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.
While most people are in the "making resolutions" stage, I prefer to use the end of the year to take a look back at what I've learned and accomplished, and to decide how to move forward. I believe resolutions are more effective if we consider what we want to do with what we have rather than blindly shooting darts at a random goal. After all, we have an entire life, and our resolutions are more likely to stick if they're things that serve many aspects of it. So without further ado, let me share that during 2012 I have learned:
1. More about the legislative process than I ever imagined possible - or even wanted to know. My work move in 2010 was a result of changes to the law governing the landscape architect and soil classifiers programs that I worked with. I got a crash course in bills becoming laws that year and believe me, the old "School House Rock" on how a bill becomes a law didn't even scratch the surface! Once the move was done, I still had to assist with getting regulations passed to go with that new law - a process that crossed over two sessions due to some oversights in the statute for the soil classifiers. Over the past 3 legislative sessions I've sat in more legislative subcommittee and committee meetings than I can count - including that fateful meeting in May 2011 when the cemetery regulations were on the agenda before mine and I also got a crash course education in things that can go wrong with burials that curbed my appetite for a few days and scarred my poor mind forever (note to self: dying is disgusting). It's not easy. In fact, it's slow, and snafus and roadblocks can pop up when you least expect it (think my "life is like a jack-in-the box analogy). You have to have a pound of patience and a ton of flexibility. But boy have I learned a lot now, and I have a new respect (or rather, understanding and better knowledtge) of what's happening in the State House. Thankfully, everything has been updated for both programs, and now they're all up to date. Barring any unexpected changes from the inside or other sourses outside the Boards, we will hopefully be ok.
What I'll do with this knowledge: As it turns out, the architects are updating their regulations and the engineers are considering updates to their statute. Those are bigger programs, so my "hands on" assistance won't be needed as much as it was for the smaller programs I worked with, but I will track their documents through the process and do whatever I can to help.
2. More about writing and publishing than I thought possible. This all started with a power resolution I made in 2011 to do everything possible to improve as a writer and to get myself published again by going "outside of the box." I brushed up on my grammer rules, revised my work, and decided to give e-publishing one more try (I had a contract to e-publish Quarantine in 2009, but the company broke the contract and filed for bankruptcy before it went to print). It worked - I got contracts for Blurry and Anywhere But Here, and they've both been published. This year, I added educating myself on publicity and promotional opportunities for my published works, and I decided to work in the areas of keeping a strong online presence and pursuing book reviews and author interviews. I also signed a contract for Splinter, the National Novel Writing Month book I wrote in 2010, and started another mystery novel and another non-fiction book for bird owners this year.
What I'll do with this knowledge: First and foremost is to finish Move and Feathered Frenzy,to work with Whiskey Creek Press on Splinter when they're ready to take it into pre-production, and to promote it like crazy when it's published. I'd also like to expand on a couple of projects that will serve in the promotion and the writing more and writing better categories: I'd like to get back into writing articles, short stories, and novellas. Shorter works are a bit more of a challenge for me because I'm a novelist at heart, but the fact is that I need to have new material to release more regularly than is possible to do with a novel, and the only way to do that is to delve into shorter markets. I'm already working on some articles, and once I get Move and Feathered Frenzy done, I'd like to brush up on my skills with the shorter stuff and see what I can get out there.
3. I flew! I did it twice, actually. My job started to require me to travel to the landscape architect conferences, so I made trips to Miami and San Francisco last year. That was a new experience for me, but not as bad as I thought. Actually, I was fortunate that my flights went well and I don't mind flying at all. This educated me in so many ways. I learned that I can travel with two carry-on bags and less than I imagined possible. I learned that it's not terribly difficult to find your way around an airport, and that Charlotte really is reasonable and easy to get around. I learned that although I love ebooks, paperbacks are really a better way to go with reading material since you have to turn off electronics so much. I learned that if you're nice to the stewardess, they'll give you the bag of pretzels that aren't all broken and crunched up. I learned that Miami International Airport is about a million square miles, and I think I walked every bit of it - but Salt Lake City is like Walmart on Christmas Eve, and located in what looks like a crater to boot, so there are different kinds of suffering. I learned that taxi drivers can scare the hell out of you. And I learned that turbulence is really a "come to Jesus" moment in a patch of rough airspace over Kansas. And yes, I've seen places I probably wouldn't have gone before. I mean, San Francisco? I had never been on the west coast,in a different time zone, or put up in a five star hotel (albeit business class) before that. It was something.
