Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Vacation(s)

In two days I will be flying to California for my nephew's baptism. I am so excited to see my family I can hardly maintain my composure. I haven't seen them for a couple of years and I miss them. This family are my in-laws: Steve's parents from Tennessee; his brother and sister-in-law and their three children.

Three days after that I will be in Hawaii. This is the honeymoon Steve and I have been planning since we were married and I'm excited to finally be doing it.We haven't had a vacation since Christmas two years ago, and we've never taken a proper break from work - even at Christmas we both worked a little bit every day.

I've never been to Hawaii, and it's been on my list of places to visit for a number of years. I have had vacations certainly- Colin and I went to Burning Man together twice, Jeff and I went once as well, in addition to a couple of road trips and various weekend beach get-aways. But my idea of a vacation is sun and beach and ocean and I am excited to finally be experiencing those things.

Beach get-aways are also pretty high on my list, so that will be happening soon; but "Hawaii" has come to represent something for me that in the past always felt so unattainable. It was never in the budget, or it wasn't a priority. I used to imagine myself swimming in the ocean with schools of brightly coloured fish like you see in the silly commercials; or walking along the beach at first light and capturing the most amazing sunrise on film (not-film, I guess, though "capturing the sunset on SD card" just doesn't have the same ring to it).

I don't even know if I would enjoy swimming with a school of fish. I tried on a snorkel mask recently while shopping and discovered some sort of phobia – my vision started going black, my lungs felt like they were on the verge of collapsing, and I got so lightheaded I nearly passed out.

So, that was weird but I've still got to try it, you know? I am well aware that the reality of every experience will often not live up to the fantasy but I still want the experience. Even if I don't love everything about something, feeling the tug of that experience way down deep in my soul is what I crave.

I am excited to have new experiences next week, and I want to have them with the sting of the ocean in my eyes and sand between my toes.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Birthday

Yesterday was my husband's birthday. Like me, he doesn't care too much about such things so there is no pressure to be awesome.

We went shopping and got fancy camera stuff for the GoPro; we also ate a meal out - I won't tell you what or where, because it was so not birthday-dinner worthy.

Before that, and perhaps the highlight of the day: we signed papers refinancing the house and putting my name on the title. This is very exciting for me - I have never owned a home before, and it has been a long-time goal of mine to someday be a "homeowner".

Even though it wasn't my birthday, I'm claiming it as my gift too. Happy birthday to us!

In other amazing news: It's Friday and I'm very much looking forward to the weekend; I woke up without a headache for the first time in days and days and I think I'm ready to do some of that "exercise" thing.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Today

I have had a headache for every morning for the last two weeks. Except for Saturdays and Sundays.

I think my perpetual headache might be allergy related.

I took an allergy pill last night before bed.

It didn't help.

Today, my headache is worse than ever.

I started reading Charlotte's Web last night; I don't like the goose but Mr. Arable seems nice.

I also used a spray-on tan yesterday for the first time ever.

Today, I am very tan - in stripes.

Must work on airbrushing techniques.

After my headache subsides.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Journal day: what makes beauty?

This week's journal prompt from Sometimes Sweet is about exploring our ideas of beauty and where they came from. I think I sound a little anti-makeup but I don't mean to - anyone who sees me on Sundays knows I eschew the messy hair knot and go for a made-up look at least once a week. It is important to me that the emphasis for beauty is on what I believe to be the right things, and not on insignificant, temporal things.

I don't remember learning specific lessons about beauty from my mom when I was young, but I have a sense that I didn’t know or care what society thought about it. I don't know if my mom taught me not to care about it, or if I figured out on my own that things like hair and makeup were unimportant compared to things like character and that illusive "inner-beauty".

I think being made-up in that way just wasn’t a priority for us; we never focused on "getting pretty" and I wasn't allowed to play with makeup when I was very young like other girls in my family were. My mom wore very little makeup and whatever she did with her hair was more about making it manageable than anything else. I didn't watch television for most of my childhood and I didn't have a lot of exposure to social concepts of beauty.

