The good thing about letting a blog go to sleep for a long time is that it has a chance to get clarified. Actually it is your own mind as a writer that goes through that refining process. After a good long while, you ask yourself the question, should I wake it up? Or should I let sleeping dogs lie…. ?
It isn’t as simple as that, though, if I am honest. I have asked myself the questions numerous times, in a sequence of phases.
The first phase was elimination. The things I didn’t want to write about, the topics I tired of, and the inevitable decisions about cutting out the unnecessary.
I became disgusted and tired of the political wars and polarities that could no longer be bridged. The futility of religious arguments that ran through the same old ruts, and writing about the newest and coolest became utterly boring. Cut | Cut | Cut.
I cut from my thinking and my conversation, and certainly cut from my writing.
Road To [Some Destination]
This was the second phase. Deciding the destination.
We all have choices in which way to point ourselves, and the purpose of a blog is no different. We may not have complete control over life’s conditions, but we can decide which way we will position ourselves.
I almost spoke of “acts”, but we can’t always decide that. We can, however, take a view or attitude about life’s conditions.
The Power of the Positive
This phase, for me involved the increased position of the positive. In fact, the more negatively life (and the people involved) has impacted me, the more important it has become to entertain the positive view.
This attitude shift has resulted in wanting to write different topics in different ways than the blog had previously manifested.
The destination has changed, or maybe I had detoured and am returning to the original intent? Possibly, I have discovered the intent that was buried inside the concretions of my life when first blogging.
Today, understanding rather than opining is more important to me. I used to want to be humble, and right, but now humility comes from the realization of how very wrong I could be. In mode, if not in view.
I say ” I just don’t know” so often, at this point. That would be very boring, if not for the fact that it leads me to explore more thoughtfully, now.
Creativity Needs Sleep to Survive
Something every creative person experiences is the need to rejuvenate the juices of inspiration. The body needs rest, but so does the inner man.
How many times do we experience a project bogging down, and its revival after leaving it alone for awhile? I have that regularly happen in many things: making art, writing, self-improvement, problem-solving, learning a new computer program.
I liked a lot of what went into this blog in the past. The thinking out of theology or what went on in society. Looking at family life, and roles, etc. And there have been numerous times I thought I would like to record the thoughts I am having about some of this stuff now.
What I like about putting these posts into a sleeping blog is that there is no pressure of an audience, just the pure creative desire to record the thinking process about matters of importance in my perspective at the time.
Updates Will Come
One thing I noticed when evaluating this blog is that many of the old style posts: short, sending attention to links or other blogs (many of which are defunct now) are superfluous and need culling. Eventually, re-arranging old categories and other blog housework seems in order. But mostly, I will just add posts on topics that interest me, from time to time.
“Family” is the concept that looms largest in my personal horizon. I only realized it in terms of articulating it to myself in 2016. So, this is fairly new: to compose a complete view of why this idea of “family” is so central to my entire life.
I began to understand how it impacts so many of us, although in varying ways and degrees.
Why Me, and Not You?
This is the place where I began to really think, rather than simply struggle.
First, I’m a sixty- something and have lived most of my allotted years. When it comes to family, I went big- I had ten children… and endured long – stayed married for 43 years as a stay-at-home-mom.
It is not an exaggeration to say that I have struggled in one way or another all that time. I never seemed to have really settled within myself. One perennial struggle was to have a cohesive family unit- when what I actually was part of was more like a “herding cats” scenario.
The Light of Dawn
This past year, as I found myself within that familiar cycle of trying to coordinate family get-togethers while everyone else was less than enthusiastic about making plans, I asked myself “Why?”
Why is it so vital to me that we gather together and build relationship, and the others (father and children) seem so indifferent, even resistant? It used to be couched in a “what is wrong with me?”/ “what is wrong with them?” emotional whirlpool, but a different perspective dawned on me.
What is different between us?
That I find the need central, while for them it is peripheral to the rest of their concerns. What explains this conflict of priorities?
Because I am a woman, and a mom? No, that doesn’t explain it. I know of others who aren’t like this.
Because I made my life choices in that direction? No, desire for family was the impetus, not the outcome.
Because I came from a broken home? Yes, that begins to explain it.
Not only did I come from a broken home, but I had no real place in my family of origin. I was a rejected black sheep. The reason is not important, but the effect was the key influence of my life. It colored everything.
My husband came from an intact family, as did my children. I believe they see that part of their life, being in a family unit, as a matter of course. It is settled for them.
My great struggle is seeing that such things aren’t settled by default, but must be grown and cultivated. I don’t apologize or dismiss the power of that insight. I do have one great flaw, however… what does such a family look like? How does it form, especially when given such poor soil?