What I'll do with what I learned: Become more travel savvy, whether I planned to or not. And next up is Scottsdale, Arizona.
4. Smartphones don't make you smarter, but they sure help you look smarter. Rick and I finally got iPhones last January, and I'm so glad we did. For all the people that say "how can a phone make you smarter?" I say in about a zillion ways. I can keep up with things. I can be reached just about anywhere (unless I'm on a flight). I can keep my schedule, make lists, check news and weather, and set reminders. Heck, the only things it won't do are clean the house, clean the bird cages, cook my meals, and rake the yard. But it's the 21st century. Who knows? Rosie the Robot maid might come about in my lifetime yet.
What I'll do with what I learned: Thank God that I live in an era of computers and smartphones to make life easier and keep using them to the fullest advantage!
5. Balance in life is a personal responsibility, and sometimes you must make hard choices to maintain it. There are only so many hours in a day, and it's impossible to do everything you want to do. With personal responsibilities and the relationships in our lives, we often have to choose what we like best, do that, and drop other things. This really hit me when I quit the evangelism committee at church in October. I didn't want to do it, but frankly I'd felt the nagging in my spirit that my life was too full and I needed to let go of some things to focus on what was growing in my life. Rick and I are fortunate to have a good marriage, our birds, all of our parents alive, our families, good, stable jobs, and our home. Rick does some website design here and there, and my writing is continuing to build and grow. We have some excellent friends that we're in contact with. Unfortunately - that's all we have time for. The time we had for volunteer activities has filled up with other things growing, and we both had to accept that it was time to let the volunteering go, for a while at least. His term on council just ended and it's obvious that we need to take a break to nurture the things that are most important and tend to the biggest responsibilities that the Lord has laid before us. Life does change, so it's inevitable that this season will pass and perhaps we'll have time to resume the volunteer activities. But for now, we've decided that we want to dedicate ourselves to and fully appreciate the blessings we have at hand without overcommitting ourselves to secondary or perphiery endeavors.
What I'll do with what I've learned: This sounds like it's coming out of left field, but pondering this discovery inspired me to make getting on the treadmill regularly a part of my life again. I believe we've made good decisions to keep a balance of our responsibilities and relationships in order, but balance is a holistic thing, and it occured to me that while my priorities are in order, I'm still stressed out because I'm not physically in order. I sit behind a desk at my job, then come home and sit behind a computer to write. I need to get more physically active, and the best way to do that is to get on that treadmill sitting in the computer room upstairs. I felt better, got sick less, and actually was less stressed and had better ideas for my writing when I was walking regularly. So I'm expanding the balance issue to my body as well as my mind and soul by getting back on the treadmill and integrating exercise into my life again.
6. Breaking Bad and Arrow are awesome shows. OMG! If you aren't watching these shows, you should be. Thanks so much to whoever it was that suggested Breaking Bad to Rick. We caught up on that show through Netflix and it's addictive! And Arrow, the new CW show based on The Green Arrow, has surprised me by hitting the ground running right in it's first season. I don't watch much TV (in fact, Supernatural is the only other show I do watch, and it's much better this season too), but these are worth checking out. Arrow and Supernatural come on The CW Wednesday nights at 8 and 9. Breaking Bad is a summer show that comes on AMC. Unfortunately, we don't get AMC through Dish TV, so we'll have to make arrangements to buy the 2013 season through our iTunes account and catch the episodes as they're released.
