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Posts Tagged ‘musings’

Learning to love the old

We love (love, love) new. That new car smell – yum. New technology is as seductive as any mythological siren. New clothes are first off the hanger when we are looking for an outfit. We seek out new places to visit, new foods to try, new movies to see…we love new. Right?

fresh-start-new-yearAnd there’s something oh-so-beguiling about a new year. We buy a new calendar and all 12 months sprawl out in front of us. We like to think of January as a fresh start. A blank page waiting to be written. We clean our homes and vow to keep them that way. We resolve to clean our consciences and live better. Do better. BE better.

But no matter how much we all love the idea of a fresh start, the fact is we can’t trade ourselves in for a new model. We have to work with what we’ve got. We can clean and scrub, but we are going to continue to live in the same house, whether we’re talking figuratively or spiritually.  Realistically, New Year’s resolutions are really more about rearranging things…like priorities. Or maybe doing some renovations or remodeling – knocking out bad habits and replacing them with better, healthier ones.

So while we’re busy identifying what we want to change in our lives this year, let’s remember to love what is good and sound and make up the best parts of who we are. If we don’t love the old us, we’re not going to be happy with the new-and-improved us, either.

Happy new year,
Terry

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Recently, a yoga instructor encouraged us to “not settle for the first position your body gives you.” It’s good advice to stretch yourself – figuratively and literally – a little more, hold a pose a few seconds beyond what is comfortable, and to be mindful of your position, posture and breathing. By not settling for what is comfortable and “good enough,” you gradually improve your yoga practice and become stronger and more flexible, and positions that were too advanced and too hard can become possible.

Her admonition has stuck with me this week, as I look back at last year and look ahead to the next one. There were days when “good enough” seemed to be all I had to give. But if I’m honest with myself, some days I settled for good enough when I knew I could do more. So instead of making specific resolutions this year, I think I might apply this concept to more areas of my life: don’t settle for good enough. That doesn’t mean demanding more from others, but to stretch myself:

To be a little more grace-filled, graceful and gracious to others, even when they don’t deserve it. (Even when I don’t feel particularly full of grace.)

To give a little bit more of myself than the task requires. Even when I’ve already gone above and beyond – give just a tiny bit more, especially when it will make a difference. And even when it won’t be noticed or appreciated by anyone else. I will know that I gave my best.

To remain more conscious of my inner attitude and the demeanor I reflect to the world. To look up and out past myself, smile more at strangers and laugh more, listen more, and love more with friends and family.

I can’t change the world.

I can’t demand change from anyone else.

I can’t end poverty, hatred, envy and strife.

But if I change me, by requiring just a little more than “good enough,” it’s possible to make a difference. Just as a single, nearly weightless leaf can land on still water and make ripples larger than itself, I can – perhaps – gently cHappy-New-Year-2014-HD-Wallpapers3hange my world, by refusing to settle. Even one tiny candle in a dark room can provide welcome light to everyone in its vicinity. But only if it’s willing to give up some of itself in order to burn brightly.

What will you do with 2014? It is a one-time gift and we will only have it for 8,760 hours. May this be one year we can all look back and say we are leaving it better than we started it.

Happy 2014,
Terry

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Most of my week day focus and time is spent staring at this computer screen, reading, typing and thinking.  It’s mostly work and little play; I manage a gardening website, so on a typical day you’ll find me editing articles, researching and correcting plant names in our database, responding to our members questions and suggestions, and interacting with social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to share the newest and best of our site with other gardeners around the world.  (I know, it sounds like play.  And it is mostly enjoyable but trust me when I say it take some serious concentration and mental exertion.)

And then there’s my own little space on the web, here on my blog (and my associated Facebook and Twitter accounts.) Writing, editing, and engaging with others across multiple platforms. Same song, second verse, usually accomplished between the sevens (i.e., anytime after 7 p.m. through 7 a.m. the next day.)

I also volunteer time each week to help our church’s education program and youth group. Much of that work involves writing curriculum, drafting messages and other online tasks and is squeezed into “free” evening and/or weekend hours.

Because my work is mostly sedentary, I also try to interject frequent physical activity into my daily routines, in the form of exercising and domestic activities: gardening, cooking, cleaning, organizing, decorating….which I have learned can NOT be done simultaneously.  (When I’m in the throes of spring planting, the cooking and cleaning grind to a halt.)

