Friday, October 16, 2009

Lending a hand - 10-14-09 Editor's Column

As the weather changes and the foliage follows suit, many of us are likely thinking the same thing: it is time for the plethora of holidays that make the fall and winter months so enjoyable.

Some of you may have already taken care of some necessary preparations for upcoming family gatherings such as Thanksgiving and even Christmas.

Similarly, those of you looking to avoid the rush have probably gotten some holiday shopping done early.

However, there is another aspect of the impending season that may go overlooked if we aren’t too careful: the time we can spend helping those who need it.

Though there is a need for help every month of the year, there is certainly not a lack of needs during the fall and winter months, especially for families who may need help staying warm or putting meals on the table.

Additionally, there will certainly be families who will need help providing gifts this holiday season for their children.

Though finding these opportunities may seem time consuming, it is actually easier than one might think, especially in a town that is as giving as Mahomet.

All it might entail is a phone call to the Mahomet Helping Hands to help with a distribution day or to help sort food, or maybe even just to provide something that they need more of in their store rooms.

Alternately, local businesses often have food drives and toy drives during this time of year to benefit those who are in need, so it might simply mean an extra trip to one of those businesses to drop off a toy or some cans of food.

Even schools become involved, so if your child comes home with an opportunity, maybe you can give a little extra and not only benefit someone else, but also show the spirit of giving to your child as he or she continues to grow and develop the sense to do things for others.

Take the time to consider how you might be able to lend a hand during these next few months, and while you learn more about yourself, be sure to enjoy the view.

Dealing with 'What if?' - 10-7-09 Editor's Column

We’ve all said it. Some of us probably said it today. Still more of us will say it at some point in the coming week. “What if?” Those two little words that can cause so much distress or cause us to lose focus.

What is it about “what if?” that has us so unknowingly infatuated? Perhaps it’s the fact that on some of the occasions when we ponder it, the outcome may have been more favorable.

You know what I’m talking about. Those moments when you’ve just completed a task that didn’t end the way you had hoped and, though you know there is no going back or doing it over, you ponder, “what if I had done this?”

Then you dwell on what could have been instead of focusing on what is. Instead of learning from the less than desirable outcome, you try to understand where you went wrong, diverting your focus from the next time and therefore hindering yourself.

Another area that we let “what if?” get the best of us is when we are trying to complete everyday tasks.

For example, you have a task set in front of you that should be simple enough, yet instead of working to complete said task, you try to work all the angles before you even get to them, asking “what if” this happens or “what if” this goes wrong?

It’s easy to get caught up in this - we all do it. However, there must come a time when we save the “what if’s” for the sake of progress and growth as individuals.

Perhaps the next time a situation doesn’t work out in your favor, instead of getting stuck on “what if?” you can focus on how you will perform differently the next time.

Similarly, instead of second guessing and trying to get ahead of yourself on whatever project you might be working on, you simply take a step back and experience things the way they were meant to be experienced: With a desire to complete your task and learn from it, not dissect your task and be consumed by it.

We will always ask ourselves “what if,” however if we can come to recognize those situations that don’t require it and might actually be better without it, we might be able to enjoy life a little bit more.

Just be sure to enjoy the view.

Discovering what fall is all about 9-30-09 Editor's Column

Depending on who you ask, many things could represent “what fall is all about.”

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to experience some of those possibilities by simply driving around Mahomet and spending time with local residents and visiting citizens.

For instance, this past weekend saw the conclusion of the community wide garage sales that I had the opportunity to take part in with my wife and my mother.

While out and about, I was able to see some familiar faces, meet some new people and pick up a few items that had stories of their own.

Two such items were some simple folding chairs that had been painted orange and blue and been given the traditional Illini “I” on the seat-back.

Upon talking to the woman selling them, I learned that the chairs had been her mother’s and that her mother had used the chairs at every home contest the Illini had during tailgates.

I wouldn’t even try to put a guess on the age of the chairs, but they have had their fair share of use over the years, sporting the blemishes that come with time.

Yet, those very blemishes are what I have come to believe make these chairs so valuable, which is why I look forward to continuing the stories that these simple chairs will collect.

Another sign that fall is here came in the form of a fall-favorite past time on Saturday afternoons: football and barbecue.

For those of you who were unable to make it to the first annual barbecue cook-off at the Hideaway of the Woods, it was a great example of why communities such as Mahomet are so valuable.

It brought friends and strangers together to compete in the name of the great love of barbecuing and fun. Between the bags tournament, the variety of tastes and the football game (however dismal), the commonality present was the good time that everyone was having without having to put too much effort into it.

Despite the threatening rain and the brief spits of precipitation, people were enjoying the weather, the food and the new-found friendships.

Obviously the list of things that remind us of the season could go on, but being able to experience them first-hand is what really makes them special.

Who knows, maybe this coming weekend you’ll encounter something new for your list. No matter what, though, enjoy the view.