7. Skimping on sleep is counterproductive. I had a bad habit of staying up late to work on my writing, then getting up early for work the next day. It used to not bother me but, well, I'm not in my 20's anymore and skimping on sleep plus increasing job duties = bad idea. When Rick and I changed our work schedules in August, we decided that we needed to be serious about getting to sleep on time and getting a full night's rest so we could focus and be at our best the next day. So no more late nights for me. And you know what? I've actually been MORE productive since then, because I find I plan and utilize my time better (for example, I can do some pretty good writing and editing on my lunch hour if I take my laptop to work).
8. Transitions are tough, but once you've been hit with so many, you get numb. I learned this when our church lost our head pastor and associate pastor within a month earlier this year. Did it hurt? Yea, like hell. But I was amazed at how people seemed traumatized by it. At first I thought wow, that's selfish. Don't you want them to move ahead and better themselves? It's unfortunate they both left, but I couldn't begrudge either of them taking new opportunities and frankly, pastors are always going to move on eventually. Then it hit me: No, that's not it. It's just that after my life got smashed to smithereens in 2010 and I had to completely reconstruct it, losing two pastors was barely a blip on my radar. Other people hadn't seen the massive changes in their own lives that I'd just gone through, so this WAS major to them. And while we have certainly had to find new pastors plenty of times, it had been a while so frankly, we as a congregation were settled in and since we didn't see it coming, it was a shock to many. But to me shocks and adjustments had been a way of life for a while.
What I'll do with this knowledge: This was a good reminder of the concept of grace and of realizing that perspective is a personal thing. We all come from different places, and I believe this is a good illustration of how your experiences color your perception. Frankly, I'm still pondering this realization and what it means to me, and I really don't want to rush it because I think it's one that needs to sink in and grow strong roots in my own mind. But I think it's a good thing because one thing I already see is that we all handle things differently, and we need to be patient with one another and work together to help others and move forward. Where they are weak, we might be strong and where we are weak they might be strong. Working together, we can come through with a greater overall perspective. And it's a good lesson of faith too, as we work, wait, and look for a new leader for us.
I'm sure there are many more discoveries I've made during the year, but these are the big ones that spoke to me and are guiding me into my future. I hope that you'll also take some time to take stock and forge ahead into the new year using the confidence and wisdom you've gained through your experiences to keep moving ahead and making a better life, each and every day.
In closing, I believe today's benediction at church was a wonderful and beautiful sentiment that I wish all of you for the new year, and beyond:
"May you be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the magi, and the peace of the Christ child. Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirigt bless you now and forever."
Amen. Bless you friends.I wish you all joy, peace, prosperity, and happiness and thank you for being there to listen, help and support me.
Happy New Year!
Since my last blog entry got a lot of views, I thought I'd expound on it a bit more. It seems to me that people are testy and rude these days. I know that life gets busier in the fall - school starts back up and it seems that everything else cranks into high gear this time of year. I can certainly say that the fall tends to be my busiest season, personally and professionally.
Another thing happening is that a lot of people are going through transitions right now. For example, we're in between pastors at church right now, and that's a common scenario as it seems there's been a lot of turnover with churches in our area lately. I've also heard people say they've experienced changes in their jobs due to staffing issues or other administrative decisions that have been made.
Still one more thing I'm seeing a lot of is people getting sick, and having a hard time getting better. A lot seems to be going around, and no doubt stress over it being a busier time contributes to difficulties kicking the nasties out of your system.
Folks, I get it. I really do. My iPhone calendar looks like it has chicken pox with all the dots on my schedule. I live by my reminder app more than I care for. I too have struggled with sinus problems/infections and now Rick has a virus and I wonder if it's not making it's way to me. And transitions - oh, I feel your pain. My upcoming novel, Splinter, was born of frustration over a transition in my life a while back that was very nearly more than I could take. So I do get it. But having been there, done that, and singing verse one thousand of this same old song, I can tell you one thing:
Being an idjit doesn't help.
Seriously. Stress is understandable and it's natural to get frustrated, but being mean and rude to people because you're out of patience and don't want to expend the extra energy on at least acting civil just makes it harder. In fact, it creates more problems. When you get snappy, people that might have helped you are no longer inclined to do so, and in fact they might choose to get back at you by sabatoging you or doing things that they know will make life more difficult.
