I'm off work today for Confederate Memorial Day. Believe me, we got plenty of flack when they started giving us that day off as a holiday. It was actually part of the compromise for removing the Confederate Flag from the State House dome. As part of the deal, the flag was moved, and Martin Luther King, Jr., day and Confederate Memorial Day were added as official State Holidays (but I think State Employees are the only ones that actually close their offices on this day).
I know it's obscure, but before you start squawking tell me: Would you refuse a day off? I won't. Not even on principle. Plus, honestly, I think they're required to give us so many holidays a year and I think we just ran out of the major ones, so we had to move on to secondary ones to get the extra day in.
Well, a day off's a day off, and I plan to enjoy it. It gives me a chance to get some little things done that usually sit until they pile up to the point where I have to make time for them. That's good. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that efficient time management is a must for a busy lifestyle.
That's a good point to ponder on this extra day off. Somebody asked me recently how on earth I find time to write with a full time job. The short answer is efficient time management. I'm lucky that I was taught that in college, and it's one of the skills I've found most useful in my life. It isn't always easy, but the truth is that we make time for things that are important to us, whether we realize it or not. Writing nights and weekends is the obvious answer, but I have to admit that I make a fair amount of progress by taking my laptop to work and writing on lunch breaks too. It's only an hour, but if I do that two times a week then it's the equivalent to another weeknight of work. And another secret is that I don't watch much TV. I watch 3 shows during the fall season (Arrow, Supernatural, and The Americans - all come on the same night, so I can "block out" Wednesday nights for that), and 1 show during the summer (Breaking Bad). I look up news and weather online so I don't have to watch it on TV. And yes, occasionally I do forego recreation to get writing done. I've passed on watching football games, lunches out, and shopping or "hanging out" on days off like today to write. And I have to humbly admit that I even write on sick days, if possible. One reason I made good progress on my novella this week was because I was sick with a virus Monday, but I drug myself out of bed and wrote a chapter anyway. It isn't always easy, but with some planning you can make time for things.
I tell you, a busy life is a blessing. It's a life of abundance, but you have to manage it wisely to experience and enjoy it to the fullest.
Speaking of the novella, it has a name now - Incursion. It looks like it going to be 10 chapters with a prologue and epilogue. I know the pros recommend against prologues and epilogues, but I like it and that's my style. If people like the piece then they'll read it. Plus, I endeavor to keep them short. To me, they're the bookends of the story and I'm not going to abandon them just because it isn't popular. Platform shoes went out of style after the 70's, but darn if I don't see women wearing those atrocities again all the time. So there. Style is a poor reason to change something that works for you. Or to do something that doesn't work.
Anyway, I've written 5 chapters so far, which is excellent progress. More than I expected at this point, really. But alas, I did push myself to make this progress and my wrists are achey, so once I complete this entry then I do plan to take a break from the keyboard for the rest of today and tomorrow. You have to balance the planning and time management with common sense, and I won't make any progress at all if I push it too far with my wrist. So given my good progress this week, I'm using today to spend time with other people and things that I wish to nurture in my life. Like hanging out with the birds, tending my roses, and having lunch with Mom. A day off is a rare gift, and I want to enjoy it to the fullest.
That's all today. I hope you have a Happy Friday and that the mom's out there have a good Mother's Day.
The last blog entry got me thinking. Since we got back from Arizona, I've felt weird. Not bad, or sad, just - off center, like something wasn't right. I didn't know what it was. But it felt like something was out of place.
I was talking to someone after I made that last blog entry and it finally hit me: this is the first time I haven't had something big or in progress in my life in 3 years. Since 2009 at work there have been law changes, regulation changes, administrative changes, and adjustments to get the work move done. At home, I wrapped up a large cross stitch project in the summer and then dived back into writing novels. I've written 3 novels and one shorter book since then, and have published 6 pieces. It's been creating, researching, writing, and promoting for a good long while.
