Important

A friend of mine sometimes gets philosophical on Facebook. We all have that friend, right? This morning she posted song lyrics about getting older, and later commented that the word “important” becomes more fluid.

Preach, sister.

I admit I’ve never been very interested in trends. If a particular fad appeals to me, I’ll play along, but mostly I roll my eyes. I sometimes silently judge people, but I’m working on not doing that.

I’ve never tried to keep up with the Joneses. In fact, sometimes I don’t even notice the Joneses. That makes me wonder if the Joneses notice that I’m not noticing, and if it’s making them want to keep up with me. I doubt it, though. My standards aren’t super high for most things.

This tendency to ignore trends has become stronger as I’ve gotten older. I used to worry about what other people thought. Now I mostly can’t care less. What people think of me personally is none of my concern. Of course, I still want everyone in the world to be fans of my writing. How else am I going to get rich? My writer side is the gushy middle in the hard exoskeleton, I’ll admit it.

Importance really does become more fluid. The things we care less about are swept away in the tide of the years. We can let go of old things, old hurts, old habits, old ideas, and we can realize that what we think is new and shiny was really there all along.

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1,000 Words

I’m not a fan of modern art, but the St. Louis Art Museum opened a new wing last year and I figured if I was going to see if before we move, I’d best get it in gear. I mostly shook my head while I walked through the new gallery. I mean, a light bar is art? Really? Then I turned a corner and saw this:

thecomputermovesinIt’s called “The Computer Moves In,” and my first thought was, “That’s my life!” It illustrates my writing time so well I almost wept. It’s a mixed media piece by Sigmar Polke. He adapted a 1983 Time magazine cover, which named the computer “Machine of the Year,” rather than its customary “Man of the Year.”* It featured a George Segal sculpture of a man seated in front of a computer. Polke enlarged it, then partially marred it with overlay of medium. He even made the canvas, stitching together different pieces of fabric onto which he applied several layers of stains and metallic spray paint.

Knowing how it was made, to me, reinforces the analogy. I sit down at my desk, and much of the time the work is messy, disorganized, and shapeless. Of course, eventually it coalesces into something that makes sense, but this is a snapshot in a Day Of My Life.

 

*Why is it always Man of the Year? Why is there never a Woman of the Year? Am I the only one who thinks things like that?

Dying To Self

On the way to church the other day I looked inside my music folder to see what we were singing and found one of my least favorite songs. The tune is catchy and upbeat, but the lyrics leave a lot to be desired. When we practiced it before church, I could hear God laughing at me and saying, “Really sets your teeth on edge, doesn’t it? Sorry, kid, the imagery that annoys you is just what one of my other kids needs. Get over it, girl.”

It’s exactly what I would have said to one of my kids.

He’s been working on this for a while. I never saw myself as selfish until a couple years ago, when God starting showing me what my selfishness looks like. It’s an opinion about a song and wishing we could take it out of our library. It’s insisting on a particular meeting spot because it’s slightly more convenient to my schedule. It’s wishing we could change a meeting night because it’s the least convenient for me, never mind how it works for the other 25 people. They seem innocuous, but what if my changed actions minister to someone? Or, on the flip side, what if I’m stubborn and come across as the hypocritical church lady? There’s a stereotype I never want to have.

Sometimes we have to realize that because something annoys us doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value. I have a hard time reading the epistles because of Paul’s syntax. Frankly, he’s very wordy, and I find myself wishing he would get to the point. His teaching is amazing, though, and I have to remind myself constantly that what I see as extra words are there for a reason. I don’t need to know what it is. Some things we just have to wait until Heaven to find out. That alone makes me look forward to Heaven. Do you think Paul actually talks like he writes? It’s a little mind blowing to think about smiling and nodding politely over a perfect latte with the man who brought Christ to the gentiles. It’s even more mind blowing to think that he’s the reason I’m one of God’s kids ’cause there’s not a drop of Jewish blood in my veins!

