I was talking to our former associate pastor about a year ago and he said something that changed my entire perspective on life. I was telling him how I got overwhelmed with all my responsibilities sometimes, and how it seemed like there were too many things in my life for me to keep up with. Maybe, I was musing, I need to do some pruning to thin things out so I can focus more attention on what I like best.
"Maybe so," he said, "but remember that relationships are the most important thing in life. When you look back on your life it's not the work you did or the accomplishments that will be the best memories. It will be the time you spent with people that you love and care about."
That shocked me into a realization. Although my relationships are the most important thing to me, it seemed I was spending a lot more time "doing stuff" and not enough time with other people. My actions and my heart weren't in alignment.
Since then, I've made an effort to get things right. I've had to drop some activities, and it looks like increases in my work responsibilities will require me to scale back on my voluneteer activities. I'm not happy about this, but I know from experience that life can change (and change quickly), and I have no fear that the season of my life will change and make it possible for me to resume these things in the future. I've also put limits on how much time I spend on my writing. I figured that when I'm working on a project, I can devote about 2 hours a day without too much disruption to my home life, work life, or other things I want/need to do. This has actually worked out to be more productive for me, because before I was on the computer every night, trying to write and chase down promotional opportunities. Limiting myself to 2 hours a few nights a week forced me to focus my efforts, and I've actually been much more productive. And yes, I do even have "no laptop" nights, when I put it away after work, or don't take it out at all and spend time on other things.
Looking back over my life so far, I realize already that he was right. I know I have a purpose to fulfill, and I still love my writing, hobbies and church work. But the times that stand out in my head aren't work - they're experiences I've had with others. Time spent with Rick and the birds, with family and friends, at church and through social interactions with my colleagues. The best things are more about the "who" and less about the "do."
I have to admit that it was some of the best advice I've ever had. I'm not so stressed out anymore because I'm not literally working away every minute of every day. Because even if you love the work, there's no joy in constant labor. The joy is in balancing things out, and unless you nurture your relationships then there's no way anything else is going to work out well.
That's all today. Busy week with business travel, so it will probably be next week before I can update again. Take care and have a good week.
I remember Rick's grandmother telling me that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Hmm. That might have been true in her generation, but I'm not so sure about that now - or maybe it was a polite way of putting things back then. I think we have a pretty good idea of how to keep our men happy, but the problem is that it seems they are never given hints on how to win a woman's heart. They say we're mysterious, and hard to figure out. That we're elusive. That we're from another planet and there's no way to figure out what's happening in the depths of our minds and hearts.
Well fellows, I have good news for you. We aren't all that complicated. There is a very simple way to a woman's heart, but I'm afraid you aren't going to like it. The way to win our heart isn't through expensive jewelry, romantic dates, or exotic vacations.
The way to a woman's heart is to help with the housework. I'm serious. Take just 1 thing off her "to do" list, and you're her knight in shining armor.
Yes, I hear the groaning. I recently read an article on happy couples and how they express love for one another and one major finding of the study was that no matter how much husband's loved and adored their wives, they still weren't any more likely to chip in with the housework any more than they absolutely had to. It's a shame too. I know it's distasteful fellows, and it's awfully convenient to have a companion and life mate that takes care of those annoying things like housecleaning, chores and errands - but you're consciously passing up a great opportunity to win the admiration and add to the love your mate, and it wouldn't even take that much. Take it from a woman that just spent all day cleaning the house. I swooned when I went upstairs and saw that Rick had already put the clean sheets on the bed. It was that simple! No diamonds. No steak dinner. No flowers. He did one chore for me. And I can tell you the things he helps me with around the house endears him to me just as much as all the compliments, praise, romantic dates, dinners, jewelry, flowers, and electronics that he's ever given me.
That's all it would take, fellows. If you see she's having a busy or rough day just take out the trash, or empty the dishwasher, or fold the towels, or put the dirty cup in the dishwasher. I can tell you for a fact that I swoon over Rosie the Robot maid on The Jetsons more than any guy on TV or in the movies. Why on earth have we not invented a robot maid in real life yet? That would make my life so much easier!
So guys, that's it. No mystery or intrigue. Take one things off our "to do" list and that makes you a superhero to us. Take two things off the list, and it might be your lucky day. Or night. Because eliminating stress from our lives makes us very grateful, and very happy.
That's all for today. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
I hate that song "When Peace Flows Like a River." It's a filthy lie.
I suppose that statement deserves an explanation, so here it is: I went to a funeral for a friend yesterday that died from cancer. It's the third friend I've lost to cancer in 18 months. To say I hope I never see the face of this ugly beast again would be an understatement.
Anyway, they seem to love this hymn at funerals. There's just one problem: No, it's not well with my soul. I don't understand why three people I know had to suffer like this. They were good people. They wanted to live. It seems so unfair that their lives were cut short when I look around and see people that don't appreciate a thing - or that play hard and fast, like they don't care about putting themselves or others in danger - and they keep going on and on.
I hate that hymn because it's arrogant and it's a lie. Are you ok with anything that happens? Life can whollop you and it's just "well, praise God and glory be." No folks, not in the real world. Real people get frustrated. Real people get angry. Real people are confused and hurt and don't understand. I'll admit that I'm a real person and my soul's got problems. I don't get it. In fact, there's a lot I don't get.