I value family so greatly, because mine was lacking. I wanted to create family in my life.
I Don’t Have Answers, But I Get Inklings
In these big concept struggles of life, I move further from having the answers (as in “one size fits all”), but I get bigger inklings. And those help me. They create more peace and contentment, and make me much easier to get along with as they disconnect my need to fix the world from daily interactions with the people important to me.
10 Great Inklings
We all have needs for acceptance and love, and it isn’t all about me.
Keep trying to connect, and try to make the majority of connections loving, supportive, pleasant.
Leave the past behind. Get to know the person that they are, now.
Your needs, insights, and contributions are important, so are theirs. Blend, make recipes, value all the ingredients. Know when to leave certain things out of the mix.
Be there. Be present. Be hospitable. Invite. Engage. Allow. Make clear boundaries.
Choose to keep trying as long as fruit is possible. Know when to cut down the tree. This comes from Jesus’s parable of the fig tree. To pour yourself out into areas of life that don’t produce means that less is given to those that will. Be productive.
Glean wisdom, but don’t compare.
Stop the negativity habits; Encourage positive interactions, speech, attitude, gratefulness, and all things edifying.
While oversight may be in your hands, control is not.
You cannot change others, but you can change yourself. That may be the catalyst for circumstances or for others, but it is growth in your own life. It will result in true satisfaction.
My Contribution: A Sense that Family is Important
This lack that became driving force, struggle that became recognition, became what I contribute to the world. I gave it through defiance and by going to war against the norms of my generation. As a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), with homeschooling, home birthing, attempts at homesteading, and having a big family on one (sometimes below-average) income.
I don’t contribute the means or the goal, but the concept. That is, that a family has intrinsic value for everyone, in some way. This idea of family value is not dictated by method, numbers, or even culture.
If the value is dictated by anything, it would be a true understanding of love.
Regrets and the Future
To dwell on regrets is not useful or conducive to change. It only mires one in the past with a distorted filter. We have today, and that forms our future life… with family relationships or otherwise.
People give up on family. Too soon and too often, when it is the messy stuff of living that creates the full spectrum of being.
I believe this is why God has worded relationship with Himself in terms of family. Likewise, as human beings, there are many ways we relate to each other; but the closer we are the more we see it in familial connections.
Someone is a sister or mother to us, a father or brother, and a “significant other” is husband or wife. We can’t divorce ourselves from our need to belong. It remains, struggling and gasping for expression.
I want that expression to be a healthy one that promotes growth in each individual. I outlined what that means to me.
I was reading a post about asking yourself some big questions in the quest to find, or find again, your life purpose.
Some people have stopped asking, and among the many states that might be described, there are those who are simply stymied, mired in the march of time and the confusion of life.
I wonder if that latter state isn’t related to the part of the parable where good seed fall among weeds. It has grown, it showed promise, but the care and business of this life swallowed up all the available time and energy.
Not being able to breathe and grow, the questions just slowly stopped. Because there doesn’t seem to be any reason to keep asking. The sunlight is blocked, the root starts to wither in a dry place where no moisture of inspiration any longer can reach.
Asking Questions Begins Making Room
It makes room in your mind. It gets you looking for a way to climb out of your rut.
People today love to talk about passion. The concept has turned into a buzzword and marketers use it as a hook, because there is still hope that with this passion comes reward and renewed sensitivity to beauty and life. Sadly, the way it is used it is mostly emptied of any real meaning.
Although allowing the focus of truthful and sincere questions may direct our attention back to the essence of what we mean when we say the word “passion”.
That which we have figured out we really, and truly care about. That which we are willing to expend our selves and the currency of our lives on. Things which matter to us versus what we say matters to us.
What Are Those Questions?
The post I read gave me that author’s thoughts on them, and they were very good ones. I wouldn’t argue with their validity. At the same time it made me think that he meant them as a springboard for me to ask my own questions.
Here are mine:
Have I put off becoming the person I want to be? Have I traded my life so far for a distant carrot of “someday”, only to wake up and find that I detoured from the road?
If I am truly convinced that “God is the answer” (forgive this cliché, but you all know what I mean by it), why have I given Him the leftovers of my inner life? Did I really believe that all my time spent thinking selfish, foolish, bitter, angry thoughts would make room for Him and for His nature, or even a connection with God? The mantra of “forgive me” and “help me” didn’t take the place of actual repentance and the work (giving actual time, thought, and energy) of becoming friends with God.
What can I do to become present in relationships? with God, with people, with endeavors, …. with myself?
Those are the main ones for me at this time.