I have been making a concerted effort never to let what I think of a song show on my face when I sing it. God likes all the songs and I feel like if I roll my eyes at lyrics I think are silly, I’m telling God He doesn’t know what good music is. It’s my offering to God first, a little tiny ministry all my own second. If God can speak to the downtrodden and broken hearted through my harmony, it’s all good, so long as they realize that the vessel has a long way to go to be perfect. Lucky for me, God already knows that and lets me stay around anyway.

Baking, burning, and flooding

As usual, the weather this summer is crazy. While we bake in the Midwest and farmers fret over the crops, Florida and southern Georgia are being flooded by Tropical Depression Debby, and at least half of Colorado is on fire. I have several friends in Colorado and Florida, and my heart aches for them.  I could despair, but today I’m choosing good over evil. I’m focusing on the cleansing properties of fire and water. It’s easy enough for me to say, right? It’s not my house in the path of the fire. The truth is, when I focus on the positive I can better encourage my friends who are directly affected. I’m too far away to be any real help. All I can do is pray, and let them know I’m praying. Later, when it’s over and the new normal sets in I might be able to help directly, but for now all I can do is stand by and watch the train wreck. My home isn’t affected (other than the power bills to keep the house relatively cool and the water bills to keep my garden alive), but I’m not change-free.

Last week, I read “Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work” by Steven Pressfield, which I highly recommend to anyone in a creative field who needs to up their game. Turns out, going pro is entirely a head game. It’s the decision to go from amateur to professional and the changes in behavior that make a professional. It’s not the contract or the paycheck or the accolades. Those are outward signs, the fruit of the labor. To quote Pressfield, “The amateur Tweets. The professional works.” How’s that for short and sweet conviction?

I told you last month about some of the changes I’ve made already. I’m considering other changes, but I haven’t thought them through enough yet to talk about them. I will say that while it is a head game, there is also heart change. Books that would have bored me even a year ago are treasure troves now. Things that seemed vitally important have been put into perspective and given a lower priority. There is a new game plan, and while I can’t see all of it yet, I know it will become clear. To give credit where it’s due, most of the changes are because of things I’ve gleaned from My Book Therapy. Gotta give the hard working gals a plug!

While I’m ruminating, you can give me a hand. If there are things you want me to blog about, leave me a comment. Likewise, if there is too much of something, I’d like to know. I’ll take your suggestions and toss them into the mix of ideas I’m developing.

And please pray. Wildfires, drought, and flooding could combine to form disaster for us all.

 

800

According to my WordPress dashboard, this is my 800th post, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to ask some questions.

What content would you like to see here? (I’m learning all sorts of what most people would consider useless bits of information through my research. Want me to share? They may come in handy on trivia night.)

What can I do to improve the blog?

What would make you recommend the blog to your friends?

Chocolate or vanilla?

Feel free to dialogue.

Epiphany-ish

Last weekend, Eric and I were wandering around the mall. I don’t remember which store we went into, but it was one that had men’s and women’s clothing. As expected, the women’s side was packed with a bewildering array of clothes. The guys side had pants, shorts, shirts, and a couple of suits. Comparing the differences, it dawned on me that humans are an anomaly in the animal world. Usually it’s the males that are colorful and flashy. Not so with us.

Women spend staggering amounts of money on vanity. Even those of us who don’t care much about fashion usually have a push-up bra, or a slimmer of some kind, face lotion, whitening strips for the teeth, make-up–the list goes on and on. Some of us go to great lengths to be noticed. That’s when I realized how silly it is, really, for me to concern myself with fashion. It’s not that I keep up with trends, but like a lot of women, I use clothing to enhance “deficiencies” and down-play “flaws.” Why? Because that’s what society says we’re supposed to do. We’re supposed to want to walk into a room and have all the men look at us. But I’m married. Happily married. Eric sees me as I really am, and he’s happy with what he sees, so why do I feel like I need to measure up to society’s standard? If he’s happy, isn’t that the most important thing?

I’m not saying clothes are unimportant. It’s always good to dress appropriately, and feeling good in one’s clothing can give a big confidence boost. I’m just rethinking some of my attitudes, and I feel really silly that at age 44, I’m dealing with body image issues. Part of this could be a faith issue, too. It could be that I’m too “in the world.” Some of it is just plain vanity.

Or am I over-thinking this whole issue?