Habits for the New Year

One of the things I decided to do this year is consistently set aside time for daily reflection. I didn’t really set New Year’s Resolutions, but rather decided to form a few low pressure habits that I felt would help me to center myself and develop clarity.  One of the biggest problems I have is feeling like I’m being pulled in too many directions. Some of those feelings come from the fast-paced culture we live in. Some of them are self-imposed. It’s hard for me to know where to focus. 

I’ve been trying to read through the entire Bible for years. I’m up to the book of Luke. Last year was going to be my year to complete it. I even listed it as one of the books on my book club challenge under the religious book category, but I didn’t finish it. This year I’ve decided to keep working on it, but to keep it low pressure. I’ve decided to read it for at least 10 minutes a day then pray/meditate for 10 minutes a day and finally journal for 10 minutes a day. That’s not very much, only 30 minutes a day. I can do more if I want. Sometimes I’m sure I will, but the point is to establish consistency, to establish a regular pattern of reflection, and see what comes of it.

The first day I did it, I ended up reading Luke Ch.18:1-8, not for any particular reason other than it was simply the next passage in my Bible. It was a parable about an old widow who visited an unjust judge to ask him to avenge her against some adversaries. I’m not sure what the backstory was. That information wasn’t provided. But the bottom line is, she wanted justice. The judge wasn’t really interested in her. He actually blew her off, but she was persistent. Eventually, he realized that she was not going to go away and would continue to seek his help. So in order to avoid the nuisance, he acquiesced and gave her the justice she desired. The moral was that if an unjust judge who cared nothing for that woman would help her due to her persistence, how much more would a God who loves a person and actually cares about him/her do for that individual?

Ok, I thought. If I’m going to pray about something consistently, what should I pray for? I thought of three things I wanted the most, not possessions or anything like that, but three things I wanted most for my life; and I decided to include those things always in my prayers and meditations. Where it goes remains to be seen, but already I can’t help but notice…some signs of focus. I was able to shut down some of the internal chatter by simply asking myself, If I were to ask God for three things…what three things do I want the most?

I’m interested to see where this will lead. Time will tell.

Last of the streaming sun

Ooh, shiny

Sunsets occur everyday and yet, I never tire of them. Without fail, I am entranced by the clockwork rainbow of pink and orange,  yellow and blue, violet and twilight streaming across the the sky.

I experienced the sunset below on one of my afternoon excursions to the beach. I was in mid-sentence talking with a friend when I stopped and said, “Look at that one. The sky is showing off tonight”.

The sun itself is not seen in the picture, but you can see its determined efforts to make its presence known as light streamed through invisible holes in the atmosphere like spotlights on a stage.

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Change

via Daily Prompt: Savor

Life is full of changes. My job was recently complicated when one of my leads resigned to take another position. A new team was put in place and I found myself in the position of being one of the most seasoned members on that project. Now, I’m perfectly capable of leading. I’m even kind of good at it, but I still don’t always look for excuses to lead. I love mentoring, but being the leader is a different ball of wax. Being the leader requires more commitment, more stress and frankly, less freedom; and if I’m going to be perfectly honest about myself, freedom is one of my favorite things in the whole world. So it’s a struggle. As per my normal reaction, I’m trying to find a happy balance with the situation.

In addition, my baby sister has decided to move to California which is literally on the other side of the country. I’ve been scrambling to get some time with her before she goes; and I’m already thinking ahead to my first visit, which has been difficult to pull together due to conflicting timelines.

Last night, our large family came together and we took her to dinner. There were seven small children total in our group so I imagine the restaurant is still nursing the wounds of that trauma 🙂 (Needless to say, we tipped our waitress very well). Afterwards, my sister and I stood outside of the restaurant and talked to one of my brothers and his family for about 45 minutes then she and I went for a drink with a couple of her friends.

As we stood outside of the restaurant, I looked up to see the sky in all its glory as the sun set behind the clouds. A sense of awe and freedom and gratitude washed over me as I stood under the sky and talked to my siblings in the parking lot. Afterwards, my sister and I went out and extended our visit.

Sometimes, life takes twists and turns and we don’t know where it’s taking us. I was talking to a friend a while back. She was looking to make some changes in her life and was overwhelmed by how she should do it.

