simplyjan

A Simple Look at a Not-So-Simple Life

Archive for the tag “writing”

Reading with a Pen: Releasing the Story

I do my best reading with a pen in hand. When I stumble across beautiful sentences, or wise quotes, or unforgettable scenes, I feel like I need to put down a flag of discovery so that one day (hopefully) I can return. Sometimes I underlines phrases, sentences, or entire paragraphs. Sometimes I draw smiley faces or exclamation marks in the margin. Sometimes I initiate my own conversation with the text by writing in questions or comments. (I am so thankful that Amazon built these capabilities into their Kindle!) Sometimes I move the entire conversation – quotes and all – into my journal so I will have room to explore. Too often, however, my marks just sit on the page – forgotten until or unless I pick the book back up again at some point in the future. I thought it might be fun to go searching for the flags I’ve planted around words in some of my favorite books.

This first quote comes from Devotion, by Dani Shapiro. I ran across the book by chance at Goodwill. A few months earlier I read the sample selection on my Kindle and put the book on my “books to buy when I have the disposable dollars or when Kindle puts them on a great sale” list. Needless to say, I was thrilled by my bargain find.

My copy of Devotion is marked up everywhere. While the specifics of Shapiro’s journey and mine are significantly different at some points, other points had me saying, “Yes! I know exactly what you’re talking about!” Here is one (of a gazillion) marked passages.

Yogis use a beautiful Sanskrit word, samskara, to describe the knots of energy that are locked in the hips, the heart, the jaw, the lungs. Each knot tells a story – a narrative rich with emotional detail. Release a samskara and you release that story. Release your stories, and suddenly there is more room to breathe, to feel, to experience the world. (pp. 16-17)

As for yogis, I know nothing of them. As for yoga, I know only a handful of poses. As for knots of energy in the body, I am an expert. I carry the heavy energy of responsibility (at home and at work) in my neck and across my shoulders, almost as though I am carrying a yoke. I carry the energy of writing in my lower back. Maybe that’s really because I sit too long in unfriendly chairs. Or maybe it’s because words can be heavy sometimes. I carry restless energy in my legs. Anxiety, when it attacks, steals energy from my lungs. The energy of grief and regret sits heavy in my core. The energy that is created when I fail to speak when I know I should takes up residence in my jaw, and I will awake in the morning painfully sore from clenching it through the night. I carry protective energy – whether it is self-protective or a need to protect my family – in my hands, either in a clenched fist or by holding my thumb.

thumb

I know. Weird, right?

Once upon a time, I was fortunate enough to live near an amazing friend who is an equally amazing massage therapist. For several years, I kept myself on a regular schedule of massage. Some days I had no idea going into a massage how tight my body was until she began working to loosen the knots. Some days, about halfway through the massage, I found myself feeling emotional – like I was going to cry. I learned to pay attention to these things and to become more mindful of their origins. What stressors, what fears, what hurts was I guilty of shoving inside my body so that they wouldn’t be seen by me or anyone else? All of these things – the bad and the good – create an energy. That energy must reside somewhere, whether I choose to acknowledge it or not.

Each knot tells a story – a narrative rich with emotional detail.

I love stories. I get great joy from telling stories, especially The Story, in my work every week. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t record some part of my day’s story somewhere – in a journal, on my blog, through Twitter or Facebook, or in a file on my computer. On those days when I have a hard time thinking of any story worth 140 characters on Twitter, when I think that nothing has happened worth telling, maybe I should pay more attention to those knots of energy in my body. They are trying hard to tell my story – if I will just let go, if I will just risk being vulnerable, if I will just trust my circle of loved ones to love me no matter what. If I can just let go, risk, and trust, then I’m bound to become unstuck as the stories of life begin to flow freely around me.

Release a samskara and you release that story. Release your stories, and suddenly there is more room to breathe, to feel, to experience the world.

So Close. . .

As hard as it is to believe, this mid-January weekend was a beach weather weekend with highs in the upper 70’s and low 80’s. We took our t-shirts and shorts with us to church so we could make a quick change afterwards and head to the beach. There was a thin cloud cover, but no wind to speak of. The ocean temperature was, shall we say, invigorating. It was too cold for more that a quick dip of our toes in the surf. The tidal pool, however, was warm enough for comfortable wading.

