Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: lifelong learning

Unproductive?

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A Bad Example

The picture above is the perfect example of how I get so frustrated. I’m terrible at focus, doing one thing at a time. I’m angry my breakfast doesn’t get in my mouth…probably because I’m not left handed and should put everything else away and eat. I’m actually not reading two magazines at once. It’s just one was already open from last night. My phone is right there and I’m interrupted by texts from friends. And my journal…Lord help the poor soul that reads those when I’m gone. My son walked in and gave me a strange look. That’s when I realized what I was doing and when I told him to take a picture so I could post about my insanity!

I seriously wonder how I’ve made it this far in my life without getting completely lost. I guess if you don’t have an ultimate destination, you can’t really get lost no matter how far you wander…and my mind really wanders!

It seems to me that we’re all too busy. Whenever someone asks me what I did this morning, I usually talk about my morning routine. It’s taken me years to develop and it has really just evolved into more the past couple of years since my sons have come into young adulthood. Suddenly my days aren’t filled with laundry, food, and rides. I have more time for the other things I want to do, but what is it that I want to do?

I’ve felt a bit lost, wondering where to start looking for new things to fill my time, how to feel “productive”. I guess it all boils down to what I want, but then it always has.

When I got married, I wanted my home life to be my focus, not my career. I spent more time at home after work. And when my sons were born, I wanted my children to be my focus, so I spent more time with them instead of my job, my friends, and other things. As they grew and we decided we would homeschool, my focus changed to providing them with the support they’d need to experience and learn new things. These were all my choices. I didn’t have to. I could have spent more of my time at work. I could have decided that it was more important to have “me time” and gone out with friends. But I chose what I wanted. And I wanted a close family.

It all sounds so smooth and thought out when I write it like that but really it was a huge mess of daily adjustments and a metric crap ton of self-doubt.

What is it that I want now? What is my goal these days, to be a decent person, to love those around me, to write what I’m thinking and feeling and share it with you?

Sometimes I feel incredibly busy and overwhelmed, and then I look at other people’s lives and wonder why I can’t take on as much as they do. I know everyone has a different tolerance for how much they can put into a day or week. We’re all wired for something specific. The complication is finding out what works for us personally in a world that seems to think what works for one would work for anyone if they just “did it right.” We can’t spend our lives comparing ourselves to others. It gets us nowhere.

Then there are days and weeks that go by that leave me feeling so unproductive. What does that even mean?

Why do we worry so much about being productive? Some of us just get lucky and never get so behind that we have to quit and start over. Some of us make enough good choices to be able to not worry about the bad ones. Some of us had a decent start. And then there are the others, the unlucky, the slow learners, the left behind. What about them? Is your life worth nothing if you don’t produce anything tangible in the end? What happens if you don’t end up with a stable family, a place to live, a good career, or a thriving business? What if you make mistakes you can’t fix? It all seems like a game, one you can lose.

The truth is we all die in the end. We all lose eventually. Life is not a game to win in my opinion, it’s a movie to watch, a book to read, an experience. What if we just enjoyed that experience, no matter where it led? What if we stopped worrying about creating anything but ourselves? What if we allowed others to do the same? What would that look like?

It’s Friday, My Friends! Episode #8

So…what to rant about today…it’s Friday! The Friday post is here!

It’s been a nice week. The rain went away, so that made summer a bit more bearable…a small bit. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person in the world that hates summer, but I find joyful little things throughout the season anyway, like the fact that we are 1/3 through it and that yesterday it wasn’t cloudy in the basin, but a damp wind was blowing from the south in the morning and it was sweet, like a giant swamp cooler. It smelled nice and kept the morning cooler longer. I finally broke down and turned on the air conditioner after 1pm, when it was 88 degrees in the house. Does that mean I’m getting used to the desert? Am I becoming one of them? One of those freaks that says, “Hey! It’s only supposed be 90 today…let’s go for a walk!”

Thing I learned: #newskill I learned how to use Instagram to promote my blog. And I’ve gained a few followers there this week. Hopefully that might turn into a few readers as well!

Thing I’m reading: “The Last Days of the Late Great State of California” by Curt Gentry, given to me by a friend who loved it when he was in high school. It’s historical fiction, in a sense. The BIG ONE hit and California actually was knocked into the sea and lost forever (that’s the fiction part). The book chronicles what was going on in the state up until the earthquake (that’s the history part). It was written in 1968, so it focuses on the 20’s through the early 60’s and it’s just fascinating to read, mostly because it shows how similar and how different politics and society was back then. Downside? I’ve added several books to my reading list because of it. One about Berkeley and the protest. The other about the LA riots.

Thing I heard: Silence. I’m trying to spend a little more time in silence lately. I need less input for a bit, as you probably have noticed in my last few blog posts. I have started small with not playing the radio in the truck when I’m driving into town. It’s ten minutes of quiet time to think, a bit of meditation on the way to the grocery store. It’s helping a lot.

Thing I want to do: Spend a weekend alone with my sweet husband. I like that guy!

Picture of the week:

This kid gets us to notice things. The sunset was nice so he went outside and sat on the tailgate to watch. I followed. Then Dad. Then his brother and his girlfriend. We sat out there laughing for half an hour. We texted the neighbor and harassed him since we could see him out on his driveway. Hilarity ensued. It was nice way to end the day.