And now, it's done. Things are settled from moving the programs and everything is up to date.On the writing front, Move is published and publicity is pretty much a part of my routine now. I've shifted my focus to short stories, which is still fun but isn't as intensive as a novel. In fact, this is the first time since November 2009 that I haven't been at some stage of working on a novel.
So life has settled back into a routine. It's just going along and living day to day. Simply the business of keeping things moving. That's what was weird for me. No big projects. No efforts to update, progress, or get things done. The fields are sowed and now, we simply care for them and wait for the harvest.
It's been a while since I was in this place, and that's why I feel weird. It's been 3 years of working and striving and now, the work is done and all I need to do is faithfully work at maintaining the progress that's been made. It's weird. And what's throwing me is that it shouldn't be. I remember a time when this was completely normal and now that I'm bad to it, I don't know what to do.
It's weird, but it's also a relief. It's almost like I don't know what to do now that something doesn't need doing. Perhaps it's a good time to rest. Shift my focus. The short stories are a good idea, as I really do need to work and improve in that area. And perhaps going back to cross stitching isn't a bad idea either. Those are things to do, and areas I enjoy. Why not rescale my efforts in different directions? Different is good.
It bothers me a little that normal seems weird, but in another way, I understand why. I also know that I'll settle in. My life is full and there's always plenty to keep my soul, heart and mind growning, learning and occupied. Boredom is not a problem that plagues me.
That's all today. It's a nice Saturday and heck, there's not a to do list so I might as well enjoy it. Bring on the coffee! Let's enjoy this beautiful day.
Take care and enjoy your weekend.
I'd like to open this entry with a disclaimer: I have no objections to working outside the home. In fact, I believe I'd be bored and rather miserable as a stay-at-home. I have always felt that I need to contribute to the world at large, and I invested a great deal into getting a college degree so I could do just that. So to start, I don't mind working. The issue is balancing it with having a life. Because jobs take up an awful lot of your life, and you have to set boundaries with how much of your life you want to give to your work - much like everything else.
I never wanted my job to be the core of my life. There are a lot of people out there that are defined by their work, and I've known all along that I don't want to be one of them. To me, I have a job to serve my life. It's how I channel my knowledge, experience and skills to the world, and in return it financially supports my life. That's it. It's not who I am. It's not my sole purpose in life. It's not the whole of my existence. It's one part of my life, one part of the whole that makes me.
The challenge is keeping it one part of life because work, much like everything else, wants to be the center. The fact that it's our financial foundation is a binding factor that makes work one of the "immovable objects" in our lives, and the trick is how to keep reshaping that object into something that helps rather than hurts. Our personal lives change over time and so do our jobs - even if you work in the same place throughout your career, I can guarentee that the job itself will change as time goes on. Duties come and go, and more is always added. I can attest to this by experience. I've been working in the same job for over thirteen years, but it most certainly IS NOT the job I was hired to do. It bears absolutely no resembelance to what it was the first day I walked in. It's even been reclassified twice to accomodate for the drastic changes over the years. Likewise, my personal life has drastically changed in those years as well. And the ongoing challenge is how to keep work in balance in your life with both are constantly changing forces.
It's tough, and it's something that constantly has to be managed. I've had to make a lot of adjustments in the past three years alone, as my job duties quadrupled at the same time that my in-laws moved to town and my writing started to get published more widely. In fact, I was under a therapist for a year to help me manage all of the changes sweeping through my life. It would have been nice if all of these things could have happened, say, over the space of five years - but it was more like five months. I made it, but I'm not afraid that I'm still on that curve of balancing my changed work situation and my changed life situation. That is, in fact, part of what spurred my resolution to work on the issue of balance. It was realizing that while the major adjustments are done (and have been for a while), some tweaking to the details needs to happen. In fact, tweaking is something that probably needs to be done, well, more frequently than I have.
