perspective


On July 21st, 2006, four years ago today, my beloved daddy died. In the spring of 2007, just a few months later, I started blogging. The two things are inextricably linked.

After several months of mentally curling up into a ball and wanting not to be … I needed a place to think what I was thinking; to feel what I was feeling; and to question what I was questioning.

This blog became that for me … and more:

  • It helps me be who I am and become who I am becoming
  • It helps me to feel what I feel
  • It helps me question what I believe and remember what I know
  • It takes me deeper into myself; into God; into living

In a way … it saved (and is saving) my life.

Maybe you think that’s a bit dramatic, a bit over the top … but what I was doing in the latter months of 2006 wasn’t living … it was existing, marking time. And who knows how long that limbo would have lasted, but my very good friend and spiritual mentor, Jon, suggested that I take up blogging – and I started writing …

  • and talking
  • and praying
  • and responding
  • and feeling
  • and healing

And even these days, from this healthier place, the weeks and months when I don’t have time (or think I don’t have time) to write, I start to free fall back into that half-life … existing without living.

** This post is an entry in the can writing keep us well – group project hosted by Confident Writing.

I know that it’s a little off-kilter to be writing a goals post in July – but for me, I’ve decided that July is the new January.

I’m a teacher and Christmas break is just enough time to catch my breath – to recover from an arduous semester of teaching – no time to write goals, much less to live them out in January, right when the insanity begins again full force.

But now … now I’ve been off for a month. I’ve had time to think and to veg and to watch too much tv; time to do a little desultory house cleaning and cook some actual meals in between the frozen pizzas and the fish sticks; time to remember that time is running out. My brain is officially revived … revived sufficiently to choose my three words for 2011 …

And they are …

Drum roll please …

just do it
This life is a funny tension between look ahead and live now and I’m longing for a better balance between the two. I want to keep working toward my dreams, but live in the moment and experience now.

Right now, Robb and I are teacher/missionaries in Portugal (read about it here), but we don’t believe it is forever … so, looking ahead, I see two things: professional writing (and maybe speaking) and ministry among refugees and immigrants.

Two things to just do

  • submit a minimum of 2 articles per month for publication (print or web)
  • get certified to teach English as a Foreign Language (BONUS – this fulfills both look ahead and live now!)

The other side of just do it is to stop procrastinating:

  • don’t save that email to deal with later – just do it
  • write that birthday card today
  • clean up the supper dishes now
  • put the clothes away immediately
  • read or delete
  • don’t think about, write about, talk about, obsess about what I should be doing as wife/mother/teacher/friend; just do it … or let it go.

Check back in January … maybe by then I’ll have made some progress.

I have a young friend, age 7, who has roots on three continents. He has only been speaking English for a little over a year. While his accent is more or less American, he speaks with a precision that is seldom found in our young people.

Yesterday, I was speaking with him after school. He was enjoying a yogurt drink. He threw the cap in the trash. (Our school collects plastic bottle caps which get recycled and the proceeds are donated to provide wheelchairs for children.) I said to him, Don’t you want to save that for the collection? He gave me a look like it would be way too much trouble to fish it out of the trash and carry it (20 steps!) to the kitchen.

I said, They use those for wheelchairs for children.

He said, in his precise English, What is a wheelchair?

It’s a chair for children who can’t walk. Like Isaac (my son).

He said, No they do not! That is too small!

I explained to him that they don’t use the actual caps, but the money they earn from them to help provide wheelchairs for children.

It was a funny moment, but it made me think. How often do I think that things are too small to bother with. My little bottle cap makes no difference. I might as well just throw it away.

Not true.

Not true with things. Not true with people.

What I have and what I am is enough. God promised me so. I just need to give it faithfully, diligently, even when 20 steps feels like too much of a bother.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

 Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. – Edmund Burke

Here’s another:

I do it for Jesus. Mother Theresa

This morning I was going through some papers and came across a page of stickers. I handed them to my 9 year old who was standing at my elbow. A few minutes later she stuck one on my shirt, shoulder level.

I kept working.n617753997_1570348_6612

A couple hours later, the sticker on my shirt caught my eye and I looked at it. I “heart” mom!, it says.

In these early days of the new year, everyone’s talking about goals and resolutions. No matter how much I weigh at the end of the year, or whether I achieve what I would like to academically or professionally, I will have a 10 year old and an 8 year old and a 17 year old who “heart” me. Achievement and ambition pale in comparison.

What little thing will you celebrate today?

This post is one in a series on perspective.

Last year I attended a training during which I was supposed to get alone and figure out a mission statement for my life. I was pretty stressed out about this, thinking that if I got it wrong, I would screw up the rest of my life or something. Luckily, common sense intervened and I realized that this was just a tool, like any other tool, maybe useful and maybe not. I stopped trying to write it, and it came to me. It’s pretty personal, so I’m not going to share it verbatim, but it has to do with helping people who are marginalized by society.

This fall, I got really, really busy. This time it wasn’t my fault … honest. But one of the things I’ve been trying to do for the last 6 weeks or so is lighten my load a little. But I realized a couple weeks ago that the easiest things to lose logistically were the ones that fit best with that mission statement that I almost forgot about in my busyness. So, I switched tack and renegotiated and I think I’ve come up with a reasonable compromise that balances my resonsibilities with my mission, taking into account financial as well as family needs.

I remember hearing one time that two Chinese characters combine to form the concept of busy: heart and killing. I believe it. Busyness creates stress which is literally life threatening, but maybe even worse is the fact that busyness kills our souls, we forget who we are and what we’re here for. At least I did.

That’s why when taking the Chris Brogan challenge to choose three words for 2009, I chose blessing, which embodies my mission; perspective, reminding me not to invest emotionally in things that don’t matter; and ownership, asking myself (as reminded by @EricaRKrieger on twitter) “Is this mine to do?”, and if the answer is yes, owning the task and working wholeheartedly; and if the answer is no, figuring out how to let it go as soon as possible.

I’m thinking about reviewing these three words once a month throughout the year to prevent busyness from overpowering my mission and purpose and even the very person I’m made to be.

Related posts:
Goals, Schmoals