I also call into question some of the ideas submitted in that article, at least as I have understood them. A big one for me is this.
Understanding that life demands sacrifice
I understood very early that there are hard things in life and disappointments. In fact, I’d say I prided myself on having persistence, endurance in the face of difficulties, or personal “grit”. I tried to pass that on to my children.
I wonder if it didn’t backfire, for them and for me. I mean I truly wonder, because I don’t know how to look at it today. I think it was a good quality, but should have been tempered with wisdom.
Rejection, criticism, failure are parts of life, yes. But I made too much of them, and then spent an awful lot of time backpedaling and trying to repair the damage that came from that imbalance.
That is enough introspection to give you an idea of where my head was at when I thought about making a small list of life “to-dos” in order to move forward.
settle the question that life has meaning.
Don’ t delay acting on your understanding it
Use Your Questions To Add Meaning
Do No Harm
A short explanation of what I mean by each of those actions.
Humans keep struggling for it, so it is a big time and life waster to keep insisting that we live only for the moment and that there is no meaning. Or act like there is none. We will only wake up wasted and full of regret. So just settle it, like making it a basic premise: life has meaning and we have meaning within it.
You don’t have to have everything figured out before moving forward. Life has its own momentum, and little actions add up into a force. You understand an infinitesimal piece of the puzzle? Make your action, thoughts, and direction come into harmony and alignment with that. Sometimes understanding is actually built from that, not the other way around.
This is underestimated. Maybe because we think we have to understand the picture we see and must pass some sort of universal judgement of worthiness. Our business is to show kindness as often as we can. We cannot possibly gauge the power to change the world for the better that this one decision makes.
So many use their questions to destroy another’s sense of meaning. Gaining a sense of meaning is so much more important, and takes so much effort in the confusion and chaos, that energy is better used building and outlining the positive. Not a mandate, just generally a good rule to pursue. Otherwise we can waste all our time destroying others and not having built anything for ourselves.
We step on life without even thinking, so borrowing this adage from the medical profession is a reminder to value life. To understand our own power, and to use it wisely. Stop deliberately hurting others. It does not empower you. Eventually you will find this out, but you may have developed a debilitating habit by that time. As much as you can, benefit. Even those you don’t think deserve it, those you don’t like, those who seem small, or too big for their britches. You don’t have to aright the universe, you just need to nurture the little your short life will allow you.
There it is. My thoughts for the day. and should you wish to read the post that triggered this one, 7 Strange Questions
While our children were little my husband rarely to never took vacations, and we couldn’t afford to travel anywhere, anyway. I centered my life around the home and gardening… then put lots of time into blogging. All those occupations were in sync with my intensive demands of homelife (raising ten children while homeschooling), allowing for creative expression while not requiring lots of money or absence from overseeing the needs of my family.
Now I find I am always on a trip somewhere.
It changed slowly with rare trips to places I never dreamed of seeing… I went to Hungary and Denmark, then to Brazil to attend my son and daughter in love’s wedding. With the advent of grandchildren, there have been increased trips to Georgia, mainly, but Florida and Phoenix were on the list as well.
In the past year we did something -twice- that had been on my husbands wishlist since I met him: a road trip across the nation, visiting the West. He still has the Badlands on his bucket list, but we checked off the others: Highway 1 and Mendocino, Bryce Canyon in Utah, America’s Loneliest Highway Rte 50 through Nevada.
I know some people blog while they travel, but I am an “in the moment experience” type of person. I don’t even like the distraction of taking photographs. I have moderated that and forced myself to take photos for the sake of memories and just because I want to capture some of the beauty that I see, but mostly I drink in the scenery, and let the atmosphere saturate my mind and heart.
The past few years have seen a great increase in travel for me… which may not be comparable to many others, but it is a huge change for me.
I find I like it.
I come back to loads of laundry to do, a marathon of weeding and neglected gardens, but it has been worth the exchange. Time spent by the ocean, seeing vast redwood forests, immense mountains of the Rocky ranges… these are mind opening, soul nourishing events.
So I don’t apologize that this season of my life leaves less room for the type of blogging I once did. My online life evolves and there is no pattern for the shape it will take. But, like all the rest of my life, I have shifted away from letting demands rule my life, and have created space for the simple act of living. Letting the flow of what creates an organic and vibrant participation of relationship and experience to take the forefront, to become my priority.
People figure more predominately in this way of life, and tasks become secondary. I don’t pretend to imply that it leads to being a successful blogger or to create worldly wealth. I do, however, feel richer, and may I say it? Happier. Or maybe happy is not the right word choice, I think the term “joie de vivre” is a more accurate term. The joy of life infuses this pathway.