As the kids searched for shells in the tidal pool, Cathy and I sat on beach towels and watched, soaking in the peacefulness of the surf sounds. I noticed a seagull on the sand inching closer and closer to us. I watched him with interest, noting the crook in his beak and the pattern of his feathers. I saw that he didn’t have a black tail with spots like most of the other seagulls around us did and wondered what kind of gull he might be. I realized that he was about as close as a seagull will get (except for when you feed them), so I reached for my phone to snap a picture of it. This is what I got:

almost

I missed my chance. It’s not that I wasn’t interested. I was. It’s not that I didn’t think about it. I did. It’s not that I didn’t have the tools to capture a picture. I did. I just didn’t act quickly enough.

I spend a lot of time inside my head – mulling over ideas for stories and sermons, blog posts and writing group essays, newsletter articles and workshop applications. Sometimes, when I’m lucky, I can work themes around in my brain until all that’s left to do is sit at the keyboard to record what is there. Notice, I said “sometimes.” That is not the norm.

Most of the time it works more like this: An idea breaks into my consciousness. I notice it. I wonder if it’s workable or not. I think about how I might use it, and where. Suddenly I realize that maybe I should take the time to capture that idea. But how? Is this a note card idea or a journal idea? If it’s a journal idea, which journal? That’s an even harder question now, because I received two beautiful new journals for Christmas. Surely only the best and brightest words and ideas should earn a spot in them, right? Wait – where’s a pen? With all these journals and note cards lying around, you’d think I could find just one pen somewhere. Where did all the pens go? Is there a keyboard nearby? If so, should I use Evernote or Dropbox? It goes on and on.

By the time I’ve worked through all of this, the idea has gotten bored and wandered away. Or maybe it’s insulted because I took so long to act and it flies off in a huff. Or maybe it spots someone down the way a little who looks more receptive and prepared. All I’m left with is a glimpse of the tail feathers as it takes flight.

I get so close! It’s not that I’m not interested. I am. It’s not that I don’t think about it. I do. It’s not that I don’t have the tools. I do. I just don’t act quickly enough. Really, I must do better. Ideas, like seagulls, won’t wait around on me forever.

Random Bits of Summer

hot

I’m struggling with a bit of summer burn-out these days. There is nothing wrong. The kids are great. Work is great. Home is great. But . . . days are long, the temps are hot-hot-hot, and energy and motivation are waning. For the first time ever in my whole entire life it feels like maybe, just maybe, summer break is a bit too long. Never in my days of being a student or a teacher would I ever have dreamed I might one day utter those blasphemous words with such sincerity. And most likely – it may be as soon as early winter or as late as spring – I will desperately miss the flexibility of unscheduled summer time. Then you can hit me up with the old “I told you so!” Right now, however, a schedule is sounding pretty good.

In the meantime, here are a few mid-summer thoughts in short form (which is all I can muster at the moment) that I can share:

* I remain forever grateful to the chemists, researchers, and physicians who have made medical treatment of ADHD possible. Gus is doing so well since we readjusted his medicine at the beginning of the summer. He was a couple of hours delayed in taking his meds on Monday. Watching him deal with the excess energy, the untamed thought processes, the struggle to control impulses when control is almost out of reach, and the almost twitchy nervousness is like watching someone on caffeine overload in a room lit only by a strobe light trying to sit still on a two-legged stool. Crazy-making.

* Mia will turn nine the day before she starts fourth grade. She is always the youngest in her class. (And usually the shortest.) Fourth grade sounds so old to me, yet she’s still my baby girl. I have, however, noticed a change in her this summer – one that is both amusing and annoying. She is getting a bit air-headed! She forgets things. She’s much, much worse than she’s ever been about leaving her stuff scattered everywhere. You can recreate her day by following her path  of her stuff through the house – like following a trail of bread crumbs. I can ask her to go get the stuff she left in the bathroom (a book, a Webkins, hair bows, dirty clothes, etc.) and she will go to retrieve them. She may even pick her stuff up. Then she spots the mirror, or the brush, or nail polish and starts primping, forgetting what she came in for in the first place. Once her hair is fixed or fingernails painted, she’ll leave the room – and leave whatever it was I sent her in to retrieve. I remember Anna doing this too, only she was at least two years older when she did it. I think the tweens will arrive early with this one. Sigh.

