31 Days: Being OK with Me

Being OK with Me.

I linked up at The Nesting Place for the annual 31 Days series. I attempted two 31 Days series, which was a very unrealistic goal. I’ve turned this into an on-going series I will contribute to for several months. Thank you for your grace.

Being OK with Me. (The introduction.)

A Disclaimer

Scrubbing the Deck

A Quote

A Theme Song

Being OK in this Culture

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I am a Writer.

I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: You Are A Writer’ held by Positive Writer.

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It happened just a few weeks ago. I received an email from someone I was working with for a church committee. He wrote an article for the church newsletter I put together, and it needed to be condensed to also fit in the church bulletin. I offered to help. He liked my work and said in his email, “You should be a writer!”

I smiled and said to myself, “That’s because I am a writer!” And that was it! The first time I actually called myself a writer. It wasn’t heard outside my own head, but it has always been my head that needed to hear it most.

You would think someone with a degree in journalism, who blogs at three sites, would have called herself a writer years ago, but that hasn’t been the case. I was a “reporter” and “a person who sometimes writes,” but the phrase “I am a writer” was not in my vocabulary.

I’ve written before about my battle with words, how they swirl in my head and beg to be released from the prison in my brain. I’ve written before about why I didn’t call myself a writer, because I was too random about writing in this space. I never called myself a writer, even though I was writing.

I remember one summer as a kid when my brother and I made a newsletter talking about what was happening in our neighborhood. The summer after my freshman year of college, I sent a cheesy form letter to my college friends, asking about their summers. They all replied, and I published stories in a newsletter about what everyone was up to. (I mailed it out via snail mail, of course, since that was before it was common to have reliable internet access in your home.) My first job after graduating from college was with a news agency, and I gradually did more and more writing and even got some stories with “writer” behind my byline. When I left that job, my editor gave me a pen. “Keep writing,” she said. I’ve been writing and editing my church newsletter for nearly 13 years. Yet, if someone asked me if I was a writer, I hemmed and hawed and stuttered. “Well, sometimes I like to write,” I’d say.

I know I’m not alone in this battle to call oneself a writer. It seems a similar story for anyone who delves into the creative life, whether it be painting, sculpting or stringing together words. If you are a teacher, you teach people. If you are a plumber, you fix pipes. If you are a writer, you write. Right? It shouldn’t matter where or how often or if you’ve been published or paid.

Maybe I just needed more time to figure myself out. Maybe I needed the experience of writing regularly, which I have this year over at The Journey. Maybe I was afraid of admitting the truth because I don’t know where it will lead.

Whatever the issue, I’m over it. I’ve made the declaration, and I’m probably diving into deeper battles. But at least one thing is clear now:  I am a writer.

 

 

On Not Finishing 31 Days

I’ve been reading many things reflecting on the past year and setting goals for the new one, but I have some unfinished business to attend to before doing that myself. It seems my 31 Days to Change One Habit got stuck on Day 17.

I debated participating in the 31 Days series for numerous reasons. I wasn’t sure I had enough content to write for a whole month, and I was certain I would not have enough time to write. I forged ahead anyway, telling myself that I was making lame excuses.

I did carry through with my challenge of changing my online habits for the month of October. I learned a lot about how I waste time online and how to use my time better. I don’t feel as addicted to checking Facebook and reading blogs. As we climb out of the holiday season and return to our normal routines, I plan to re-establish better online habits.

I learned a lot more about myself during the month of October, though, that I wasn’t expecting. I realized I don’t enjoy writing “how-to” posts. I once envisioned this blog having more “how-to” posts, but it’s really not my thing. I much prefer to write about things that happen in life that help me understand another area of life, give me a different picture of God, or teach me some life lesson. There are hundreds of people who write about changing habits. There is only one person who can write about my life experiences.

A funny thing happened as I was attempting to write about how to change a habit: I had dozens of other things pop into my mind that I wanted to write about. But, because I was committed (at least initially) to writing on one topic for 31 days, I did not allow myself to write about those other things. It reminded me that writing begets writing. When I attempt to write daily, it is like throwing logs on the fire. When I’m random about writing, it’s like starting a fire with a piece of flint and straw. Sure, it’s possible, but it takes a lot of effort to get a fire started. Once the fire gets started, it’s time to pick up the kids from school or make dinner or go to bed. I’m still not sure how to fit writing into my daily life, but I’m making progress, and that’s encouraging.