I think the big thing for me right now is balancing my increased work duties with my writing. I could easily stay glued behind a computer all my waking hours between the job, then coming home to work on writing promotion and working on new projects to keep my writing in motion. While I love my writing, I realized it had elevated itself to "work" in my life, and I always said that when it was more labor than enjoyment, it was time to make some adjustments. I can't and won't work 100% of the time. I want free time with Rick and the birds, with family and friends, with occasional volunteer projects at church, or with hobbies or just being lazy, and I will have it. I need time off, and I believe that getting sick with that virus before the holidays was the wake up call that made me realize I spend too much time working and not enough time taking care of myself: spiritually, mentally, physically, or emotionally. I have a full life and that's fine, but I need to get it in order and make sure there's a place for everything - and especially a space for taking care of myself, which I neglected to an almost dangerous place a few weeks ago. I really downplayed that here and in my social media posts, but the truth is that I was a bigger wreck than I let on, and it downright scared me. I was ill and distressed to the point of being almost non-functional for about 36 hours. Not long, but long enough to get through. It was time to heal more than my body. My mind and soul needed healing too.
Thankfully, I had some time off for the holidays to take stock of how to do this, and the work-life issue was primary amongst my concerns. I can't change my job, but I can look for ways to get better organized and to get things done better and more efficiently. As for my writing, I looked into some publicity options that included writing more articles and short stories, which allows me to continue producing new work that gains publicity for my published books. It's channeling into doing more of what I love, which is creating new work. It takes the "work" out of the writing and puts it back in the place of being "fun." And that's what it's all about: being entertaining and fun for me and my readers.
I think we all get knocked off kilter every now and then, and it seems that the work-life balance is usually where it's most likely to happen. We just have to stop and take stock every now and then to make sure we're keeping work in it's proper place in our life, and not letting it morph or grow into a trap. Because when we feel trapped, that's when it's gotten too far out of balance. I'm happy to report that I do feel much better and I continue to heal from my illness of a few weeks ago. There are still some struggles, but I take it a day at a time and I believe I'm finding a better way to have my life with all the joy and fullness I'm meant to have.
That's all today. Take care. I hope you have a great week.
As we head into a new year, I ponder my resolution to have better balance in my life on a number of levels. One of those (very important) levels is in the area of stress reduction and reducing worry in my life. I think these are things we all struggle with, and recently I've come to realize there's a great deal that we impose on ourselves, especially when it comes to our relationships.
This realization came after having several people tell me things that other people said and/or did over the past few weeks and asked what I thought of it. I remembered that when I was under a therapist while going through my life changes a few years ago, one of the things she told me was that the secret to finding balance was realizing what was and wasn't my business. "You concern yourself with your responsibilities and what you control and let go of the things in the hands of others," she said. That's certainly true, and in fact remembering this advice upon being asked my opinion on these various situations and issues made me realize that people, in general, bring on a lot of their own stress by worrying about or fretting over things that other people think, say or do - things they have absolutely no control over.
Why do we do this? My first reaction was that it's arrogance. Frankly, we all have a tendency to beleive that everything is all about us - and that's wrong. The truth is that everything people think, say and do is all about THEM. It's a reflection of how they see the world. Even if they say that "others made me do it," the truth is that they made the decision on how to perceive things and on how to proceed. Nobody "makes" anybody do anything. Plus, by nature, people are going to do what's best for them and the ones closest to them. Why should they do something that benefits you 100% and them none at all when you aren't the center of THEIR world?
So there's one reason, but I don't think that's all of it, nor the major portion. In fact, I think if that were the whole reason, then it would mean that people in general are extremely selfish and short sighted, and I don't believe that such a narrow view applies to most people most of the time. Some maybe, but absolutely not all. Maybe not most. And remember, I said there's some truth to this. Maybe it's a small part, but I don't think that's a "once size fits all" explanation for it. Most people learn, grow, and gain a wider perspective on the world and as such, they aren't so shallow.