Don't ask for it. And don't assume that you won't have to deal with people again, either. True story: One time early in my career, I transferred between divisions in my office. Thought I'd never see those folks from the old office again. Well, lo and behond, they consolidated two years later and every one of my former co-workers moved right in with me. I was very glad I didn't burn any bridges there! And it can happen anytime.
When I was a child, my granddaddy always told me that what goes around ALWAYS comes around. He said nothing goes unrewarded - or unpunished. "Watch your actions and words," he would tell me, "because they will come back to you. Even if you forget them, they still come back. And sometimes it takes a while but it always happens." It's a Biblical concept from Galatians 6:7 and by golly, I can't count how many times I've seen the truth of his words. Granddaddy was right and had a healthy respect for this universal truth. The problem is, too many people close their eyes to it and even when it happens, they're blind because they don't want to acknowledge that perhaps things went wrong because they were mean, or made a bad decision, or were just an idjit.
You don't really get away with anything. You may think you do. It may seem like you do. But you don't, not really. It hunts you down and gets you, many times when you least expect it. Whether you see it for what it is or not.
My point is that life is hard sometimes, but acting with discernment and widsom will help you get through those tough seasons faster and better. It won't be easy, but it will be easier than doing it the hard way by freaking out, or being mean, or rude, or shutting down. It's hard, but it's worth it.
So yes, I feel your pain. I certainly understand. But there's no excuse for being an idiot. So just don't do it and things will be alright. At least, it's easier for people to have patience and compassion for you when you act like a civilized, dignified human being - even if you don't feel like it.
That's all for today. Happy Friday tomorrow. I hope you have a great weekend.
A recent outbreak of drama led Rick and I to ponder the source of problems recently. We realized that the totally out-of-left-field things that hit you without warning and turn your life upside down are actually pretty rare. In fact, as I look over my own life, I think I can only think of 2 or 3 instances when my life was smashed to smithereens and there was absolutely no avoiding it. At 37 years old, I think that's a testament to how rare the "rebuilding your life" seasons are. Thank God, too. Because if such things happened frequently then I'm not sure there would be a single sane person on planet Earth over the age of 30.
The thing is, it seems like people have problems all the time. I mean, it's never ending, and there are some that live in a constant state of drama. Life is one series of battles after another. Well, if the turning life upside down occurances are rare, then what is it that creates all this drama? The answer is simple, and it's none too flattering. All that drama boils down to one thing and one thing alone:
People making bad decisions.
Yep, that's it. Most of the problems we face on a day to day basis boil down to a simple matter of somebody making bad decisions. Even some of the most complex problems can be drilled down to the fact that somebody, somewhere, made a bad call. Sometimes it's that we make bad decisions. We don't plan ahead. Or worse yet, we make our decisions based on the #1 worst decision maker in existance - our feelings. We know what's right, or what we should do, but it's trouble, or it's a hassle, or we just don't like it, so we don't do it. Emotions get people in more trouble than anything else on Earth, and I'd be willing to wager a large percentage of what I have that most of life's problems stem from doing what feels good instead of what's right. I could write a doctoral dissertation on this, but fortunately for you, dear reader, that's not my purpose here. My purpose is to address this at the simplest and most basic level.
Sometimes the bad decisions are made by others, and you suffer for them. I've often said the greatest injustice is suffering for other peoples' mistakes, and it happens way too much. If you have any kind of relationship with other human beings, you know what I mean (especially if you work). Other people do something completely senseless, or don't plan, or create emergencies and they call on you to help fix the problem. These situations are not only annoying, but they destroy relationships too. And even if the relationship isn't destroyed, it's severely wounded to a point that it will take longer to recover than anybody is comfortable admitting.