I had what I assume was a typical teenaged girl struggle with my mom about makeup and hair products when I started middle school, wherein I disparately wanted thick eyeliner and big hair and my mom claimed only streetwalkers looked like that, so of course I sneaked makeup and hairspray to school and washed it off afterward. Other than that brief rebellion, I didn't care too much about beauty or what other people thought about it.

I never learned how to apply makeup or "do" hair stuff. Over the years I think I just picked up on what I saw on the people around me. But I never really put a lot of value on it. Wearing makeup or having fixed up hair has become something of a mask for me- I put effort into it depending on my circumstances, but mostly looking made-up and girly makes me feel a little bit vulnerable. I have been in a male-driven industry for nearly 20 years, and having a face full of makeup was more likely to get me not-taken-seriously than anything else.

As I get older, I find that not only do I care less and less about what society thinks of beauty, but I really think society puts too much emphasis on such things. The standards society insists on - large breasts, tiny waist, long legs - leave the majority of women and girls feeling ugly, fat, awkward, and de-valued. This is a message that makes me incredibly angry and sad. Broken self-esteem can set the tone for the rest of a young girl's life and I hate how often I have seen this happen. I am so grateful to know that my beauty is not defined by my size or my makeup or my hair. My self-worth and value are not reflected by my wardrobe or anything else I might do to my outward appearance.

The loveliest, kindest, and best people I know don't all fall under society's narrow vision of "beauty", but they are truly beautiful. Whatever we do to the outsides of our bodies is just decoration and it's really the least important thing about us.

I know a lot of people who have struggled with feeling beautiful. If you have struggled with this idea, have you overcome it? How did you learn that you're beautiful, even if society tells you that you aren't?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Are you happy?

I have recently blogged about my relationship with social media, and I'm happy to report that I have indeed cut back on the amount of time I spend on Facebook; more importantly, I feel like I have improved the quality of that time. I no longer read ridiculous articles because I haven't got anything better to do, which has made a big difference so far.

One article I read not long ago really does deserve to be explored though, so instead of just hitting the "share" button and moving on I thought I'd vomit some thoughts out here for you. You're welcome.

The original article is entitled 10 Things Happy People Don't Believe. As a pretty happy person, I can attest that happy people do not indeed believe the following:

      1. Life is fair.

    We have all been told from earliest childhood that life isn't fair. Right? Your sibling found the last Easter egg or your cousin got a bigger scoop of ice cream than you did, and you run to one parent or the other hollering and crying about how it's not fair, and what were you told? Life isn't fair. It's a lesson we've all learned, because it's true. We forget this, though, and act like we're entitled to something that we aren't.

    For example, if we work hard and don't miss any days at work we expect to get promotions and wage increases; but sometimes that doesn't always happen, or it doesn't happen on our timeline, or it doesn't happen to our satisfaction. Why? Because life isn't fair. Embracing that and accepting it, where appropriate*, frees us up to let go and move on when life sucks.

    *Equal Opportunity is a thing. Some fairness can be enforced by law, so don't be a total doormat.

      2. Suffering is bad.
    From the article:"Suffering is an inevitable condition of humanity. You cannot survive this world without at least a little suffering. Happy people know a deeper happiness comes through surviving a deep pain. We learn what we’re truly made of when faced with such hurt."

    I have learned more from my suffering than I have from any other situation. I'm rather stubborn so I don't often learn from other people's mistakes, but I learn so much from my own. A general authority from my church recently said that we suffer sometimes from our own actions, sometimes from other people's actions, and sometimes because this is mortality. (That's not an exact quote, but the meaning is the same).

