Where I Put My Energy

If I were to divide my day into percentages of where I put my energy, I might sound like a maid or a cook on the weekends, and I’d be a receptionist/admin during the week.  That’s what is real for me right now.  I have a family of six to tend to and a full-time job come weekdays.

It’s the other moments, though, that I have a choice over how to spend my energy.  Some things have to be done, but I also have an inner child to indulge, a gift to cultivate, a calling to follow.  Some things can’t be ignored.

So on snow days like this, I give thanks that I have the opportunity to catch up on laundry and housework, making sure the children are bathing.  During last week’s snow days, I got caught up on some (not all) of my volunteer tasks.

I’ve also been doing some of the other things, the things I do for me.  Like reading.  Blogging.  Cleaning up and clearing out some things that have been cluttered.  Spending time with husband.  Did I mention reading?  Reading is a stimulus to me to write.  I even chose not to finish a book because it wasn’t doing anything for me.  I even got rid of half of my fabric stash because I don’t have time to create several pieced quilts.  My time is precious.  Every moment counts.  Do the things I surround myself with contribute to a positive energy?  Do I spend my time and energy wisely?

If I looked at my “free” time, did I spend it writing or cultivating my writing craft?  If not, then can I honestly call myself a writer?  This is no small pondering; this is serious.

Leave it to almost two feet of snow to cave me in with my thoughts and the freedom to choose how I will spend the day and night.  Who will I choose to be in any given moment?

Where do you put your energy, and what does it say about you?

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There is Enough

There is enough . . . if we share.  It’s not just a lesson to the kids when they think — when they know — that they don’t have exactly what a sibling or a classmate has.  As if they didn’t have enough of their own.  There are plenty of toys.  There is plenty of food.

Unless you are deprived of something, unless others are not willing to share or have the authority or audacity to take some thing away from you, don’t you have enough?

The seemingly homeless man on the side of the road held a sign.

“I have EVERYTHING I need except money.  Do you have the COURAGE to give?”

As a matter of fact, I happen to have some dollar coins from our visit to the amusement park last week.  Let me share some of our abundance.  Let me ask him where he lives.  Let me hear that he does indeed live around here; that he thinks this is a nice place to live.  As I agree with him, I look directly into his eyes, smiling yet wondering how this could be a lovely place to live if he’s standing on the side of the off-ramp asking for money.  He did say he has everything else he needs.  Money isn’t everything.

Visiting a dying friend, before I took my leave, I said, “Love to you, my friend.”  Drugged as she was, she half-laughed.  “You said love.  How can you  . . . ”  Her voice trailed off.  I understand.  We’re not close friends.  My coming to her is largely in part of a pastoral visit, but in my visits to her, sincerity wins over any sense of obligation.  “I try to share my love with everyone,” I tell her gently.  “It’s part of our responsibility in this life to share God’s love with one another.  You are my sister.”  Eyes closed, she smiled subtly.

We do not see reality the same as one another.  Our perspectives and interpretations are different.  Ultimately, there is one Earth.  One Source.  Our time here is too precious to live in fear, in a sense of lack.

What if we believed we had everything we need.  What if we made sure that we all had everything we needed?  Sure, take care of you and yours, but where does your responsibility end?  Is there a limit to abundance?  I don’t think so.

I only hope I can live into the dream of everyone having everything they need.  Enough to live.  Enough love.  Enough is enough, gently said.

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A Little More Fuss

I know the woman in the grocery store pushing the cart with the child in the top seat.  I have soft terry pants like that, and though I can’t tell from this distance, I wonder if her old sweatshirt is getting holes at the cuffs and seams like mine, aging from all the washes.  I’ve been this woman.

In another aisle I pass the woman carrying a couple of items in her arms.  She breezes by with a fragrance sophisticated and richly feminine.  She looks like she just came from an executive meeting, winning everyone with her charm.  Could she be as brilliant as she is beautiful?  I can only hope to be this woman.

What being an out-of-the-home working mom has taught me is that I can put forth a little more effort and feel tremendously different.  If I feel different, then how differently will others perceive me?