The good news is that there's a simple cure to this. If problems are caused by bad decision making, then what's the logical way that they're solved? Say it with me, kiddies: "Doing what's right." Wisdom and discernment can help you work your way out of a pickle AND has the added benefit of preventing future drama because you learn from your experiences and don't make the same mistake twice. It harkens back to the old saying "fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me." You just have to be able to look at the situation in the face of the reality it exists in, determine what the right thing to do to fix it is, and do it. Three step process: analyse, assess and act. I even used some handy alliteration in there so it will stick to the memory.
I think it's worth pointing out that The Bible has an entire book called Proverbs that's dedicated to the virtues of wisdom. It's no joke, folks. Wisdom is often overlooked as a virtue, but it's probably the most important thing we can have besides our health. I'd even go so far as to say that wisdom will get you further than intelligence.
As for me, I know how to deal with the drama. When people start freaking out, it's worth remembering that the world hasn't ended yet due to peoples' problems. No, this old rock hasn't seen an armaggedon mistake yet. And to borrow a line from Nick Fury in The Avengers - we'll continue saving the world from until such time as the sun stops rising. Or something like that. Heck, I'll be able to tell you next week when it comes out on DVD, BlueRay, streaming video and all those other fun formats for the home.
And for all of you dealing with drama or problems in any way, shape or form, below is a silly video to help cheer you up and put it into perspective. Enjoy!
That's all today. Take care.
There are many secrets to winning in life, and to achieving your dreams but the problem is there's only one perfect combination that leads to the kind of winning that matters. Whether it's striving for your goals, overcoming trials, or just trying to cope with the politics of whatever place or situation you're involved with, there is one strategy that will lead to success better than any other. The problem is, it's something that isn't easy to do, and most people just don't have the internal discipline to pull it off.
That strategy is patience that is mixed with wisdom and hard work.
Despite a world that gives us things with a click here and a beep there, the truth is that reality hasn't caught up with our high tech world. The best achievements, the most lasting rewards, and the ultimate victories don't always go to the strong, or to the clever. They go to those that are willing to wait for the perfect timing - and to work hard and smart in the interim.
Hard work - you can only reap what you sow, and you have to be willing to work hard; perhaps harder than you can even fathom, to lay the groundwork for achieving long term goals.
Wisdom - because stupidity never leads to anything good. Sorry to be so blunt folks, but it's the truth. And you don't have to be Brainiac to act with wisdom. Don't act in emotion and don't react. Think before you act. Count the costs. Evaluate the situation. Act with discernment. Only move when it's wise to do so.
Patience - I think this is the hardest element because everybody wants to rule the world, and they want to rule it now. But the truth is that anybody can force things through quick and easy means and get things "right now." The problem is that they have no foundation and they have to keep playing the same game to keep it up - and eventually somebody comes along that plays the game better and knocks you off your throne. Aw, poor babies. Haven't we learned yet that true, lasting success comes from laying the foundation first and building up from it? Timing is everything and if you don't act in the right timing then you won't have a foundation that will stand when the winds of fate come blowing (and they will).
There are many other things that I believe play into living well - discernment, integrity, honesty, and courage are also important, but these are traits that lead to the benefits of mixing the above three well because they all work together. There's no way you're going to have good discernment, for example, unless you have some wisdom to build it on. And integrity means that you will sometimes stand alone while others look for the easy way out, and you are left to rely on patience to see the benefits of standing your ground while others ran. And if you're lazy none of this will do you a bit of good because you're going absolutely nowhere, my friend.
This doesn't mean you'll win every time. You will lose some battles. Others will rise and lord it over you. There will be times when you are forced to defer to things that are crap and utter nonsense. But it does guarantee that you will win the war. They may mistake you for weak, but they don't need to know everything you know. Let them think you're weak, because you're wise enough to wait for right timing to make your move and set things in the proper order. And in the meantime, you quietly work so you'll have the strength to act when the critical moment finally arrives, and you will act right on time - not too soon, not too late.
Folks, I was informed today that a committee member I've been emailing for a week - and even scheduled for a meeting - died. I felt like such an idiot! At first I thought "maybe he's on vacation" and let it go. Then late last week, I wondered briefly if I could call but, of course, all manner of other things needed my attention and that thought flew away with the wind. I should have stopped for that moment and followed up on it, but I just didn't. And today when I sent out the meeting invitation one of the other committee members sent out a broadcast message that the guy died last week with a copy of the obituary.