My garden takes on a wild look, my blogs are temporarily neglected, but I have more to offer when following this roadtrip of life.
I was thinking about the legacy we leave our children. Not the type that is made up of stocks or bonds, or houses, but the kind that is a result of the DNA we passed to them and that more esoteric kind of legacy made up of passing on who we are. Some of my children want little that represents what I’m made of, and some highly regard it. But highly regard it or no, it is passed on to them in measures not of my making. Perhaps little of their making, for we do not choose what makes us, how we are arranged together or who we come from.
God makes all those choices and we can grow into what we are meant to be, called to be, best fitted for in life. I say that because another unchosen condition is the time and situation of the world we live within.
Grit is great sanding material, but not so good to get in your shoe in a long journey. A little oil of joy doesn’t hurt, and likely is necessary. I am learning to value joy for that reason.
I am courageous. I am a lightning rod.
I draw trouble and the wrath of the oppressor. It makes me a bit oppressive, myself.
I am giving and have a deep vein of compassion, but it is tempered with hard lessons.
I am easily misunderstood and most of the time I really don’t care about that.
I listen to my own inner convictions and keep my own counsel. It makes me strong, but also makes my mistakes big ones. I don’t have much emotional intelligence at times.
I feel others pain. Sometimes I find it crippling. Sometimes I am paralyzed by the sight of the consequences they must face.
I often want to give up and can’t. I don’t know if it is Sisu or just inflexibility.
I second-guess, and switch gears all too often. I lack consistency.
I have trouble being positive and affirming, and have all too often been in the habit of looking for the problems and faults. I am something of a control freak with a crushing sense of over responsibility which -oddly enough- contributes to the fact that I can be undependable.
I am firm in my convictions because it took me hard work to get there and lots of testing of the thinking and the truth of them. It is hard to convince me, and harder to make me let go of what I have become convinced of. The one place I am dependable, consistent, and steadfast is in standing in those convictions. A good thing for being the ballast in my relationships, because I don’t tend to trust people easily, but I will stand by them because it is the right thing to do. Some would say of my trust level in people, “not at all”. I am convinced of the depravity of man.
So it won’t surprise me how bad you are. And it is likewise the basis for my knowledge that I could just as easily be just as bad- or worse.
I keep turning towards God no matter how little I understand why things are the way they are and how difficult and fearful the choice looks. I stopped looking for other answers. What is clear to me might make it hard for me to see why you have your questions. But I don’t begrudge you your questions.
These are a few things I have passed on to my children by way of experiences, upbringing, relationship with them.
My language of love is more tough, pick yourself up, and learn to be self sufficient.
You can see how I am easily misunderstood (insert a laugh track here…cause no one is going to laugh at this “joke”).
But I love in a way that has your back even when I don’t believe in what you are doing or I see trouble in your chosen path. I’m good when all your fair weather friends have deserted you.
I don’t need you to tell me how “good…nice…wonderful” I am.
But I do need connection even when I don’t think so.
And this is all a part of my legacy to my children. Who I am, the impact and influence I leave, and how much I love them.
I had an experience in the past year that propelled me out of my comfort zone, and has me thinking about relationships, acceptance, and yet again – the way society sets us up.
Here is me: I stay at home, and have, for the past… oh, almost forty years that I’ve been married and had kids.
You might call me insulated…. parochial… any number of limiting adjectives; because that is how people tend to categorize and pigeon-hole each other. It is also a function of how our brains manage to work with limited information and infinite unknowns.
Increasingly over the past decade the mold has broken and I’ve been traveling, so far to Hungary, Denmark, Brazil, and across the States on a roadtrip west. I had moved into a type of intellectual travel, too, with the internet, forums, and blogging, but in 2012 I ended up briefly visiting the reality TV world.
That was stretching me beyond a number of comfort levels, into a world that is truly alien for me.
That experience can be seen in the brief scenes in the latest episode of Making Mr. Right. (this episode is no longer available to watch for free, but you can get it on Amazon for $1.99).
When you know the premise of this dating show, immediately some of the most obvious questions come up, like “Could/Should people try to makeover their mates?” (Potential or otherwise) And the equally obvious questions about whether people have soul mates, or is “finding the right person” the key to happiness? Those last questions, oddly enough, revolve around the idea that we don’t “make” our happiness or the object of it, but that people are somehow static and finding the “right match” is the important part.
How much of our happiness resides in the power of another person, how much within our own making?
Actually there are all sorts of questions that swirl around in our culture, along with some of the preconceptions attached to them.
Which is what makes the idea of creating a dating show one that promises interest and entertainment for viewers.
