And one more for good measure!
Don’t ask me how I’m doing.
On my best days it will make me roll my eyes and on my worst it could make me angry. I am tired of people asking me how I am in the hallway and walking past me before I have a chance to answer. I’m tired of “Hi, How are you?” being the standard greeting with an expected response of “fine” or “good” and nothing more. I’ve started giving odd answers as a social experiment akin to Robin Williams in Patch Adams to see if I could elicit a different response. Here’s some examples:
“Good morning, Kelly. How are you?”
“I miss my pet tyrannosaurus.”
“How did I get here? I must have been sleep walking.”
or the ever popular
But don’t confuse my frustration over this ubiquitous question with me wanting to keep people at a distance. If anything, I want to invite them in more. I want to be able to answer honestly when life is good and I feel blessed beyond words and when I’m struggling and in need of hope to light my way. I want to be able to share when I feel overwhelmed with responsibilities and when I’ve had a huge personal victory and want to invite someone to share in my celebration. And none of that can be encompassed in one word while we pass in the hallway. I care about real speech, not scripted speech. I promise I won’t ask you how you are doing unless I have time to listen to the answer.
And I suppose I should amend my initial statement to read, “Don’t ask me how I’m doing… unless you really mean it.”
So, how are you? Really. I’m all ears.
I’m a writer.
It’s on my business card and everything.
So I read books written by famous authors talking about writing. (Yes, nerd alert!) I recently read, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage” by Anne Pachett
Pachett describes one book signing where she was approached by an overzealous woman insisting someone write her story for her. It doesn’t matter if it is fiction or memoirs; people think that writers write. That the idea is the hard part, but the mechanics are minimal. That it’s easy. That words just flow out of our fingers as we sit in some sort of trance allowing the magic to happen. (Note sarcasm!) Pachett tried kindly, but repeatedly to dismiss the woman before resorting to an underhanded technique– telling her the writer at the next table might be interested in her story!
This notion of inspiration is not true in any profession, even ones traditionally thought of as inspiration-based. Composers may have times of inspiration, but only after years of learning to play an instrument and performing repeated scales, learning to read music (a new language!), and training their ears to justify the note, and harmonize well. There are times of inspiration, but they are only useful after proper preparation.
I’m a writer. I do have epiphanies and moments where the ideas come to me. But I have far more times that I sit and work and rework a sentence, use my thesaurus, and ask for editing assistance until it’s just right. I practice writing. I craft sentences in my head while stuck in traffic. I write down quotes in books I’m reading that are beautiful. I’m a writer. I regularly practice writing.
Practice is the prerequisite for inspiration.
What is your craft? How are you practicing to be ready for when inspiration strikes?
Who are these Joneses and why are we trying to keep up with them?
Are they happy? Are they fulfilled? Are they an illusion in our own minds? What benefit to we gain from comparison?
I ask these questions to myself as well. Who am I seeking to emulate and, more importantly, why? What do I gain from comparing my life? What will be enough?
I sometimes contemplate what I would do if I won the lottery… may too often. I’d like to think the money wouldn’t change me, that I would give oodles away and be the same person, just with more free time. But I fear that wouldn’t be the case. I might become a greedy, hoarding, Scrooge McDuck diving through his riches.
It’s a good thing that I’m not the first one to deal with these fears. I found a kindred spirit in the writer of Proverbs who had similar thoughts recorded in Proverbs 30:8-10.
Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.
May I never know the worries that accompany not having enough money and wondering how to live AND the anxieties that accompany having lots of money, worrying that it will be gone, and wondering how to live without it. “Give me neither poverty nor riches.” That is my continual prayer.
Don’t scoff. This math is fun!
I started running a few years ago and registered for a half marathon because my friend, Tracy, can get me to do crazy things. I had never run before in my life. I always said I was saving up my run because we are each allotted a finite amount of run in our lives and I might be chased some day and need all my run saved up! I started off with the “Couch to 5K” program running 30 seconds at a time and worked my way slowly up to running several miles. The training program I was following was from Olympian Jeff Galloway which recommended that I run for four minutes and walk for one minute and perform intervals throughout the entire race to perform the fastest.
“What did he know?” I asked. “He’s only an Olympic distance runner. I’ve been doing this for six months, I obviously know better!” I continued to run, arguing with the program and repeatedly doing the mental math – if I run at a 10 minute mile and walk at an 18 minute mile, there’s no way I can finish faster if I walk every few minutes. So I pushed through, lengthened my time running, injured my knee and killed my feet until I had no choice but to walk intermittently… and cut 15 minutes off my time.
God’s math is not like our math. Jesus is 100% human and 100% divine. Three persons=1 God. And in relation to the Sabbath 1+1 (working on Saturday and Sunday equally) is not the same as 2+0 (preparing for the Sabbath and taking a break). I didn’t believe that until I started running intervals. Learn from my foolishness. Olympic distance runners, and more importantly God, know what they’re talking about.