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Somedays You Just Show Up: Or Why I Haven’t Been Writing

On October 1 I started a 31 day writing challenge. It was exhilarating. I had my most popular post ever. I was participating in a great blogging community, and learning new things about blogging and writing every day. I knew that I had some busy days coming up – traveling, going out of town, and I had already granted myself grace that I would not be able to write every day. Things got busy, and I was able to write one post in the middle of things. And then I hit a wall. I wasn’t only finding myself too busy to write, I was AVOIDING writing.

Today, I told my husband that I’ve been rebelling against myself. I know I need to start writing again, and the best way I know to sort through all of the thoughts swirling in my head is to write about it. My heart is in turmoil, life continues to happen, and rather than dealing with things, I am just letting them swirl in my head and heart, which does nothing to help. So here, in no particular order, are the things that are on my heart.

I’m showing up, and that is about the best I can do today.

1. I loved the writing challenge, but it was a lot of pressure. Especially because as I was writing about finding balance, challenging myself to write every day was actually pushing things out of balance because:

a) time on Facebook takes away from my quiet and contemplative time, and one of the things I had been looking forward to was getting off of Facebook for a while. However, one of the best parts of the challenge was connecting with others on the FB site, and publicizing my blog on FB

b) I started a series and didn’t want to finish it. I have one more part to the series, and then I can move on to what is really on my heart. My last part of “Finding Community” was about the importance of fun in friendship, and I was finding the whole thing boring, and not fun at all to write about.

b) I had my most viewed post ever. Going from about 20-50 views a day to over 600 in one day was encouraging, but then I started watching stats – which is something I did NOT want to do. I don’t want to have to analyze and over-edit every post. I don’t want to care about word counts. I don’t want to watch new views and visitors. I just want to write to myself and anyone who happens to decide to walk with me. (Like I said, I have an issue with balance – I’m a recovering all-or-nothing type of person.)

2. I was out of town having fun with friends at Disneyland, and then at a hospice and palliative care conference. Not excuses, just my truth. I did not want to take time out of having fun with my friends, or take time away from learning OR from the beautiful solitude and relaxation of Lake Chelan, where the conference was held.

Campbell Resort at Lake Chelan, Washington by Kristin Meador

Campbell Resort at Lake Chelan, Washington by Kristin Meador

3. I really wanted to watch Doctor Who and the season premiere of the Walking Dead. No apologies. So there.

4. There are some possible changes coming up in my life – and the changes could be major. (Jobs, homes, kids, finances – a lot of possibilities brewing)

5. I miss my kids. My oldest moved into his own home this fall, my youngest is 3,000 miles away, and my middle son is home but never here. It’s all good – they’re supposed to fly, right? But my nest is feeling big and empty. And my sweet young friend who lives with us is getting married in less than a month, and I am going to miss her desperately.

6. I spent this afternoon watching a funeral on live stream. A friend of the family died this week. She was 37 years old.  She had fought this amazing fight against a brain tumor for ten years. TEN YEARS. This was the kind of story I used to encourage others who were fighting cancer, and the kind of story that encouraged me as a hospice nurse. She had a positive attitude, researched alternative treatments, and loved and trusted Jesus all throughout this journey. This week her story changed, and she finished her race valiantly.

I think that the grief for her loss, for her husband and two young sons who are left behind, and for her brother and mama and papa who walked this path with her has hit me more than I anticipated. My heart is broken for all of them.

And I am reminded (which I know as a hospice nurse) that grief is cumulative. I wrote about this on my hospice blog, The H Word, in an essay called “Vicarious Trauma: When Your Heart Can’t Hold Any More Stories“.

I think about my own sister, who was killed in a car accident at the age of 19 almost 27 years ago. I think about the babies I lost years ago through miscarriage. I think about all of the patients I have lost over the past ten years. I have had three close friends diagnosed with cancer in three years. Grief upon grief, story upon story, they never leave you.

And sometimes the grief leaks out and takes me by surprise.