And either way, we are led to objectify our significant others in ways that cause us to forget they are people who change and are influenced, and who have the power to make their own choices, to mold their own world, and to turn the tables on us! We might want to inject some humility, respectfulness, and freedom into this process.
Makeovers are such a big part of American myth. American girls are practically raised on that idea, from magazine articles to whole books to the beauty industry to the business world. If we just get the look right, or make the superficial changes, we unlock approval and success, and get to have our dreams come true.
Kind of like the “Working Girl” movie with Melanie Griffith, made in the 80’s when the importance of image reinvented itself and became the top priority for our society. Makes the old adage “can’t tell a book by its cover” meaningless.
This idea has too many remakes to count, just take a look at a list of this year’s movies, TV shows, music videos, and other pop culture venues… I bet you can find more than a few that follow the pattern and sell the concept.
It is all about the image, the branding, the packaging. We just have to reinvent, and we will get what we want.
And it works. Glitz and glitter works in the short run.
In all this, some of the outdated deceptions reemerge.
Within those beloved makeovers, I wonder, can the changes go more than skin deep, can we really resolve the way we interact with people in our lives by changing the details and the surface conditions of our lives?
Let’s go back to ideas of changing our world, our society. Does a little Newspeak work on the macro scale? Is it working on the smaller scale of our jobs, relationships, and approval ratings of the people around us? Or more importantly for the questions brought out by Making Mr. Right, can we find and create our perfect life? Or a perfect mate, Or a perfect “other”? We certainly spend a lot of time trying.
Things I Am Convinced Of
Realities that I woke up to …along the way.
Mass movements, politics, and propaganda do not truly change the world, only temporarily rearrange the status quo. I learned this from my participation in the Moratorium Movement during the Vietnam war era.
You don’t mold or change your children. You find out who they are and encourage and direct their development. And the parenting is not even the lion-share of that. Many influences, many choices, many circumstances go into the formation of who a person is and becomes.
You can control very little, of anything. Your job in life is not about “control”
You don’t change other people, because you can’t. And vice versa
So what do makeovers accomplish, really? For all our love affair with the idea, does it change anything? Surprisingly I do think that makeovers produce some changes, just not the ones we expect.
We think of the makeover as changing the outward appearance. Sometimes that is a reflection of what inward changes have already taken place, and improves the way others perceive us. We are not islands, and the acceptance, approval, and support of others is vital. The makeover can certainly be a type of catalyst.
A makeover can align the clues we give to society of who we are with who we actually are. We can more clearly represent ourselves by adding the objectivity of the others helping us with a makeover (or those we model ourselves after). Perhaps, dispelling the false messages we accepted from others about who we are. We don’t always know ourselves as well as we believe we do.
It can also connect us better with what others need. A makeover in etiquette, in how we express thoughts and opinions, in listening skills or emotional intelligence. This is gaining a toolset in relationships.
But changing the core of a person, their struggles with life, or personal direction? Those are the ways we misuse the makeover, and the end of such manipulations is going to end in conflict and disappointment.
What Can A TV Reality Show Tell Us?
I love Francis Schaeffer, and his thought. One of the things that I picked up from reading his books is to look at the culture, especially its art and expression, to find out truths about who we are as a society. Beyond the shallow judgements of like or unlike, or slots of good or evil, what do our ideas of marriage, family, gender, man and woman, parent and child, divorce, dating tell us about our larger society and its direction? What kind of blind spots do we have, and what will give us insight and a pathway to follow on this convoluted road of life?
A few hypotheses from my perspective
I think we still believe we can control more than we have the ability to control. Maybe as a society, that belief is more underlined and accepted than ever.
We see things through the filter of our hopes, and tend to edit out even obvious barriers. We believe romantic love conquers all obstacles. Romantic love is pretty wimpy, and that isn’t the type of love that faces and overcomes real challenges. Although it has a powerful kick as a firestarter to desire.
Our ideas of divorce are sacred cows roaming our streets and leaving us starving for strong relational bonds.
We laugh at how silly someone else may be while remaining blind to our own foibles.
Humanity is humanity and no amount of makeover changes that.
What Do I think Of All This?
There was a time I wouldn’t watch reality TV. Then I started watching the occasional show. I never ever imagined being on one, even for a brief appearance. I am not really TV material, to say the least. But it was a great experience and I’m glad to have had the chance to connect with people in a whole new way, including with my son. If you look closely at my body language in some of the glimpses, I feel protective of my children, even one who is fully grown… and that is what I see in many moms. We want the best for our children and makeover or no makeover, we desire that they be loved, and learn to love. We want our stories to have happy endings, or at least make heroic efforts toward that end.
I learned that we continue to see new perspectives of the world through our children, just as when they were little.
