Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Man Time and Girls Night

So the other night I joined my roommate and several of his co-workers to watch UFC 121. It was a testosterone fueled evening full of good food, quality entertainment and plenty of dudes yelling at the TV. Everything about the night was a celebration of all things man from the food, to the fights on tv and even the company. I’m a freestyle motocross rider (well, use to be) and these guys spend long hard days scaling power poles in the hot sun. Manly guys getting together to fellowship with other men.

The guy who hosted us all for the evening has a wife and two kids who spent the evening at a relative’s house. They returned late that night as the fights were wrapping up and she was excited to see that we all very much enjoyed our evening. She was delighted to sacrifice her (very nice) home for the evening to let her husband and a group of his buddies have a little fun.

I don’t know this couple at all but judging by the interaction that I observed between them, this woman gets it. She understands that a little time away from the responsibilities of home to be a guy and be with other guys was good for him. It energized him. It allows him a few moments to celebrate being a man with other men and I would venture, gives him the fill-up that he needs to continue loving her and taking care of his family as a man should.

I say she “gets it” because I think all to often, men aren’t celebrated or allowed the opportunity to simply be men. (Perhaps that’s where the ball and chain jokes come in at bachelor parties?) Certainly a man has responsibilities when he gets married and his family must be at the top, but all too often rather than granting the freedom for a man to spend some time with his friends, he’s ridiculed for even suggesting it and is seldom if ever afforded the opportunity. A man needs this time and this particular wife realizes that.

Now before you ladies go hating on me or stop reading, don’t. Because just as much as I believe men need this free time away from home to be with other men, I think women need this time away from kids, cooking, cleaning, work and any of the other tasks that fill up their day.

My question to the guys reading is this, when’s the last time you offered to take the kids out just to give your wife an evening at home alone? Or better yet, when’s the last time you played babysitter so she could go have a night out with her girlfriends? The argument I would expect to hear is, “well I’ve been busy working all day providing for this family.”

Indeed, you have. And so has she though likely her contribution, while probably not monetarily, is just as great and taxing as yours. She’s quite possibly been changing diapers, giving baths, wrangling kids around grocery stores, folding laundry, cleaning house etc etc etc. (I’m just throwing things out so if I offend any feminist readers, please forgive me) She’s tired too. She wants time to herself or a weekend away with the girls just as bad as you want your man time.

I wonder how much more open the typical wife would be to giving her husband a night or weekend away with the guys if she herself had more time to be with women? We are wired for fellowship and there is something about a woman being with women and a guy being with other guys that cannot be replaced. It energizes us. After all, the world knows we handle emotions and communication along with a million other things differently.

I can think of a whole host of excuses that both men and women would give for not providing this opportunity for each other but like everything in life, we make time for the things that are important to us. What if giving her a night out with her girlfriends twice a month, shoot make it once a month, (probably more than she’s getting now) became something of importance to me as a husband? I’m willing to bet she’d be so blessed by my effort and refreshed by her time with other women that she would jump at the chance to give me an opportunity to get away with my buddies.

I’m speaking in the future tense of course because I’m not married, but to those that are, doesn’t that make sense? Sure it will take time, planning and effort when you probably are exhausted and really don’t want to spend the evening finger painting with your toddler, changing diapers etc. But if it benefits you in the long run, wasn’t your night of sacrifice a small cost to pay in order to 1) bless your wife by giving her a much needed break and 2) give you an opportunity to go be with your buddies?

So how to get there. We’re busy, she’s busy, schedules never seem to coincide so even if we are willing to make that sacrifice so she can spend some time resting and recuperating, how on earth do we make it happen? Fellas, here’s another opportunity to shine; make it happen for her.

Scour the calendar for an open weekend or figure out which night she’s most often free (you live with her for goodness sake). Make it exciting, buy her a card and put a coupon inside good for “a weekend away” or a girl’s night out, paid in full. Get CRAZY and book her a day/weekend at a spa. I hear chicks love that stuff! If you pay for it in advance, it’ll be all the more special to her.

