Posts Tagged ‘focus’

(This was originally published in error as a separate page two weeks ago.)

Notes along this journey:

I’m not made for the corporate life. I’m just not. Others are. I’m not. It’s a box I don’t fit into. Small organization, yes. Work for myself, yes. Freelance, yes. Just be, yes.

Job searches are so much about trying to fit into the corporate life. It’s a bit disorienting that way. When people ask me what kind of position I’m looking for, I need to figure out a better way to answer, a simple way to say I want to earn enough to support myself by being a writer and a maker and a mentor and a learner and a teacher and a simple living guru and a disciple and a disciple-maker. And not worry if anyone else thinks that sounds irresponsible. I’m very responsible.

I believe I am called to live in such a way that shows another way is possible. A personal way, yet a community-building way. An artisanal way. An intergenerational way. A simple way. An ancient way. A contemplative, spiritual way. A way that supports justice and participates in restoring shalom to our world.

I do not know if in that description there are ways to fully support myself. But if God calls me to it, God will make a way. I have been consumed with how to continue to make a living. After all, paying the bills is pretty necessary in our culture. But it’s had me bound. And that’s a sign of not trusting. I don’t want to be bound. I want to make a life. My life.

I have this vision of a house like Nonnatus House. If you are a fan of Call the Midwife, you know what that means. Maybe not a full blown convent, because maybe it could be co-ed. But a place where people who like each other enough to live together share expenses, thus easing income-pressure for everyone, and share common areas. Share life. Share vision. Share service. Neighbor with their neighbors.

I stand at the crossroads, and I’m looking hard. I ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, because that’s where I long to walk. There I will find rest for my soul. (Jeremiah 6:16)

God wants me to see the path, and I want to see it. So the way will open. On that I’ll rest.


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Ideas that nourish

I don’t blog more often because I can’t decide what this blog is about. It’s like a fish in the boat, flopping around. It has ADD. If I could just accept that it doesn’t have to have one theme — but all the best blogs do. Carol, you don’t have to be a high achiever in this. Just express yourself.

I am driven to share what I read, what I hear. I learn something that makes me think or feel, and I immediately think of someone I know whom I truly believe would love to also read/hear it. Sometimes I think that if just the right people could read what I just read, some piece of how the world works would change in a good way. My friends and the people I work with have learned this about me. One of them says she knows that I don’t send something unless it’s important and so she always reads it. Another says, “Sometimes you read too much.” Impossible. I have learned to mostly not share stuff with my children. Giving reading recommendations to husband, when I had one, or children has never worked for me.

For instance, I just watched a TED talk about hunger and some ways other than relief in which food supplies are being transformed all over the world. My mind starts to buzz. I work for a nonprofit that among other things has one of the largest food pantries in northern Indiana, and could we adapt just one nugget of what Josette Sheeran said in this talk and make a more longterm, more community strengthening, more empowering difference?

I’d love to hear what you think.

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Lightning bugs rising at dusk out of my back yard grass, where stripes still show that it’s freshly mowed.

A lemon slice in ice water.

Fresh little zucchini, sliced and sauteed on olive oil with an equally fresh green onion, a handful of mushroom slices, and oregano from my own patch.

Car window down driving home.

Bare feet and sandals

A ridiculously low natural gas bill

Waking up when it’s light outside

Fresh blueberries to snack on like popcorn.

Not shivering

Cotton. Linen. White bangles

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No choir anthems. No banks of Easter lilies with their intoxicating scent. No new clothes. No colored eggs.

Today is the first time in I can’t tell you how long that I have not gone to church on Easter Sunday. I am as much a believer as I’ve ever been, but this seems to be the year for me to have a private, quiet observance of the Resurrection. And I’m pretty sure God understands.

In fact, one of the first things I heard this morning was Third Day’s song, “Slow Down”: “Tell me to slow down if you know that I’m going too fast for my own good. ….I don’t want to let go of all the things that I know are keeping me away from my life. Oh, I don’t want to slow down. No, I don’t want to look around. But I can’t seem to work it out, so help me God.”

