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Archive for the ‘Wild’ Category

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My Instagram is cute. My house is not always cute. Sometimes, parts of my house look like this. It’s okay…ish. It could be better. I like it when it’s better.

My schedule has changed recently, so things are falling through the cracks. Things that I’m usually pretty good at, like keeping up with my meal planning calendar and laundry. It’s been a long time since the table beside the couch looked like the picture above. I can’t say that I’ve missed that.

I recently lamented to friends that I was disappointed with how my year of wild is going. As someone who is mostly organized but is also a little fond of and prone to chaos, I was looking forward to wild really shaking my year up. A still life of cups and glasses was not the chaos I had in mind. On the surface, wild hasn’t stirred around much. My life is just as un-wild as it ever has been.

Or so it would seem.

One facet of wild that I am particularly interested in cultivating is freedom. Freedom from shoulds. Freedom from lifeless traditions. Freedom from good advice that doesn’t particularly work for me in practice.

In this way, this year has been super wild, and my progress on my resolutions shows it. I am farther along toward my goals this year than I was at this time last year. Who knew that, instead of just saying, “I do what I want!” while still bending over backwards to fulfill obligations that aren’t really mine to fulfill, intentionally embracing saying no in order to cling to what fulfills me would result in getting what I want done?

Everyone, you say? Literally everyone knew that? Okay. That’s fair.

Anyway, I apologize to wild for being disappointed. Although…don’t go anywhere, wild. We’re not done here.

Perhaps it doesn’t look wild to me because I use structure, but I think this is a misunderstanding of the term. Sometimes I expect wild to be loose and flowy, but then I watch an animal stalk its prey (and by animal, I do mean my mom’s barn cats). Wild definitely requires a certain measure of focus for survival.

So this week, I begin testing a new time management structure. I was inspired by Sarah Bessey’s best practices post. The ones that really stick out to me are actually writing when I have made time to write, setting boundaries but writing them in pencil, and fill your well (because if I’m not reading or eating right or staying active, everything else goes awry). I have added a second job writing SEO content, so it makes sense that my schedule could not continue as it was without something important taking the hit. I imagine it will take a few weeks of tweaking, but I’m confident that it will work.

For those who want to put a little structure in their schedule, it’s pretty simple. I started by making a list of priorities. For me, I thought about what I would need in order to consider myself as having my life together. Keep in mind that I am single and childless and that, for the most part, I operate on a pretty low supply of give-a-damns when it comes to other people telling me what my life should be. If this does not describe you, you’re going to have to concentrate a little more to get past the voices that want to shout over you. When you are listing your priorities, your opinion is the one that matters the most.

[Aside – this is not advice to shut out other people altogether. If you are in a committed relationship and you want to remain in it, you might want to list it as a priority. Please don’t ever use “I’m focusing on me right now” as an excuse to be an inattentive asshole. If you want to break up, just break up. Don’t be passive and shady about it. /psa]

After I had my list of priorities, I divided them into daily, weekly, and monthly lists. I listed each one as specific tasks to complete. For example, for my body weight, I need to drink 100 ounces of water a day to stay hydrated, so that’s what I listed as one of my daily health goals. Decide what you can reasonably do, and quantify each goal on your list. Once you have these lists, document them. I keep a goals calendar, but you can keep up with them in whatever way works for you. It helps you chart your progress.

What process do you use to meet goals?

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Resolution Update

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More of these in my house, please. I love seeing flowers on the table when I walk in.

It’s almost mid-year, which is about the time I remember, “Oh, I made resolutions!” So let’s check in and see how they’re going.

