Blog Post by April Tribe Giauque For the Unit in Light DV Awareness Conference
“Do something uncomfortable today. By stepping out of your box, you don’t have to settle for what you are — you get to create who you want to become.” — Howard Walstein
But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone and not in another.--Galatians 6:4
The Learning Zone is a place where we are tested--a place to prove ourselves if we will be willing to choose right from wrong. A place to choose our responses and reactions to life. Here, we are vulnerable: our weaknesses are revealed, yet through our weaknesses, our strengths are revealed, and we gain "wins and learns."
In our vulnerability, we learn the true meaning of courage and bravery and how to overcome our challenges. We can always be guided by light, by God, in the Learning Zone. He never leaves us, although we may struggle to learn the reason for being there in the first place. The Learning Zone is where a lot of life happens--but not all of life.
In Galatians 6:4 it says: “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone and not in another.” This life here is a testing ground, a place to prove our worth, our light, a place where we have the agency to choose how we respond or react to life.
Life is not meant to be free from pain, heartache, grief, or sickness, but we have a choice as to how we respond to this. We can prove ourselves authentically, meaning we will learn from the opposition in all things, hide in fear, and not learn, be established, or grow.
Since the Learning Zone is a proving ground, six things happen to us here (these are not placed in any order). 1) Hecklers, 2) Shame Shadow©, 3) the Vulnerability Prism, 4) Grounding, and 5) the Comfort Cage. The 6th is our underlying power, which is our agency. The choice is yours on what you will gain in the Learning Zone.
That was a fast and mean definition. Let’s take a deeper dive to find out what this looks like.
Remember, we are sent to this earth to prove ourselves to see if we will choose right from wrong, good over evil, and light from the darkness. To see if we will prove to ourselves to keep getting back up when life's challenges kick, knock, and punch us down, or will we race to hide from the challenge? Will we run back to the comfort cage inside the Learning Zone each time we feel scared or uncomfortable or when we want to create an excuse?
Learning Zones allow us to have the most growth in our lives. But growing is terrifying because that means exposing ourselves to new activities, people, and experiences. Here is some insight into a Learning Zone I experienced.
Story: Practical Lessons
Point, lift, turn, stretch, backbend, kick-over, repeat, and again down the blue and tan mats. I would perform the basics of tumbling repeatedly. My eyes looked up as I stepped off the mat for the hundredth time, and I would see her.
Her face had soft cheeks, tired eyes, and a relaxed brow. She was looking at me, then back down at her solid and small hands pulling the thread up and down, completing the pattern of her embroidery.
She could feel my gaze on her, and glanced up and nodded to me as if to say, “Keep going, keep practicing, don’t give up.” Her simple glance empowered me to try again and again. I did not give up by working hard until I had mastered the basics, the foundation so that I could fly one day. She never interfered with the coaching. She trusted them, and she supported me.
My mom would sit for hours with me at the gym or with my sisters at the pool. Since she was a mother of five children and worked full time, she would sometimes bring projects like the family’s ironing pile from home to our practices so that her time would be maximized and not wasted. It was convenient.
It never bothered me that she would do this except for one time. I was tumbling, and she was where the parents sat, but she was not sitting. She had her ironing board, clothing, and can of starch. Her arm was going back and forth and back and forth over stubborn wrinkles, and steam would sometimes fly up off the iron in a puff of steam.
I remember the comments of my teammates as my mom pushed the iron back and forth over my dad’s church shirts. Their hand motions mimicked and mocked her. Then they snickered and laughed at her. They whispered how embarrassed they would be if their parents brought their ironing to the gym. I could not understand why they were laughing at my mom! I heard the dark voice inside my head agree with them.
Suddenly, a fire lit in my belly because of their laughter! I blurted out, “My mom is helping our family! You shut up!” I must have shrieked a little loudly because it felt like all heads in the gym turned to look at my angry red face.
My chest was rising and falling rapidly with heavy-angered breath! As I looked at the three girls who were mocking my mom, I wanted to punch them in the face, but instead, I turned and ran into the bathroom and locked the door. I had never stood up and shouted out at anyone before.
I understood the family rule: “Nothing happens if nobody’s working on it.” If there was work to be done, then you did it, which was what my mom was doing. Why couldn’t they understand that? Hot tears were on my cheeks as I stared at the mirror and heard their mocking tones replay.
What was so wrong with what she was doing? She had five children, worked full time, was a wife to my dad, and spent time with me! I wiped the tears off my face, opened the door, and returned to the tumbling line. I kept my eyes focused on the mat. I didn’t look at anyone the rest of the night except for my mom and my coach.
