Friday, July 29, 2011


When I entered the word discipline into, these are the words listed as antonyms:  

Chaos?  I don't want any of that in my life.
Confusion?  I'm usually confused enough, thanks.
Disorder and disorganization. . . . . . . Let's remove the prefix "dis" and I'll be good.
Neglect.  Am I neglecting things?  Of course. . . 
Negligence.  That sounds worse than neglect.
Permissiveness.  Have I let myself get permissive with myself?  That's a lot to think about! Yet when I ask myself if I've been permissive with myself, myself says, "Don't be so hard on yourself."  So I guess I am permissive.  And [see above] now confused.

Discipline can be a rather ugly word.  And it's hard to apply to oneself, because honestly, who wants to be hard on oneself?  Other people can be hard enough on us.  But it's a word I've been thinking on a lot lately.  One of my favorite books is Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster.  I read it years ago, a couple of times.  I probably should just continuously read it, over.and.over.and.over.  Because it's helpful and it's applicable and it's good. 

When I look at the synonyms for discipline, the one that sticks out like crazy is:

Self-control can be difficult.  Maybe it's not for you, but it is for me.  At least regarding some things. Self-control is one of my {words to live by}.  It takes self-control to motivate oneself to exercise and to not eat way too much brownie batter and to go to bed before midnight.  Yet it also takes self-control to keep my mouth shut when it's best to be quiet and it takes self-control to not let anxiety get the best of me when I wonder if my workplace's funding will come through  [once again I'm in the midst of a workplace situation where the feds decided to cease the funding].

Discipline is what I need when I want to take all our money out of an atm, pick up the family, retrieve our passports, and head for Timbuktu [or Prague] via Blue Grass Airport.  Okay, maybe that's not so much discipline as a firm grasp of reality.  Yet, despite my motivation to run with my daughter as we prepare for a 5K, and my practice of cleaning our bathroom once a week, I need more [much more] discipline in my life.  

I want to:
  • spend time with God 
  • make time to write
  • walk my dog
  • say "good-bye" to tv and "hello" to more books
  • stop eating processed food, fast food, unhealthy food, etc. [I'm still new at the vegetarian thing]
  • sit on my front porch
  • pursue relationships with people [some particular people; not ALL people]
  • exercise on a regular basis
  • do yoga 
I confess I was once much better at leading a disciplined life.  But stuff has gotten in the way.  So I'll push it aside and become more of who I want to be.

And I'll remember the above saying, striving to "do" what's important and impactful, but not strive to do everything.  Because striving to do everything/be everything/permit everything is the recipe for:


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Great Compromise

The Great Compromise happened in 1787, had to do with representation under the new US Constitution, and although I have an interest in history, is not the central thought of my entry today.  {I hope that wasn't a run on sentence, yet I believe it was.}  I simply felt it made for a good title and my thoughts today are consumed with the word [compromise]. 
The word compromise seems to represent something positive, a working together, a meeting half way.  Yet when I read some of the following synonyms to compromise, I shudder a bit:
accommodation, accord, arrangement, bargain, concession, copout, happy medium, middle ground, pact, trade-off and sellout  
Copout?  That's not a pleasant word.  Sellout?  Are some of my compromises sellouts?  I hope not.  Yet where should I draw the line between what I want to do, what I'm expected to do, and what I need to do?  

I often feel like it's me versus the world.   Not like the world is out to get me.  But that something is always competing for my time.  Often it's not something negative.  It's just the normal life stuff:  work, school events, church events, grocery shopping, housecleaning, taking a shower (which, if I stopped doing could save me ample time each week).  Then there's the stuff I desire to do:  spend more time with family, get to know my neighbors, make handcrafted jewelry, write more blog entries, visit the British Isles (not going to happen this year), etc.  

So I start to ask myself questions like. . . . .
  • How does one balance the desire to be with one's family with working a full time job?  
  • How does one balance the dream of taking an overseas mission trip with family yet only having a limited amount of allotted time off?  
  • How does one balance working in a field you're "called" to, yet not receiving a salary that provides for health care?   
  • How does one balance between being called to live in a specific place [which I believe wholeheartedly we are] and not seeing extended family often?
  • How does one balance providing stylish clothing for a 13 year old girl while maintaining a budget and attempting to keep her content?
  • How does one balance her needs with the needs of others she loves?  Do I "sellout" to self or try the compromise route? 

I realize life is made up of choices, yet sometimes I don't know if choices are always really....... choices.  How often do we do something because we are required to?  It's part of the plan, part of what has to get accomplished, or at least someone's perception of what has to get accomplished.  So much time is spent on. . . . nothing substantial.

And I've come to realize that the more hours I work outside the home, the more store bought bread I buy.  Hang with me on this.  I like to bake bread, and while Kroger makes a good baguette, I'd much rather bake my own.  And my family likes it when I bake my own.  Which brings me to a compromise.  I now work full time, therefore baking bread is no longer a regular occurrence.  And on certain days, instead of dwelling on how thankful I am for the income I generate, I dwell on the {not so positive} synonyms for compromise, i.e. copout and sellout.  Even the word concession isn't comforting.  Because I'm not so sure I like the choice I've made.  Yet, it's the inevitable choice when you have two teenagers, one two years from college.  Or is it, if I'm willing to sacrifice buying potato chips (and a heck of a lot of other unnecessary things)?

