Thursday, August 21, 2014

In Which we Talk about Bunk beds, Tough Mudders, and Katie's Breakdown

Based on True Story that happened last month...

Hot, angry, tears streamed down my cheeks as I quickly marched down the road away from home. The dark pavement matched my mood and the scorching 100-degree sun wasn’t making me feel any better. Mother’s failed attempt at comforting me still burned in my mind.

“Honey, maybe it’s just a hard time of month. You know? That’s why everything is a big deal right now.”

Why did she always blame it on hormones.

“No!” I shouted out loud in the stifling heat. “that’s not it! My life is just a mess and I am not motivated to do anything . . . ANYTHING!” I paused on the pavement, shocked to hear my voice so bitter—shocked to feel my nails biting into my palms. Was I going off the deep end? I wondered. Was I rebelling like all those “oldest” children I had heard about? One thing was clear. Something needed to change.

How you work best matters. Learn it.

Okay, so let’s jump back to the beginning of the week when life was going goodish.  I say “ish” because I was the product of Summertime—tan, a little soft from all those Jamba’s, and with some extra time on my hands. It was time to get off the party wagon and get motivated.

That attitude found me sitting on the couch, eyes glued to the Mac.

“This is it!” I shouted excitedly.

“What?” Mother raised her eyebrows.

“No, no. I’m serious! I am sooooo serious! Twelve miles . . . I need to get better at pull-ups . . .  we need a team . . .”

“What are you talking about, Katie?”

“Tough Mudder! I am doing a Tough Mudder!” The words rattled off my tongue as I saw my lack of motivation and weak body disappear.

“That sounds interesting, but you’d better talk to Daddy,” Mama cautioned.

“He’ll LOVE this!” I assured her.

A few texts later I had a bomber team together: my ripped uncle, two buff friends, Daddy, Kyla and myself. I had talked to everyone but Daddy.

Finally, Daddy was free from meetings. After my most convincing spill, I waited for his answer while reading everything about the Mudder Nation I could get ahold of. I read their blogs, watched their videos, knew their workout plans, success stories and stats. Finally it hit me that I was still sitting on the couch, not getting any buffer.

I took some motivational selfies and set off at a hard sprint to our 3-mile marker. After my run, I clocked how many push-ups I could do in a minute, stretched a little, and drank a glass of water. (Gotta stay hydrated.)

Dude. This is better than New Years!

Forty-eight hours later, I had completed the Tough Mudder a hundred times in my mind and was already imagining myself as a combination of cross-fit champion and Athleta model when Daddy game me his answer.


“No? No?” My voice shook as I watched my visions of podiums and mud puddles crumbling. “But . . . ,“ I  choked back tears. “You don’t understand.”  

An hour later, I came out of my parents room tired and drained with my fellow debater, Kyla. She kept right on with life. I didn’t.”

What was life without a Tough Mudder?

That might be a slight exaggeration, but, regardless, my motivation dropped to literally zero.

“Let’s pick another event instead,” Kyla shrugged as we walked in the cow from our field. “Something classier, like a triathalon.”

“No way. Unless it’s an iron man or something big—something that will hurt.” I stared off into the distance until the sharp sting of our Jersey’s tail brought me back to the clover field. Kyla’s eyebrows were raised in mocking disbelief.

“Are you kidding me, Katie,” she laughed. “You’re so out of shape, running three miles would be hard for you.”

Kyla may have been right, but despite her opinion, I didn’t work out for the next few days. At all. What’s new?

A couple nights later, I was laying in bed mentally kicking myself in the sweaty darkness. I kept getting distracted by Kyla’s soft snoring and Kelsey’s creaking bed.

“Get it together, Katie,” my brain said. “Grow-up and move on from your muddy images. You’re not only out of shape, but you’re behind in school. Focus on that.”

The little demon in my head whispered, “But you’re not motivated to do school because there’s no place to focus in this house.”

That’s when it hit me. The solution to the world’s problems (at least my world’s problems) came in the form of three stacked places to sleep. Yep—a triple bunk.

My brain started whirling out of control . . . faster and faster.

I’ll stack our beds, we’ll have more room, I’ll bring in a desk, build bookcases, and shelves . . .

I jumped out of bed at one in the morning and began scrolling through online bunk bed plans. I could totally do this. An hour later, I crawled back into my muggy comforters—mind racing. By mid-morning, I had built that bed 20 times in my head with a combination of online plans and my own personal touches. I even mentally delegated jobs to Kyla and Kelsey and prepared a proposal for my parents. Finally, blurry-eyed and mentally frenzied, I stormed the medicine cabinet for some relaxing herbs.

Mr. Sun found me hard at work the next day. I announced my plan to Mother at the breakfast table and, after some basic assurances, she was satisfied I could become a carpenter.

“Make sure you run it by Daddy though,” she smiled.”

“Totally,” I grinned. “He’s been talking about this for years but he doesn’t have the time. I will be a life-saver.”

