Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Crescent Moons and Critical Morons

A few times a month, we make a very early morning drive to the airport for my husband to fly to his work destination for the week. Sometimes it's so early that I feel nauseated (my body rejects being forced to function at such an early hour.) A few times, I've felt anxious that I might fall asleep driving home, so I listen to lively podcasts and keep my windows down or air cranked up--I don't feel as sleepy when I'm cold.

This week, however, it wasn't hard to stay awake because for my entire drive, I had a stunning view of the waning crescent moon and Venus. It was breathtaking. I wanted send Brad--who worries about my safety when I'm driving home alone in the wee hours of the morning--a picture. I won't drive and take pictures so when I stopped at a light, I tried to capture my amazing view. Of course, it looked nothing like what I was observing. Remember when people tried to take iphone pics of the super moon? Pretty much.

I wanted to share it with him, but I couldn't make him see what I saw.

That happens to me a lot. What about you? Do you ever want people to get your point, but they don't? Want to make someone understand you, but they can't. I really try to support and encourage other people, so when they don't reciprocate, I sometimes feel hurt and disappointed.

For years when people asked me what I did, it caused a lot of turmoil. If I say, "I'm a writer," people often respond, "Oh you mean your blog? Do you actually get paid to write?" That's awkward. Think: "Oh, you're just a mom." When I say, "I'm an editor," that sounds more legit, and no one really questions it mainly because most people don't know what an editor does. Brad has an impressive job title. No one asks him if he gets paid to do his job. Truthfully, I write and edit. I get paid for some of the stuff I write and edit. Not that it's anyone's business, but let's just clear that up.

It's uncomfortable to do something that isn't mainstream, but I've always danced to the beat of my own drum. Occasionally, it just feels cool for other people to hear the beat too instead of looking at me like, "What is she doing?" But it's all good. I hear it and keep on grooving.

Too often, I see people posting about whatever dream they're passionately pursuing, and some person will make a shitty comment. Who are you to start a business? Who are you to move to different country? Who are you to quit your stable job to make jewelry? Who are you to write a book? You get it. Well, who are you not to? It pisses me off, and I want to encourage them not to let these people slow their progress.

Sometimes other people feel threatened when we follow our dreams. Follow them anyway. When people mock or criticize you, it's not about you, it's about them. No one who is legitimately happy, doing what they love, and living their best life has any desire to piss on someone else's dreams. It doesn't happen.

In church, you hear about the great heroes of the Bible who were alcoholics, thieves, prostitutes and murderers who followed their dream. "God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called." What makes those people different? They didn't worry about what anyone thought or said, they trusted God and went for it.

Gretchen Rubin tells a story in her podcast about advice she heard in college. “Successful people are willing to do things that unsuccessful people are not willing to do.” That can look like putting yourself out there even if it means opening yourself up to criticism. It means doing everything in your power to turn that dream burning in your soul into reality. 

I think often about the poet Mary Oliver's words:

I don't plan to abandon my dreams because of what other people think. Even if no one else can see your magnificent view, focus on it; the moon will guide you home.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Being All There...

A few weeks ago I read this quote: Wherever you are, be all there. It resonated with me, growing, changing, aging, life passing quickly. Immediately I decided I need to be more fully engaged. And of course, eliminating things is the quickest way to add space.

Being still and engaged is sometimes challenging for my naturally multi-tasking self. I like to accomplish things. Check stuff off my to-do list. I even listen to audio books because although I love love love to read, sitting and reading feels unproductive and indulgent sometimes. However, I can do laundry, clean, walk, make dinner, and many other "productive" things while listening to a book.

Anyway, kicking these ideas around, I came up with a sure-fire way to be more engaged: Put my phone down. Once, I downloaded an app that tracks the time you spend on your phone and breaks it into categories. I knew I wasted time, but actually seeing those hours I gave away and could never get back was pretty alarming.

At the time, I deleted a bunch of apps, but slowly, things crept back to the point that I was spending more time looking at my phone than at people. So, I deleted Gardenscapes, my mindless escape, because, when you're really trying to practice mindfulness you don't need mindless escapes. And then twitter, Facebook, and a few more. The ones that drew me to click on them when my mind was free for a moment. I need those free moments.

I downloaded an app that a friend recommended for keeping notes as I am a compulsive note taker. Anne Lamott said writers should always have a pen and paper to jot down good ideas. I do. I also scrawl notes in my phone's notes app. Often while driving I tell Siri to take notes that upon later examination are usually unintelligible gobbledygook versions of whatever brilliance I tried to capture. But, I love to be organized so I have high hopes for this app.

I observed that I feel better when I don't look at my phone so much. Duh. A few years ago I realized that I always feel better when I do yoga, meditate, and walk. All three every day. Even when I can only squeeze in 5 minutes of each--as Gretchen Rubin says, "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good"--those few minutes are priceless for my sanity. Knowing that, I make those things a priority.

For the past week, I might have missed out on some people's online lives, but I felt much more plugged into my own real life so I'll keep on keeping on. What tips do you have for being present? Do you have any apps that you love or any that drain you?