I felt like such an idiot. I know, Rick told me I shouldn't. How would I have known, anyway? We haven't taken the newspaper in over 5 years and even when we did, we never checked the obituaries because, well, in our 30's why would we? But I still felt silly, and that little voice that told me to call last week has been saying "see? you should have done it!" all day.
Oh well, at least I didn't email him a copy of his own obituary. I did do that once and have to say that was more embarassing. At least I remembered the note to myself from that incident today: Update the email group list BEFORE you forward the message.
I won't lie to you - I'm one of those people that was heavy on the book sense and light on the common sense growing up. I was teased endlessly about it. In fact, I know the reason I get irritated with older people being helpless and getting duped is because these were the very same people that were telling me I needed to "wise up to the ways of the world or all that education isn't gonna do you a bit of good in the real world" 15-20 years ago. I graduated in the top of my high school class and graduated college with honors, but learning to drive was hell for me - so much so that Dad sat me down and had a talk with me about how I had to learn to drive because there's no public transit in this town, and "functional adults drive." It really was awful. On top of struggling with common sense I'm also helplessly clumsy, and getting coordinated enough to drive - it took me about a year to get it. Yea, a year. My friends got their permit and were driving like pros after 2-3 months, and it took me a year. And even longer to do it well, without scaring the hell out of everybody in the car with me. Don't even ask me abou the abuse I took for it too, especially in driver's ed. The teacher made no bones about the fact that I might be a whiz in the classroom, but he thought I was a dumbass in the real world. He really was a jerk, by the way. As were my classmates. But thankfully I'm too old for teen angst. I did grow up. And I did grow some sense too.
I credit three things with this: Marriage, home ownership, and a job in a regulatory agency. Those three things will give you plenty of experiences that lend to wisdom very quickly. Relationships take work - more than you ever realize! Home ownership is a huge responsibility that requires a certain amount of organization, practicality, and saavy. And a job working with applying legislation to real life? That will stretch your brain, because you spend as much time blockading the people looking to exploit every loophole as you do applying it to the cooperative people/situations. I still have my moments - like emailing dead people - but my peers and colleagues have them too, and we aren't embarassed about it. In fact, things like this just help you get wiser.
I think this is why I'm always putting the characters in my novels in situations where they have the book smarts but not the "street smarts" to know what to do when their conflict arises. Part of the journey that every one of my protagonists have gone through is a realization that others don't share their knowledge/beliefs/morals and they have to decide what to do about it. Many of their journies have paralleled my own and I believe it's because they're issues that all of us face at one point or another. Because eventually life is going to take that unexpected turn, and we have to decide whether to fight it, accept it, or mine it for possibilities that we might not have planned for but are willing to accept as greater opportunity. Or we'll have to deal with people doing something against our morals because it's easier than doing what's right, and they're going to ridicule us as an idealist if we don't go along with the game (or worse yet, agree to take the blame if it all falls apart - yep, I've been there). Or we'll have to decide if we want to step out and take a chance on achieving a dream, or let the fear of failure keep us stuck in place. And we all have to decide - are we willing to work hard to make our dreams come true and make some sacrifices, or will we stay where we are, hoping somebody or something will come along to give us a "big break"? Because, as a colleague said last week, nothing in life is free, except God's love and the DMV manual. And some ebooks in the public domain and written by generous independent authors.
I'm not sure where the DMV manual came from - perhaps because she had a daughter getting ready to apply for her driver's permit. But anyway ...