I wish I had spent less time trying to be a makeover artist with my children, and more time just being with them and finding out who they were.
Finding out who someone actually is, and helping to be the best representative of who that is… I think that is the important lesson, the valuable takeaway from this experience. Get that from a TV show and your time watching was well spent.
My disclaimer on this post is that I’m going to use illustrations that come from my experience in the church, but don’t think that people act like typical people just because they belong to a certain socio-economic or religious group. If you do that, you are going to miss the whole point.
Pixie Dust and The Wizard Behind The Curtain
Before I get to that story, let me tell you about an old blogpost I re-read from Kathy Sierra. Called “Pixie Dust & The Mountain of Mediocrity. The gist is that people use marketing techniques to game the system and it’s that “pixie dust” that is promoted to be the magic answer to the branding and promotion of ones product.
It is not unlike the last topic, taking to task the online and marketing Gurus who provide methods, for a fee, to making you and/or your customers (clients..fans….whoever you want to win over) an overnight success. Even if they are well-meaning, plenty of so-called experts aren’t really helping you to be what truly makes you awesome: being the best you can be, living to your potential, inspired to rise to greater heights of what you hope to be or accomplish.
Buzzwords, Buzzword techniques, and the fast path to wealth and awesomeness is something people will pay for, and that means a lot of gamers are going to enter the field to make sure they can take advantage of it. That also means there is going to be an aftermath of broken dreams, and the disillusioned.
Sierra succinctly sums it up:
There is a world of difference between helping someone *appear* more awesome and helping them actually BE more awesome.
And that in some ways reminded me of a small, but rather sorry, experience I had a long time ago that left me with a distinct sense discomfort that helped shape how I like to deal with people to this day.
A Moment of Clarity
I had gone to one of those big Christian conferences that are comprised of all sorts of people from different denominations, cultures, and backgrounds. It was one that had really pumped up my own sickly and struggling grip on walking out my faith. It wasn’t called a Revival, but it was effectively working as one for me.
Maybe because of that, I was a bit more open, hopeful, and vulnerable to what people said to me. Anyway, after one of the services (there are several at this sort of convocation), a well meaning man spoke to me. He said something very positive, something like “I see you are -positive ‘blah,blah,blah’, and you will -positive ‘blah,blah,blah'”. I felt very encouraged, I felt that he had been moved by some inner insight to share that with me.
As the conference moved on I happened to pass by that man speaking to someone else, using the very same words, the very same expression, the very same way. They weren’t special insights meant for me. This well meaning man was gaming the system.
I suppose he felt this was his ministry of encouragement or something, but for me, it was a searing disappointment, because it didn’t feel real. It didn’t feel sincerely anything. I felt my sense of trust was breached and trampled. I didn’t ask for his words, and wasn’t even hoping or looking for them. He offered me something artificial, when I truly needed the genuine. He sprinkled around some pixie dust, because it had good effects on people. For him.
And to this day, as convinced as I am of the importance of affirmation and encouragement, if I cannot garner together the individualized and sincere words that are infused with my own sense of care and compassion, or affection or desire to connect… I don’t want to give a substitute. I don’t believe in “placeholder” love, that consists of words or token actions merely meant to make someone feel good for the moment.
That is a terribly selfish thing to do. It is pixie dust spread around to make the giver feel better about themselves. If you tell someone they are awesome with that motivation, spare them.
They are better off without your false words and insincere methods. The world is better off without them.
How To Tell Someone They Are Awesome
First -to outline the negative shape before drawing in the detail- do not tell someone how much they matter or how great they are when showing them is better. Words will often cloud the message, even if you intend to mean them. That too often turns into “meaning well”, and you know what the old saying is about good intentions.
If words are all you have, tell people something that you can follow through on… a generally inclusive way of telling them they matter and are awesome “I look for the beauty and glory in you”… because I look for that in all. And then make that your purpose, your own rule of life.
Do something for them that helps them be the best version of themselves.
Then when you tell them you think they are awesome, or that they matter to you, they will trust it, and it will build something meaningful into their lives.
Give them tools of value, words of value, and actions of value. Take something of yourself, and invest it in those tools, words, and actions. Infuse something of your love and care into what you give to others. That will make them feel awesome. Then you can tell them they are awesome and might even have an opportunity to share something that will make them even more awesome.
The outcome of that is what they do with that thing themselves, what they get to experience from it.
This has its way of spilling over and making us feel pretty awesome as well, but that is not the goal or the point of what we tell others, or what we share with them.
What Am I Really Saying?
What really works is love. Love is never cheap, and has no substitution. Everyone needs and wants it, and when you give words or anything to another person with real love attached, you give the world what it really needs.