This Learning Zone experience taught me that I could take a stand. It taught me I could show a little courage. I could defend and protect others and even “fight” a little. I’d love to report that the teasing and mocking stopped; it didn’t. But I knew their actions were right and wrong, and I took a stand.
This story shows a few elements of the Learning Zone: 1) Hecklers, 2) Vulnerability Prism, and 3) a little grounding. The Hecklers are the ones that point and mock at us. They “know it all.” They don’t need to be in the fight because it is easier to sit on the sidelines and point out everyone else's flaws. Those girls in my tumbling class won this label.
I held that vulnerability prism when I decided to stand and tell them to “shut up.” Maybe I saw a spark of courage and faith. More in-depth about this is in chapter 7. Finally, the grounding was when I had to run into the bathroom and lock the door. I was working through the emotions of calming down because of my anger. I really could have punched them out.
Instead, I wiped the tears off my face, opened the door, and returned to the tumbling line. I kept my eyes focused on the mat. I didn’t look at anyone the rest of the night except for my mom and my coach.
I had another option with this story. I could have chosen to run, hide in my comfort cage, and let the teasing continue. In my life, I have hidden inside the comfort cage and not wanted to face the challenges. But for some reason, I didn’t that day. I stood up and took it on.
Story Time: Goal setting in the Learning Zone
Beep, Beep, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP!! My eyes shot open, and my hand clicked the button on my alarm to turn it off. It was 5:17 a.m. to get up and time for the papers. As I lifted my 16 year-old-self out of my warm cocoon that crisp fall morning, I glanced at my gold medal hanging on the wall just opposite my bed, and I was reminded of why I was getting up.
That medal just hung from its red, white, and blue ribbon by a simple pushpin into the cork board. It was my first medal from the Nationals. My first National championship in Power Tumbling that, I won 3 years before. I have added two more awards since then, and I was determined that it would not be my last.
I pulled on my hat, jacket, and heavy shoes and headed through the hallway, around the corner, through the bathroom hallway to the garage door. Upon opening the door, a wall of frosty air hit me, and my breath appeared as steam puffs coming out of my nose. I grabbed the bundle of newspapers and bags that had been dropped for me to fold and deliver that morning. It was the first part of November, and I knew my drive on the scooter delivering newspapers that morning would be cold.
I carried the heavy papers inside and returned to the kitchen to begin the folding process. Slide, fold, press, and rubber band doubled around the form and stuff into the saddlebag, repeated my hands 36 times. Done; now lift and carry back outside.
Once the papers were folded and the saddlebag was straddled around the Honda Elite 250, I sat on the scooter and fired it up. The soft putt-putt hum of the gas power engine was all I could hear in the quiet dark of the morning as I drove off to deliver the morning papers.
This scene had been repeated for four years and would continue for another two years.
The money from that paper route helped me pay for my national tumbling competitions. After school, I would attend tumbling practice three days a week for two hours a night for an entire year just to prepare for it.
I would pound, twist, squeeze, lift, and rebound my body as I did tricks down the ten-foot wide, 120-foot long blue floor repeatedly, perfecting my compulsory skill pass, five-skill pass, and ten-skill passes. I would practice landings over and over and over again until I could “stick” it. While waiting to turn down the mat, I would do 40 crunches or 20 shoulder shrugs against the wall to simulate pushing off the tumbling mat and into the air. More! I would think more! I was driven.
Then, waiting in line, I would repeatedly repeat the skills in my head. It was my self-talk to reinforce the positive work I was doing. The gym was a safe place for me. I would tune out the chitchat of my teammates because I was there to focus on my coach's words and improve my skills. I would watch the elite tumblers and set goals that I would one day be as great as they were. I stayed focused and worked and worked for years. The goal-setting and the work paid off because I held 4 National titles and won a silver medal in the 1988 World Games.
The Learning ZONE
Working, goal setting, making a list, accomplishment...it took dedication and drive to have that every day. When I saw the fruits of my labor, I would set my sights even higher and strive to accomplish more ambitious goals. I learned that it takes dedication, determination, and drive to achieve what you want.
However, I’ve also learned that other factors in life are out of your control in the Learning Zone, and they often obscure your path as you are trying to accomplish your goals. There was also that dark, sharp voice, the Shame Shadow©, that, if I paid attention to it, would also make me feel hollow and worthless. In the Learning Zone, I would need to remember my strengths and my weaknesses and know that I would be working through both to find any success.
Living in the Learning Zone stretches us in ways we never thought possible, but our Creator KNEW were possible. Learning Zones allow us to have the most growth in our lives. But growing is terrifying because that means exposing ourselves to new activities, people, and experiences.
Join April Thursday, Oct 26, 2023, at 6:30 pm MDT as she talks to you about How you can maximize your Learning Zone and break free from Victimhood.