I have tried – unsuccessfully – to budget and compartmentalize my days so that I can achieve multi-tasking nirvana…woman multi tasking

and use my theoretical “lunch hour” to tweak a blog post or add a little more to a Bible class lesson, then switch back to work mode. Or take a quick mid-morning break to fold a load of clothes or run the vacuum, then pick up where I left off a few minutes later.

It sounds great in theory, but in reality, it doesn’t work all that smoothly or neatly. Instead, I tend to stay on a task until I reach some significant milestone, and hop on another task and ride it all the way to its final destination. If I start folding clothes, the next thing I know I’ve got the washer and dryer going full-tilt. (I can make cookies and do laundry simultaneously, but I’m not sure that counts since the washer and dryer are doing all the real work.)

Vacuuming leads to mopping leads to bathroom cleaning – all of which can be done while talking on the phone.

Starting research on a blog post or Bible lesson and it’s unlikely I’ll stop until it’s finished, although I may have a movie or TV show going in the background.

SPOILER ALERT – don’t read the next paragraph unless you want to know the unvarnished truth about my blog writing practices.

Case in point? I penned this post along with about four others in an evening last week. I write, edit, schedule in rapid-fire sequence. Then I do a final proof and tweak before they go live. (I’m so sorry if you thought I sat down at some ghastly early morning hour to draft my blogs from scratch every couple of days…I love blogging, but I wouldn’t write much worth reading if I tried to do it that way.)

Anyhoo.

Despite my efforts to squeeze every bit of activity into every crevice of every minute of every day, I have to admit I do my best work when I mentally board a metaphorical plane speeding toward a single destination.woman catching a plane

Even if that means catching a second (or even third) mental flight later that day. I just don’t gracefully shift gears back-and-forth throughout the day. So how about you? Is it easy to transition to different tasks throughout your day? If so, how do you do it without losing momentum, or spending a lot of time getting back up to speed when you return to a task?

Happy musings,

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Bride for a day, wife for life

On this, the most romantic day of the year, here is a love letter to my daughter, and to all the women who dream of having THE fairytale wedding of their dreams.

I have seen enough of Pinterest and  “Say Yes to the Dress” to appreciate the staggering number of decisions that are now expected of a modern bride.  It is a fascinating glimpse into the whirlwind of activity that goes into planning a wedding in the 21st century.  The choices are vast, and there are far more choices and decisions than ever before.

BridezillaWhen I think back on my wedding, I was no slacker, but I don’t remember obsessing over finding the PERFECT shoes for my bridesmaids, or fretting over whether the reception chairs would be espresso or mahogany finished.

Is it any wonder Bridezillas and Monster-in-laws abound?

Television, the tabloids and the internet heap tremendous pressure on brides to create the most perfect and spectacular event imaginable.

But….

Your wedding is NOT a performance.  Your guests are NOT an audience of critics.

Your wedding is a solemn ceremony and your guests are present to witnesses it.

Your wedding is a joyful celebration and your guests are there to celebrate with you.

Trust me when I tell you they won’t appreciate that you spent hours picking out fabric for the bows. They won’t care if your entrance or exit is YouTube worthy.  (Really!)

My hopes for brides everywhere…

  • May your days of planning be a joy to you, and not a burden. May the anticipation be fun and not pressure-filled.
  • May you keep the day in perspective:  it is only the first day of a life-long journey.
  • May you place more emphasis on preparing yourself to be a wife than being the bride du jour.
  • May you find time to spend with the women in your future husband’s life.  Ask them for recipes for his favorite foods and desserts.  You’ll endear yourself to them and be able to cook up a surprise for your husband one of these days.
  • May you also make time to visit or call a woman whose marriage you admire and seek her advice and counsel.  Her words of wisdom will be far more precious and important than whatever else you would have spent that time doing.

The truth is, your wedding will be most special and memorable to you – and you alone.   I know you don’t believe it now, but no matter how exquisite your dress, his tux, your hair, the flowers, your shoes, the words in your vows, the music you painstakingly select….it will become just one more wedding your guests attend, and even just one more wedding your bridesmaids and groomsmen participated in.

So my wish for you is that you plan it well, but don’t lose sight of the days beyond it, because every day of your marriage is just as important and precious as your wedding day.

Happy  planning,

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