  1. Word of the year – wild. I’m not sure how to answer this. Wild has been pretty vague this year. I catch moments of it, but it hasn’t disrupted things the way the last few years True, fun, beauty. Oh, the havoc they wreaked! But wild? I would expect wild to be…well…wilder.
  2. Read 100 books. SHUT UP, GOODREADS. I KNOW I’M BEHIND. Maybe I should read wilder books. Two birds, one stone.
  3. Learn conversational Spanish. Huh. Forgot I made that one.
  4. Making my home more welcoming. I have had people over more often – does that count? I have embraced the practice of inviting people over regardless of the mess. So maybe this one has morphed into welcoming despite the state of the home.
  5. Make strides in health goals. Plateaus are the worst. I was doing really well, and then plateau. Now I don’t want to do anything – exercise, eat right, sleep well – because it’s a lot of effort for nothing. This last weekend, I actually considered starting a detox program designed to hydrate you and adjust your gut bacteria and all other sorts of weird things just because I know it would be enough of a shock to leap off the damn plateau. This program? Requires me to give up coffee. I HATE PLATEAUS SO MUCH I CONSIDERED GIVING UP COFFEE. Thankfully, that brief moment of madness has passed. Summer is usually good for less ridiculous eating. I’ll give summer a chance.
  6. Finish a manuscript (lol) and publish a calendar. While finishing a manuscript seems like a strange, wonderful dream at this moment, I have been working pretty steady on my calendar project. It’s coming along slowly but steadily.
  7. Run a 5K. Maybe in October, and maybe at the beach! I’ve got a group that I’m going to try walking the July 4th race with, but there will be no running of a 5K in July. Because Texas.
  8. Attend a writing retreat – coming in June! I’m road-tripping to Virginia with my friend Michelle (and maybe others) to attend a retreat hosted by the leader of one of my online writing groups. YAY!!!!!
  9. Get paid for writing – also done (wow, my writing goals are going well. I’m so impressed with me). I have started SEO (search engine optimization) writing, and I’m addicted to it. I got my first paycheck for writing on May 11th.
  10. Continue/establish traditions. I already have my meal plan and grocery/booze list for the Hemingway party started, if that counts. That’s the only tradition I can think of right now.

So I’m not doing too shabby with my goals. This reminder was helpful.

Did you make resolutions? How are they going?

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Creed

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I’m eager for Easter this year.

Usually, I’m better at Lent – better at reflection, better at the grieving that ends Holy Week – than I am at celebration. But I’ve had enough of heaviness this year.

Every week, we recite the Apostle’s Creed, and sometimes the words are hard to say. Not so much the part you’re probably thinking about – the creation, the virgin birth, the resurrection. As a born mystic raised Southern Baptist, I clung to these stories. Sometimes the irrational literality of their interpretation of these mysteries was the only thing that kept me tethered to my otherwise small and rigid faith.

So…

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

 I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;

he descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again;

he ascended into heaven,

he is seated at the right hand of the Father,

and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I have no problem saying these words. I believe in the triune God who seems to delight in making rules about how the world works just to have the fun of breaking them. That’s a God who understands us.

It’s the second part that often gives me fits. It starts off fine…

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

But then…

the holy catholic church*,

This one is hard. I hardly believe in the church at all. That is difficult for me to write. I desperately want to believe that the church could be the church. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places, but I don’t see the church feeding the poor or caring for the other in big enough, consistent enough ways to make an impact. I include myself in this. We tend to give out of our excess rather than out of our sacrifice. I wonder how the world would change if we switched that up.

the communion of saints,

 I often feel like an outsider in my faith. I have adapted to Lutheranism, but I still feel new after being in the church for years. But hearing the talk of some friends I used to go to church with feels absolutely foreign to me. I find it harder and harder to remember what it was like to be in that headspace.

But there is grace here, too. The Lutherans handle me. I’m usually offended by things like that. I’m not fragile (she exclaims in a feral manner)! I won’t break (she whimpers)! But honestly? I’m glad for their gentleness. I’m relieved. I’m still skittish – way more than I would have been able to admit eight years ago when everything fell apart. They meet me there.

And there is grace in the moments when I voice my feelings of otherness, and a friend, visibly relieved, exhales, “Oh…me, too. I thought it was just me.”

the forgiveness of sins,

We are much more apt to look for fault and boast of our deal-breakers. I’m certainly guilty of unforgiveness, and there are cases where I haven’t forgiven myself and don’t necessarily think I deserve it. There are instances where I long to be forgiven, but if I were in their shoes, would I want to forgive me? I’m not sure I would. And yet forgiveness is central – essential – to this faith.

This is not to say that one shouldn’t have deal-breakers. It is important to know what you will not abide in relationships with others.

