Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday – Convenient

I am joining Five Minute Friday a day late this week. I’m trying to be as consistent as possible in posting these weekly in 2019, but I’m not yet getting them all on Friday. Improvements can be made! This week’s prompt is “convenient”.

Convenient is not just a word for me. It is a way of life! My Twitter profile reads “Cheap and easy (not me, my food and life in general).” because it is truth. I am not one for making long time investments to doing hair, makeup, making meals or anything else in my life really. I am not sure where this stems from, but it is pretty consistent. If things aren’t simple and easy, I’m probably not going to be doing them long term.

But, I realize that sometimes “convenient” is just another word for “lacking value”. This isn’t always the case of course, but at times, we have to question whether convenience is trading off with something that is of more value. For example, I struggle with finding time to read books nowadays. It seems much more convenient to listen to podcasts or read shorter articles online, etc. But, I feel like that convenience trades off with an experience that is worth having. Getting lost in a book may not be the most “convenient” of things to happen to me, but it is so worth it in the grand scheme of things. Another area where I think convenient trades off with value is food. We’ve made a commitment to trying to eat more at home in 2019. But, even in the first few weeks, it has been tempting for us to eat out because it would be “convenient”. Someone doesn’t have to cook. No dishes are dirtied. But, that convenience usually leaves us feeling bad about what we ate and bad about what we spent. I am starting to be more aware of this tradeoff, even after only a few weeks.

So, although I love for things to be convenient, I also am starting to realize that God has given us things that are more worthy of our time and attention. He has given us the ability to slow down and appreciate investing time and effort in things. We just need to figure out what those things are in our lives. We aren’t all committed to or invested in the same thing. That would be boring. God has given us our own vocations, our own gifts to share and our own challenges as well. If we can take the time to really invest in those vocations, take time to share those gifts and not back down from those challenges, we will most likely find that although it may not be the most convenient way, it is the most rewarding way.

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Five Minute Friday – Influence

Joining up with Five Minute Friday on a Monday this week. It was a long weekend, so we went to my in-laws on Friday and I focused on getting my Winter Session grades done (which I did, other than late work, which I will be entering today and will be done with that before starting Spring semester tomorrow). But, I didn’t want to miss a Five Minute Friday so early in the year, so I figured, better late than never! This week’s prompt is “influence”.

Influence has taken on a whole new meaning in this age of electronic communication. I wrote a bit about this before in my post, “Do We Need A Following?” I have been reading blogs for a long time and I have noticed how many more people are describing themselves as “influencers”. There are lifestyle influencers, fitness influencers, parenting influencers, and the list goes on and on. But, what does this really mean? In a lot of cases, it simply means “salespeople”. But, I guess we feel better about being influenced than we do being sold things.

I think of “influence” as so much more than selling something though. Influence is the ability to change someone’s behavior or choices and like any other form of power, it comes with a lot of responsibility. That responsibility is often forgotten in the exchange though. We think of the person being influenced and we put a lot of responsibility on them. “Resist”. “Be aware and think before acting.” But, what about the influencers themselves? Do they have any responsibility to be ethical? I mean, I know we have laws that make people post when they are using affiliate links (so we know they are financially gaining from the clicks) and we have some expectations for the bloggers we read to be honest in their opinions online. We have always been sold things in our daily lives, after all.

But, the internet takes it to a whole new level. I worked in retail during high school and my first few years of college. I remember the uncomfortable feeling of having to ask someone if they were interested in pairing that sweater with some socks or getting a discount for applying for a credit card. That discomfort was from hearing my mom’s voice in my head every time, saying that if she was interested in those things she would have ASKED for them. My mom was not a retail fan. But, it made me consider whether I was actually asking them about the socks and credit cards to help THEM or to help ME (or our company, although we often got points for upselling items) and the answer was often ME (or our company). Every once in a while someone actually needed a pair of socks and didn’t realize we had them on sale, but that was really rare. That discomfort stemmed from not only my upbringing, but also the fact that I was looking someone in the face when I was asking. I could often tell when someone was pushing it to get the sweater alone. But, still, we were supposed to ask them about the socks. And maybe if they got a credit card they could go into debt to get them! The internet takes away the face-to-face. The posts are written with millions in mind and no one in mind. There is no indication of whether someone reading can afford the items listed or are struggling to just get through a day of meals. But, they chose to click, so aren’t they responsible? I’m just not so sure.

Some influencers are really responsible and honest and ethical. But, there are many out there who may not have considered what it means to be an influencer, but instead are focused on being a seller. Whether young or unaware or naive or purposefully uncaring, they just don’t think/care about the impact they can/will have on a large number of people. I am going to try to support those influencers (life Five Minute Friday) who have their readers at heart when they write their posts. They may sell things, but they do so in a way that recognizes their readers as humans and try to add value to their readers’ lives, not just value to their own wallets. It isn’t always easy to tell the difference, but if you read for long, it will usually become apparent.

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Five Minute Friday – Better

I am joining the Five Minute Friday community on this first community post of 2019! It probably isn’t an accident that this week’s prompt is “better”.

I am a perfectionist. No one would know that from watching my behavior. I am constantly making a mess, leaving messes and having to fix mistakes I’ve made. But, most of those are problematic because of my perfectionism. I often won’t do something because I know I won’t be able to do it perfectly. That means that nothing gets done and the problem or the situation gets worse. So, I have to learn to embrace “better”. It is the perfect response to perfectionism.

I preach this to my daughter and to my students, but I often forget it myself. I have seen what can be done through incremental improvements. In fact, most things won’t improve at all without incremental improvements. Small steps lead to big trips. So, by being a little better each day, we can become the person we’ve only dreamed of being. By focusing on doing better with our actions – whether they be choosing healthy foods or exercising regularly or writing regularly – we will improve. The difficult part comes in the wait. Patience is often difficult to hold on to while we are only getting slightly better day-to-day. We (well, at least I) want to see the impacts right now! We don’t just want to get better each day, we want to get great immediately.

This year, I’ve chosen “less” as my one word. And one of the ways I will use that word is to focus less on big changes and instead move to just be slightly better day-to-day. Better at taking care of myself, my home, my family and doing my work. I’m not going to be perfect. I’m not going to be the best. I’m just going to have to settle for better and realize that God didn’t make me to be perfect. He made me to live life in His grace and forgiveness, but strive to be better – to try to live as Jesus lived. Not because I can live as Jesus lived, but because trying to live that way – making decisions based on those principles – will make me a better person. Ever-so-slightly better.

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Independent Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday is on a break this week, so I’m doing one independently. I’m going to use my Word for 2019 as my prompt – Less.

In 2019, instead of looking for more in my life, I’m looking for less. As I look around my home, my calendar, my life in general, I realize my More at Forty goals has got me way too much at fifty. I have too many things. I have too many obligations. I have too much food in my fridge and freezer and pantry. I have too many books. I have too many pets. So, although I won’t be changing the name of this blog to “lessatfifty.com” it is tempting. So, what does this mean?

Well, first it means doing some major decluttering of my home and my calendar. I have been decluttering for a while now, but I must admit that I do it with a bit of reserve. I get rid of some things, but hold on to others even though I don’t use them or want them because of some obligation I have to others or some idea I have of myself. I am often the same way with my schedule. I will get rid of one thing, only to add two others because of some form of FOMO. So, now I need to get serious about both my things and my schedule.

Our society is so focused on getting more, having more, showing more. I’m ready to seek less, have less and show less in 2019.