I’m a little late to the party this week. But that’s fashionable, right?
I am joining Five Minute Friday again this week, although a bit late. I have been going through a blog move this week (which I will talk about more sometime in the future, but long story short, I moved from wordpress.com to wordpress.org this past week), so I’ve been a little light on posting. And this next week is our first week of classes at both campuses where I teach AND I’m traveling to St. Louis on Thursday, so this might be another light week of blogging. We shall see. I need to get my weekly rhythm figured out and then stick with a routine based on that rhythm. So, in four weeks or so, I will hopefully have it down to a regular schedule of posts. For now, I’m going to do what I can without stressing myself out too much.
This week’s word for Five Minute Friday is “Refine”. Here goes:
I went to church today for the first time in a while. We had friends go who don’t typically go and it was nice to have someone to sit with. The music was raucous. Both the Gospel Choir and the Contemporary Ensemble were playing and the music was fun. I’m always pleasantly surprised with the music at church when I go as I remember the music not being so fun when I was younger.
The message was also very welcome today. It was about Knowing, Living and Loving. I had already been feeling a bit in need of a focus on love as of late. There is so much anger and hatred and volatility in the world that it can easily create fear and outrage. But, instead, I am attempting to focus on loving and caring. I posted this on my Instagram yesterday:
So, the message at church fit in well and helped me to refine my outward goals, but also my inward goals. I need to refine my vision of life. I need to rest in God’s grace and know that He will see me through whatever comes my way. The last eight years have been rough, but they have also been blessed in many ways. Refining my vision of knowing God’s word, Living as Jesus would have lived (if He were me, as our pastor so aptly put it…so, if Jesus had been a college professor and parent and Girl Scout leader, what would he have done?), and loving as Jesus has asked us to love. He has asked us to love our neighbors, our enemies, our family members and ourselves as He has loved us. We are a work in progress, not at all refined in these skills, but they are there. The possibilities are there for us to achieve these great goals. And that will be my focus going forward.
I am back to participate once again in Five Minute Friday over at Heading Home. Right now, this seems to be the only consistent thing I’m doing each week. At least there is one.
This week’s prompt is “whole” – here goes:
Being a whole person is tough. This morning at my MOPS group we did a personality test and discussion with colors. I noticed that it was very difficult for a lot of us (including me) because the categories used to describe ourselves were limited in the “quiz” and we all thought it was only recognizing “part” of who we are. We like to consider our “whole” selves when looking at our personalities and highlighting only parts makes us anxious. Because we don’t like all the “parts” of ourselves, but when looking holistically, we are more comfortable.
I get it. There are parts of me I would like to forget about. But, when we finished the “quiz” and added up our scores and read the descriptions of what it meant to our personalities, we all agreed it was pretty descriptive. So, what does this mean? It means that all those parts – even the ones we don’t especially like to recognize, make up who we are. And no one likes EVERYTHING about ourselves, but hopefully, we learn to like our WHOLE selves. And unfortunately, we often focus on parts of ourselves and how to get rid of them….our weight. Our lack of organization. Our too rigid organization. Etc, etc. But, I really do think that when we focus on our whole selves, we can start to embrace who we REALLY are. Not who we are in one aspect. That is like saying we are our foot. It is one small part of us, but it is not the whole of us and we have so much more to offer.
So, let’s look at our whole selves and celebrate who we are as whole people. And, let’s do the same for others.
I’ve asked that a few times. That question is the reason my blog goes to the bottom of my list every time I get busy. I don’t typically have a great reason for it. I love the community that blogging creates. I love that I see people “like” and comment on my posts over and over again and I feel like I’m reaching someone. But, even minus that, I like to write. I like the thought process. I enjoy the result. And this morning, I found this Medium article and it explained and justified and encouraged.
Although I would like to think that I will become one of those “famous” bloggers whose work is read by tons of people and whose faces you see all over the web and even on TV, I don’t write for that reason. I write because I feel a desire to write. I feel a desire to connect…with others, but more so with myself.
Lately, my biggest struggle is figuring out WHAT to write about. And much of that has been driven by my feeling of a need to “brand” my work. To have a purpose and a focus. But, when I read this in the article, it made so much more sense:
“Elizabeth Gilbert discusses the concept of ‘creative entitlement’ in her brilliant book, Big Magic. In short, your own reasons to create are reason enough. Do whatever brings you to life. Follow your own fascinations. Create whatever causes you to feel alive. The rest will take care of itself.”
Yes…that. Follow my fascinations (and they are many and often disconnected). Do what brings me life. Create what causes ME to feel alive. It is like validation for my lack of focus and my love of random prompt memes.
And although my readership has increased quite a bit over the past year or so (thanks to those still following despite my irregular posts and especially thanks to those who take the time to click like or, even better, leave a comment), that isn’t what really matters in the end:
“Retweets, favourites and shares are arbitrary and the wrong reasons to create. This is your work, not an overly-filtered selfie. You should be doing it because you love it. When you look back on your writing in 5, 10, 15 years’ time, you won’t be obsessing over page views, you’ll just be glad you did it. Trust me.”