Daddy’s work meeting went longer than expected, and by mid-afternoon, Kelsey and I had our old beds disassembled and wrapped. We were beginning to sort through the mountains of trash under our beds. I had measured multiple times, drawn plans of the bed’s every possible angle, made a supply list, and even an order of events.

That’s when Daddy came home to three beds sitting in the kitchen.

“What’s going on,” he asked sharply.

“We’re building a . . . “ I motioned to Kelsey to stop; she’s a “punch-liner” which isn’t usually very convincing.

“I’ll explain,” I called down from our room.

Daddy’s dark look wasn’t very encouraging, but I didn’t worry. Anyone would be frustrated if beds clogged their kitchen.

I launched into my spiel and presented the problem, then the solution. To back up my claims, I handed Daddy my stacks of drawings to show my dedication, commitment and competency.

Daddy raised one eyebrow as I rushed to explain my plans. I was surprised he didn’t ask me to draw blueprints for our home remodel right then and there. But the again, he was drawn in by my presentation. Daddy offered a few changes and went up to our war-zone to look around.

“Hmmm,” he nodded. “You’ve thought through this.” Things were looking good. He didn’t even acknowledge me when I said I wanted to travel to France for cooking school.

Then, disaster struck.

Being an extreme visionary himself, Daddy’s began suggesting more and more unique bunk-beds until my inner contractor became worried.

“I-I-I don’t want to build a crazy bunk like that,” I muttered.

“Well, I don’t think I want you building any bunk beds right now, Katie.”

“Nooooooo!” I wailed. Kelsey looked at me with a face that said, I spent all morning breaking down beds and uncovering Mt. Everest piles for WHAT?

Think it can’t get any worse? Think again.

Kyla came home from eight hours of work, ready for a nap, and saw her bed in a neat bundle of saran, bubbles, and paper. She took one look at our room floor (actually you couldn’t see the floor) covered in a sea of dirty clothes, papers, and unknown objects and screamed, “KaiTEEEEEEEEE!”

Mother pulled me aside and softly excused my behavior and disappointment with the muggy weather, my lack of sleep, and my hormones. “Ya know hon, I think everything is a big deal right now because . . . "

“I am NOT tired!” I burst into tears. I ignored the fact that Mother and Daddy had explained good reasons for why they didn’t support my past two ideas. “You and Daddy have crushed all my dreams! I have all the energy in the world and you won’t let me direct it anywhere!” **Relationship 101 . . .  never repeat those slight over-generalizations if you want a long, happy life.

That’s how I ended up on the road. Tired. Confused. And bawling like a baby.

Well folks, things do get better after a good nights rest (and a rational talk with the best parents in the world). The next day, Daddy sat Kyla and I down for a business proposal—it was not a contracting position—and tried to ignore the fact that Mt. Saint Kathryn had been active the past week.

“Alright, girls,” he began. “You’ve heard this before. I bit off more than I can chew, so I have two options. I can hire someone outside, or (do what I would WAY rather do) and work with my family. I think we can be an awesome team.” He smiled questioningly.

“But Daddy,” I groaned.  I had explained it to him before. I couldn’t work because I was too busy with school. (In reality I was too busy surfing the web for races and bunk bed plans, but the load of school I was putting off made me feel like I should be busy doing school.)

Three and a half hours after Daddy’s motivational job offer, I was finishing up a work project before dinner. The next morning, I was up at 5am exercising, spending much-needed time in the Word, and working before I milked Klarabelle. I felt great!

Today, I finished a week I started confused and frusterated, with 5 hours of work, 3 ½ hours of school, and a work out. I even made dinner (if you know me, that’s saying a lot).

“Kyla,” I sighed tonight as I brought in our cow. “I am so stoked about working-out and I’m not even training for anything! I got more school done in the past week than I have in the past two months, and I took stress off of Daddy (instead of creating it for him). I earned money, don’t even want to surf the web and am finally not overwhelmed!”

Kyla shook her blond pony tail and laughed, “That’s what I told Mama when you were freaking out. You do best when you have too much to do. Otherwise, you’re like a little kid—when you aren’t busy, you get into trouble.”
The Johnson Family and our Cousin's, the DenDulks, are pumped about Learning how we work best!!! (Actually, we are excited about the fair, but if I said that, this picture would seem out of context…)

Moral(s) of the story: Learn HOW you work! While not everyone is as obsessive as me, we all can be frustrated when we aren’t living up to our potential. I felt overwhelmed yet under-motivated when I was doing nothing. Now I know, due to an emotional obstacle course that would put Tough Mudders to shame, when I feel that way, pile on the work.

Secondly, when you need motivation, just do something small. You don’t have to build a palace or climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Motivation is like a snowball; it grows fast but you have to start somewhere.

Third, and perhaps most importantly: ASK DADDY FIRST. In other words, don’t get too far ahead before you have done your research and seen the doors open.

Good luck learning how you work BEST!!!

**It is highly suggested you have amazing, mature, and almost-perfect parents, siblings or a spouse when learning this lesson.