    Sometimes we do suffer from our own actions - because we are imperfect; on occasion we suffer from other people's actions - because they are imperfect and because life isn't fair. And sometimes, being alive means that stuff hurts. Harshness, unkind words, having a loved one die on you, losing something important. These things which cause suffering can also be a catalyst for emotional development and growth; for spiritual exploration, and for deciding to remove negative influences from one's life. It still hurts, and it's okay to acknowledge that, but suffering by its very nature is not a bad thing.

      3. I’m in control of things.

    I think this one goes along with #1 above; we are not in control of things, because sometimes "things" can't be controlled - whether the things are other people making decisions that affect us or the things are those so-called random circumstances that occur in life.

    I have learned that not every random circumstance that happens is truly random; I believe that we are here on this Earth for the purpose of developing and growing as beings. Some of the challenges we face might be random and unrelated to anything else in life. But some, I believe, are specific lessons placed in our lives because we have something important to learn. We're not in control of it, but if we can remember that life isn't fair and suffering isn't bad then we can embrace the lesson, learn what we can, then let it go and move on. Control the things we can, but know when to let that idea of control go.

      4. People are obligated to love me a specific way.

    Probably one of the single biggest things I have struggled with in my life. I have been disappointed repeatedly by the actions and behaviour of others and I have had such a hard time separating people's actions from their intent. We have a lot of cliches about this - "actions speak louder than words", and "the road to hell is paved with good intentions". I do believe that actions speak louder than words in many cases, but I also think there needs to be room in our hearts for understanding that people won't be perfect.

    So many times I have been unkind or impatient with the people that I love - not because I don't love them, but because of how I express myself. There's a learning-and-growth process by which I am figuring out how to treat the people in my life when they don't behave the way I want them to, and part of that is allowing them to be who they are, and just accepting that they do love me even if I don't always like it exactly the way they do it.

    I'm not suggesting we (or our loved ones) should put up with mistreatment; learning how to set healthy boundaries is imperative. I am suggesting that we let go of the idea that if someone doesn't love us in the exact manner we desire that means they don't love us "right" or "enough".

      5. Everyone hates me.

    People will hate you. Others will adore everything about you. I was walking out of church yesterday and a friend called out to me that I just made her so happy; she loves everything about me and just seeing me made her happy. It made my day, the simple love and affection my friend showed me. Love is a powerful thing and unfortunately hate is as well.

    It doesn't have to matter, because the people who hate you either don't understand you or are too filled with negativity to look past whatever might be wrong with you. The people who love you matter, even if they don't love you the way you want to be loved.

      6. I can’t.

    When I used to say this as a girl my mom would always correct me: "You can do anything you want." I heard it so much growing up that I ultimately started saying "I don't want to", which came with a completely different set of admonitions from my mom. I would always roll my eyes, because sometimes I just wanted to wallow in a little bit of self-pity. And I think when we say I can't, what we're really saying is "I don't want to make the effort".

    It's a mind-set that is hard to break but it's worth examining. When you say it, are you really saying "I don't want to"? Every single time I say it, it's because the idea of whatever I'm facing is hard and scary. And every time I say "I can't", I do it anyway and I don't die, and I'm usually better off for it.

      7. I have something to prove.

    I have had to face this one recently as well; my situation was especially terrifying, because I was convinced that I didn't have anything to prove, and I was just awesome. So when my circumstances changed I was devastated - first I had to come to terms with the change, then I had to come to terms with what I thought I was worth after it was all over.

    Now that I know better, I am so much happier and so much better equipped to focus on growth and progress rather than what I think I am proving, and to whom. Seeking acceptance from within and recongising the source of my own value was such a liberating lesson to learn, and freed me up to learn without self-imposed limitations.

      8. It doesn’t matter.

    Everything matters, or nothing matters. If it elicits an emotion, it matters. If it affects the way you think about yourself or someone else, it matters. If we tell ourselves that something doesn't matter, we are denying ourselves the opportunity to explore our own feelings, to gain perspective on an issue, or to communicate with others how we feel about something.