* I got a brief reprieve this morning when my friend Cathy offered to keep the kids so I could get my hair cut and, um, “conditioned.” (It’s amazing how the summer sun brings out those gray highlights! I’m sure it has nothing to do with my age or any stress.) I drove across town alone, feeling like I was cutting class or something. I flipped the radio to NPR – a station I never get to listen to with the kids in the car with me (and the kids are always in the car with me this summer) because (a) they hate it, and (b) Gus tends to fixate on news stories to a degree that is not healthy. Then I got to sit awhile, the object of Kasey’s full attention (and awesome scalp massage), and completely relax. It was decadent!

* While I’ve been quiet on the blog for a few days, I’ve not abandoned writing. Last night I handwrote over 10 pages in my journal, fleshing out a couple of ideas for longer projects. I’m excited about the prospect of developing either/both. Interestingly enough, the seed for one project came from a dream my dad had in which I’d written a novel. An article I found in a Twitter link this week provided some additional inspiration that fit with the bits of the dream he could remember. That, combined with an experience a colleague had over the weekend and a blog war I followed last week, gave me more ideas for the story. I have a few bones to the skeleton. I plan to dig to see if I can find a few more. Wish me luck!

* There’s nothing like playing tourist in your own town, especially when you are able to go places that cost little or nothing to enjoy. Sunday afternoon we revisited the Angel Oak – a magical place if there ever was one. Then we drove a little further out to the Charleston Tea Plantation, the only place in North America where tea is grown. American Classic tea is one of my favorites to warm up to in the winter. We didn’t get to do the trolley tour of the whole plantation, but we did do a factory tour. To think I’ve been drinking tea my whole life and knew so little about it! We’re so fortunate to live in such a beautiful place. My only disappointment was missing an opportunity to get some juicy Johns Island tomatoes before coming home. Next time!

angel oak tea plantation

RGBP Friday Five: Grateful Edition

Kathryn writes over at RevGalBlogPals:

The Friday Five is very, very late but God is GOOD – ALL THE TIME so you are invited to share with us five things that cause you to be grateful.

blessings

1) I am grateful for family members who are also friends. They say you can’t choose your family, but I say you’re blessed when you know that if you could choose them, these are these exact ones you would have chosen.

2) I am grateful for friends who are like family. You know the ones: they love you on your bad days as well as on your good days; they know from your expression alone what you really are thinking, as well as why you aren’t saying it aloud; time together is easy – whether deep in conversation or in companionable silence, in the midst of adventure or in the middle of a long, trying work week; and fun and adventure are a given, whether they are planned or not!

3) For the long, hot, lazy days of summer. (Well, maybe not so much the hot part.) A more relaxed alarm clock and calendar, more time with children and friends, more trips to the beach, more extravagant (for us, anyway) trips to the cool darkness of the theater. Yet amazingly enough, the day will come when the long, hot days will make me welcome the change of time and season and the lack of schedule will make me ready for more routine. No matter what time of year it is, though, you can never have too much time with family and friends or too many trips to the beach and/or theater!

4) Good novels. How is it that I forgot how wonderful it is to get lost in a novel? I get so busy with reading and writing for work, the kids, maintaining (mostly) the house and yard, and the minutiae of everyday life that I neglect story and imagination. I just finished reading The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. by Nichole Bernier. Exquisite. I feel a blog about it coming on very soon. I just started Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank. It’s an interesting combination so far of bittersweet and giggle-worthy.

5) Writing and writers. I’ve found such joy and fulfillment in writing recently, even if currently my personal writing is “just” for my blog. I am making connections with other bloggers, many of them published authors, and am finding that what I feared was an elite, closed clique is actually a group made up of people who live and think an awful lot like me. Who would’ve thought?!

Start Off Ugly

I’ve been working along with the Fifteen Day Writer’s Challenge. The last few days have been action items, but not necessarily blogging items. Today’s challenge – Start Ugly – is something I know I can do. I’ve done it a lot.

begin

When I started out in ministry 13 years ago, I did a lot of things ugly. Like, for example, an embarrassing number of bad, boring sermons. I know because I kept them all. Every now and then I’ll shuffle through the old file folders (yes, all paper copies) and pull out one to see if it’s worth reworking. More often than not, it’s not. Some of my old sermons are horrible! Bless the hearts of those poor souls who put up with me while I found my voice and learned a few lessons about ministry in general. I’m sure I still write some horrible sermons sometimes, but I hope not nearly as often as before.