I believe another reason is that we want everybody to like us. The problem is, I recently read that there was actually some scientific study that at least 10% of people aren't going to like you. Frankly, I was surprised the percentage was that low. I thought it would be closer to 30%, but the latest study I read said 10% so we'll run with that. Why is this? Plain and simple, personality differences. Some types just don't play well together. If you don't believe it, ask any extremely emotional person I've come in contact with and they'll tell you I'm mean and don't give a crap about their feelings. I am, by nature, a person that leans more toward logic and reason in making decisions than emotion. I usually don't get along well with extremely emotional types that "just want peace" and "want everybody happy right now" because I beleive happiness comes from investing the time and hard work to do things right no matter how you feel about it "right now." If you do what's right, then it will work out in the end, and that's a happiness that last; not a vapor of high emotion that wears off when the party is over and the consequences have to be paid. In fact, since I've been working in professional licensing, I'd say my tendency to make decisions based on logic and reason have become a stronger because by nature of my profession, I'm obligated to do what's right no matter how people feel about it. I don't think that's a bad thing (of course), but I've caught some flack about it because I'm female, and by stereotype I'm supposed to be all about feelings. While I'm ok to say "alright, forget the 10% and thank God for and enjoy the other 90%, well, some people get awfully fixated on that 10% and believe that if they work harder then they can get a 100% approval rating. It seems their effort would be better spent nurturing relationships with the other 90% but in fact, sometimes they turn on the ones on their side to gain approval they'll never have, counting on forgiveness from that 90% that might come, but not realizing that it will have a higher price than they bargained for because broken trust is a very hard thing to rebuild. But it happens, all the time. I've experienced it; I've seen it; I've written about it. Hey, I'm a writer. The ugly underside of humanity is a playground of inspiration. Expose it to me at your own risk.
Just kidding - maybe. And a sidenote on the emotion thing: I'm interested to see if the stereotype of "hysterical emotion" in women downplays as more generations of women have careers.Working women don't have time to fret over every little wayward comment, rolled eye, questionable social media post, tear or tirade that comes their way. Or at least, me and my colleagues don't. But we'll see as time tells this particular tale.
So there's that. But not all people are emotional and out for approval ratings that would make politicians jealous, so reason #2 can't apply to everybody. But it does apply to enough that I believe it should be considered.
There is one more reason, and I think it applies to most of us. I believe the reason people get tied up in what others think, say and do is because they don't want to be alone in how they think or feel. They want to know that others agree with them. They want others to have an opinion with them, or to get mad with them, or to be sad with them, or to take up the cause with them because they don't want to be the only freak swimming against the tide. They want to know they're like everybody else and what the other person is doing is wild/selfish/stupid/crazy/nonsense/whatever. They don't want to be alone in their opinion or feelings because they don't want to look in the mirror and ask "is it them, or is it me?" We all want to be right. We all want the world to understand that our opinion is just as important as everybody elses'. We all want respect. Nobody wants to be a nobody. They want people to know that they're here, that they have value, and that they are just as important as the other 7+ billion people in the world.
Here's the thing, though: Going about it by getting tangled up in other peoples' business is a sign of insecurity. If you truly walk in faith and you're confident in yourself as the authentic human being you were created to be, then you don't need to beg or scream for attention. You humbly go about your own business, believing that the life God set before and the purposes you serve speak for themselves.
That's the cure. That's how you break free from this stress. You get busy living your own life and tending to your own businss and have the grace to accept others and the decisions they make without intruding into their lives with your opinions.