      9. I’d be happier, if only I were [fill in the blank].

    Focusing on what we don't have, or on what is going wrong, simply highlights those things and turns our energy toward the negative. Instead of wrapping up our happiness in what we don't have, we can focus on what is good in our lives and what brings us joy. Maybe that is to have a goal for something better, but if we can't learn to be happy in the present moment, we won't truly be happy once we achieve whatever greatness we think we're missing.

    I used to have a very long commute for work; for many years I drove 60 miles round-trip and spent between 2-4 hours in traffic on average every day. I was dreadfully unhappy with that commute and I spent a lot of energy talking venting about that and thinking about what I could be accomplishing if only I didn't have that giant commute. Eventually I moved to within a mile of my office; no more commute and no more wasted hours of my life. I was happy for a little while, but not long after moving I found other things to be unhappy about (including the down-time my giant commute used to offer - ugh). Other things I didn't have, other "I can't"s that filled up my mind.

    Unhappiness is sometimes fixed with real, valuable change; and sometimes it's fixed simply by focusing on the positive aspects that enrich our lives.

      10. I’m too old.

    I recently posted on Facebook about feeling old - it's hard not to feel that way when your knees hurt after sitting in one position for more than 20 minutes, or every bone in your foot cracks and pops when you walk. Some of us are old, but we're never too old - for school, for a change in career, for a new hobby, for braces on our teeth. We are going to age no matter what - we can do it with new and exciting things in our lives, or we can do it wearing double-knit polyester. Don't wear double-knit polyester.

    What is the most important thing you have learned about being truly happy? Is there something else you think happy people don't believe that didn't make it to this list?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Things I'm thankful for

  • Writing seminars
  • The public library
  • Audio books
  • Other people's ideas
  • My mom

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Worry

I was listening to a podcast by Ajahn Brahm, my favourite Buddhist monk, and he says really brilliant things sometimes. In a recent podcast he said this: "When we don't make plans, things don't work out; when we make plans, things don't work out."

Have you ever experienced that? Focusing all your time and energy on a plan: crossing every "t", dotting every "i", accounting for every possible scenario, all the while fretting and worrying over the outcome? Maybe not eating or exercising like you should? Maybe pulling away from friends or your own spouse? Maybe not taking care of yourself spiritually? All that, only to have it not work out? And, oh the devastation- worrying and planning only to see one's work crumble beneath the weight of the not working out. I have devoted months, in some cases entire years, to projects at work that didn't work out… All the while ignoring my health, my spirituality, problems in my marriage. When those plans don’t work out, when my “work” doesn’t provide the results I worked so hard for – it has been devastating to me.

Ajahn Brahm isn't suggesting that we don't make plans, of course, and that wouldn't feel comfortable for all of us non-monks. He goes on to talk about present moment awareness and how we can use it to really focus on our environment. To deal with the day to day details of life and not become so obsessive about all the what-ifs that lead to so much worry.

I contend that a little healthy worrying isn't a terrible thing. Worrying about the outcome of something very often motivates me to make positive adjustments and improvements. I appreciate this reminder though. The reminder to find balance, to let go, to give up control.

Monks don't have money, so they don't buy food. Ajahn Brahm will often say he doesn't worry about where his next meal will come from. The monastery will always feed him, or it won't. He'll either be hungry or he won't, but worrying won't help him, because he hasn’t got control over those circumstances.

It's a philosophical question we must all answer for ourselves, and the answer is so individualised. Do you worry excessively about the circumstances of your life? Does it help you, or does it interfere with your ability to be happy and stay focused on what's important?

As ever, I'm working on finding balance between allowing myself to worry just enough to be motivated but not so much that I can't be successful in other pursuits. I guess that means I'm also working letting go, and emotional multi-tasking. I'll let you lot know how it goes...