I made plenty of mistakes as a fledgling pastor. I still make plenty of mistakes, but usually I don’t make them as big or as ugly as I did back then. For instance, when it finally happened that I crossed a church member in my first call, I didn’t cross just any church member. I crossed the church matriarch. And she wasn’t just the church matriarch, but also the matriarch of one of the big family names in that very small town. Let me just say, I don’t recommend that move to anyone. Ever. It was an ugly misstep.

Lately, I’ve been getting back into the running routine. I’m an ugly runner. I don’t think it’s so much my running gait, although it’s not nearly as fast or graceful as that of, say, a gazelle. Or my 20-year-old running partner. I’m slow. Not as slow as I used to be, but still slow. When I exercise, my face gets red – Bob the Tomato red. And I sweat. Whoever said: “Southern women don’t sweat, they glisten” has never met me after a run. I’m Southern through and through (except for that slight trace of Yankee left in my accent from my family’s New York adventure when I was learning to talk) – and I sweat. Running for me is ugly – a slow, red, sweaty kind of ugly.

bob tomato

Sometimes my writing is ugly, too. When I write by hand, my handwriting gets more illegible with every word. When I type, I usually have a ton of typos. I’ve noticed that I frequently leave the “s” off the end of verbs that need them. “The” is often “teh.” The touch pad on my laptop is freaky sensitive, so sometimes I’ll be typing away and will go lines and lines before I realize I accidentally brushed the touch pad and moved the curser to the middle of a word three paragraphs up, inserting all those lines there. Aggravating!

crumpled

If only the ugly was in the handwriting and the typos! I usually have to write a long time – through the favorite author imitations, through my flaring emotions, through the snark and/or feeble attempts at brilliance or humor, through the mud and the muck of my brain – before I get anywhere close to what I really have to say. I will never forget the freedom I felt the first time I read in Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird about the normalcy and the need for sh*tty first drafts. Really? I’m not even supposed to be able to get it right the first time?! If the amazing Anne Lamott doesn’t get it right the first time (and she is amazing), then I sure don’t have to either.

So I start off ugly. Whether it’s learning something new (like I did in those early days of ministry), or starting up something I’ve let fall to the side  (like I did with running), or exploring life through words (like I do here on this blog) – I start off ugly. It’s my hope that with each lesson, each step, each word, I am getting better, a little bit at a time.

P.S. My friend Cathy warned me not to google images for “ugly.” I really should have listened. ~ shudder ~

I’m a Night Owl

night owl

Granny Beaty was a night owl, or so I’ve been told. She liked to stay up long after everyone else was tucked away in bed. They say she “piddled” – just messed around, doing her own thing. Granny, my great-grandmother, died before I was born. Still, I somehow managed to inherit her night owl, piddling tendencies. (And maybe a smidge of her stubbornness!)

When I still lived at home, my parents were for the most part able to overlook my nighttime piddling. I think I was usually pretty quiet about it, except for those summer nights when a mosquito got into my bedroom. I hate the high-pitched hum of mosquito wings! I would hunt those suckers down with a vengeance. Unfortunately, I have pretty bad aim. I never killed them on my first attempt. It usually took a number of “BAM, BAM, BAM” attacks before I was successful. And yeah, I think maybe I woke them up a few times.

On the other hand, I most definitely have not ever, ever been a morning person. I can get up and go early if I have to, but that doesn’t mean for a minute that I like it. I have friends who love early mornings. I can’t for the life of me figure out what they do at those ungodly hours! Sure, the sunrise is a beautiful thing. I just prefer to wait for the second showing at sunset.

My brain doesn’t wake up before 8 a.m. My body moves pretty well on automatic pilot, but I’m not sure I can form complete sentences before then. In my older teen years, I don’t think anyone in my family had much to say before our good-byes as we headed out the door in our respective directions. When Dad used to take me to school, we did have our silly mornings full of puns. I guess that was approaching 8 a.m., though.

Now my son is the only family member who wakes up ready to go. I think his mouth is moving even before his eyes are open. I beg him some mornings to please wait “just five more minutes” before bombarding me with all-the-things-he’s-thought-about-since-he-was-able-to-talk-to-me-before-bed-last-night-that-really-need-to-be-said-right-this-very-second-or-he-just-might-explode! Phew! His sisters and I are content to nod and grunt at each other until time to head out the door to go our respective directions.