Have a beautiful August weekend everyone!

It’s Friday, My Friends – Episode #7

Day five of the new morning routine. Can she keep it up? I think so, yes.

This week began my least favorite part of living in the desert, Monsoon Season. We may not get much rain out here, but when we do, it’s all at once in the form of large and sudden thunderstorms. It’s actually quite beautiful. Watching the clouds gather and billow up in the southeast, seeing them darken and lower and push further into the desert is a sight to behold. The wind starts to blow, bringing with it the cooler temperatures and the smell of wet creosote. Thunder rolls across the desert in a way you can’t hear anywhere else. A few pattering drops of rain begin to fall and then, CRASH, it all falls at once, dashing across the rocks in the higher hills and racing to lower washes taking everything with it. If you’re curious what it really looks like, check out this video from a couple years ago. Notice the blue sky above? What’s amazing to me is how localized these storms are. One can pass us right by and not leave a drop on my street, but completely drown the next. Watching a storm let loose on the next neighborhood is wild.

Monsoons season is pretty, but the heat and humidity doesn’t agree with me and I can get quite grumpy. During this time of year I tend to be a little more touchy and intolerant, so I have learned to retreat as much as possible. This past week I’ve had to step back from social media just a bit, a spiritual maintenance period. I just need a little less public input. And my family is a little extra sweet to me because they know I’m not comfortable or at my best.

What’s funnier is that I get angry at myself for being such a baby about the heat! The audacity of having to adjust my activities due to weather. It’s just unreasonable. I have things to do. But then, I wonder, wouldn’t it be nice to allow myself to go with the flow of the seasons, since I can? Yard work can go to the way side during the hottest months. Housework can be done early in the day and afternoons could be better spent reading in front of a fan. And I do have a nice air conditioned truck to be in when I go to do the grocery shopping. What is my problem? Refocus and relax my death grip. I am not drowning in humidity after all. Take a deep breath. And watch the storm roll in and wash over us.

Thing I Learned: There are other writers out there struggling with what to write about, or what it is that they write about. A recurring theme in my life has been…what the hell am I doing? I go through a constant cycle of finding a purpose, running with it, finding a hurdle, and then questioning why I started in the first place. Guess what? I’m not alone there. Every thinking person does this. The trick is to not get stuck on the down side, to find the purpose again or a new one more quickly and get on with running with it. I’m notorious for keeping so busy that I can’t think, so some deliberate down time really helps my frame of mind. The past few months I’ve been trying to build time into my day for reflection and am working on doing that more and more. It’s ok not to be busy. Sitting in the yard, doing the dishes quietly, walking around the neighborhood alone or with friends are great ways to jump start my philosophical motor in a positive direction. I need more of that. I’m not healthy when I’m overly busy.

Thing I’m Reading: “Following Muhammad: Rethinking Islam in the Contemporary World” by Carl W. Ernst was recommended as a good start to getting a basic understanding of Islam from the book “Religious Literacy” by Stephan Prothero. I’m devouring this book. Some books on religion are hard to read. They are either over-complicated or over-simplified and condescending and they don’t help me understand the religion or culture in a positive way. This book is very good and I highly recommend it.

“My assumption throughout this book is that every claim about religion needs to be examined critically for its political implications.”

“…governments that wish to eradicate dissent find it convenient to label their opponents as religious fanatics; this relieves governments of the responsibility to deal with legitimate grievances, because their opponents may be dismissed as irrational and incapable of reason.”

These two quotes from the first chapter of the book made me sit up and listen closely to what he has to say. I’m already two-thirds of the way through the book and can’t wait to read the next one on my list about Islam.

Thing I Heard: In my driving adventures this week (something I really need to limit, but then…podcast time) I heard two amazing interviews. The first was Tim Ferriss’ interview with Seth Godin from 2016. Seth Godin had some wonderful and encouraging words that seemed to be just what I needed to hear this week. I listened to it on my way to San Diego and it was so good that I listened to it again on the way home. I obviously can’t take notes while I’m driving, so my hope was that if I listened to it again maybe more of it would sink in. I added one of his books to my Amazon Wish List when I got home and it’s already on its way to my house!

The second was on the Creative Non-Fiction Podcast. Jenny Odell, an author I’d never heard of before now and who’s book is at this minute also on its way to my house, was interviewed on the podcast and I loved every minute. Her creative process resonated with me and boosted my confidence. I love finding that I’m not alone in the universe, that I do fit in just fine here on earth.

Thing I Want to Do: Go to a writer’s conference or workshop this year! I’ve been looking at these for a while now, but when I picture myself there my thoughts take on their usual insecure tone and talk back to me in their snarky way. “It’d be a waste of money. You’re not even a real writer. You don’t even have a college education. Who do you think you are?” Fuck that. I have a plan! I’ll find one or two people that want to go with me, a backup team, or at least a wingman, and go for it. I just need a little emotional support to show up to one of these things. They look fascinating and I can’t wait. In the mean time, I’ll keep up my new daily writing schedule so that when I do go I’ll have something to present as my work!

Picture of the week: The storm in Twentynine Palms, from my house thirty miles away!

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