Does this mean you ignore others and don't care what they do? Of course not. You should always do your best to help people in need and if there's something you can do to help others on their life path, you certainly should. The key is to use common sense and discernment. Yes, we all have opinions on things, but we don't need to share them all the time. Everything that flies through your head doesn't need to fly out of your mouth. If you aren't asked for your opinion or advice, assume it's not wanted or needed and keep it to yourself. I'd even go so far as to say that you should still use caution in giving advice even if you ARE asked for it. As one of the elves said in The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring, "elves don't give advice because all paths may run ill." Think before you speak. If in doubt, don't. And realize that advice is a take it or leave it thing - and in many cases, people leave it, so be prepared to have your advice or opinion rejected just in case and be prepared to not get offended. And please, for the love of God, if it won't make any difference and you have a thought - don't. Stop right there and go no further. If it's done and/or there's no way it's changing no matter what anybody says and you really need to get it out, set up a private blog or buy a journal to work it out, but don't go off on tirades and complain to everybody in the world about things you can't control involving people close to you. And don't ask or expect people to take sides with you unless you want to do the equivalent of renting a billboard that says I'M THE ONE WITH THE PROBLEM. It makes you look bad and it makes other people run like hell from you when they see you coming. If it's something so big that you can't live with it, find a way to either deal with it or distance yourself from the situation. Just because a war's going on doesn't mean you have to be a soldier in it. Other people might want you to have their problems, but they can't draft you. You don't have to accept them and if you choose not to accept their problems, well then, it's over.
The point of this mile long blog is that I'm coming to understand that balance is something that we have to strive for in every area of life, and personal relationships are certainly a big element there. We do live in the world, with people, so having good, balanced relationships is an extremely important thing. And one way we can achieve balance in our relationships is by not being a busybody, minding our own business, and having the grace to let it be.
Thanks for hanging in there with me on this one. I hope you had a Happy Friday and that you have a great weekend.
I know it would be prudent to post an entry this Election Day about the sacred right to vote, but you know what? You guys get it. And frankly, I'm sick of politics. I'll be glad when this madness is over. So let's ponder on more thought provoking things.
I mentioned in a previous blog entry that there are some crazy assumptions about people that don’t have kids. I’m not sure where people get some of the ideas from. I can’t personally speak for every childless person/couple, but I can say that some of the things people think are just crazy. For example, people believe that if you don’t have kids then:
1. You don’t like children. I find it interesting that people make this leap that not having = hate, and yet they don’t do it in other areas. I’m not a good cook, and yet not a single person has ever accused me of hating food. I can’t explain it. I won’t deny that I’m ignorant in this area. Heck, I didn’t even know that diapers came in sizes until a few years ago, and I admit that walking into a Babies ‘R Us store is the fastest way to induce an anxiety attack in me. But no, I don’t hate kids and would help one in need without a second thought. It might not be graceful or “proper” but I’d do my best. I can’t speak for all childless people and certainly it’s possible that there are some people that don’t like kids, but this is a conclusion it’s not wise to jump to. Having children is a personal decision and the reasons for not having them (at the present time or ever, depending on the circumstances) can be more complex than the reasons for having them.
Do you want to know what I don’t like? Sushi. It’s nasty and I can’t understand how it can be considered refined or high class to eat raw fish like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. I know many would say it’s not the same, but I don’t follow the reasoning so just call it a crazy “me” idea. But no, I don’t hate kids.
2. You’re rich. People think that Rick and I must be loaded because we both work and have no children, but the truth is that the cost of living is astronomical whether you have a household of 1, 2, or 10. Everything’s expensive and the cost of living is rising much higher than salaries are. While it’s true that we might have more discretionary income, we do have to watch our finances and make sure to live within our means.
I wish this stereotype were true because it would thrill me to no end – but alas, it is not.
3. We have no family. The truth is that all of our parents are alive. Likewise, I have a brother that’s married, Rick has a sister that’s married and has our 2 nieces, and this isn’t counting aunts, uncles, and cousins. Somehow, though, it seems that doesn’t count because people raise an eyebrow when we say we have family functions or visits. But go ahead – tell them all that they don’t count as “family” since we haven’t reproduced. I’d be greatly amused to see how it goes.