I read a couple unrelated blogposts today which, of course, I am piecing together in my mind. They do have something, both of them, to do with productivity. Productivity is a subject I am interested in at the moment. Should I list the posts in the order that I read them? Why would I do that? … it really doesn’t really matter. What matters is what they have to say and some ideas that the two of them sparked.
One of the writers cited in the first post submits,
“…by keeping your options open with more choices, you’ve levied higher opportunity costs.”
I haven’t read the books, but I know that people who keep their options always open are frightened to close the deal on their decisions and -more often than not- in order to escape responsibility. They can feel like victims who are helplessly overrun by those who do make decisions. So the ideas caught my interest, and I started to consider them. I don’t have problems making decisions, myself, I go through a deductive sort of process, but there are times when I have difficulty knowing when a good time to close the door and take a specific direction is the best thing to do.
The difficulty is in the balance, because being quickly decisive is not always a good thing “act in haste, repent at leisure”. And yet, none of us wants to be in a constant cycle of confusion, unable to move forward; nor do we want to have expensive life failures from seeming (or being) arrogant.
If you are thinking what I am at this point, you realize that, yes, this can be complicated. Another time in which wisdom comes in handy, to steer our path in the right direction, to close doors, and/or keep them open at the best times… for relationships, for career moves, for retirement, for most of the decisions that crop up. These are often the things that make or break resolutions and goals.
The Other Post I read
From INC., 5 Trends to Ignore in 2013 posits that we don’t always have to listen to the Gurus. What must we do in investments, in blogging, in relationships, in child raising, … IN LIFE? Everyone who writes articles seems to want to establish their authority, to be the next important guru that everyone must pay attention to…. only, sometimes that is not going to work out for you. And I might suggest here that if you have lots of experts all telling you things that are musts, necessary, and urgent… you will likely be unproductive in the very area you hoped you would find your magic formula for success. It is the “too many cooks” syndrome.
Most of that last paragraph is my own thinking as inspired by a somewhat more business oriented information article. INC. simply pointed out how unnecessary some of the big trends in business are. They aren’t necessarily important for you. Which is exactly what we can apply to many voices of authority.
Although what I wouldn’t try to say is that we can figure everything out on our own, or that whatever seems right to us is just as valid as what anyone else thinks. Like it is all some homogenized cosmic palaver.
It might appear to be in certain cases, but that would likely be just a fluke… a random stroke of luck. There is true authority, actual expertise, and we would raise our chance of success and happiness if we found and followed those voices.
It all comes down…once again… to discerning what is true. That is always the big quest in life, isn’t it?
Not “what is true for you”, not “What is truth?”, but finding real truth. Gurus may not be the best way to do that. Just saying.
January is my number one planning month. I like to plan, but in the past I had more plan than execution which always translates into disappointment and frustration. In more recent years, I moved into an action-oriented way of doing things which then resulted in the type of LaLaland distraction which I have always been prone to. Come to think of it, I wonder if my love of planning had some of its origins in how well it worked to help me cope with the outside world and its demands.
Whatever… that is an example of the rabbit trail kind of thinking that dogs my life 🙂
Back to telling you what I did today that relates to you- my dear readers, or happenstance visitors…
I made plans today that incorporated two activities and goals that are at the top of what I would love to accomplish this year:
You might be disappointed in how cliched, how prosaic, those goals are, aren’t these the goals of 99.9% of the people out there? Maybe not the blogging, but some part of their life like that. Health and fitness always rate right up there for most people. But for me, I linked the two, and outlined them on paper.
There is a part of my brain that is convinced that uniting goals and making connections between dissimilar parts of our lives leads to a better balanced and successful overall life.
‘Blogging’ and ‘Health’ goals have been at opposite poles for me in the past few years. when I spent lots of time blogging, or making websites (the involvement with sitting long periods at the computer), the worse the effect on my physical well being. I became sedentary, I snacked on food I usually don’t even like (always unhealthy processed, fat-laden, sugar-infused foods), sat in awkward positions, just to name a few of the worse side effects of loving to blog.
When I exercised, gardened, took walks and hikes, cooked from scratch… interacted with people, you know, real life activities, I not only did not write or work on computer related website-making or graphics, or any of the many tasks linked with blogging… I lost my place. That’s right, I had no idea of what I wanted to do with the sites or blogs, and had problems with the software. Updating, using plugins for function, fixing things that go awry, became a giant learning curve again.
That also is very much my natural personality default. Long periods of focus sharpen my thinking, as well as create the logic and connections that my mind works well with. If other activities take me far away from the thought and concentration and I sort of forget everything.
So, I have decided to harness the power of blogging to sort through and create accountability in some of my desired improvements, including taking ownership of health. It isn’t enough to know the requisite knowledge of what to eat or how to exercise, etc. I need to incorporate the actions, and in a way that I don’t lose sight of other important goals in my life, like communicating with people.
So, I made my map for a couple goals, and this long dormant blog is going to be a part of this experiment.
My experiment in this years resolutions, which I confessed to my family in our conversation time on January 2nd, that I have not even formulated yet. Until I wrote my plan for the health/blog/outline, I didn’t even have much of an idea that I was going to focus on health this year. At least not in a real, organized type of way.
And do you know what inspired it all? God works in mysterious ways, I tell you: a Sam’s Club Advertisement magazine. Yes.
I think it congealed with the Copyblogger articles I was reading which lead to an INC article and BOOM! There I was making my plan.
I remembered I joined the affiliate programs for these businesses, so in the spirit of integrating goals, plans, and actions I’ll post my affiliate banners here. Perhaps at some point I will know how to sync serving my posts linked with business affiliations etc.that will be of real value to the readers. For now, it is just sort of a non sequitor random banner posting… just because reading Sam;s club’s ads sparked a whole new direction of my thinking in a positive way.
This good advice comes directly from my experience on this blog. When I was in my heyday of blogging here, I did make some communication mistakes, with people, with writing, with rankling some readers, but I was honestly me and just wanted to speak opinions on the issues and topics I wrote about. Those topics could be just about anything. I had been on lists previously to blogging so had a fairly thick skin when it came to opposition and the psychological games that are sometimes played online (if you wonder what I’m talking about just look through advice on dealing with the many guises of trolls)
There are many types of disjointed negative people who troll the internet, but it seems they are not as visible to me now. I suppose it is because I have simply stopped giving much of my opinion and become somewhat apathetic about some of the former topics I once blogged passionately about. It also made my writing a bit more boring on those topics, so I stick to just sharing some the introspection for now… like this post. I also don’t “engage” nearly as much as I used to…
Anyway, back to the story…there was a story? yes. A blogger making a name for himself rating other blogs and bloggers decided he didn’t like me too well, and at some point said I was third rate or second rate or something like that. I don’t remember the actual verbal weapon he used, only now I can see the long-term damage. Sometimes these words are wielded with psychological knowledge and intent, but it is always difficult to say when it is all happening behind the screen.
Perhaps it was the timing or who knows, really, but the problem was that somewhere inside myself I listened to him. I shouldn’t have, and there was no real authority for him to have that sort of power over my own opinion of myself, but as those things sometimes go, it did.
I think its power came from somewhere deep inside myself where I was convinced that yes, I was no more than second or third rate as a person , and might as well give up blogging my opinions. Of course, I didn’t altogether, but you might say that is when the wind went out of my sails on this type of blog. The first of many climate changes to my life. I had had about enough of the interminable religious arguing that some Christians enjoy, politics became toxic and polemic. I am sure that contributed to the loss of interest in internet crusading. I went back home, you might say, to deal with the fires of my crumbling hearth and home. I wrote mostly about gardening.
How many times have I seen a talented blogger fold because they were harried or harassed by comments and unkindness? Many a time, in fact it was almost the norm for “blog-life”. I still hear complaints about rude, troublemaking feedback from people who I wonder are simply new to the way the wild world of the web interacts (which is simply an exposure of how real people often act and react – they are just more invested in hiding it in real life). It isn’t easy to see either intent or effect of words on the internet medium.
This is not an obscure thing that happens on the internet or elsewhere in life. Everywhere there are people who thrive on saying negative and discouraging things. Not just criticism, which is sometimes necessary, or voicing different opinions and perspectives, but those who belittle and wish to cripple others in their endeavors. I suppose there is more than a little envy at work.
The trouble is that many of us have been exposed to influences that assess, ascribe to us, or even assassinate our character and value as a person. And we become marred in our own image of ourselves, while vulnerable to those who can damage us and discourage us from following our dreams or building something worthwhile.
Those people speak into our lives and we let them.
That is why I think we should be careful who we listen to… even if we think we are armored against them, even if we think we are confident, strong people. We should be careful who we allow access to the place inside where our identity is formed. Of course, a person heals over time, and with efforts, but it is a lass of time and of momentum in life to step into the snare of harmful,negative people.
As an antidote I truly believe we should find those, including what God says of us, who will help us find our true core, the identity of ourselves as we are meant to be, as we best are. It isn’t a matter of surrounding ourselves with “yes-men”, but of being discerning, careful who give heed to in our lives.