Friday, April 11, 2014

Journal day: religion

Danielle at Sometimes Sweet is asking some tough questions! This week's challenge is to explore our religion, or lack of. I have written about religion and spirituality- and I do believe there is a difference between the two- so much here that I'm not sure if I've ever really "summed up" my thoughts on the matter. My thoughts have changed since I started this blog – I initially began writing to explore how to be a pagan in modern day life. The practical applications of Paganism are a bit challenging now that our seasons don’t dictate our day to day lives. And just try asking your boss for a paid holiday so you can observe the vernal equinox.

I do have so many thoughts on religion but it's something I have had a hard time writing about for various reasons, so bear with me... this may not make a whole lot of sense. I will speak about my beliefs in terms of absolutes about what I know to be true; please understand that I know this for myself, and do not pretend to know it for you. If your beliefs and experiences are different from mine, know that I respect that difference and I respect what you know as well.

To put it simply, I do consider myself religious. I am a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints... a Mormon. I am active in my church and I fulfill the responsibilities that I am given (some responsibilities get better fulfilled than others). I also consider myself spiritual: I study scriptures, I study the teachings of the prophet of my church, as well as the teachings of past prophets. I use my testimony of the gospel to improve and enrich my life. There is quite a bit of doctrine given to members of the LDS faith about the afterlife and heaven; it is such a big topic that I'm not even sure I can go into it all, nor do I want to. I do believe in heaven and eternal salvation, though, and I believe it is offered to each one of us - during this life and after we die.

The idea of heaven used to be such an awkward concept for me. I was raised catholic but never believed in the heaven-and-hell doctrine taught there. For several years I practiced Wicca, a form of paganism, which focuses on the Earth and our energy; Summerland is the Wiccan idea of afterlife and that didn't really resonate with me either.

Most of my spiritual development came when I was practicing Buddhism, which teaches of karma and reincarnation. I felt most connected to Buddhism before I joined the LDS Church, but the issue of reincarnation brought up some un-answerable questions for me. The purpose of reincarnation is to come back and learn new lessons, or re-learn old ones. According to that theology, we might be reincarnated as humans or animals if we had more to learn; or we might come back as spirits if our previous mortal lives were lived with moral integrity. Essentially, as long as we remained spiritually ignorant, unenlightened, and/or attached to our possessions our spirits would be reborn into bodies. It wouldn't be the same "self" and that new consciousness would set about trying to learn and learn until it became enlightened.

I absolutely adore the idea of learning and growing in that way; of shedding spiritual ignorance, of becoming enlightened and "whole". But the concept of our spirits being reborn over and over brought up those unanswerable questions – Who or what decides when I'm no longer spiritually ignorant? Who or what decides what lessons are necessary for me as an individual? Because I didn't believe in God, that wasn't an answer to "who". The concept of “universal truths" didn't resonate with me, because it always sent me into this tail-chasing cycle of wanting to know who is making the rules, who is setting these so-called truths to be universal? It's an awkward set of questions when one doesn't believe in intelligent design. None of the traditional Buddhist answers resonated with me either. So I decided a long time ago that I wasn't sure what happened to our souls after death, and I rejected all the modern answers.

I did believe in the soul though, and felt sure that something happened to it after the body died. In retrospect, I guess even back then I was not so far away from what my church teaches about the afterlife. Even if I couldn't wrap my mind around God and a saviour and heaven, I knew that our souls have an eternal purpose.

I felt more comfortable with Buddhism than I did with any other spiritual path, even with those awkward questions that I didn’t have answers for. I wouldn't have considered myself "seeking" a religion but when I told a friend of mine that I was joining the church he mentioned that I'd always been looking for something new or better. This surprised me somewhat, but it is true that the teachings of the gospel fit very nicely with so many of the spiritual truths I have learned through other paths. Once I got over my disbelief of Jesus, that is.