4. We have nothing to do once we get home from work. Folks, this is another one I wish were true. I’d love it if I could come home at the end of the work day, retire to my recliner behind the TV, and that was my life – but it’s not. See, while we’re at work, nothing gets done at home. This fact remains whether you have kids or not. That means that supper has to be prepared, consumed, and cleaned up. Dishes must be washed. Laundry must be done. Birds must be fed and cages cleaned. Bills must be paid. Trash must be taken out. Kitchens and bathrooms must be cleaned, furniture must be dusted and polished, floors must be swept and mopped, and the grass must be cut on a regular basis. This all has to happen after work or on weekends – and that doesn’t include the time I need for my writing, the time Rick needs for his website work, church activities, visiting that family we supposedly don’t have and trying to squeeze in time to spend together. And all of that doesn’t factor in time with friends, repairs and maintenance on home and car, or spending time doing things we like on our own. *Gasp!* I’m lucky to have an hour a night to spend to myself. In fact, I only watch 2 TV shows, both come on back to back on Wednesday nights, and often I have to move Heaven and earth to MAKE time for that.
The truth is that the older you get, the more life tends to fill up. I get up by an alarm clock 6 days a week and my iPhone calendar looks like it needs ProActive (or a measles shot). Frankly, I don’ t know how people with kids keep up with it all. You guys must be heroes because I barely keep it together sometimes. Now if that rumor of being rich were true then I could hire out our housework but alas, the falsity of that lends to the falsity of this.
5. We think having pets is the same as having kids. I’ve never presumed to say, compare, or even think that having three birds is the equivalent to having three children. It’s not and I know it, so don’t even try to project that insanity on me. Have you ever noticed that when I talk about our birds, I refer to us as mommy and daddy with no capitalization? That’s on purpose because I don’t want people to make the mistake of thinking that I’m trying to equate Zack, Chloe, and Ollie with children. They’re birds. And birds are, obviously, very different from humans. I know. Remember, I worked in day care during my college days, before graduation and switching to being an office drone.
That being said, I do love my birdy-babies. Humanity was given dominion over animals and it’s our responsibility to give our pets the best life possible because they are entrusted to our care. An animal is just as alive as a child and deserves respect. In fact, it’s my personal belief that only the lowest of the low human beings would harm a child or animal. The penalties for animal abuse should be equivalent to the penalties for human abuse because it’s disrespect of the sanctity of life and taking advantage of those that can’t defend themselves. People that would harm a child or animal are a waste of existence if you ask me. I dare them to pick on somebody their own size. That would clean their clock faster than Zack can bust out of his cage when the door latch is loose.
I’m not sure where these ideas come from about childless people, but I hope you see what a good chuckle we get out of them. It’s silly, really, isn’t it? And thankfully, now you know that. Our lives may be different, but is it easier? I don’t know. I think it would be most accurate to say that we all face challenges in life. I don’t know if anybody has an “easy” life. I think it all boils down to being thankful for what you have and doing the best you can with it. Not every life follows the same “socially acceptable” progressive pattern. Life isn’t a puzzle, after all. But if you do the best with what you have then you have fullness of life – whether the pieces seem to fit or not.
That’s all today. Take care.
I think what I really need is to cut my life back to basics and take stock of what I have and how to best nurture the things most important to me.
Fall is naturally the busiest time of year for me, and coiencidentally it's when people want to "get together" the most too. Football season is usually the excuse for this - "let's get together to watch the game!" And I've been a social butterfly these past couple of months and participated in all sorts of gatherings, visits and get togethers.
But folks, this butterfly needs to retreat to her cocoon. No offence, but the Carolina's bye week didn't come soon enough for me this year. I need to sit out a few. The season is going on, but my "to do" list and my schedule don't get it. There are things I need to tend to around the house and with the technology committee at church. I know I said I was going to take a hiatus from my in-progress writing projects, but I really do want to get back to them with as few distractions as possible, and that means I need to put my nose to the grindstone and get things done now. And if you want me at my best during the busy holiday season, well, I need a break.