I style my growing hair.  (I do happen to have rollers from a post-partum drug-store visit for a massive amount of beauty supplies after our third child.)  I wear mascara along with my other makeup.  Occasionally I wear contacts.  I now have a whole wardrobe that can hang-dry only, including many pairs of knee-highs.  I bought a pair of boots (but do not plan to buy “skinny” jeans or “jeggings”).

Doing these small things, putting forth a little more fuss at the beginning of the day, reminds me that I am worth a little extra effort.  I am valuable, and I don’t mind if others appreciate me, too.  None of us really want to be invisible, do we?

Some days warrant the yoga/pajama garb, to be sure, but every day deserves a simple little beauty routine.  Simple can mean lipgloss and earrings or curled hair and a dress.

Beauty is simple by nature, isn’t it?

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Do a Writer a Favor: Buy a Book!

I had the immense pleasure this past weekend of attending the Celebration of Books event made possible by The Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers.  Needless to say, getting to meet Sue Monk Kidd and Michael Cunningham was amazing.  Listening to Rita Dove read her poetry was spell-binding, and there were so many more wonderful authors there!  Naturally, the inspiration and energy to write ensued after realizing how many of us there really are, published or not.

During one of the breakout sessions, a literary agent from New York, one anyone would be thrilled to have as her agent, shared her soapbox.  Sure, the publishing industry right now is experiencing the pains of change.  Of course the economy is tough.  But if you’re a writer, stick to your craft.  Keep writing.  And the best thing you can do?

Buy books.

Don’t expect a bookstore to work with you and carry your written and published work if you’ve never set foot in their store as a paying customer.  Don’t expect monetary compensation for your work if you’ve never put your money where your passion is.

This hit home with me, as we have the reins pulled tight on the family budget.  The library is our best resource.  Then I realized, however, that we at least buy a book a month.  And we certainly contribute financially to the library with our late fees.  I bought one book at the event and brought two others with me.  What I truly realized is that I don’t buy all the books I want to.  I want to buy lots of books, support as many authors as I can, be surrounded by shelves of stories, adventures and knowledge (preferably in alphabetical order by genre, thank you).

I’m not doing too badly, I assure myself.  Moderation is key.  A book a month is better than nothing.  Amazon might be our new library.  If we don’t buy directly from the publisher or our local bookstore, Amazon is our next best thing.  I do think, however, that the next step is making good friends with the local bookstore.  I do love that place.

I confess.  I am a writer, and I *heart* books!

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Crazy Woman

Aren’t we supposed to eat whatever we want, sleep as long as we like, dress however we want to?  Maybe I need to refresh my memory as to what the feminist movement was all about.

Last night I found myself vacuuming at 9:30pm.  I couldn’t help it.  Thankfully the kids were in bed, and I just hoped that they might still have enough of their babyhood left that somehow the vacuum would be a soothing lullaby at best, at least a deep background noise.  It didn’t phase them.

But what kind of woman was I to be running around the house, completely on empty, making sure the dishes got done (or at least finished by husband), pants ironed for the morrow, and floors swept and vacuumed?  Then, when it seemed like I couldn’t possibly do more, a commitment raised its hand, and I had to answer.  It’s writing after all.  I can do it.

So, I’ve decided I may be a crazy woman.  Yes, I have a weird obsession with wanting to have a clean house (at least on some standards).  Lord knows my house wouldn’t pass a sanitation or white glove test.  Fly Lady was onto something when she suggests making sure you keep a clean sink.  Not to worry, though; I don’t care what other people’s houses look like.

I’m on Day 2 of this 5:30 am writing adventure.  Along with this post, I’ve also written a brief article, thanks to aforementioned commitment.  Again, Lord knows I’m tired.  Somehow I’m given the energy to do what I find needs to be done.  I even managed an hour body sculpting workout yesterday . . . and making a casserole for dinner.

Even working full-time I’m managing to talk to my friends (a little bit), let my children, husband and home know I love them, and take care of myself.  It’s exhausting and tremendously rewarding.  It sounds crazy, juggling so much, and I just know it wouldn’t be possible if I weren’t also running with grace and blessing.

