Writers Write.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my life goals. Not in the bucket list (Picnic beneath the Eiffel Tower! Safari in Tanzania!) sense, but in the life purpose sense. And one thing that comes to me again and again and again is that I feel called to write.

I do a lot of writing in my daily work. I write emails, blog posts, books, Facebook posts, tweets, and more. And I love it. But it’s a certain level of communication that I’m longing for, one that goes deeper and is less purpose-driven. It’s, I guess, a process-based writing that I’m looking for. The kind where you start with an idea and you follow it along like Harold’s purple crayon, seeing where it takes you, never quite sure if you will end up where you thought or somewhere entirely different.

This writing gets pushed to the bottom of the to-do list precisely because it has no definite point. It’s hard to set aside 30 minutes or an hour to wander — albeit only on paper — when I’ve got real, live tasks for real, live people waiting for me. After all, I could write for 30 minutes and end up nowhere interesting at all, or I could take the 30 minutes and do the dishes, scrapbook a layout, fold a load of laundry, and write five follow-up emails. Guess which wins out?

Here’s the challenge: If I want to be the kind of writer who writes about deep, thoughtful topics, I need to spend time wandering. In other words,

Writers write.

It’s simple, really. If I want to be a writer, I have to write. I have to explore, I have to “waste time,” I have to create reams of not-so-good musings and essays and blog posts so I’ll generate the occasional great one. I have to write.

And so I am.

And I’m not the only one this principle belongs to. Want to be an artist? You have to draw. Want to be a photographer? You have to take pictures. You want to be a leader, a philanthropist, a politician? Then you have to lead, donate, lie (just kidding on that last one!).

We somehow get this idea that our dreams will occur FOR us, fully-formed, at some point in the future when we are “worthy” of them (this is what the instant-gratification, overnight success society of the “X Factor” and “So You Want to Be a Millionaire” has done to us). We don’t have to grow into our dreams, or work towards them, or develop specific skills. Instead, we just need to wait to be discovered.

Nope. Doesn’t work like that.

You have to take the small steps. You have to write, draw, dance, explore, learn, create lousy art, throw it away, and try again. You have to do it over and over and over again. And then inch by inch, step by step, ho-hum blog post by ho-hum blog post, you BUILD your dream. It’s not easy, it’s not always fun, but it is simple.

Writers write.

So, what are you going to do today?

Image from JMacPherson/Flickr 

Posted by LEadmin
September 22, 2012

The Fallacy of Fear.

I used to think I was immune to fear. I was proud that I don’t worry so much about stuff the stuff that seems to top American’s greatest fears list:

Speaking before a group doesn’t bother me (ummm, LOVE IT!), nor do escalators, insects, heights, deep water, elevators, dogs, or financial problems. I don’t hyperventilate before stepping into a car, and though I don’t look forward to it, I don’t get overly stressed about flying. I’m not even that worried about being lonely (that’s what Facebook is for, right?).

I even thought I was immune from the everyday fears about finances and sickness (I mean, I WORRY about them, but I don’t FEAR them).

But pride goeth before a fall. It turns out I have a whole host of other fears that, once I started thinking about it, invade my daily life:

  • fear of wasting time.
  • fear of not fulfilling my purpose and destiny.
  • fear of never figuring out what my purpose and destiny are.
  • fear of doing my best and either it’s not good enough.
  • fear (and this is a biggie) of BEING ORDINARY.

Can you believe it? I’m actually afraid of living an “ordinary” life. Of going to my 30th college reunion and being “just” this or “just” that. Of having to tell people that the girl who got all A’s, who went to Stanford, who was supposed to take the world by storm, is just… me.

Even writing that down is hard for me. I’m not sharing this so anyone reading can give me warm fuzzies and ego strokes and tell me, “Oh, but you DO make a difference and you’re NOT ordinary” (though if you’d like to, please go right ahead. I’m not so fully evolved that I don’t need a good ego stroking every so often…heehee).

I feel like I was uniquely equipped to do something… yet I’m not sure what that “something” is. I feel called to something greater… yet “greater” than what?

It’s this constant conflict between knowing there’s more in me, yet not knowing what I’m supposed to do with it. Between serving where I am and blooming where I’m planted, and wanting to grow into something more.

Between embracing the ordinary and longing for the extraordinary.

