Sunday, October 23, 2022

Insights From Glass

Mountain Cabin in North Carolina
Before the term, "side hustle" was popular I had one. Actually, I had numerous odd jobs to earn extra money and experience a variety of human interactions. The most recent and longest hustle is ending. I have chosen to strip away old jobs, ideas, and expectations in order to try on new adventures. In my last video, I spoke of the difficulties of letting go. It is not the physical work or the money, but the relationships and the appreciation expressed (builds my ego!) by others for the quality service. This process is more difficult than I anticipated. Second, third, and fourth thoughts have passed through my mind.

Being vocationally centered in pastoral ministry I was proud of the fictitious business name which I kept to myself. A residential window washing service called, "Wash Your Sins Away" was descriptive and expressive. A search of the internet did not reveal another business with that name. I never wanted my independence, reasonable pricing, and enjoyment to be ruined by dedication to a named business. Extra cash, work on my schedule, creativity, being outdoors, and the seasonality were too satisfying to trade for a quirky and catchy name.

The hours of washing a small portion of the array of window styles, designs, locations, and price ranges provided ample time for contemplation. Pivotal insights I discovered which are as important as reflective glass:

#1  Windows were invented to be barriers which allow natural light to enter a space. Think of them as transparent walls. You can see through them from either side. However, their purpose is to brighten a dark space while allowing the outside environment to remain outside.                 

Dirty window - job security

#2  Windows are always dirty. Debris from either side stains, streaks, spots, and scratches the glass. The windows may appear clean for a brief period of time. However, in a brief time or with closer examination the imperfections on the window appear. 

#3  Most people emphasize wanting the outside of the windows cleaned. Some clients want interior and exterior washing. Yet, most notice the external imperfections and want them removed. We are used to looking through glass rather than at glass.  

Part of providing quality service involves being part perfectionist. The glass needed not only to be clean, but spotless. Bird droppings, bug splatter, shadows in the window corners all needed to be removed. These standards created frustration, anxiety, and stress. Did I say this side hustle was enjoyable? What if I missed a spot? What if it rained in a couple days? What if the scratches were already on the window, but the owner blames them on me? Perfection has a price and I did not charge for it. My goal was to be calm and friendly on the outside making the job look easy. Inside, the negative self-talk was screaming.


Perfection is an illusion. Perfection is a human concept. The image of paradise/perfection in the Christian Scriptures is only used to contrast sinfulness/imperfection. Striving to be perfect is unobtainable, yet we are told that with enough discipline and effort we can reach perfection.  Too often we spend our efforts attempting to perfect the exterior image while neglecting the stains and spots which wreak havoc on the inside. I, along with many others hesitate to look inside, to look at ourselves instead of through ourselves. Scratches, streaks, spots, and sins are inside, too. Anxiety abounds! In my vocation of pastoral care and ministry this equates to job security.

What if we accepted the spots and streaks? What if we washed inside and out while accepting that perfection is an illusion? What if we allowed light to illuminate us, as well as emanate from us? In other words, would our world and our lives exhibit more contentment and confidence if we placed the illusion of perfection aside? Such radical thinking and the acceptance thereof would place window washers and pastors in a position to develop broader vocational skills!

Part of relinquishing the side hustle is finding another space for contemplation. I expect the space, as well as the time for insight to spring up as I enjoy new adventures!                
St Pancras Train Station - London
Glass Abounds!


Sunday, October 9, 2022

ENDracing to ENDing

Portable Sign

For more than a decade, Extreme North Dakota Racing has been a part of my life. Based in Grand Forks, ND it began with brothers, both being Adventure Racers, as well as graduate students at the University of North Dakota, deciding their training could also be a source of income. Their events were billed as "The toughest races in North Dakota." The long distances, harsh conditions, and multi-disciplinary activities appealed to me. I was not certain if I could complete the events, but I was willing to push myself. Being a participant was both exhilarating and challenging. There was a social aspect, as well as connection established in suffering with other people. After a few years, an opportunity became available to learn race directing. In a short time race directing dwarfed participation. Now I traveled further to participate in events. I watched other race directors. I watched what worked and mentally envisioned what I might use to enhance the races I directed. 

My first event to direct was END-SURE. This event had many iterations and routes. As an ultra-marathon held in the Sheyenne National Grasslands in mid-March, the weather was always the wildcard. From open, dry prairies, to fierce winds, to hip deep snow, and plenty of icy slush this was always a challenge for participants. To the initial 50km distance, a 100km option was added. Under my leadership a 100 mile distance and a 25km distance were added. In order for this to happen numerous volunteers were needed. As years passed the number of volunteers dwindled. I do not believe there is a single reason for the drop in volunteers. Peoples' lives have become busier in many aspects. Thus the event was reconfigured to only offer 50km and 100km distances.

This couple completed
100 miles in harsh 

After the fall gravel bike event, END-CHIP (October 8th), my time as director of various ENDracing events has come to a close. I believe it is not only time for others to assume leadership using their skills and visions to continue outdoor, challenging events, but personal aspects of my life need more attention. What impacted my life and inspired me to continue race directing over the years were the participants. I could celebrate and congratulate people whenever they passed the finish line. I could emotionally embrace those whose journey was cut short due to any number of physical, medical, or mechanical difficulties. My goal was to assist people in facing the challenge not only of the event, but of how this impacted their life. 

END-TICK June 2022
I met hundreds of people of various ages, careers, lifestyles, locations, and life situations. Events had the feel of a reunion, complete with hospitality, good food, and a well marked course. This was especially evident with the 2 gravel bike events. END-TICK (in June) and END-CHIP were hosted at the farm of Jona and Alicia Baer. Their willingness to be open, accepting, and hospitable factored into the return of many participants. Their welcome and interest in the lives of everyone who came made these events, not races. 

Everything comes to an END. One aspect of my life is ENDing, yet I am better prepared for the journey ahead thanks to what I experienced from others! 

END-WET swim cap

100km biker + 50km
runner approaching the end
of their distance.