An idea that I have struggled communicating to others about my spirituality is the idea that I was incomplete before my conversion to Mormonism. I didn't feel incomplete then - I was as spiritually fulfilled as I had ever been up to that point and I was very comfortable with where I was. Sure, I didn't have answers to some big questions but one of the lessons I have learned over and over again is that I don't always get answers. I learned to be comfortable with all my not-answers and I focused on the parts that made sense. Buddishm taught me how to be open-minded spiritually; it taught me that every person, creature, spirit, and idea has value and deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. Those are important lessons to learn, and I am so grateful I learned them in the way that I did. Joining the LDS church certainly "rounded out" my spiritual knowledge (and continues to teach me) but I feel like it's an important distinction, at least in my own head, that I didn't join the church because I was missing something - I joined because I was ready.

I had gone as far with Buddhism as I could. When I started learning about the church and studying the scriptures, eventually it opened up new ideas for me and allowed for some of that deeper exploration that I hadn't been ready for before then. It didn't happen right away because I am stubborn and was reluctant to be a Christian; but when it did happen, it resonated with me in a whole new way.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Journal day: social media

Edited to add: Visit the source for these prompts at Sometimes Sweet.

My relationship with social media is among my most unhealthy, second only to my relationship with caffeine. Facebook is by far the largest time sink in my life, at least since I went off World of Warcraft. Don't misunderstand me- I love the relationships that I am able to create and maintain via social media: I share my fitness successes with other work-out nerds on Daily Mile, I share an annoying number of animal pictures via Instagram, and I am forever nattering on about my latest cooking experiment, whatever thing my dog has recently destroyed, or how awesome my husband is on Facebook. I am able to keep in touch with friends and family who live elsewhere, and even make new acquaintances through friends-of-friends. We celebrate each others' joys and commiserate each others', woes; we support and uplift each other and we communicate important details in our smaller communities.

But there's this other ugly side of social media, the online disinhibition effect (or Internet D&@%Wad Theory, if you will) wherein people abandon their social graces because of the anonymity the internet provides. Nasty comments, "flame-wars", and general misbehaving that happen 'round the Internet.

I am also prone to over-using social media. I spend time there that would be better spent on other pursuits. Time that I could use being productive in any of the dozens of hobbies that I have. I often think I'll work on my growing list of writing projects, right after I pop in on Facebook... "just to catch up". Before I know it, hours have passed and now it's time for a meal or an errand, or something else that requires my attention - and I didn't write one word.

Not only did I not work on anything useful, I also pissed away hours reading stories and comments that did not uplift me, or encourage me – hours I cannot get back, that I cannot un-waste; instead of furthering my own goals I filled up on hate and partisan politics and fluffy nonsense (do I really care about what celebrities have clothes that look like mattresses? No, but I looked at every single picture).

The good side to social media is that I can use my influence, whatever it may be, to be a positive force there; to be kind and uplifting and to share friendly messages rather than negative ones.

As with many other things, I have a time management problem around how I spend my time online.

Today is General Conference; for LDS members, that means listening to televised broadcasts of the general authorities of our church as they share messages about the gospel and how we might apply it in our lives to become better people - more thoughtful, more loving, more hope-filled people. Today, my Facebook feed is filled with quotes from those leaders and their messages of love and hope.

I'm not giving up on social media of course, but I'm definitely changing my homepage.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Gratitude

These are the things which please me on a cellular level today:

  • Working in PJs
  • The view from my window
  • The sound of cars on the street
  • Coloured scripture markers
  • Past Tense doTERRA essential oils

Friday, April 4, 2014

Journal day: what motivates me

I'm catching up on journal days... this prompt, courtesy of Danielle at Sometimes Sweet, is about what motivates us. This is a tough subject for me, and I don't think it's an accident that this prompt follows one about our biggest challenges.

If you've read my blog over the years, you know that my challenges and my motivators kick my butt on occasion. I don't live up to my own potential, and I frequently make and fail-to-keep lofty goals. Both of which conspire to kick off a ridiculously unhealthy cycle of self-doubt, personal criticism, and then months upon months of me ignoring every single thing that makes me feel better about myself.