Photo credit: sethoscope creative commons

Photo credit: sethoscope creative commons

7. Another thing I am grieving is a broken relationship that needs mending. My heart is struggling between being healthy and forgiving and loving and setting boundaries versus feeling unsafe or allowing myself to continue to be victimized. What is the most loving thing? As I listened to the funeral today, one of the young woman’s friends spoke about the importance, even during the worst of times, of remaining “soft and obedient”. I don’t remember the exact words, but my prayer today is this:

How can I be a loving, soft, brave, and obedient warrior?

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SQUIRREL! Are You Chasing Distractions?

On my search for balance in my life, I found that there are multiple areas out of balance, and it’s hard to know where to start. So I asked myself – WHAT IS ‘IN MY FACE’ THE MOST? What are those things in my life that are distracting me from the most important work I should be doing – finding balance?

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Just like the distractable dog, Dug, in the Disney-Pixar movie ‘UP’, I  often end up chasing squirrels.  Squirrels are distractions, or for me, anything that is moving or shiny, or seemingly more fun or interesting than the task at hand. (Or just not as boring.)  Please notice that I am not saying that I am just distracted by these things, I am actually chasing these distractions.

Let me explain: When I am distracted by something, it might look like this: I’m in the middle of a conversation and I get a phone call. I’m reading a book and the dog wants to go outside. I become distracted by those things.

The issue I am talking about is much bigger that just being distracted by something. I can deal with that in a matter of a few minutes. The real problems are the distractions that I’m chasing – that I purposely CHOOSE to run after. The squirrels that I’m chasing may be different from the ones you choose to chase. Those things that keep me from my goal for hours at a time.

Here are some questions that help me to determine the distractions in my life:

  1. What do I choose to do during my unproductive time, or my down time?
  2. What interrupts or prohibits me from starting important projects?
  3. What do I do when I want to avoid a chore or project?
  4. What do I do when I want to ‘escape’?
  5. What activities in my life might sometimes be described as a waste of time?

First let me say that just because you enjoy doing something on your ‘down time’, or as an escape, does not mean that it is necessarily a bad thing. But I know myself. In my first post about my search for balance, I wrote about my tendency for all-or-nothing. For instance, some people might enjoy reading a book to relax during their down time. However, my natural tendency is to read a book from cover to cover, and ignore anything else I should be doing. Sometimes the ‘good’ things we chase are distracting us from the BEST things.

So as I look at the questions above, it’s really not a mystery. I think each of us knows what distractions we chase that may be causing some imbalance in our lives. But I’m going to go ahead and answer each of these questions – maybe I’ll learn something new.

  1. What do I choose to do during my ‘unproductive’ time, or my ‘down time’?  Watch tv, binge watch something on Netflix, read or post to Facebook, eat, sleep, go to happy hour with friends, go on internet rabbit chases into the wee hours of the night (searching or researching something that lasts for hours but goes nowhere), go on a blog reading spree
  2. What interrupts or prohibits me from starting important projects? see above
  3. What do I do when I want to avoid a chore or project? see above
  4. What do I do when I want to ‘escape’? see above, plus plan a trip or go to Disneyland
  5. What activities in my life might sometimes be described as a waste of time? all of the above

Okay, so no surprises – I didn’t identify anything new. I know that each of these areas are distracting me from healthy balance in my life, and I also know that many of these are out of balance in and of themselves. All of these activities are acceptable, especially in moderation. I don’t do moderation. At least not yet.

In honor of my new search for balance, I’m stopping here. I would love to stay up for hours and dissect each distraction, looking at the positive and negative aspects of each, and what would balance look like in each of these areas. Black-and-white thinking: pros and cons, good and bad labels, all-or-nothing. I can’t tell you how difficult it is for me to go to bed without making a table and categorizing each distraction.

(And dammit. I just remembered that I wanted to write about coherent breathing first. I wrote about distractions, and now I’ll be accountable to do something about them.)  Ah well, each in it’s place. Good night for now.

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony. Thomas Merton