Showing posts with label Patience. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Patience. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Personal Strengths of a 12 Year-Old Boy

Ned, watching birds with his camera (photo by Charm Peterson)
Last weekend I was in charge of a bird-watching (aka “birding”) field trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The 100 participants ranged in age from 12 to 92. Talk about diversity!

Often when preteens or teens attend, they’re accompanying parents who are eager to introduce them to the world of birds.

In this instance, two 12 year-old boys brought their mothers along. I knew one of the boys, Ned, because he’s a member of our local bird club. He’s been an avid birder for two years and has accompanied my husband Lee and me for Audubon bird counts.

Ned is not like most boys his age. As I watched him in action over the weekend, I was awed by his maturity and the personal strengths he exhibited.

Ned doesn't use binoculars to look at birds. While this is a must-have piece of equipment for most birders, Ned uses his camera exclusively. He’s taught himself to expertly zoom in and out to view a bird and take a picture at the same time. Pretty ingenious. I've never seen anyone else do that.

People who are serious birders keep a list of birds they've seen. When they encounter a new species, they call it a “life bird.” Some folks count birds that they barely see because they’re eager to add to their numbers. Not Ned. He holds himself to a very high standard. He only counts birds that he can photograph. He wants documented proof that he’s seen a specific species. As handy as he is with his camera, he’s been able to get a shot of almost every new species he encounters.

The host hotel offered a hot breakfast every morning, starting at 6:00AM. My husband Lee and I arrived at 6:10 both days. Ned was already there, by himself (his mother and buddy slept in), finishing up his morning meal. No one had to prod this kid to get up. He wanted to make the most of his time, so he arrived at the earliest possible moment. After clearing his table off, he scurried out the door to stand on the large deck just outside the breakfast room, looking for birds and capturing pictures of the sunrise.

Unlike many kids who have the attention span of a gnat, Ned was able to be still for long periods at a time and just WAIT. Whether he was sitting on a bench waiting for the sunrise or out in the field waiting for birds to show up, he seemed to just enjoy the moment and relish in whatever came next.

Because of the number of attendees, we divided into smaller groups for the field trips. No matter which group Ned was in, he brought an infectious enthusiasm that spread to others. This young man LOVES birding. He’d rather do that than almost anything else. You won’t see him with any electronic gadgets, playing video games or texting his friends. When we’d mention species that we might see on a particular trip and it was a new bird for him, Ned’s excited face lit up the room.

Yes, Ned left quite an impression on everyone, a very positive impression. You might say he was a phenomenon.

He certainly inspired me to appreciate the beauty around me - and life in general - in a more profound way.

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." - Albert Einstein

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Mother's Day Tribute: My Role Model for Patience

My amazing mother, Doris Roy Melancon, and me

I don’t have to look very far to find the person who’s modeled the personal strength of patience throughout my entire life.

My mother.

As we honor mothers this time of year, I reflect with deep gratitude on the ways my own mother has positively influenced my life through the consistent application of patience with people and situations.

Thinking back to my growing up years with five other siblings, I can count on one hand the number of times my mother showed frustration or exasperation with one of us. And every one of those situations warranted such a reaction. We weren’t angels.

What’s even more remarkable is that she had to manage this large brood on her own quite often because my dad’s work required regular out-of-town trips.

It’s only as an adult that I can fully appreciate her ability to maintain a calm, serene demeanor in the face of the daily twists and turns that six children presented her with.

She excelled in paying attention to the needs of others and responding in a way that was just right at that moment. She never seemed to get bored re-reading the same book with us for the 30th time. Or explaining how to perform a specific task. Or waiting.

She did a lot of waiting.

Trips to the doctor when my sister broke her collarbone. Or a brother put his face through the glass door. Or my dad cut the tendon in his knee when using an axe to cut up tree limbs.

No matter what the situation, my memory of her in each one was the epitome of patience.

This strength was never required more – nor was it ever more evident –  than during the last months of my father’s life in 2012. Almost on a daily basis, Dad’s ability to do things for himself diminished. This proud, self-reliant man was reduced to utter dependency for every aspect of living.

Mom sensed his frustration with this loss of independence, and she consistently spoke to him with compassion and love in her voice. After 64 years of marriage, she understood her husband to the core, and she was totally committed to making sure his final days were filled with as much love and positive interaction as possible.

Her tone of voice was something to marvel. No matter what he requested or tried to do, she maintained that calm, reassuring presence that I’d witnessed all my life. I’m sure there were times that she was scared, exhausted and overwhelmed. But the face she showed Dad was supportive, tender and serene.

When I’m in a situation where I start to feel impatience creep in, I just need to summon the image of my mother with her children or with my father. Her behavior provides a model for my response. And it serves another purpose. It reminds me how incredibly lucky I was (and am) to have been raised and supported by such an amazing woman.

“The practice of patience toward one another, the overlooking of one another's defects, and the bearing of one another's burdens is the most elementary condition of all human and social activity in the family, in the professions, and in society.”
Lawrence G. Lovasik (1913-1986), Catholic priest and author

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why Nature Filmmakers Have My Respect

Without a doubt, my favorite TV programs are shows about the world of nature. What passes for “reality” shows can’t hold a candle to these, where you can see the moment-by-moment struggle for survival that creatures in the natural world face every day.

I like to call this Nature At Work.