“Well I don’t have the money to be doing that.” Good point, it’s only your marriage your sewing into…not to mention YOUR overall happiness too because I’m willing to bet she’ll come back reenergized and you’ll reap the benefits in more ways than one.

I’m not saying do this so you get something in return, but the truth of the matter is, you probably will. Marriage is kinda like a team sport, both parties work together at this game called life in hopes of scoring the goal at the end. We help each other out, support one another and sometimes that means going out of our way to make extra time for them to do what make them happy.

How much different would marriage in America be today if we actually went out of our way to give our spouse an opportunity to do those things that truly make them happy and feel refreshed?

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Measure of Success

A year ago today I quite my job at Columbia River Bank and embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. It was a surreal feeling as I hung up the phone knowing that in a few short days I would be packing my truck and making a move that I'd been praying for, for almost ten years.

So much has gone on in the last year it would take a book to chronicle. As is so often the case, with each year gone by we examine ourselves and our situation in hopes that we are farther along than we were the year before. "Am I closer to my goal?" To answer that question you have to first know what that goal is and how to measure success. By the worlds standards, I'm farther away from "success" than I've ever been.

A year ago I owned two vehicles, had a secure semi-well paying job, a house all to myself, money in the bank and some level of freedom. Today my 30 year old truck needs new tires, I'm renting a room in someone else's house, I write articles for a living ranging from $100-$300 and whatever money I have in the bank is committed to paying next months bills.

Depending on your perspective, you might scratch you head and ask "Seth, what are you doing?" To many, my present situation is less than appealing and certainly isn't much to brag about. Most of my friends are married and many are starting to have kids. That season of my life is so far out of the question it seems almost comical to even consider.
Some mornings I wake up asking myself if I made the right choice. I have no guarantee of success, just a passion for what I'm doing and a vision for the future that seems to keep evolving. By this point, certainly after my trip to Texas last July, I'd hoped to be well on my way to some level of stardome. The "plan" was to become a superstar in the action sports world and become one of the sports elite. Didn't quite work out that way.

So now what? Do I limp back to the corporate world since I'm "educated" in a particular field? Do I move on to other avenues since I couldn't quite measure up as I had hoped to? Again, based on your definition of success, most wouldn't use that to describe the last year of my life. As I sit here planning my next move, scrambling around the pacific northwest for a week in hopes of finding the next peice, I'm reflecting on the last year and wondering just what exactly have I accomplished?

If accomplishment is the definition of success, than I've failed miserable. If experience fits the definition then I feel as though I can die a happy man. In the last year I have seen and done things that I only considered in my dreams. Example. I visited some friends in Corvalis recently and they had a poster of a guy upside down on a quad hanging on the wall (Caleb Moore). It's comical to me to know that the guy in the poster took me to the hospital after I crashed and nearly killed myself. I never thought I'd actually meet the guy, let alone hang out at his house for two weeks with he and the entire team of riders.

I had always hoped that one day before I die I could attend the Baja 1000 and witness the Matlock racing team continue to dominate the sport. In the last year I've served on their pit crew twice and each time the night before the race got to sit down and enjoy a pre-race BBQ with the whole family. DEFINITELY never saw that coming!

Those are just two of the countless experiences I've been blessed with in the last year and it's those experiences that I measure my success by. In terms of achieving my end goal (not even sure what that is any more) I wouldn't say I'm particularly successful, but if success is measured by satisfaction, fulfillment and joy, I'd say I'm living in the overflow.

I look at the last year as purely a gift. I cannot begin to describe the excitement I feel with regards to the experiences I've had and the people I've met in the last year. No, I don't know what tommorrow will bring. I don't know what the future holds, but I trust that this gift is from God and it is the clearest example I have that the Lord truly does "delight in giving us the desires of our heart." (Psalm 37:4)

Many might not understand my measure of success. Most people think I'm crazy for getting excited at the sound of an engine or the smell of race gas and exhaust fumes, but I do. Thats what makes me tick and it's the experiences revolving around this industry that make me come alive. It will be interesting to see how "successful" the next year is but if its anything like the last one, I'm in for a wild ride and I can't even begin to guess what it will entail!