So imagine my horror when I saw today’s 15 Day Writing Challenge.

The challenge

How do we turn something like belief into action? We don’t. Not yet, anyway. Instead, we marinate.

A wise man once said we are the sum of our conscious thoughts. In other words, we become what we fixate on.

So do just that: Take some time to dwell on the fact that you are a writer. Meditate on it; let it sink in. Write about it, if you want. Do whatever it takes. The important part is you believe it.

And just so you don’t think this is all esoteric, you’re going to do something radical tomorrow. You’re going to get up two hours early and write. If you usually get up at seven, get up at five. If five, then three. You get the idea. Don’t check your email or read blogs. Just write.

This is how you know you really believe something. Thinking and talking and tweeting about writing is one thing; actually doing it is another. So today, believe it; tomorrow, do it. (Don’t worry; I’ll be up with you.)

Until this happens, until you actually believe you are a writer, you’re only kidding yourself. And you’re not doing anybody any good with all this self-doubt. You’re a writer. Not because I say so, but because you do. Start believing it.

He’s kidding, right? This challenge is as hard as yesterday’s challenge, only in a different way. I’ve been mulling over this all day. What is magical about writing first thing in the morning? How is that different from writing late at night? Is setting aside a couple of hours to write after I put the kids to bed any different from stumbling out of bed in the wee hours of the morning to stare stupidly at a blank screen with the eternal “Duh….” echoing in my brain?

The fact is, I don’t really know. I’ve known several writers who do this. My friend (and long-lost cousin) Angie did this for awhile. I don’t know if she still does it. I have a sneaking suspicion that with precious child #3 in the family now, her early morning hours may be dedicated to other things for this season of life.

So will I try it? Honestly, I’m not sure. I truly feel I’m most creative late at night. I’m not as young as I used to be, so working late and getting up early don’t go together very well. So if my writing keeps me up until 11:30 or 12, then I feel like I’ve met the challenge. I’ll go to bed feeling a sense of accomplishment, and my brain will marinate the ideas I carry into sleep.

However, if on one of these nights I fail to be productive, I promise I’ll give the morning writing session a try. Just don’t hold your breath. I really am a night owl!

dont give a hoot

I Am a Writer

“I think I’ll just work on my book.”

That was my 8-year-old daughter’s response when I asked her what she was going to take to occupy herself while we were at the church office this afternoon. Her answer surprised me, but just a little. She’s always been my little reader/artist/writer.

“What’s the name of your book?”

Junie B. Jones Goes to Alaska. I’ve been working on it, but I’m not finished yet. It’s taking a long time. I’m gonna have to re-do it, too. This is my sloppy copy. It has lots of scratches in it. I’ll have to write it all over once I’m done.”

We talked a little longer about her writing project. Her plan is for her book to be ten chapters long. Each chapter will be seven pages. It’s okay if it’s full of mistakes right now. She will fix those later.

I was amazed at the grasp my young daughter instinctively has on the writing process. She isn’t at all timid about it. It doesn’t bother her that it will take her a long time. It doesn’t bother her that this first copy is a sloppy copy with lots of scratches in it. It doesn’t bother her that she will have to rewrite it. She isn’t concerned whether the topic of Junie B. Jones has been overdone, or whether Barbara Park (author of the real Junie B. Jones series) will write about Alaska before she does. I think my daughter is what they call “a writer.” I’m impressed.

I’ve been a closet writer for years. I’ve never pretended that I was good enough or interesting enough to share it. Anytime I’ve been “caught” writing and asked what I’m working on, I’d respond, “Oh nothing. Just drivel for my blog. Nobody reads it anyway.”

I’ve been shyly coming out of the closet as a writer, a little at a time, for about a year now. Baby step: a two day writing workshop. Baby step: a summer writing intensive. Baby step: joining a writer’s group. Baby step: sharing my blog with a new friend who happens to be an awesome writer. Baby step: creating a “blogok” group on Facebook – people I was comfortable sharing blog links with. Baby step: giving the link to my blog to my parents.

Cathy (Cathy’s Voice Now), my amazing writer friend, has been gently (mostly) nudging me to open up more. “When you’re ready,” she says, “I’ll share your links in some of my circles.” She has A LOT of circles. “I’m almost there,” I keep telling her. Almost.

