Spin

I’m sitting in our sweet, little regional airport waiting to take a quick trip home. The coffee from the local shop is adequate at best but they are winning the morning by having  espn college gameday on the big screen. I am perpetually early for flights and this makes the wait enjoyable. 

While watching Kirk and Rece and Coach, the word of the day came to me: spin

How often to we watch commentators and coaches spin the story to highlight their side or preference? How often do we hear political commentators and professional spinners move the story to their side? Sometimes the spin is so fierce it leaves me dizzy and disconcerted. Where do we go to escape the noise and find balance? 

Turn it off. Open a novel. Get outside. Snuggle the dog. Run in the sun. Drink a beer on the back porch. Have dinner with a friend and absolutely no electronics present. Sleep an extra hour. Write down prayers. Breathe deeply and be content with the world passing by for a while.

The world will keep spinning even if we take a break from it. In our constant spinning world, we will not miss as much as we think we will. 

Need some inspiration to escape the spin? Check out today’s gameday tear fest: http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=17974494

Also……

worry

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” Luke 12:25, nrsv

Worry-wart. Nervous-nelly. Anxiety-girl. All terms that fit my personality quite well. My desire to please and to get things right can lead me to undue worry. About outcomes, about perceptions, about responses. And yet, as I get older I realize that all of this worry is completely for naught.

anxiety-girl

Some worry-fight or flight reflex in actual danger situations-is so very important. If I’m being chased by a bear, I want the worry chemicals to kick in. But, in most situations, worry will only cause unnecessary energy outputs to a situation.

We are currently in a significant uptick of worry as a nation. It has become, in the words of the New York Times, an epidemic. My family and friends feel this as the election looms eight days away. I feel this workplace as we navigate the waters of change. I feel this in my time as I want to give my all to all the things.

But, we are reminded both in Luke and Matthew’s Gospel that worrying adds nothing to our lives. No value. No time. So I must fight the tide of worry and focus rationally on important tasks at hand, one breath at a time. Care to join me? Let’s consider the lilies together.

bored.

I am rarely bored. My mind, alas, swirls a mile a minute from the time I am awake to the time the melatonin kicks in at night. I am, for better or worse, connected for all of my waking hours. However, as a child, I was not connected. We had cable, but were one of the last families to get nintendo. I played Oregon Trail and Carmen San Diego on the big IBM computer with the floppy disk, but not all day.

I had the chance to spend hours outside in the creek behind our house or at a friend’s house. In my teen years, we would walk around downtown Annapolis without a cell phone or hang out at the beach in my neighborhood without wifi. (Wifi didn’t exist.) We had the chance to be bored. I didn’t go to a lot of summer camps so after swim team each day, I would have to make my own fun.

In our 24/7 connected world, our kids don’t know how to be bored very well. It can be scary for them to be left to their own without the security of electronics or someone telling them how to make their fun. We know they need the boredom to be creative. Not just from common sense, but most recently from this study published by the World Economic Forum. So what do we do when a connected kid says, I’m bored? We should treat it as a gift. We should say something like, “wow, that’s so great that you don’t have something specific to do, imagine all the things you could do.” And then, walk away. Allow kids to sit with their own boredom and figure it out.

I love this list that I’ve seen on many a blog. It doesn’t have to just mean in the summer. Boredom can strike us at any time–if we have the control to challenge ourselves and embrace, oh the things we could think, do, create, and learn. Time to get bored, friends…

bored-rules

SOURCE

fear.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” -Marianne Williamson

Fear of change. Fear of death. Fear of spiders and snakes. Fear of food touching on the plate. Fear of heights. Fear of failure.

These are truths for so many people, including me (mostly snakes and heights.) We are so easily led down the dark path of fear and away from the light path of courage in our daily lives. Our current media cycle is perpetuated on increasing the divisive fears in our citizenry. Our economy is fragile. Our family lives sometimes held onto with a sliver of thread. Our relationships thinned by more technology and less depth.

AND YET, we have so much in which we can find joy and courage. We have promises in faith and resilience. We have light in small moments–children’s laughter, dog tail wags, a delicious glass of wine, a real hug, a passed peace, kneeling at the altar, the changing leaves of autumn, espn college gameday, a Packers win….Our gratitude can help erase our fear. When we live a life of joy and gratitude, we don’t have time for fear.