Help me, God. I can’t seem to work it out. Actually, I suspect it’s true that I find reasons not to slow down because it’s hard to look around, look in.  I became a widow over two years ago, after 39 years of marriage. Now it’s clear that I lost myself in that marriage. When Art died, I had to hit the ground running to keep my life afloat financially. In the process I found a career I love and I’ve learned new things about myself, grown, blossomed — but it’s a type of work that is never done, and now I struggle not to lose myself in it. Right now I’m worn thin. I want resurrection life to flow through me. That’s what God intends, and if I’m not present, it can’t.

I’m reading A Weekend to Change Your Life, by Joan Anderson. She writes about taking a sabbatical or extended retreat. Even a weekend away, and how valuable that can be “after a lifetime of being all things to all people.” So that’s why I decided to stay home from church today. No, this weekend isn’t a fullblown retreat. I can’t go to a beach cottage. I’m at my own house, still doing laundry, picking up sticks in my yard, making a bank deposit. But I need alone time, and I’m taking it where I can get it.

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

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I just watched the movie Secretariat. It’s probably not the best movie ever made, artistically speaking, but I enjoyed it. At the end, when Secretariat was tearing up that Belmont track, pulling further and further away from the other horses, and the soundtrack was playing “O Happy Day,” I could not contain myself.  “Let him run his race,” Penny Tweedy’s father had told her before he died, and she did. Using the strong will God gave her, she found people who would also let him run his race, and by simply being the creature God created him to be, he ran it. It was his race, and more. I saw the glory of God.

Penny ran her race, too. Actually, at 88  she’s still running it. I loved the spirit portrayed in her, the never give up spirit, the know who you are and press on spirit.

I’m sure all this has been written previously, but tonight it’s mine. I needed to see it, to hear it, to clap hard, in time to “O Happy Day,” to the end of the race. I needed to hear in my head again the line from Chariots of Fire when Eric Liddell says, “God made me fast, and it gives him pleasure when I run.”

The song at the end of the movie says, “It’s not how fast, it’s not how far, it’s not who cheers, it’s who you are. In the darkest night you make your sun. Choose your race, and then you run.”

God, are you pleased with my race these days, these weeks? I hope so. Thank you for re-energizing my spirit this way. I want to be the person you made me to be, full out.

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What my eyes tell me

I’m out of balance. Literally.

I had my yearly eye exam today, and one eye improved while the other one got worse. I’m apparently loaded with metaphors. I’m not only out of balance, but my vision is skewed. In some ways it’s getting clearer. In others, I’m working harder than ever to focus. Truth.

New glasses are ordered. Hopefully the life balance will return as well.

What a journey.

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Usually we hear of fasting in regards to eating. People skip meals, or even days of eating, for either spiritual or health reasons. I’ve done both, the longest being a nearly 3-day juice fast as recommended in a holistic health book.

There are other kinds of fasts. Fellow blogger Lisa fasts annually for a few weeks from technology, during which I understand she gives herself a few weeks without all things online. I’ve heard tell of couples who go on sex fasts, and the Bible actually makes mention of this by cautioning married couples not to go too long without. Other variations come in the form of TV fasts, video game fasts, and who knows what else.

I’m thinking maybe I need to put myself on a fast from self-education, and here’s why: I feel like I’ve been developing ADD lately. Too much to think about, not enough focus. The thing is, I love gathering new information and ideas — it’s recreation to me.  I catch speeches on TED.com, read books — I stopped at Goodwill on my home from work today and came away with yet another book to read, this one by Stephen Covey on leadership, even though I already have several books going, all of which end each chapter with self-exam exercises which I really do want to work on seriously.

But lately the stress in my body is telling me I need to act and not just think about things, and if all this input is becoming an avoidance technique for me, then I need to get tough with myself. Yes, I have to think about things, but I have to focus on just a few. I can’t stop my own ideas, and I don’t want to, but I can temporarily limit my intake of other people’s ideas. Maybe I use TED.com as my reward. Clear off my desk, or go check out some apartments, then get to watch Jaime Oliver talk about educating children about food or Daniel Pink talk about motivation. Some of the books I’m reading are supposed to help me set priorities. Just gotta do it.

I write about it. Maybe writing about it is avoidance, too. Maybe you can identify. Any thoughts?

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