Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Looking Back and Ahead: Checking in on Resolutions for 2016

We have to give the Romans credit, the month of January is well named. As written on
In ancient Roman religion and mythology, Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions, thence also of gates, doors, doorways, endings and time. He is usually a two-faced god since he looks to the future and the past. The Romans dedicated the month of January to Janus. His most apparent remnant in modern culture is his namesake, the month of January.
It's also my least favorite month of the year. January is long. All 31 days seem to pass slowly. I should take comfort in the hibernation mode the first month of the year invites us to, but instead I get antsy. I think to myself, Days are supposed to be getting longer—right?, but the evidence is slim. The  heart of winter has truly settled in and the cold, gray skies and cold temperatures have set up camp.
The initial enthusiasm for a new year and new resolutions has waned. Old habit die hard in spite of my resolutions that I make them new. So that is why, in the spirit of Janus, there's no better time than now to evaluate and what progress has been made and determine what do I need to do to in order to succeed.

I had three resolutions for 2015. I found that they fit the notion of sports and spirituality quite well.

1. Become a better listener. I once heard someone say that every relationship is improved by careful listening. I don't think I'm a terrible listener or that I'm at a deficit, but I do think there's always room for improvement. I want to listen to understand. This requires slowing down. Many times, I urge my students to tell me what they need or answer quickly. Why the haste?
Also, I often get so excited talking to some people about things like Notre Dame football or a recent "30 for 30" that I find myself listening so I can share my story...or experience...or....!!!

With my new years' resolution in place, I've noticed that when I listen in the way I am hoping to, I ask better questions. And I think the best interviewers are those who are attuned listeners (more on this in a future blog posting. Thank you Tom Rinaldi). 

In order to succeed at this resolution, I need to remind myself of it. I need to truly pay attention to what someone is saying. I also think it helps to picture a person who is considered a good listener. Notice what they do, how they respond and make others feel.

2. Eat a salad a day 
American author, journalist and activist Michael Pollan has written many great books on food as a moral issue. He has summarized the ideal diet in haiku form, when he said "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” And I believe there's no better way to do that than via a tasty, crunchy, fresh, seasonal salad.

When it comes to my meals, I seek convenience, relative good taste, and variety. A salad is all of this and more. I live in a place that cultivates fresh fruits and vegetables year round. A salad can be dressed up or down. Forever seeking more fiber, vitamins and anti-oxidants, I don't know what I'm waiting for.

Honestly, I think eating a salad a day requires a financial commitment on my part. Many stores have pre-made salads and these are delish. Others require careful planning or preparing in order to just eat the ingredients before they good bad.

We have heard Paul's first letter to the Corinthians 6-19-20 in which he writes,
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body. 
Why not do so with putting good food (or better food) into our bodies this year?  

I have had some difficulty fitting in a salad every single day, so I am allowing myself to modify that goal toward 5 days a week. When I go to the grocery store, I purchase Taylormade Farms and that lasts me for 2.5 days. And, when I eat out, I try to order a salad as some part of my meal. How do you integrate fruits and veggies on a regular basis?

3. Become a student of the game.
The last round of 18 I played in 2016 was with a friend Cris. One of her friends in our foursome said "Cris is a true student of the game." They laughed as she discussed how many lessons she had taken in the past year but I heard his words differently. I thought that was a tremendous compliment. 
I went to IMG in Bradenton, FL last April for 2 days to study the game
If you saw Cris play, you wouldn't think she would take lessons regularly...or need to. With a single digit handicap, she hits with power, precision and executes beautifully. But anyone who knows the game of golf knows her study of the game is a significant reason for why she's so good.

The way I see it, ones who studies the game has humility and respect for it. To me a student of the game is open to growth and is aware that the quest for excellence never ends; it's always seeking instruction and more information. I decided that I would commit to being a "student of the game" by taking one lesson a month. That's a S.M.A.R.T. goal—literally and figuratively.

What would you like to study this year? Scripture? the lives of saints? A new sport? An old one? 

As we draw the month of Janus to a close, look back on the progress you have made in the new year. Look forward to continued growth and what you need to do to get there. You'll also find longer days and warmer temps to come...

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