Scripture gives us so many examples of conquering fear:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”-John 14:27

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Proverbs 12:25

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

As does literature:

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” ― Frank Herbert, Dune

“Fear doesn’t shut you down; it wakes you up” ― Veronica Roth, Divergent

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” ― Plato

“Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.”
Emma Donoghue, Room

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”
Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

We must not be afraid to enter the arena of our fears and bravely move forward in faith. If we focus on gratitude, on moving forward, and on courage–we don’t have room for fear.

https://youtu.be/zeTpISSA5x8

 

 

wild.

I am currently obsessed with this song. (Seriously, I have listened to it 10 times today. Thanks Drew.)

Wild is the perfect way to describe life these days. I look up all the time at my Mary Oliver quote in my living room: “Tell me, what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.” Gosh, most of the time, I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel. And, most of our lives, I am guessing, feel like roller coasters these days. We are so caught up in the busy of life. We are overwhelmed with the noise of the election, the other, the …

I miss the real wild sometimes. The nature that was at my doorstep in my little cottage backing to Rock Creek and the five minutes it took for me to be completely immersed in nature even despite being just outside the Beltway. I miss the top of Sugarloaf Mountain where the vista of the farms of Frederick County still seem placid.

I can completely understand why people take to the Appalachian, John Muir, or Pacific Coast trail to escape the noise. It is only when we can get out of range of wifi that many of us even realize the power of quiet. While I can’t break away anytime soon–these two documentaries have helped me take momentary peace. I commend them to you if you need a little nature therapy and the closest you can get is Netflix.

Mile/Mile & a Half

Paul’s Boots

And, of course if you haven’t read Wild by Cheryl Strayed or Into the Wild by Jon Krakauker, I encourage you to do that, too. (Don’t just watch the movies…) They will show you the power that being in the wild of nature can do to transform a soul.

May you find solace in the wild world in a way that restores you.

race.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

I used to race a lot. Every other weekend or so, or at least every month, I would pin a number to my middle, double knot my shoes and race. There were years when I raced hard and years when I entered races but wasn’t “racing” but merely running. At this point, if I put on a bib every two-three months, that is pretty amazing. I’m racing long next weekend and that should be a fascinating look at whether or not I’m still a game day player.

But I digress…

I feel like these days I’m on a race of another kind. The race to get it all done, to fit it all in, to make something of myself, all before the sun is up and past the sunset. The two ended candle is past burnt-it is melted flat. But it is not the race of doing that is the exhausting part-it is the race of grieving. The race of grief that spent months taking a toll on parts of me I could (my midsection) and couldn’t (my cortisol level) see. Now as I continue to move forward at breakneck speed for leading, coaching, and doing life–I am acutely aware of the way that this race has beaten me down. While I am not a daily blubbery mess as I was in those first few months, it is the layers that now suck my energy in a way not unlike the way years of training did to me in the early 2010’s.

So thinking to the Epistle today…when does the race end? How have I lived my life in a manner that allows me to pour myself as a libation to God when I am just so damn tired? Will I stand at the seat of judgement and be able to say, I fought the Good Fight? Right now, I’m just working toward lacing up the shoes and hitting the pavement. I’m working on managing and leading in climate of great change. I’m working to try to get my furbaby to stop chewing ALL THE THINGS. So where does the pour myself out for God come in?

Hopefully in the little moments. Hopefully it finds its way in the small conversations with kids, the quotes and tools I send to teachers that maybe one reads, perhaps it is in the one person (hi Mom) who reads these writings and opens up their vulnerability cup in conversation with another? Maybe it is none of these things and the race I’m running right now, like my physical ones of years past, is just the season I’m supposed to be in. Maybe the Good Fight right now is about getting up and trying despite the physical and mental weight of grief that haven’t found their way off me yet.

Either way, I will keep the face and continue to run with perseverance, this race.

ok.

14716194_10210633552212017_4247957058276644972_n

We ask it of one another, every day. “Are you ok?” We answer plaintively–I’m fine, I’m good, I’m well. Because, really most of the time, we are generally ok. We can get through each day amongst a mountain of struggle (seen and unseen) in order to accomplish our lists. And most of the time this is…ok.

Yet there will be moments when we are genuinely not ok. We need to pause, we need to escape, we need to breathe. We need to honor that our bodies and minds are only able to handle a certain level of stress or angst or sadness or hunger or pain or fear or all of the above and if we don’t honor it, we are witness to our own destruction. In the pressures of our current societal pace, it is hard to honor the need to not be ok. We must keep pressing forward. We have to fight back against the pressures and accept our need to be fully human.