So, for all of you out there like me, wondering why you’re writing or for whom or letting your writing go to the bottom of the priority list because it isn’t “productive” work, remember that you can be writing for YOU and make it a priority because it is something you love.
A little science humor for all you science geeks out there. Today has been pretty much a bust for me. This blog is so representative of me and my total lack of both focus and commitment. And every time I start to type one of these posts, I think to myself, “what is my problem?” So, I’m a self-help/improvement dropout basically. Forget Beauty School, I can’t even pass the “check your to-do list” or “organize your days into routines” classes.
I figure I can’t be a total failure at finishing things. I finished an undergraduate and graduate degree (a little lengthy for both, but still done). I also have held a job for the past fifteen years, not leaving one until I had another (usually better) in place. I have made it through five years of parenthood under rather rough circumstances and my child is relatively healthy (for someone with a heart transplant) and happy. I have been married for over ten years and we’re still pretty happy. So, I do have some level of commitment to things. Important things. But, for anything cursory, I have a really hard time committing. And mostly, I think it is because as soon as I start doing them, I realize I don’t REALLY want to do those things. I start doing them because I convince myself I REALLY want to do them (get fit, get organized, read more, etc.), but then when I actually do most of them, I realize it is truly not something I want to dedicate my time and effort and emotion in doing. It is sad really. Sometimes a waste of money. And often at least a little disappointing.
So, instead of being disappointed and chastising myself, I’m going to just let it all go. I’m going to figure that having a clean house, an organized pinterest-like life and cooking dinner each night at home after running a couple of miles and playing a game with my 5 year old and my husband is beyond my capabilities. I’m never going to become a physician, a physicist or a physical fitness star. I am also tired of trying and trying to be someone I am not.
I don’t want to “focus” on anything. I just want to live my life as best I can. Sometimes that will be relatively poorly. The piles of stuff on my stairs. My stained carpets (getting more stained by the day as my dog suffers a horribly depressing and distressing gastrointestinal problem that has her vomiting multiple times a day, often just bile that stains the carpet and smells horrible – my Oxi-Clean carpet cleaner is getting a real workout the past three days), my hoarder’s garage piled high with stuff that I can’t figure out whether I should keep or get rid of (a giant dog kennel we used for our dog when she was a puppy – its seen better days, but if we ever get another dog it may come in handy…and a new one would be very expensive OR the many, many, many books that I took so long to organize this summer and now just feel like we can go to the library and give that space to something more valuable or entertaining AND so much more), my piles of papers and magazines – most of which I don’t read or need but pile up because I MAY some day be interested in them or need them. It is just all too much for me. I want to be someone I am not because that other person seems so much better than me. So much more productive – a better mom, a better employee, a better sister/daughter, a better friend, a better neighbor, a better wife.
So, More at Forty (Five) is now Forty-Six. And I don’t have much more. But, maybe it is because I don’t NEED much more. Maybe I should focus on that “More” part being “More” credit. More kindness. More self-respect than self-improvement. More recognition for getting through instead of focus on changing things. More woulds and less shoulds. More enjoyment and less guilt. More Candy Crush and less couponing (heck, who am I kidding? I gave up on the couponing a while ago). More joy and less junk (getting rid of all the “stuff” that doesn’t bring me joy would be a great start). More teaching and student interaction and less grading and administrating. More loving life and less stressing over it.
So, yeah. Do I NEED to lose weight? No, not really. I’m happy with my weight. Would I LIKE to have more energy? Yes, definitely. But, I don’t know that those two things are really tied together. Do I want to measure out all my food and focus on measurements and scales or do I want to eat better and enjoy more activity in my life? The latter sounds so much better. The 21 Day Fix is great for someone who has organization and is ready to make a committed effort. But, I just don’t feel like its for me, right now. I want to eat healthier, but I don’t want to be so strict with it. It just isn’t what I REALLY want. I REALLY want to eat good food that I made with little effort. Sometimes I want that food to be a little less healthy than that plan would allow. The shakes seem like a really healthy addition to my daily caloric intake. So, I will keep up with those and maybe switch over to something similar, but cheaper once the 21 days is up. I’m sure that my “coach” will be disappointed, but I think the whole purpose is to make you feel better about yourself and your diet. And in a way, it did that in one day. I feel pretty good about myself right now. I realize that I don’t feel the NEED to change because I feel okay with where I am right now.
So, where does this leave me? It leaves me in the same place I’ve been. Behind in grading, sitting in a less than clean house, dealing with a calendar that is too stuffed and an energy level that is too low for it, without a social life, and feeling okay about all of that. Is that “settling”? Could I do better? Probably. To a certain extent. But, it also leaves me feeling better about my life, myself and my home. So, why not settle for satisfied rather than strive for perfection?
How about you out there? Want to join me in settling for satisfied? Perhaps we can start our own movement…the “Settling for Satisfied” movement. We will resist the urge to constantly compare, to strive for perfection, to be dissatisfied with the disasters that we are. Instead, we will embrace our own ineptitudes. Let’s hear it for settling for satisfied!
I was Soren Kierkegaard for my graduate level ethics class and I soon fell in love with his philosophy on ethical living. And this is what I want to be my “focus” now: