2020 Vision

adventure time

The day dawned breezy but dry. I planned to run, but felt I needed the rest. Hey, I stayed up until 10:30 last night. So this a.m. I drank coffee and goofed off until the sun came up. I walked down to the library to drop books in the slot. The sky was a pale blue. Wind ruffled the trees, sounding like a distant stadium full of cheering fans. Today feels like a day borrowed from spring. Dark-eyed juncos chirruped. Then robins and sparrows. I heard the distant grok of a raven. Seagulls floated overhead, careening on the air. The clouds turned ballet pink, then orange. The old year is dead and gone, I reminded myself. New beginnings lie ahead.

So I have a few resolutions for the new year. I know, I know. Didn’t do well last year. But hoping for the best. I want to:

Finish the MPA and graduate in August. This, folks, is top of the pile for 2020. I miss the days when I only went to work and came home. I used to complain about being gone so much; now I’m on a break from school and…so much free time! What did I do with it all? Perspective is everything, truly.

Run 300 miles this year. I think I wrote ‘run 10 miles a week’ last year. Looking at the calendar where I write it all done, I think I hit that goal once time. Heck, I only picked up running again in June. Overall, I ran 146.3 miles. Yes, I count the fractions! Le Garmin tracks it for me.  I know some weeks it won’t be possible. Having an annual goal feels better and more attainable.

Write – something! – every day. I need to keep my hand in. I want to blog at least once a week as well. So there.

Do something fun every day. Going back to school kind of gave me tunnel vision, focused on reading, papers, etc. I struggled to downshift and switch off. I need to find a better balance once class is back in session. Suggestions welcome.

Improve my handwriting. Some of you have seen the chicken scratch that passes for my handwriting. It’s…sad. In the second grade, I had amazing penmanship. Let’s just say that was a long time ago and things have changed since then.

Some resolutions are more personal and harder to quantify. I need to climb out of the perfectionistic self-talk soup I swim in. It’s so engrained. I feel like if I don’t do things perfectly, it isn’t worth celebrating. That’s ridiculous and wrong. I would never hold others to the standards I demand of myself. This will take conscious effort to stop and notice what I’m thinking about and what triggers trip me up.

And for once, I don’t want to lose any weight. I’d like to tone up and get back to exercising for the fun of it. I do love endorphins. Weight is just a number and only tells a tiny part of the health story. I feel really good and expect body recomposition to continue while intermittent fasting. Translation: more muscle mass and less fat over time. Woot!

What are your goals and plans for 2020? I do love a clean slate. Let’s do this!

Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” – Matthew 19:6

 

 

 

Dead Things

Rex’s latest kill. It was a bloodbath.

I’m home today. I took the day off to write a 15-page paper, all part and parcel of the  glamorous life of a master’s student. I already wrote a 10-page paper. This weekend got exceptionally packed with events and I didn’t think I could finish it all. Wednesday we celebrated Zac’s braces removal with dinner at Olive Garden – “no photos, Mom”. Last night was worship practice and all team meeting. Saturday is supposed to be Wild Waves with Ruby and extended family and Sunday is church. And by church, I mean 7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

I tossed Dakota her lucky ball in the fresh morning air. The pale blue sky held golden clouds pushed along by a slight breeze. We tromped up and down, back and forth. The green Douglas firs sheltered a wealth of birds and their songs.

A couple of weekends ago, we purchased plants for the yard. We picked up several tomato plants. It has been raining off and on for a couple of days. It’s spring in the Pacific Northwest, so one minute it’s blinding sun and the next it’s pouring rain. Dress accordingly. I looked at the plants. Petunias in their cozy white planters looked good. Jonathon’s red and white roses bloomed out, fragrance wafting in the air. Even the blackberries in their blue planters seemed content. But 2 of the smaller tomato plants wilted in their pots. I wondered at this. Yesterday it dumped down rain. We stepped out after rehearsal last night and a pale rainbow arced across the sky. Then it rained some more. How did those 2 plants remain unwatered?

I grabbed the hose and gave them a little liquid. To be fair, I watered most of the plants a bit. I even filled up the bird bath, carefully scraping out the leaf debris. A smaller potted tree rested on the ground next to the bird bath, brown and twiggy. It’s dead, Jim. Has been for awhile, just haven’t gotten around to dumping it. I did not water it. I heard God say, “Don’t water the dead things.”

I felt like that was a word for me and maybe others. Don’t keep putting effort into things that no longer live. Some things will be resurrected and brought back to life, resuscitated into breathing, thriving existence again. Some will not, like the trees. We had hoped they would sprout again after winter; they didn’t. It’s important to know the difference. Discernment is key. As I age, finiteness stares me down. I only have so much time on this earth to do the tasks and love the people assigned to me. I plan on loving as best I can, no matter the response. But I can’t keep hoping and praying and wishing and striving for now fossilized relationships, opportunities and seasons to return. I need to know the season I’m in and celebrate it, make the most of it. It’s all down to surrendering, abiding and letting God bring growth. Not a pretty acronym – SAG – but true nonetheless. Even better, if we clear out the dead things, we can make room for new growth, new pathways and exciting possibilities.

Unfrozen

The snow is finally melting off. What’s left borders roadsides and sidewalks. It’s the consistency of sparkly, crunchy, stale marshmallows minus the stickiness. It contorts itself into shapes like rising fists or the Loch Ness Monster.

Loch Ness Monster

(source)

It’s eerie. But it fascinates me how things change consistency over time. Snow falls and it creates this cold, white blanket. Then it freezes and melts and freezes again. The berms of plowed snow in the parking lot of Ruby’s school are so large, they may last until June. The kids carved a slide on one.

The other news is schooling. I am 8 weeks into my first class for the master’s degree. Part of the requirements for this class is meeting with a writing coach. She gave input on my paper in week 3, which I finally got. Then she will give it again for week 7.  Her feedback to me was harsh. “You may have been able to write like this in high school…” one of the comments began. I had to stop reading. It stung. I consider myself a decent writer. I didn’t realize how much it was a part of my identity until that moment. I’ve been criticized before, but this felt different. In contrast, the class instructor has praised my submissions. This came out of left field, like a shrike out of the sky. I didn’t want to meet with her. I didn’t need any more input, thankyouverymuch. I’ll take my ball and go home. So there! Needless to say, I had forgiveness homework and I did it.

But the virtual meeting is part of the requirements. She only works 12-6 p.m., Monday through Friday. None of those times really work for me due to the time difference. I made an appointment for February 18, a holiday. I got into the virtual meeting room early, fiddling with the uncooperative web cam. Is it just me, or do web cams always feel a bit sleazy? Anyway, I never got it to work. Didn’t matter, cause she didn’t show up. I waited a half hour. Then at 45 minutes, I messaged her. Never heard back. After I emailed her in the courseroom, she responded. “You were an hour early. I am in Arizona.” My bad. I just assumed she was in Minnesota like the rest of Capella and subtracted 2 hours from my time. I sighed.

Fast forward to yesterday, the rescheduled meeting time. I drove to an open conference room and got set up. I braced myself for the worst. Then, a phone call came in. I answered it.

“Hi, this is Dr. Jones, the writing coach. Can we push our meeting a little later?”

I told her I couldn’t. I had rescheduled my lunch to make time.

“Oh, okay, ” she replied. “This won’t take long.”

Gulp.

“Well, I don’t have much to say. You have a really great style. Your writing is logical and it flows well. Your APA references look good. Just a couple of things to work on…”

I breathed out. She liked me. She really, really liked me! I took notes. Don’t use contractions. Use less personal pronouns, even when given permission. Check.

“You should also check out Capella’s writing resources. You have 163 minutes to use, and you paid for them. Especially since you’re a doctoral candidate.”

What?

“Uh, I’m not a doctoral student.”

“Oh.” She paused. Then went on. I couldn’t decide whether to be flattered at the inclusion or sad that she didn’t know what degree path I landed on.

I started out talking about snow. It started out as one thing, flaky, white and cold. It covered the earth in silence. Now, it’s hardened and melting daily as the season inches into spring. Our relationships change shape constantly, with the option to melt or freeze. We can forgive and move into a greater understanding of others, if we are open to it.

New Year’s Resolutions: 2019

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Good morning, and welcome to day 2. Day 2 of 2019, that is. Have you made resolutions? I know they get a bad rap, but I do love them. I keep them, for the most part. I like having something to focus on during the year. I like chasing dreams. They keep me motivated. I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.

Read the Bible through in a year. I didn’t do this last year. During 2018, I read the verse of the day (thank you, YouVersion) and often the Psalm or Proverb based on the day of the month.  I spent more time worshiping and praying last year. Also good. I’m using an actual Bible this year, not a plan on my device. I want to hold the pages again and remember the order of the books. I want to flip back and forth to cross-reference. I’m looking forward to it.

Run 10 miles a week. It’s not much compared to the old running me. Like the year I ran 1,000 miles. Not gonna happen this year. Too much on my plate and priorities have to shift. I will need to work up to 10 miles, however. I’ll keep you posted.

Pick my flute up again. This means, of course, that I must unearth it from where I buried it. It’s somewhere in the rotunda, boxed in a cabinet. I’ll need to dig. I don’t know how much time I can dedicate to practicing. I only know it’s time.

Write every day. I don’t think I’ll be able to blog every day; that would be a miracle. But I can certainly write in a journal or somesuch.

Lose up to 10 lbs. I realize this is a resolution most people set every year, in varying amounts. Right now, I weigh less than I have in years. I’ve lost more than 10 lbs. since August. I didn’t do it with punishing exercise or restricting my diet. Couldn’t do much exercise of a strenuous sort due to my ongoing foot injury. I did it with intermittent fasting. Still doing it, in fact. More on this in the coming months. My only weight criteria is to land on a multiple of 5. I’m funny like that.

I have more resolutions. These are the main ones. What about you? What have you decided to go after this year? I would love to hear from you.

 

 

 

Who Am I?

So I’ve been dissatisfied with my job for, oh, pretty much the entire 16 months I’ve had it. I’ve tried to make it more interesting (read: busy), but no such luck. I’m doing project work with regular backups on mail and phones. That’s it. Oh, and a suggested to-do of  single-handedly purging the shared drive. Um…no. Not without a task force and complete supervisor and managerial approval. I already went through that at the City. “Who moved my cheese?” No thanks.

I spent time on the treadmill today because the weather demanded a snorkel and a wetsuit. Plus it was dark. Already cold from my sopping ball romp with Dakota, I didn’t want to get any colder. I set the treadmill and put some steps in.

I started singing. Not much, because it’s early morning and nobody wants to be awakened that way. But because I realized something. I’ve been getting a lot of compliments lately on something I do regularly. It’s nice, don’t get me wrong. Keep ’em coming; I’m a words of affirmation gal, after all. But that’s not who I am. I have opportunities to do lots of cool things based on gifts God’s given me, things I’ve practiced and nurtured and things I’ve just put out there.

But those things aren’t ME.

It’s taken me awhile to come to this realization. I’ve had to be stripped down to a semblance of bare bones to find it. I don’t write like I used to – or should. I’m not baking as much. Not running, really. Don’t have much free time to meet with friends and hear their hearts.

But those things were never me, anyway.

We have been singing a song at church called “Who You Say I Am”.

I included it my list this past Sunday. No, I don’t sound like the recording. But that’s okay. Mercifully, there’s a measure of grace in worship that’s not present while performing in a secular realm. But the words. “I am who you say I am…You are for me, not against me…”

So who am I? I’m a wife, a mother, a daughter. I’m a worshiper. I’m a writer and a recovering runner. I’m an employee of Thurston County and part of a union. I’m an American. I’m a full-grown woman, despite evidence to the contrary.

More than that, I’m His. My identity is hidden in Christ. I belong to Jesus and have for more than 3 decades. Having a different job won’t improve that. Running 3 times a week, though magical, won’t make me a better Christian, only improve my cardiovascular capacity. Writing makes me feel connected to God and others…but if I never write another word, He still loves me. He always will.

And that’s who I am. Loved. Forgiven. Freed. Blessed.

Saved.

 

When the Smoke Clears

I feel like myself today. That’s rather huge, as it’s been probably the better part of a year since I’ve been able to say that. The work drama/reorg of late 2016 sapped a lot of joy and confidence from me, frankly, and it’s only been since I started working at Thurston County that I feel a sense of peace and distance from it all. Who knew driving 23 miles south would take me to such a different world? I am so grateful for new beginnings.

I know my blogging – well, any writing – has suffered because of it. I don’t want to write downer posts as a general rule. In fact, I considered shuttering this blog. Why keep the pressure on myself to find a topic and time to write for public consumption? I keep a journal (sort of). Isn’t that enough?

I’ve spent a bit of time asking the Lord about it, and praying. It has seemed a trivial request. So many horrible things going on in our world right now – devastating hurricanes, mass shootings, hatred rising from every corner. I do pray about those things as well.

Maybe you’re in a similar season. You’re beat up, tired, ready to lie down on the couch and eat circus peanuts while watching Matlock reruns.

circus peanutsNot that I know anything about that.

So…where to now? No thunderbolts tore open the sky. No answer dropped on me via passenger pigeon. But I do feel a peace. I’m not done here yet. God’s not done in your life either, friend. I hope to write more, and more often. Thanks for sticking with me.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. – Philippians 1:6

Why Write?

i-am-a-writer-image

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”
― Kurt Vonnegut

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of.”  ― Joss Whedon

“Write what should not be forgotten.”  ― Isabel Allende

If you read these, you start to think writers are adrenalin-seeking, split-personality, absentminded scribblers.

Yes and amen, to all of those descriptors.

Recently, I was fortunate to be able to alter my schedule to attend my old writers group once a month. I typed up a memo, got it blessed, and started up again just last week. Last week consisted of a poetry reading session. Everyone brought poems to share with the group. We echoed back lines that resonated with us. We went on trips to lakes, back in time to childhood memories and even heard songs.

It was glorious.

So, why do I write? Because processing life, for me, often works better this way. I don’t hurt people with my poor choice of words to their face, in the moment. I think things through and make connections. I gain understanding as I put pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to keyboard.

Also, because truth must be spoken.  Because real life goes down better, sometimes, inside a fictional capsule. Because taking risks makes for the best stories. I think all people who indulge their creative side are risk-takers at heart.  They birth something brand new out of their imagination and inspiration.  I admire those brave ones so much.

Why do you create?