Recently, as I was watching “Magic of the Snowy Owl” on the PBS Nature series, my attention alternated between two adult owls’ valiant attempts to raise their young in harsh conditions and the filmmakers working in those same harsh conditions to capture the year-long story.

Whether they’re covering frigid regions of the Arctic or blazing heat of the desert, those who brave the elements to bring us this rare footage have my eternal respect and gratitude. Because of their efforts, millions of people like me can witness marvels of nature that would otherwise be inaccessible.

As I see the world through their lenses, I often think about the personal strengths required for individuals who take on these challenges. These three stand out...

COURAGE. Many of these locations are remote and treacherous. It can be risky just to get to the destination. The dangers are real, even life-threatening at times. These adventures are not for the faint of heart! Lucky for us viewers, these hardy souls say “yes” to the opportunities and don’t let fear stop them.

Often the fears we experience in life are due to our own thoughts and imagination. Unlike the filmmakers, the dangers we perceive do not exist in reality. Examine your fears and figure out what you can do to work through them and take action.

“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.” - Thucydides, Greek historian (C. B.C. 460-400)

PATIENCE. What we see on the screen in a two-minute clip may have taken weeks or months of waiting for just the right moment. It’s about being in the right place at the right time, allowing the action to come to them and not trying to rush the shot.

Do you sometimes want to hurry things along, just to get to closure according to your own time frame? Not everyone moves at the same pace you do, and you may need to let things unfold in their natural way. Trying to push can be counter-productive. 

“Some things arrive on their own mysterious hour, on their own terms and not yours, to be seized or relinquished forever.” - Gail Godwin, American novelist (1937- )

PERSEVERANCE. There must be moments when the crew is tempted to throw in the towel and say, “That’s it! No more!” Like when hundreds of mosquitoes are attacking their exposed skin. Or toes and fingers are getting frost-bitten. Adverse weather conditions and physical discomfort would send less committed people running for the hills. And yet these dedicated individuals stay until they get the job done…no matter what.

What kinds of obstacles cause you to quit? Can you stick with it just a little longer even when you feel like giving up? Often breakthroughs come at the moment when you feel you can’t take one more step. 

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” - Harriet Beecher Stowe, American novelist (1811-1896)

Next time you watch a nature program, think about the courage, patience and perseverance required to capture those moments, and you will have a deeper appreciation for the unique opportunity you’ve been given to see “nature at work.”

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Patience and Waiting for the Right Time

"Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience." 
Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher (1803-1882)

My husband Lee and I recently planted a fall garden. We want to eat fresh, healthy, organic food, so what better way than growing our own vegetables? With broccoli, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, beets, carrots and peas coming up, we're looking forward to a bounty of nutritious food in the months to come.

Before planting them, we soaked the seeds in water overnight, which accelerates the germination time. Still, it took days before the little sprouts broke through the surface of the ground. And checking on them daily, I was able to discern only the tiniest amount of growth.

For the plants to develop the vegetables we eventually want to harvest, the right balance of sun and moisture are required. But another key ingredient is also needed: TIME.

No amount of rushing around, pushing or fretting will cause these vegetables to grow faster. No, the process of gardening, like many other endeavors in life, requires PATIENCE.

In these times of instant gratification, where you can order what you want with the click of a button, we've become a society of impatient people who don't want to have to wait...for anything.

The desire to move fast and have something NOW is seen everywhere…

- The driver behind you at the stoplight, who expects you to accelerate the instant the light turns green, and honks at you if you don’t

- The person in a check-out line who’s constantly switching lines and glancing around to see if another line is moving faster

- The colleague teaching you to use a piece of equipment, software, or other tool and getting annoyed when you don’t master it as quickly as he or she did

- The parents who have a young child they're pushing to walk, talk or learn some other skill earlier than the children of their friends

The art of waiting for good things to come seems to be disappearing in place of a demand for immediate results.

I'm all in favor of taking initiative and making things happen.

But there are times when you’ve done everything you can, and you simply have to wait for time to work its magic.

You CAN'T do any more, and in fact, you can cause problems if you continue to push or try to take control of the situation.

If you find yourself getting upset because things aren’t going the way you’d hoped, take a moment to pause and ask yourself this important question:

“Is there anything I can do right now to move things forward?” 

If the answer is yes, then do it. But if it’s no, then you need to get to a place of acceptance as quickly as possible. You may in fact need to take action, but not NOW. Waiting for the right time is a critical aspect of patience.

You’ll save yourself a lot of frustration and disappointment if you learn to manage your expectations. When you adjust your perspective, you’ll be more serene in the face of circumstances that are beyond your control.

“Some things arrive on their own mysterious hour, on their own terms and not yours, to be seized or relinquished forever.” - Gail Godwin, American novelist (1937- )

Friday, October 29, 2010

Patience - Manage Your Expectations of People and Events

When you’re trying to make things happen, you can get frustrated if people or situations slow you down. You achieve peace of mind by recognizing what you can and cannot change.

What types of people and situations “try” your patience? How can you adjust your attitude and expectations so they don’t bother you as much?
"Give wind and tide a chance to change." - Richard Byrd, American explorer

“Patience is a necessary ingredient of genius.” - Benjamin Disraeli, British statesman

"No great thing is created suddenly.” - Epictetus, Greek philosopher

"The twin killers of success are impatience and greed." - Jim Rohn, American author
“God give us the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed; courage to change the things that should be changed; and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.” - Reinhold Niehbuhr, American theologian