So, while I failed to finish the 31 Day series during October, I feel like it was not a complete loss. I still learned a lot, even if it was not what I anticipated.

 

Day 27: Focus

I was out doing my run/walk routine one morning last fall. It was a Saturday, and it wasn’t dark. I went down a long stretch of street, past the halfway point and rounded the bend to head back home.

As I came back up the same street, I noticed a flurry of activity around a house. There was a garage sale, which meant extra people and cars on the road. I was quite surprised that I hadn’t noticed the sale when I went by the first time. I was on the other side of the street, but you would think I would have noticed the activity on the street.

I realized I was so focused on doing my routine, that I had failed to see what was going on around me. I have to wonder if sometimes I get so focused on the task at hand that I miss opportunities to be interrupted and see something God might want me to see.

Missing a garage sale is no big deal. I mean, I’m all for a good garage sale, but I wouldn’t have stopped my run for this particular sale. I do tend to be task-oriented, though, and wonder how many times I’ve missed showing kindness to someone, a listening ear, a helping hand. Jesus was so good at that. He let people interrupt Him. He was not so focused on His tasks to overlook the hurt, the sick, the blind or the needy.

In fact, when asked how one could gain eternal life, Jesus told the story of people passing by a man in need. The only person to stop and help was considered an outcast in society.

Let’s have passion and focus for the tasks at hand. And let’s not forget to look around, to notice and be interrupted.

Day 12: Running in the Dark

Getting up early to run in the fall in my neck of the world means it is dark outside. Not dark enough to feel like night, but not light enough to feel like I should be awake. Or running.

As I’ve said before, I’m not really a morning person. (And using the word “really” in that sentence was really not necessary.) Getting up to run in darkness was not helping my cause.

Until I ran a little bit later on a Saturday morning when it was light. And more people were out and about. And I felt like the entire neighborhood was peering out front windows, from behind curtains and shades, and watching me run.

Then, I was quite content to run in the dark. (And I considered purchasing a treadmill and placing it in our front entryway — the only location in our house where one could fit — cause no one would think that was weird! ;))

When you are learning to do something new, and feeling clumsy and unsure and a little bit ridiculous, it’s easy to be overtaken by the feeling that the whole world is watching. And not just watching, but staring and judging and thinking you are weird. It feels safer to hide or to run in the dark.

But the truth is, quite frankly, most people have better things to do than peek out their windows and think you are weird. And even if someone does think you are weird, does that really matter?

And I need to replace all of the “yous” in the previous sentences with an “I” because thinking about what other people think of me is something I’d like to do less.

What about you? Do you have some passion that you do in the dark? Can you muster the courage and risk stepping outside on a Saturday morning in front of the whole neighborhood?

Day 11: Passion

On Saturday morning I went for a short run. On my way back home I saw a guy I know who was running. My face was hot and sweat was dripping down. He looked like his run wasn’t phasing him at all.

I went home, had some breakfast, took a shower and then headed to my church. I waited with some other ladies as we got ready to depart for a retreat. On the way to our retreat location guess who I saw? The same guy was still running. It was at least an hour later, and we were on the opposite side of town. I could hardly believe it.

On Monday, I read about a woman who completed the Chicago marathon and later gave birth to her full-term baby. I really can’t imagine running a marathon, let alone doing it while being nine months pregnant. She did a running/walking combination, but still, it was a marathon.

The more I thought about these two things, the more I felt like my little running gig was kind of a joke.

But then I read Emily Freeman’s post yesterday. She’s writing 31 Days to Change the World. (It’s good stuff. You should check it out.) Her post was about finding your passion. And not only that, but being OK with other people having different passions.

And that was just what I needed to hear. Running is not my passion. And it probably never will be. It’s been a challenge and a good way to get some exercise. And it has also given me plenty of ideas for what I do really enjoy: writing about what I learn in this life I live.