I just completed the 2012 Wordcount Blogathon. The challenge was to post on your blog something every day in May. I did it. Traffic to my blog increased significantly (for me). I got in the habit of thinking more like a writer. When May was over, I got positively twitchy. What’s next?

Then I ran across Jeff Goins’ 15 Day Writing Challenge. I recently read Jeff’s newest book, You Are a Writer and loved it. So sure – why not? I joined the cozy little group of 835 other writers for the challenge.

Day One’s Challenge? The Declaration Every Writer Makes:

The challenge

So here’s what I want you to do today: Declare you’re a writer.

Not just to your wall or computer or notebook, but to an actual person or institution. Someone or something you’re scared of — this could be a person who might reject or judge you, a family member who may misunderstand you, or a publisher who could discredit you. But tell them and tell them now.

Do it with pride and boldness. Write about it, tweet it about, record a video if you want. The more outrageous it is, the more likely you are to believe. This is what we’re trying to do here: convince ourselves that we have the right to pick up the pen.

Uh oh.

Well . . . here it goes, folks:

I am a writer. Really. I write all the time and love it. I’m not a published author, although I would love to be one day. I haven’t told you before because of fear – that I’ll be judged, that you’ll see the real me and not like me, that I’m not good enough, that I have nothing to say. But hey – who cares? The word is out now, so the best I can do is my best and hope that somewhere along the line what I have to say will touch someone else who feels the same way about life.

i am a writer

There. I said it. And I’m about to say it again on Twitter. And the real biggie is that I’m about to say it on Facebook, too, and not just to my “blogok” list. Wish me luck. And courage – lots of courage.

 

Happy Dance Time!

Excuse me for just a minute while I do a happy dance . . .

snoopy 

This is my second year to participate in the WordCount Blogathon. Posting every day for 31 consecutive days is a challenge. Last year when I took on the challenge, I had no idea what to expect. This year, I almost didn’t participate because, well, I did know to expect. It is hard! The advantage to this year’s blogathon was having a good friend participating with me. Cathy (Cathy’s Voice Now) held me accountable, kept me motivated, gave me some great blog ideas, and even gave me a great big double dare – which I took! Thanks, Cathy!

Here are a few things I discovered in this year’s challenge:

1) The whole “butt in chair” approach to writing is what it takes. In order to have something to post for 31 days in a row, I had to make myself sit down every day – or almost every day, some days I wrote ahead and scheduled posts – and do the work of writing. And yes, it is work.

2) When I know I have to write sometime in the course of the day, it changes the way I think. My “zone out” time behind the wheel of the car becomes brainstorming time. I’ve pulled out my notebook more often to jot down ideas to explore later. (I say I won’t forget, but I always do!) When I read, I more readily notice what makes for good writing. I also notice what makes for not-so-good writing, too.

3) I “met” some great people. It has been fun to read a wide variety of writing on a crazy array of topics. It also has been encouraging to get more feedback from more people.

4) In searching for inspiration, I discovered Scavenger Hunt Sunday. Photography has always been an interest of mine. I love the challenge finding images to match the week’s words/phrases. I plan to continue with it, although I must say that this week’s list is hard!

5) What I thought would be the easiest theme post of the month – the Wordle – ended up being the hardest and the most time consuming. (Maybe if I had read and followed Michelle’s instructions from the beginning, it would have been different.) What I thought would be the hardest theme post of the month – haiku, because I’m really not a poet – ended up being the easiest. Go figure.

6) One of the biggest highlights was being included in the article featured on the Second Act blog. I felt honored to be included.

7) As satisfied and proud as I feel to have written every day for 31 days on my blog, I don’t think that daily posts will be the best way for me to continue to go. First, some days it is a real struggle to find interesting, relevant topics. I don’t want to put drivel out just to say I posted. Second, life gets crazy busy. Enough said about that. Third, when I put so much time and energy into the blog, my other projects suffer. There is only just so much time in a day. So I while I plan to continue the daily writing, not all of it will be blog posts. I will figure out a schedule and plan to stay very blog-active, but daily posts will probably end very soon – until next May!

I could keep on going, but seven feels like a good, complete number. Thanks to Michelle Rafter for setting this up and inviting us in! I hope we have the chance to do it again next year!

i did it

Just Go

There is a perfectionist living inside of me.

The perfectionist says not to hit the “post” button for my blog until I know every word is just right.

The perfectionist says not to talk about being a writer until I have the whole book plotted and outlined, and maybe even an agent and publisher in the wings.