I mean no offence, of course. I just need some time to myself every now and then to catch up, rest up, take stock, and move on. I need to recharge my batteries and right now I'm running low. I've come to the conclusion that I must be an anomoly, because this seems to be a need that not many other people have. Other than my family, only Rick and one other person has admitted to needing time to themselves. It seems others actually clamor to fill those empty spaces in their lives to the point where there's no quiet, no hiatus, no opportunities to simply "be" and exist in communion with the Lord and the world. Doing, doing, doing. Well, I admire their energy and their tireless dedication to their social schedule, but I'm not afraid I can't operate like that. My life is very full right now and all the "blessings" keep me quite busy. It can be a challenge to find those moments and days with an empty spot on the calender. And they aren't usually give, so it looks like I'm going to have to take them.
I'm burned out. I need to clear off my plate to I can be true to my priorities and focus on what really matters - not on what the world says should matter.
So I'm starting today. I'm sitting out the USC-Florida game. I know, it's a big one and how could I. It's simple, really. The need for quiet in my soul outweighs "the big game." As I said, I need some time to catch up on some stuff around the house and with church so I'll be free to resume work on Move next month when I end my writing hiatus, and what better time than by focusing on that while the rest of the world (around here) is tuned into the big game. Plus, I still have Feathered Frenzy to finish, and I already have an idea for my next writing project which is a novella I hope to start in 2013. And promotion work on my already published works never ends. So there's lots to do there and I really need to get focused and get back to work on my writing soon, and taking care of the other things on my plate will really help with that.
I know life won't always be like this. I'm quitting volunteer activities in 2013, so I won't have to make decisions based on things like this soon. That was another decision I made this week. I need fewer meetings in my life and the truth is that I need to focus my time away from work on home, family and writing and that doesn't leave time for much else. I wanted to be more involved at church, and I will certainly continue to be a greeter and help with activities as I can, but I can't be bound to a committee anymore. It just doesn't work in my busy life.
As for the rest - well, eventually I'll retire from work, so that won't always be eating up most of my weekdays, but that's far away as I'm not even at the halfway point of my career. Frankly, I do have concerns about being bored if I didn't work, but those aren't concerns I need to ponder now or any time soon. Until then, it's the immovable object in my life and I have to work around it. Those aggrivations and annoyances aren't going to stop and I have to march on and do what must be done because it's my responsibilty and financial support, now and in the future. That's a reality for most people and it's something that should be easy to understand and respect.
Yes, life is busy, and sometimes it won't give you what you need so you have to take it. That's what I'm going to to today. Because if I don't take care of myself and my needs, then I'm not much good to anybody else, now am I?
That's all today. I hope you have a great weekend.
I know you often hear that if something's important then you should make time for it, and I agreed with this philisophy until a couple of years ago. See, that's when my own life took off and I realized that sometimes, you do have to let things go in your life, and it's not always an issue of not caring anymore. Rather, it's an issue of your life changing and being forced to make hard choices about how you're going to spend the 24 hour time limit you're given in a day.
The thing that made me realize this were changes in my own life. Over the past couple of years, my life has changed drastically. Oh, I used to have time for multiple hobbies. I wrote. I cross stitched. I did plant and veggie gardening. I read books. I watched television and movies. My life was my mid-level administrative job and after that, it was whatever I wanted.
Then we built a bigger house.
Then Rick was elected to a 3 year term on church council and I was asked to help with one committee and then, a few months later, a second committee.
The we bought a second parrot and a month later, adopted a budgie found at Rick's work - bringing us from a 1 bird house to a 3 bird house.
Then my job got transferred, and I was upgraded with more job duties.
Then my writing got published.
And it was at this point that my calendar was suddenly filling up and I found myself having to prioritize and make hard choices about what hobbies would stay and what would go. And sometimes, I find myself having to make those choices on a day to day basis.
It wasn't easy for me, but I came to realize that when you're in your 30's and 40's, your life is growing to maximum capacity. The seeds you sowed in your 20's are bearing fruit, and you have to decide what crops to maintain in order to have maximum growth of what you want most in life. Marriage, home, and family obviously come first. Your job has to come second - it's kind of mandatory, because that's supporting everything else. (And frankly, as much as I talk about a crammed schedule, I don't think I'd be a happy stay-at-home wife. I think the list of hobbies above show that I like to stay active.) After that is where you have to start making choices.