Another reason I don't like this song is because it implies that faith means never questioning anything - just blind acceptance. You can reason out everything, even if the reason is simply "it's God's will." While that is true, and I suppose it all does boil down to that, it's been my experience that human beings aren't that simplistic. We do try to understand. We do ask questions. We do get frustrated and angry in our confusion and lack of understanding. It is through these struggles that we find what faith really is: Not a lack of questions, but an acceptance that we won't have most of the answers. That in the grand scheme of things it does make sense, and being ok with the fact that only God may know how it fits into that scheme. And most importantly, to realize that it's ok to not have the answers or to work through whatever processes we need to work through to get to this acceptance.
That's where I'm at. My soul does hurt, and it's confused. I know all three of them are at peace now, and that there's a greater plan that I won't see this side of Heaven. Intellecutally, it's there. Emotionally, I'm still on the journey to that point. I miss them and those absences do hurt. It's hard to remember that they won't walk through that door at church Sunday morning any more, that they won't be at that committee function or in Sunday School or passing by at functions with their cheerful smiles. The reality that they're gone and never coming back is still stinging. And I don't think there's a thing wrong with that sting. It means I feel. It means I'm still human. It means I'm still alive.
So no, it's not well with my soul, and I'm ok with admitting that. My soul is hurt and it needs to heal. I know the truth and accept it, but I'm just going to have to work through that process to get these pesky emotions at that same level. And I don't think I'm alone. Many others are on that same journey. I have plenty of company on this road. My comfort is that tomorrow is a new day. New mercies every morning. Great is thy faithfulness.
Now that's one I can live with.
That's all today. Happy Friday to you tomorrow.
I can suspend my disbelief for a lot of things. I can believe that science fiction could be showing us a possible future, no matter how far fetched or unrealistic it may seem. After all, never say never. We thought the 21st century would look like The Jetsons and, well, it's turned out quite differently.
I can believe that fantasy is showing us possible alternate realities. Sure, I know there's no such thing, but I can suspend my disbelief to consider that these are possible ways the world could have been.
I can even suspend my disbelief for urban fantasy. I know it's unlikely that quirks in reality would result in superheros or creatures walking the world as we know it, but I can consider "what if."
What I can't suspend my disbelief for, however, is romance. I thought this was a personal taste issue, but after giving two romances a chance this summer - no. That's just too far out there.
First, let me open my arguement by giving you two facts that are surly coloring my perception: First, I've been married for over 13 years, so I know the reality of relationships. That dopamine rush that takes you to the altar eventually leads to home, family, in-laws, job stress, financial strains, good days, bad days, joy and tears, and a partridge in a pear tree - if you're lucky. Second, I've always had a lot of men in my life. To say there's been a heavy male influence on the way I was raised and continue to live would be an understatement. So please bear these in mind as I make my arguement.
For the sake of preserving dignity, I won't say what I read or who wrote them because they might have fans out there that devoured them and think it's the best thing since chocolate. I'll be fair. I will say this, though: Both stories had several elements in common that I just couldn't seem to get past. They were way out of left field. For example:
1. Men don't instantly fall in love after one encounter. Sorry ladies, it doesn't happen that way.
2. Men don't propose a week after meeting the lady of their dreams. In the best case scenario, it will take longer and completely freak them out to the point that they withdraw for a while before deciding to commit.
3. Men aren't the ones that are talking about having children on date #2. Sorry ladies - again, that doesn't happen in real life. Barring "surprises," this consideration usually comes at least a year or two after marriage, which in itself takes a year or two to come about.
4. Men aren't emotional and they don't like having "heart to heart" talks. My own husband has confirmed this. So has my brother, my father, and while they were alive both grandfathers. Sure they may feel it (they aren't robots), but the likelihood of them talking about it willingly and openly is roughly equivalent to aliens landing in my driveway right now.
5. In both stories, it was the woman that was long single and fearing committment. Really? They fell in bed quick enough for somebody not looking for love. Now I'm not saying there aren't women that are afraid of commitment. I'm just saying the stereotype exist for a reason. It's more likely that the woman is the one wanting an exclusive relationship before the man. See point #2 above.
6. Vampires and werewolves - really? Ok, I'll be a sport. They may be prowling the night, but they aren't looking for love. They're looking for a quick and tasty meal.
Before you say that I must have just gotten a hold of some bad examples, I did try romance while I was in college and found myself having the same problems with the same issues I saw in those novels. Well, with the exception of the vampires and werewolves. That wasn't popular back in the mid 90's.
So go ahead and call me an improper lady if you must but I'm sorry. I'm more likely to believe that Frodo Baggins destroyed the ring of power, the Jedi order is rebuilding somewhere out there, dragons are hiding under the Smoky Mountains, Superman will save the day, Batman is on a rooftop downtown, and Thor is beating someone down every time I hear thunder than I am to take any bit of the two things I recently read seriously. Sorry.
That's all the fun I have for today. Here's hoping you're off to a great start to the new week.