My favorite television show of all time is, of course, The West Wing. My people of the Bartlet administration have seen me through good times and bad. Heck, my dog is named after them. They are notorious in their use of the word ok and its power to bring closure, acceptance, and understanding. In TWW world, OK holds a LOT of weight; in the prose of Aaron Sorkin, it is not flippant. Much like I overuse the word awesome, thereby reducing its efficacy and power, I also overuse ok. I think it is time to honor the power of the true ok and use it sparingly–only when its power is truly necessary and its meaning truly real.

Ok. Ok. What’s Next?

**Image from The West Wing Weekly, aka The Best Podcast of All Time.**

saturation

Today was a very long day. We had our governance day for Leadership Montgomery and spent the day with Allison Black Cornelius engaging in leadership development. While much of it was repeated information from years of OD/LD training, I loved the day. Allison, I’ve decided, is my new spirit animal. She is engaging, courageous, loves Nick Saban, and curses like a sailor. Therefore, we are either twins or best friends.🙂

But at one point, we spent a few seconds talking about information overload and the word “saturation” was used. YES. That is the perfect word for it. We are saturated with information. We can’t escape it. (Unless we live in a yurt off the grid in Montana.) We start our days with the glow of the screen and can’t get away from the immediacy of our accounts and updates. It is exhausting and it is killing us–as a society and as individuals.

My favorite, Andrew Sullivan, has recently emerged from his self-imposed technology exile and tells his tale of media saturation in New York Magazine.  (An article I found via this interesting take in the NYT.) I found myself relating to him in so many ways but also feeling afraid. What would happen if I truly stopped or created legit balance in my life when it comes to technology. What would happen if I stayed away from facebook for one day or didn’t check my email every 5 minutes? Would the world keep turning? Would people be upset with me?

I am less worried about FOMO and more worried about disappointing people who have come to expect immediate response. AND YET, I know that the work I do, 99.9% of the time is not life-death. (Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE MY WORK but yet, I am not a first responder or a world leader, so I know that 99.9% of the time, no one is in danger in if I don’t respond immediately.)  So is it ok for me to put the phone away? Is it really ok for me to be present? 

I don’t have the answer but I can’t help but hope that we will reach a tipping point in our society and realize that our lives cannot be fully lived on a four-inch screen. We need to create balance. We need to take a break. And it will only be with a courageous critical mass saying “chill out and walk away from the instagram” that we will find a contentment in actually doing so.

On that note, this five minute free write ends and I will shut off my screens. Sleep tight!

wait

File Oct 19, 7 40 04 AM.png

“Wait. You have to wait.” It is the hardest thing to hear for someone who has the patience of a hare. But yet, in this human life, we must wait. We must wait for the process of change to take foothold. We must wait for still, small voice. We must wait for the right time to come.

 

The elapsed time between finishing my Master’s in Ed Admin and starting my first principalship was six years. In all those times, I needed to be faithful that God had called me to this work. I needed to be patient that all the small leadership experiences-formal and informal, the coursework, the books read, the discernment, would all come to fruition.

Now, in leadership, I must continue to honor the change process in others. I need to honor the capacity for change humans are able to handle at any one time. I need to honor that God is not finished with me yet and despite my current wants–His divine time is what really matters.

Waiting doesn’t mean complacency. It doesn’t mean sitting on one’s hands and doing nothing–it means honoring the process of growth and deeply discerning. It means following the “I think this is it” until “it” shows up or becomes clear. So I’m not sure what I’m waiting on right now, but as I wait–I will serve and love.

 

integrity.

I have been dwelling a lot on integrity these last few days. I cannot stand dishonesty, sins of omission, white lies…they all make me sick. I have had too many experiences in my life with dishonest folks and I’m just not doing it anymore. Life is too short to be lied to–even if the truth hurts.

Luckily, the Lectionary agrees with me. Yesterday, in Psalm 25 and today, in Psalm 26, I have had affirmation in my belief that standing with integrity is incredibly important.

File Oct 18, 8 46 16 AM.jpeg

Am I blameless, no. I, too, have had sins of omission, white lies, etc. that have caused hurt to others. And for this, I seek forgiveness and repentance. I also know that I can choose TODAY to walk in the light of truth. To walk in honesty. To allow my character to speak through my actions and words. The time is now. There is no turning back. And when I fall, I will dust off and start again.

The legacy I want to leave is one where people know what I stood for because I lived it out loud. Kindness, honesty, courage, resilience, adventure, faith, and love. I must be honest with my own self before I can stand in integrity before others. So here I go. (Come with me.)