I wouldn't have found out (my skill level as a baseball player) if I had stayed in the safety of my family. I had to go out and see for myself...and it was going to take me to do it for myself."

Rajai recognizes the powerful influence his mother's example had on him. By being a doer' by showing him the power of prayer, by living the word of God, Rajai's mother set him on a path to finding his own quiet time with God and himself and helped lead him to success on the ball field as well.

Check out Rajai at pittsburgh.pirates.com....

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Finding Your Quiet: A Sometimes Painful Journey

I recently found an old journal that shocked me into writing "The Time is NOW!" the book I'm currently working on. The following is an excerpt from that journal. At the time of this entry I had been married about four years, I left my job to raise our two boys (then two- and three-years old). We moved about five hours from our families and friends. I had still not had any help in dealing with a violent physical attack that had happened the year before I got married. This was a very dark period in my young life...

"I can't control my emotions...I feel both love and hate so strongly that it scares me. I have lost who I am. I have no identity...I am nothing...with nothing to say, nothing to give...I am tired, so tired. Why can't I find joy...what am I so angry about...I feel useless...God, what do have planned for me? How can I hear you above the noise of my life. I am isolated, alone, unworthy and afraid. Help me...I am in pain."

As a young woman, getting comfortable with time alone was a challenge for me. I tended to define myself through the eyes of others. I always felt my value directly related to how others viewed my life: were they proud of "who" I was and "what" I was doing with my life?

I found it difficult to like myself if others didn't like me, too.

When I had too much alone time, I found my inner voice was not very kind. In fact, she was downright nasty to me sometimes. I spoke to myself in a way that I would never consider speaking to another person.

For me the trick to spending quality time alone was to focus on what brought me joy. Cultivating the aspects of my life that made me feel at peace so that my kind and pure inner voice would drown out that negative voice that was sometimes almost deafening.

Society has a tendency to turn up the volume of that negative voice, doesn't it? It seems that everywhere we look, society is telling us that we should all be thin, rich and young...and anything less than that is unacceptable. If we aren't those things, we should do everything in our power to become them.

Wouldn't our time be better spent, would our lives be more fulfilled if we focused on being wise, real, honest and thoughtful? Aren't those the qualities that society should be parading around as everything that we should be?

Let us learn from the example of the "baby boomers." Many of them are retiring and suddenly depression and illness among them is skyrocketing. Why? They've spent their entire lives working and now they finally get to relax, so how come they're so unhappy? Because while they've been successful professionally, many of them have defined themselves through their work - what they've done versus who they are. With work over, they're lost.

Finding your quiet is the first step in finding your way home to yourself.

It has taken me many years to find my way back to Michelle.

Here's to starting your journey!


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