I recently discovered that I'm in a season of life where I'm going to have to pick the things I like best and dedicate what I can to them. My life will inevitably change someday and perhaps that will free me to experience more, but for now I know what I've got and I have to make active choices. Of course, I want my writing to continue to grow, so I'm going to spend most of my free time on that. And writers need to read to stay up on the craft - reading
and writing go hand in hand. I like volunteering at church and while Rick is in a leadership position we will be more actively engaged there. As for the rest, it's "at will." I cut back my gardening to just tending my 4 rose bushes, because I love roses and always want to have them around my home. I don't watch near as much TV as I used to - in fact, since I've been writing more novels, I've found that I typically watch 2 television shows a week, plus 1 or 2 movies with Rick. I think I recently figured that on a normal week when new episodes of my shows are on, I probably watch 4-6 hours of TV a week. That's right, a week. (Maybe more during football or baseball season, although I usually substitute the game for a movie.) And I haven't cross stitched in over a year. That was the toughest thing to set aside, because I enjoyed it - but the problem is that cross stitching is time consuming, and I'm more dedicated to growing as a writer than growing as a stitcher. I sincerely hope I'm able to resume this hobby one day. It's definitely one I put on hiatus temporarily, with the intention of taking it back up when that elusive "someday" rolls around that frees up more of my time for another hobby.
It wasn't easy for me to come to this realization, but I believe it was necessary. And really, I believe this full life is a sign of a life bearing good fruit. I am truly blessed and I hope I am passing the blessing on to others by serving through my work, my writing, and my volunteer work. I'm busier than ever, but I'm also happier and feel I have more life satisfaction than ever, and it's good to see the fruits of my labor finally starting to bloom.
And as for my parked cross stitch needle - well, until we meet again, my friend. I plan to be back when the timing is right. Here's hoping it's sooner rather than later.
That's all today. I hope the rest of your week goes well.
Rick and I visited a friend from church yesterday that's in a nursing home. She has cancer. It's spread from her lungs to her brain, and the prognosis isn't good - in fact, her life expectancy is in terms of weeks. This is the third person I've known to have cancer in the past couple of years, and honestly I hope it's the last. It's so hard to get inside peoples' suffering like that - not only theirs, but their families and friends as well. It's tough on everybody.
If there's one thing that I've learned through seeing three people fight this battle, it's that you have to enjoy life. It's not just the big things, like health, family, home and relationships either. It's also the small things. Like weekends, good books, free time, going to the movies, a good song on the radio, purple nail polish, and red roses. Very often, it's the small things that really bring joy. You have to learn to find that joy and to embrace it.
It just makes me sick to see so many people walking around, taking things for granted. If they saw what we saw last night, and considered that this could be the fate of so many of us, I'd think they would slow down long enough to quit griping about all that's wrong and appreciating all that's right. This world is screwed up, but God's still in it, and there's plenty of blessings to enjoy.
I often lament my busy lifestyle, but I'm wise enough to see that it's the result of great blessings, and they are blessings that I am thankful for all the time.
Yes, there are plenty of problems. Life isn't always sunshine and rainbows. Turning on the TV or logging on the Internet can tell you that. So many people have that 20/20 vision for problems, but they don't have that kind of clarity to see what's right. And that's why there's so much depression and violence in our society. We're too fixated on what's wrong. We need to change that focus and see what's right. There are so many blessings right under our noses.
If you got up this morning and felt good enough to get out of bed and do 1 thing, you're blessed. If you had breaksfast, that's 2 blessings. Start counting your blessings there.
Maybe if we switched our focus from the bad to the good, we'd find a new perspective. Maybe we'd find solutions to some of these problems. Maybe we'd find that some things we see as problems aren't really problems at all. I would love to challenge people to trade in their griping for gratitude for just an hour.
It's something to think about. And with that, I will be off. I hope the rest of your weekend goes well.