As a result, I second-guess much of what I do. Should I launch a new class, or work on my mystery novel? Should I volunteer at the church, or try to earn more money to donate to a good cause? Should I become politically active, or work on loving my neighbors? Should I call friends who might need support, or connect with my kids in a (rare) unstructured way and watch a movie?

The spiritual “time management” books tell me there are exactly the right number of hours in the day to accomplish what God has on my to-do list. But what if I don’t feel like he’s being very forthcoming with that list, holding it a bit too close to his white-robed chest? What if I HAVE to make the tough choices and both options seem right and therefore seem simultaneously wrong?

When I get lost in the jungle like this I try to return to what I know for sure:

  • I know for sure that God’s plan is bigger than any I could imagine.
  • I know for sure we are here to love each other and ease each other’s suffering.
  • I know for sure that part of my purpose involves creating community (though I’m not sure I need to spend three hours on Facebook to accomplish that…).
  • I know for sure I’m meant to write, speak, and share the hard parts.

Ahhh… the hard parts! Life IS hard. It’s full of confusion, tough relationships, struggles, and baby weight that is still here even after the “baby” turns eight (please tell me I’m not the only one…). And the more I think I know, the more I realize there are no easy answers.

So while I don’t have some great pithy summation, telling you how to conquer your fears in five easy steps or solve the world’s problems before your morning bowl of oatmeal, I can tell you this:

I’m struggling. You’re struggling. And that’s okay. The struggle means we’re working it.

We’re sweating into our souls as well as our hiking boots, looking for the faint, hidden path we know is there somewhere. We’re navigating from a 2000-year-old guide book, and we’re hacking away at the thorny vines of inconsequentials and the lies and the distractions, pushing back the kudzu and the spiderwebs as we make our way. We offer sips from our canteen in exchange for a handful of trail mix, we crack a joke to make the other laugh, and we give each other a hand as we stumble over a moss-clad log. We’re in this together, looking for that promised land.

And maybe — just maybe — that’s the whole point.

We’re in this together. And once we realize that, the whole thing isn’t quite that scary anymore.

 

Posted by LEadmin
September 18, 2012

Why I’m Taking a Break from Pinterest

“I think we need a little break.”

The only sentence more indicative of a poor outcome to the conversation is, “We need to talk.”

But since I can’t really chat with Pinterest, instead I’ll go with the former. I need a break.

If you’re not familiar with Pinterest, let me tell you, it’s amazing. Addictive. Inspiring. All-consuming. Blood-sucking.

See a theme here?

I love the share-ability of Pinterest. I love the graphic aspect. I love the plethora of ideas and inspiration. But here’s the problem:

I pin and pin and pin away, thinking about all these projects I’m going to create, outfits I’m going to put together, places I’m going to visit, recipes I’m going to make, books I’m going to read, movies I’m going to watch… AND THEN I NEVER DO IT.

Oh, I think I’m going to bake that caramel apple cake or sew that cute sundress or scrap lift that adorable layout… but it doesn’t happen. The pinning itself has become a substitute for the actual act of creating.

And to me, that’s just not okay.

I’m a creator at heart. I have to write and draw and build and make, otherwise I feel stifled and lazy. And Pinterest was sucking me in with its possibilities, but I wasn’t actually CREATING anything.

So I started to feel overwhelmed and backlogged and sad. Yes, sad.

Pinterest was making me depressed!

And I don’t think I’m alone. I listened to this fabulous podcast on “What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains” from one of my favorite “big thinkers,” Michael Hyatt, and he said,

“The current incarnation of the Internet—portable, social, accelerated, and all-pervasive—may be making us not just dumber or lonelier but more depressed and anxious, prone to obsessive-compulsive and attention-deficit disorders, even outright psychotic. Our digitized minds can scan like those of drug addicts, and normal people are breaking down in sad and seemingly new ways.”

This isn’t just “1984” psychobabble Luddite fear-mongering; it’s true. I felt it myself.

And I decided enough was enough. So I’m on a pin-free diet for the next month. Oh, sure, I’m going to check Pinterest — but to find things to MAKE and DO, not just to pin more things I’ll never make and never do.

I’m going to work through that backlog of ideas and inspiration. I’m going to free up the creative juices by stretching my REAL muscles, not just the virtual ones.

I’m going to create.

Want to join me?

Photobucket

Posted by LEadmin
August 22, 2012