I will agree that common sense is important, but I'm still one that believes that the "education and experience" work together. The book sense gives you the foundation you need. Because we all know that life isn't fair, and that the unexpected happens, and that sometimes people just don't like you, and that if something can go wrong then it will, and at the worst possible time. The Bible even says "I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all." (Ecclesiastes 9:11) These truths we know - but it's wisdom that tells us what to do when we actually face these situations. What do you do when you're passed over for the promotion? What do you do when somebody asks you to alter this or that financial report 'just a little?' What do you do when a friend betrays you and throws you under the bus for a mistake they made, but they lied and made it look like you did it? What do you do when you're on a date and the guy yells the cop that pulled him over for speeding, which sets off that voice in your head that says "geez, he has a temper. I'm not comfortable being around him?" And then he asks you out on another date and you don't want to go, but he's already been pissed off once tonight and you're afraid to say no? Book smarts tell you it CAN happen. Common sense tells you what to do when it DOES happen.
And in closing - yes, I did have someone send a message to a dead person in one of my novels. It happened in Splinter, which will be released through Whiskey Creek Press next year. Tune in for that and more fictionalized shenanagins in the ongoing progression of my writing.
That's all today. Have a great week.
Rick and I got out and raked the yard over the past couple of weekends. We hired somebody to do it for us at Christmas because Rick was sick and I was working a lot, but decided to do it ourselves again. Why not, we reasoned. We're healthy, the weather is nice, and it's just a waste to pay somebody to do it when we can do it ourselves. We did the front and side yards last weekend and aside from some sore arms, no problem. But yesterday we did the back yard, which is bigger, and it was about 10 degrees warmer.
OMG. For all of you that tell me "oh, you're still young!" that's crap. I got overheated. It took forever to cool off. Rick's sinuses have been giving him grief and my back is so sore that it's been a struggle to move all day. I've been trying to hide it - pride, you know, because I hate to admit that it's getting the best of me, but the truth is that my back has been killing me today. Good grief!
Yea, this wouldn't have bothered me 10 years ago. I might have had some sore arms and been tired, but it would have been gone the next day. Not so this time. I started out ok, but as the day has gone on, I've lost my energy and felt cruddier and cruddier. I didn't know what was wrong until Rick informed me that the yard work yesterday was probably still taking a toll on me. After all, we aren't in our 20's anymore.
Most people complain about seeing those first grey hairs. I'm here to grip about the loss of energy and how much harder it is for me to rebound from pushing myself. Now I understand why both of our parents have hired out the yard work. If this is how it is in my mid-30's, I can't imagine it's going to get any better from here.
Well, crap. How did I get to approaching middle age? A day at a time, I suppose, just like everyone else.
I have to tell you that age isn't something that I give much thought to most of the time. I just keep going on, doing my thing, until something like this happens. These are the instances where I say that age is "the creeper" coming up on me. Most of the time I plug along just fine with little mind to that DOB on my driver's license and CWP until some little thing reminds me that I'm not a kid anymore. Like taking longer to recover from illness and injury. My aching wrist when the weather changes, from that bout with tendinitis I had 2 years ago when I was working on the final draft of Anywhere But Here. An ache here and a pain there. Hearing grunge songs on "remember when?" countdowns on VH1. Things like that remind me that the clock is ticking and time is creeping up on me, slowly now but it's coming, like a thief in the night.
It's not all bad. I have to say that wisdom is an advantage of your 30's. You might be jaded by life and it takes more to impress or excite you, but you're also more patient a understanding. Things don't bother you as much. You know yourself better and find a confidence in that that gives you the boldness to embrace your individuality. I can honestly say that I wouldn't have considered e-publishing 10 years ago, when I started out in writing. I wouldn't have believed that I could learn or do what it takes to be an independent author. But after adopting 3 birds, buying a car, recovering from a stomach infection, building a house, a job move, an in-law move, joining two church committees, and a 3 year dry spell with my writing - yea, I figured why not step outside the box and give it a try. And so far, so good. It's building, and I can tell this is the way for me to go. I didn't believe I could do it on my own until I was knocked flat on my butt and crawled back up again a few times. Then I finally knew who I was and that I could do anything through Christ. Intellectually I knew it all along, but it took life experience for me to really see and believe it.