If we truly think about all we do, we might find that we’re not crazy.  We are fueled by passion.  If our intentions are good, we are tapped into a greater energy than we ever thought possible.  Of course days come when we will or want to sleep until 10am, if we are so lucky, but we can accept it as a gift of renewal and carry on, continuing to move forward with love.

I may seem like a crazy woman at times, to others and to myself.  More importantly, I am a blessed woman.  If you’re reading this, I’m certain you are blessed, too.

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Another Chapter

I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship.

~Louisa May Alcott

This blessed life I live continues to evolve daily, guided by necessity mostly, as most decisions we make are.  Thus, I join the millions of women who add full-time employment to their daily round.  Now, I will receive some monetary compensation for my efforts and begin to build my professional portfolio.

I refuse to think of myself as selling out, settling, giving up, compromising, etc.  Rather, I accept this as an opportunity to understand another dimension of life.  When a working mother says she’s tired, you have to have experienced her level of exhaustion to understand.  Similarly, it’s helpful to be a stay-at-home mom to know what it’s like to work that full-time job without monetary compensation for at least a decade.

Also, I can’t help but feeling that there is a reason for all this, besides earning money to pay off debt.  Patience is an ongoing lesson for me.  As I wait, though, I continue learn.  Every day I hear another story, discover something new.  Another perspective is revealed, maybe even a Truth.  So many opportunities are before me now that might not have been there before.  Each day presents another chance to experience life, if I choose to be open to it and grow with and from it.

Experience.  Is it not what life is all about?  I also choose for my experience to be grounded in compassion, and I think that will make all the difference.

I refuse to believe that trading recipes is silly.  Tunafish casserole is at least as real as trading corporate stock. ~Barbara Harrison

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Channeling the Flow

I love visualizing Spirit as water.  The rich symbolism never fails to make apparent a new way Spirit flows in and through my life and the world around me.  If only I am aware.

Here of late, there’s been a little too much water for my taste.  A mysterious leak somewhere resulted in an extravagant water bill, creeping up at first then holding steady at outrageous for a couple of months till we had to call in the professional.  A couple of little holes spewing out 600 gallons a day, average.  Plumbers are not cheap and for good reason, but they’re not always covered by insurance.  Our loss.

Another mysterious appearance of water damage in our master bath.  Definitely mold.  Not definitely covered by insurance.  We’ll probably fix it with some elbow grease, removal of sheetrock and some Kilz.  Hopefully the water will not reappear, and the mold, too.

Then there’s the flash flooding at the Albert Pike rec area in the southwest part of the state.   I don’t know these people any more than I knew the victims in Haiti.  For some reason, though, the cries in the night leave a vivid impression.  Maybe it’s the water.  Maybe it’s the vulnerable image of people surrounded by the sheer force of nature, not just in water but by the trees and hills.  Maybe it’s because that could have been my family out having a good time just getting away.  Maybe it’s the reality of the fact that no one deserves that, to watch a child or family member swept away.  The reality is that this happens often.  Helplessness is part of our suffering, isn’t it?

A friend and I decided to pick back up a book that we put down for a while.  Thinking about the title, Finding Water, I said, “The last thing I want to do right now is find more water!”

So it seems to be that there’s too much water in my life right now.  I’m definitely not in the desert; I feel like I could be swept away.  The resources around me aren’t being used the most efficiently, and while there seems to be waste, there also seems to be not enough of the right things.  We’re not a family that usually has $1,000 extra laying around (though every family should be!).

I take it as a directive to find how the water flows in my life, where Spirit is moving, and how efficiently I’m channeling this flow.  There is much here, and when given obvious opportunities, I feel like I’m channeling well.  It’s the every-moment opportunities I’m likely to miss.  It’s the things that are harder to do that I feel resistant to — like putting a book together, making pottery, sewing clothes, etc.  We all have gifts that we don’t fully tap into for risk of . . . succeeding?  being held responsible?  fear of failure? (insert your own hold-up here)?

I pray that none of us get overwhelmed by an abundance of Spirit.  May we all be so blessed, and may we all be granted the wisdom of how best to participate in the creation of our world, channeling the flow so well that it appears effortless.   I won’t always understand why things happen the way they do.  I won’t always be able to get out of my selfhood.  But I trust that my faith will help keep me afloat or at least help pull me back to the surface.