I suppose this relates back to my previous post, Who I Am. I continue to contemplate if the Shakespeare line, "To thine own self be true" is a positive personal mission statement.  The bible says to pick up your cross daily. . . . to deny yourself.  Yet doesn't it also describe us as God's masterpiece?  Does God want us to feel compromised, torn, accommodating yet not content?  Is personal disharmony more spiritually appealing than happiness?  Does that have to be a compromise too?  Maybe I've missed something somewhere along the line.  Maybe I'm a rebel who doesn't want to compromise.  Maybe I'm selfish or unreasonable or unrealistic.  Or maybe I've grown tired of concession.  Or maybe (and I mean this) I need to join a punk band featuring middle aged moms.  Besides, I've been seriously contemplating getting my nose pierced for my 43rd birthday (which is 8/7).  

Step with care and great tact and remember that 
life's a great balancing act. ~ Dr. Seuss 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

self promo

Many, many years ago, right after my son was born, I read the perennial classic, What Color is Your Parachute?  I remember narrowing down a list of things I felt I was good at and was interested in doing.  I ended up on this verb:  WRITING.  I realized that through my years as a student, I'd always done well as a writer.  Essays, term papers, research projects. . . . I received good grades on these.  Tests, math quizzes, multiple choice final exams?  I didn't do quite as well.

So I came to the conclusion that I liked to write, and perhaps I should write.  Long story short, I decided to write a book.  Yes, a book.  It took me about 13 years, but I managed to type a short novel on our home computer.  I gave a copy to my mother, my mother-in-law, and a couple other women for Mother's Day a few years back.  Nothing else ever came of it.

Recently, I've once again done some inner searching, wondering what I'll do with the rest of my life.  I've created an Etsy account, but never put any of my handcrafted jewelry on display.  I considered making jewelry for a local craft bazaar.  Other ideas have passed through my mind.  Some good, some ridiculous.  Then I remembered back to that long gone season of reading Parachute, and decided, I need to write.  I thought back to my childhood, to the silly stories I wrote for my sister.  I remembered getting a story published I wrote when I was about eight.  Yes, I need to write.  For money?  Maybe.  For fame or glory?  Not really.  But I need to see if I can make a go of this.

Which brings me to the title of this entry:  self promo.  I have come to realize that to become a successful writer, some self promotion is most likely necessary.  I'm not talking bragging, or developing an elitist mindset.  But I do mean this:  putting myself out there, submitting work to publications, and even using social networking as an opportunity to push my work.  I follow a few authors on various social networking sites.  They let people know what they're up to.  They push [my husband would use another word, that I can't bring myself to type] their product.

This makes me a bit uncomfortable.  I'd like for Christianity Today to email me tomorrow and ask me to become a regular columnist.  Yet the reality is, that's probably not going to happen.  It might {some tomorrow}, if I am willing to expose myself.  If I'm willing to submit an article.  If I'm willing to Twitter, Twitter, Twitter up a storm about everything I write.

So, with all that said, I'm stepping up my game.  I'm going to blog more regularly.  I'm going to research publications and submit some articles.  I'm going to continue following the work of others who are successful due to their blood, sweat and tears.  

I'm gearing up for rejection, but I'm also preparing for success.  Stayed tuned. . . . 

Monday, July 11, 2011

who I am

Besides growing old alone, heights, the world running out of chocolate, and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes actually happening, I really believe my biggest fear is not being known.  In other words, being misunderstood, or if I may, {the perception of what others want me to be, but I'm really not}.

Please don't think I'm talking about the concern of what others think of me, i.e. whether they think I dress in an odd fashion, or have put on weight, or don't talk enough.  I'm talking about something deeper, something more life altering.  I read the books that contain the following quotes.  Both of them made me realize, "Wow!  If I'm not careful, I can become somebody I'm not."  A lie, really.  A conjured up version of myself, based on assumptions, the needs of organizations, the perceived betterment of a group, etc.

"Looking out the window, I felt mostly lonely.  It was the kind of loneliness that cannot see past itself, a skulking suspicion that the world was not mine to inherit.  I listened as they spoke, laughed when they laughed, raised my glass as such moments presented themselves, all the while marking time.  I was sorry for the way everyone imagined my life to be my own, for the way they really did seem to like me, asking did my fish still have bones, and how pretty I looked.  I wished I could give something back.  But yet, I knew that all that they wanted from me was all that they needed from me, and that is a treacherous path to consent to travel, in the sense of suppressing things sought for the self.  That is to say, you being solely what others want you to be." ~ taken from the novel Anthropology of an American Girl, by Hilary Thayer Hamann.
"The worst burden in life is what others know about us.  But maybe there is one burden even worse than this.  It happens when they don't know about us, it is what they think about us when, in silence, they force us to be what they expect us to be.  Even worse is how we become it."  ~ taken from the novel Zoli, by Colum McCann.
I'm learning [finally!] there's a difference between being selfish and being who I am supposed to be.  No matter how hard I try, I will not fit a mold I am not created to fit.  I can change.  I can adapt.  Those are often necessary requirements.  But if I wake up one morning and realize, "Hells bells, I am an actress living in a shell of a person!", I need to figure out who I am, and be me.