My biggest motivator, much like my daily challenge, changes as I evolve as a person. Once upon a time, I was most motivated by a need to instill a sense of normalcy in my life. If I got up and went to work and put gas in the car, life was ordered and I was fine. For many years after Colin died, I was motivated by a need to claw my way back to not feeling so bad all day every day. I didn't really want to be successful, and I didn't truly care about developing myself. I knew I was supposed to though, so I worked at the things that made me appear normal.

Eventually I was fine, and then I was motivated each day out of habit; because I'd been doing it so many days in a row I just kept on doing it. It was easy to go through the motions and not think about it, not dig too deeply about why I was going about life in any particular way. That is an empty motivator though, and it left me with a sense that something was missing – not right away, of course. I wasn’t quite evolved enough to detect that feeling of emptiness. I had lived with it for so long it became a part of me, and a part of the “life” I was living.

For many years my career motivated me - it was the reason I got out of bed, and worked so hard, and improved my knowledge and education. It was what made me feel important, and special, and unique. I've recently gone through a job transition and that forced me to acknowledge that I had wrapped up my sense of Self in my career. My sense of importance was tied to something external and, it turns out, something that can be so abruptly and rudely taken away. I had no idea that I was so motivated by that thing, and that I had so little control over it, until I was stripped of it.

One lesson I have learned over and over is that we do our best growing when life is hard. I have learned very little from my joys and my triumphs, to be perfectly honest. I need those things certainly - they're the reward for the hard work and the effort. But my true development comes out of my devastation; it comes from working through hardship, or from having my sense of Self ripped away from me. That happened first with Colin, then it happened with my job. The pattern, of course, is that I put the emphasis for me on something (or someone) else. Now that I've learned that particular lesson well and full, I expect to never have to go through it again. Are you listening, God? I did very good learning here, so I'm done, right? I'm ready to be done with that one...

Now, my spirituality motivates me. Making the most out of every day, or at least trying to: seeing each new day as an opportunity to grow and learn, and become the best version of myself possible. To be more loving and more productive and learn more about the Gospel; to photograph the world and write amazing stories about life. To share my heart and my soul with those around me. That's what gets one foot in front of the other these days.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Journal day: biggest challenge

This week's Three weeks ago's journal prompt (oops), courtesy of Danielle at Sometimes Sweet, asks us to describe our biggest challenge.

I feel like I have a lot of challenges. Not in an ungrateful way, but you know... sometimes stuff is just hard to deal with for me. I have decide to focus on my daily challenge because that seems easier to wrap my writing-brain around.

My daily challenge is like a living, breathing monster. Not the conquerable kind like Bigfoot who I could trap and set on fire, or Loch Ness who I could harpoon and hack to pieces. More like that childhood nightmare-monster that changes shape and form and substance. One of those no-weapon-forged-will-overcome-it kinds of monsters.

My challenges have changed over the years of course, but these days I think it comes down to time management and the motivation to act. My life is pretty easy -I don't have children at home, my once overwhelmingly busy career has taken a turn toward the docile. I work from home and don't have a lot of demands on my time. I think I work best under pressure - the more extreme the better. For the most part I don't have pressure, extreme or otherwise; so the things I need to do: cooking, cleaning, crafting, studying, exercise - are almost perpetually put off because I have so much time to get them done that I never actually start.

And perhaps I struggle with priorities. I could sweep or cook or knit or study scripture or even work, but I'm cold so I'll just stand here in front of the fireplace and play iPhone games instead. It's not even that I particularly dislike any of the things I could or should be doing (well...cooking. I am still learning to love cooking). My mind just doesn't feel any urgency to start right now.

I suppose, at the core of it, my biggest daily challenge is myself. I am more often than not my own worst enemy, my most vocal critic, and my biggest detractor. I am not sure how to overcome me – and believe me, I have tried - but I'm sure it starts with developing good goals

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