The perfectionist says not to go running until I can run every single step of every single mile I attempt.

The perfectionist says not to pursue a relationship until my life is in order and my belly fat is gone.

The perfectionist says if I don’t listen, then everyone will see who I really am:  an amateur; a dreamer; out of shape; not all I should be.

But you know what? My blog won’t fall apart if it has a typo. At least my voice is being heard. There’s nothing wrong with being a dreamer, especially a dreamer with a plan. Yes, I’m out of shape; but with every step – walked or run – I’m getting stronger. I’m not perfect, but I have a lot to offer.

I don’t have to be perfect. I just have to be.

I don’t have to go fast. I just have to go.

Friday Five: Internet Connections

Jan (different Jan, but doesn’t she have a cool name?!) wrote over at RevGalBlogPals:

From Studio North blog

I have vaguely been hearing about the coming trend of people using mobile internet devices rather than desktop computers. Having four adult children, I see them using cell phones, laptops, tablets, ipods/iphones/ipads instead of the desktop computer, which I am using right now.

So I am asking you to answer the following questions about whatever device you most often use these days, first by telling us what you have:

1. Do you use social connections, like Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in or whatever else there is? Describe how you use it/these.

My social networks of choice are Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. (I tried Google+, but it never seemed to catch on.) Facebook is my tool to keep up with friends, acquaintances, and colleagues – both old and new. Twitter is my window into the world. I follow people from all over, from all walks of life, and with all kinds of different interests. I find great resources and ideas from listening to what people have to say. Pinterest is still a work in progress for me. It’s great for sparking creative ideas, but I haven’t quite figured out how to most effectively use it. It is a great tool if you’re ever bored. I tend to be a gatherer (i.e. lurker) on Twitter and Pinterest, although I am beginning to make some efforts to add to the conversations I find there.

2. Do you text on your cell phone? Work, friends, family?

I text more than I actually talk. I use text messages not just with friends and family, but also with work. I do have some friends and family members who detest texting, so real conversation hasn’t totally faded from my life.

3. Do you play any games? Which ones?

I don’t play games often. Once upon a time I got sucked into a few of the games on Facebook, but when I started having thoughts during meetings about how I needed to harvest my crops before they died, I realized I had a problem and quit cold turkey. The only game I have installed on my phone is Mahjong. I find that to be a good stress reliever every now and then.

4. How do you predominantly use the various electronic devices you possess?,

My smartphone is my lifeline (and sometimes my time-suck). I use it not just for communication (talk, text, and email), but also for reading (news, blogs, occasionally a Kindle book if I’ve left my Kindle behind), social networking (see above), organization (notes, calendar, task lists), and research (Google and Google Maps at my fingertips). On rare occasions, I will write using apps on my phone. I do not recommend that except under dire circumstances. My laptop is my traveling office and my writing companion. I dream wistfully about one day having a tablet of some sort. I’d love to figure out how it would enhance life!

5. How do you feel about blogging? Are you as involved in blogging as when you first started? What facilitates your blogging?

I love blogging. My blogging life has had its ebbs and flows, but it is one of my favorite forms of self-expression. Things have changed drastically since my first days of blogging. I am much more careful about what I write, especially as it might relate to my work. Blogging helps me clarify my thoughts and opinions. It makes me work to find ways to clearly express myself. It is a tool of humility when I throw something out there that is only half thought-through, especially when I receive feedback that lets me know I need to think a little deeper. It has helped me build confidence as a writer. Reading the blogs of others also widens my world – both in understanding my world and in building relationships with people I otherwise may never meet.

Bonus: Anything you want to add. You might like to discuss what helps you most in your vocation with internet connections.

For people who think that social media is detrimental to ministry practices, I would encourage them to think again. I have been able to build relationships through seemingly casual contacts on Facebook. Facebook is where you often find out what is really happening in people’s lives, things they often wouldn’t get around to telling you at church. Twitter is an excellent way to spread information and quotes/verses/words of encouragement. People who might ignore a phone call and would be mortified at a drop-in visit will often respond immediately to a text message. Passing along information or asking a quick question, especially with church leaders, can be done by text in a matter of seconds, where a phone call might end up taking 20 minutes. Yes, face-to-face and/or voice-to-voice contact is still of utmost importance, but social media can be a wonderful tool for ministry.

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