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This Year’s Mantras

mantra (per Merriam-Webster):
Etymology: Sanskrit, sacred counsel, formula, from manyate he thinks; akin to Latin mens mind — more at mind
Date: 1795
: a mystical formula of invocation or incantation (as in Hinduism)

2010 could probably use some sacred counsel, thought and incantation.  In fact, writer/blogger Seth Godin says two of the most prominent themes for this decade are change and frustration.  Either we can embrace the flow of change in our daily lives, particularly with how society embraces new technologies, social media, etc., or we can be frustrated (particularly if we’re elderly) with all that is not working or going for us.  We need to be careful what our mindset is, determine whether we want to optimistically embrace each day (even cautiously so), or if we want to cling to our past, our wants and our own self-interest.
I have a couple of friends for whom mantras are a part of their life.  For one, the simple yet profound “Om” can be found sprinkled through the day, spoken or in images.  For the other, the Universe gifted her with a new year’s mantra when her sheet with all her resolutions disappeared.  Literally, she cannot find the paper she wrote them on!  Unable to find her resolutions (which she was so proud of), while doing another task, she said she almost heard these words, “Love it or leave it.”  Her very practical mantra right now is being applied in all aspects of her life, helping to clear not only physical clutter but also energy-consuming mental/emotional clutter.
Do you have a mantra?  Do you have several posted through your house like I do at my various sacred spaces?  If so, I’d love to hear them and how they’ve worked in your life . . . or at least how you hope they will.
Blessings to you.   Blessings to you.  Blessings to you!
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More on Conscious Choices

In my last post, I mentioned mindfulness.  It’s a buzzword these days.  Just be mindful, and all will be well.  That would be like me saying to live every day simply.  In an unapologetically Buddhist way, mindfulness is that easy and that difficult, just as living life simply is.  Read that as you will.

Only you know what is most important in your life.  Only you know what requires your attention and most feeds your soul; they aren’t often the same thing, and we all know it changes on a daily, if not hourly basis.

But if, in a moment, you can be where you are, at once embracing it yet with open arms and feeling everything fully without being overwhelmed, then you can do what needs to be done with clarity.  You can make a conscious choice, knowing what is the best thing to do in that moment.  This is our best work, or our work at its best.  With this clarity and sense of purpose, there is a profound freedom to be experienced.  There is a sense of participating in the flow of life.

I am more than a little amused at all the self-help books out there, the variety of techniques that aim to bring us to a sense of peace.  Each of us could write our own book.  Those of us who write, indeed, write mostly for and to ourselves, for that’s all we truly know.  At the core of it all, though, is the one flow of life, one peace, one good, and that’s what ties us together.  That’s what, when we write, we hope to tap into, sharing a truth that might resonate for others.

Again, only you know what you need.  First you have to be conscious.  You have to be honest.  Then you keep practicing and keep working hard.  We work hard to be, just be, in peace.  This is good work.


(photo from everystockphoto.com)

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I cannot express the comfort I feel sitting beside the fireplace at the end of day.  Whether it’s with a book, my knitting, or a cup of something warm, my heart melts, and I’m warm all over.  A dear friend told me that a fire is just like any relationship, especially marriage.  It needs tending, attention, and sometimes a little boost, prodding and adjustment.  I do think I’m pretty good at tending our home fires.  I continue to be happy we switched to wood-burning, and I love the twinkle in my family’s eyes when we gather around the fire.

Sometimes we need a little jump-start to get the flames going, though.  My dearest told me he heard about egg carton lint fire-starters.   We have cardboard egg cartons.  We have a constant supply of lint.  We have old candles and/or could get our hands on paraffin.  After visiting a clever site, I also realize we have a steady supply of pencil shavings, too (thanks to our electric pencil sharpener and some talented young artists).   If you need thorough instructions, this site can be helpful.  (Keep saving the t.p. rolls, too!)  HOWEVER, I also read that if you’re using these starters for indoors, small bits of wax paper are much lessy than using wax.  Perhaps we’ll start with those; it sounds easier, anway.  🙂

May you be inspired and not left in the cold on those rainy days.  I’ll let you know how ours turns out!

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