Still, though, I look at my wedding pictures and know I'll never be that 110 pound pixie again. Not that Rick's complaining about how I look. He's still gracious and tells me I'm beautiful, and I belive he's a good looking fellow. But sometimes that rising number on the size tag in my clothes bugs me and I think, gee, I wish I could have the mind I have now and the body I had at 23. Especially today. Because my back didn't ache so much when I was 23!
Then again, I'd also like to see robot maids, self-cleaning cages, and laptop computers and smart phones with retractable power cords, but that's not happening either. So I suppose the point is that in life you can have it all - but not at one time. Great body and great wisdom come, but not in the same day. And I somehow doubt that robot maids and retractable cords will be around before I hit retirement either. I suppose I'm better off enjoying where I'm at on the path to where I'm going. I know better - I just don't look it!
That's all today. Have a great start to the new week.
Hi everybody; I hope you're having a great weekend. Today is kind of a slow going day for me, which is refreshing. It's nice to not be rushing around all day!
My wrist is feeling better, and I'm glad it healed quickly because I've had a lot of writing ideas lately. Over the past couple of weeks, I've done some flash fiction, some non-fiction, and now I have ideas for two more pieces. One will be fiction and the other is non-fiction/inspirational. I'm glad that I'm inspired to write things in different genres. One thing I don't want is to be a one-trick wonder. I like writing in a variety of genres and styles. Although fiction is my favorite, I'm pleased that my inspiration for the non-fiction work that got me started seems to be returning. I'm probably rusty in that area, but I'll brush up. I do believe it's time to make my muse evolve and to embrace both fiction and non-fiction as fully as possible!
Tomorrow is Rick's birthday, and my birthday is next Friday (August 26th). I think Rick is a bit down about getting another year older - you know, the whole magic of birthdays is kind of lost after you turn 21. But honestly, my age isn't bothering me too much. I know mid-30's bother a lot of people, and from time to time I do ask myself how the hell I got to turning 36 in a week. But by and large, I have to say that I don't feel old. Wiser, definitely, and extremely grateful for that. More life experience to draw on, which is a good thing. Wishing I looked more like I did 10 years ago but Rick still compliments me so I guess I'm still in "average" range with the looks, which isn't bad. But not old. No, I'm not feeling the mid-life crisis right now. Guess I'll have to have it later.
But I would like to take this opportunity to publiclly wish Rick a Happy Birthday tomorrow.
It hasn't been as hot lately, and I'm grateful. A lot of people are saying they're ready for summer to be over so this hot weather will pass. Yes, it's been brutally hot, but truthfully I'm not eager to see summer go. Why? What would we be wishing away. Extreme heat for what - extreme cold? No thanks. Actually, I hate the cold, so I'll cope with the heat. And as I said, it's been more seasonable lately, so it hasn't been bad. So no, I don't want to see summer go. I still like it. I like the sunshine and long days, the green plants and blue sky, and the fact that the world is still alive. And there's something almost charming about a summer storm. In fact, I believe one is brewing now. I hear wind and thunder.
Well, that's all today. Just some random musings. I hope you're having a good weekend. Take care. More later.
Well, I suspected it would happen: Just before the long weekend, publishers for both of my novels sent informationto complete. Fortunately, they gave some time and I got everything done. I suspected there would be times like this when I signed that second contract, but I still think it's worth it.
I have (relative) publication dates for both novels now. Blurry, the young adult novel, will be released in August 2011. It's been edited and now I'm waiting on the copy editing, cover art, and website setup at Wings ePress. Anywhere But Here, the supernatural mystery, will be released in April 2012. I just turned in the pre-publication information to Whiskey Creek Press and it's going to the editor and the cover artist next.
It's been a lot of work these past few days, but I've been glad to do it. Both books are in motion now, so I wait to hear back on the next steps. It's exciting! I'll be sure to keep you posted as they progress through the publication process. And now, I also pray for wisdom (and luck) in promotion and sales.
Since I've been busy with returning to work and on the novels, there's not much else to report. I am looking forward to some time away from the computer, though. Maybe I'll get back to reading, if I don't get caught up on the Star Trek episodes that Netflix has on streaming video now.
That's all for now. Here's hoping you have a good rest of the week.