“I have a tendency to get bogged down with the big picture,” I said.

“Me, too!” she answered.

But I think the key is to just take the next step. We can be aware of the big picture, but most of the time, we won’t be able to just jump to the end. We just have to take the next step and savor the good times along the way. Make the most of a visit when the opportunity presents itself and always glance up to see the sunset.

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Daily Prompt: Bumble

via Daily Prompt: Bumble

I don’t spend as much time in my yard as I need to. I hate it, but I’m single, I work a lot and I run out of time. The people who lived in my home before me were retired and spent countless hours in the yard. They planted so many azalea bushes that in the springtime when they blossom, it’s like an azalea wonderland. They also planted mimosa trees and a variety of flowers. I don’t even know what some of the flowers are. I’ve literally had people come over to visit and admiringly ask, “What kind of flower is that?” to which I have often replied, “I don’t know. It just popped up”.

It’s amazing to me that these flowers keep popping up. I’ve been in this home for over a decade and have planted barely anything new (although I do currently have some marigolds in a pot waiting to go into the ground and I’ve decided I want a pine tree in the back) yet every year flowers continue to blossom in my yard. The soil is dark, I trim things back and sometimes I weed, but that’s it. I’m very fortunate. They are beautiful. Maybe one day I will have the time to give them the care they deserve. Or maybe they are doing just fine with what I’ve been offering.

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Yesterday, I came home from work and glanced over at my shed to notice, once again, something new. Vibrant pink flowers, some dead or dying and some brand new. I snapped a picture and sent it to both a friend of mine and my mother in the hopes that one of them would know what it was. Look, I texted, another new flower. My friend simply commented at the marvelous color but my mother offered the idea that it may be a day lily. I googled it and it appears that I probably do have day lilies. Day lily blossoms live, sadly, for only one day but the flowering stalk produces lots of blossoms which explains why I saw both brand new blossoms and dying flowers on the same stalk.

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In my day lily googling adventure and in an effort to tie this in somehow to the daily post for bumble, I started looking into whether bees like day lilies. They do, but it appears that butterflies like them better.

I did find this adorable article about how bees sleep in flowers, though! I never knew that. I didn’t even know that bees slept. How precious. But of course they do, everything thing sleeps. I’ll be looking for it now.  Stay tuned for pictures of bees sleeping in flowers in the future 🙂

Have a great night all and hang in there, it’s almost Friday!

Better

This week for the first time, I met my new children’s lit critique group. I submitted two pieces for review: a nursery rhyme about a little girl trying to find a matching pair of shoes and a short story about two cats learning to live with one another. My group loved the nursery rhyme but schooled me on stress syllables. They ripped apart the story of the cats but they liked the theme of the story. I came away with hyperlinks to stress syllables, two book suggestions and a reminder of how far I have to go before I craft my stories into the best stories that they can be. My response? I’ve purchased one of the books on Amazon, I’m reading up on the subjects of stress and meter and I’m planning revisions to my stories. In the end, both the stories and I will be better for it.  

So much of our lives, in every area, are spent growing whether we want to grow or not. At work, computer systems are constantly being upgraded and new people always need to be mentored. Once you reach a level where you can mentor someone else, watch out, because that means you qualify for more responsibility. With additional responsibility comes additional correction which is stressful (not to use that word again), but without the correction we cannot get better. I’m learning to think of getting better as growth instead of a sign that I’m not good enough, and I’m learning that no matter how much I grow, there will always be hard work to do.

This morning, I was lazily sitting on the couch drinking my coffee when I heard a vehicle pull into my drive. I looked out the window and it was my father. I wasn’t surprised. On springtime mornings, he frequently arrives unannounced with his pickup truck, trimmers and weedeater in the back, to offer assistance in my yard. I pulled on a robe and walked outside, cup in hand, and smiled.

“I guess this means I have to get dressed,” I said.

We spent a couple of hours working in the yard. I rode my  lawn mower, and he did the weeding and trimming. At lunch, I got us a chicken salad from Zaxby’s, and we sat on the back porch and ate together. The time he spends working in my yard is for both our benefits. I need the help in the yard and he knows it, but it’s also something that we do together. And there is reward in the end. The yard cleans up nice and visually rewards us for our efforts. As for us, well, we are better for it, too.