Nor am I saying we should rush into forgiveness under the guise of holiness. It is unhealthy to project a false peace just so I don’t have to deal with my anger and hurt. It is also useless, because Jesus can see my soul and is not fooled by my cowardly emotional shenanigans.  I suspect that a lot of what I interpret as God’s silence is Jesus sitting beside me – calm, patient, somewhat amused – as I plug my ears and hum, trying to pretend I’m not exactly where I am.

the resurrection of the body,

 The week before Palm Sunday is usually my favorite in Lent. We get the stories of Lazarus and Ezekiel and the dry bones, and hearing them is like being thrown into the rapids of a river. Those are the stories that force me to choose between sink or swim. It’s invigorating. And terrifying. And incredibly wild.

and the life everlasting. Amen.

 This part gives me pause. Everyone told me that my 40s would be better than my 30s. In a few ways, they were right. But mostly, I just feel like I’m running out of time. Like…is this it? Is this abundant life? I mean, mine is a nice, little life. I have only a few major complaints. But is nice enough to make the thought of everlasting appealing at all? If not…then what? What exactly are we asking for here?

 

In true Holy Week fashion, I have more questions than answers. What keeps me saying these words week after week is that I’m becoming more okay with that.

 

Marvia Davidson is hosting a series on Holy Week reflections, and I’m linking up. Join us?

 

*little “c” catholic, meaning the universal church

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Third Beer Wild

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Okay, so technically this is coffee. With a shot of vanilla bourbon (DO IT.) But beer is sold at this place (Harvest House, Denton TX)…so…close enough?

When I think of country – particularly the patch of country where I grew up – several words come to mind. I think open. I think chaos and hierarchy, both at the same time. I think free.

I think wild.

Wild is what happens when a west Texas wind meets no resistance. When it goes and goes, and stopping is not even a thought because there’s nothing in its way to make stopping a necessity.

I love that wild. I love moments when I can be wild like that – my unencumbered self, embodying all I’ve learned and all that I’ve taken from those lessons. Not what I’ve had to be (for whatever reason), but what I am.

I originally wrote this rambly post when I was on my third beer. The third beer is my favorite beer, when I’ve pushed past the sleepy of one and the mellow of two and landed on the open wild of three.

Of course, I cannot always be on my third beer. That’s called alcoholism, and I’m neither willing nor financially able to sustain that sort of lifestyle. Having always to have help from a beverage to get to this coveted wild would mean that despite my best intentions to embrace wild, I’ve settled for my comfort zone instead.

Being comfortable and being myself are not the same thing. I sometimes confuse one for the other, though. Usually when I’m seeking out something that is comfortable to me, it’s not out of freedom but out of fear or as a result from outside pressure – because it would be easier to go along than go forward.

  • When I over-schedule myself so that I can not only feel productive but have a full calendar to prove that I am working hard toward the things I care about *cough* to absolutely no one because no one has ever asked to see my calendar to explain myself *cough*
  • When I say yes to things because they are good ideas without stopping to think about whether they’re actually mine to do or whether they’d be better accomplished by someone else
  • When I don’t do something I really want to do – something that would be mine – because I’ve hyper-committed to everything else (see above)

Part of my year of wild is rediscovering where the boundary lies between mere habit and real vision and learning to land on the latter side.

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2017 Resolutions

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I have a stocking that’s mine (on the right) and a stocking that’s a reminder that I’m not alone in the world. This is the first decoration I put up every year, and it’s my favorite. I like starting the season with the hope that  life will not inevitably always be the way it’s always been.

I love this time of year. I love the invigoration of setting new goals. I am nervous about this year because of the political climate, but I am refusing to give up hope. I am anxious, but I am determined. I am sad, but I am unwilling to settle for wallowing.

My goals for 2017 are pretty simple. Most of them are a continuation of things I’ve already started to do. Some of them are specific, but most of them are unruly, because the main goal is to embrace the wild.

  1. Wild is my word for the year, and I want it to spread throughout my world like fire. I want to burn away all that is not true, beautiful, just, and good. I realize that’s a tall order, but I can’t very well start my year of wild by taming my expectations.
  2. Read 100 books.
  3. Learn conversational Spanish.
  4. Continue to make my home a place that is welcoming and does not hinder the life I create. This life looks like cozy nooks and a well-stocked kitchen, pantry, and bar for spontaneous hospitality. This life looks like flowers on the table and blankets on the couch. This life looks like finally getting the last of the boxes unpacked from the move last summer.
  5. Continue to improve my health and well-being. This will probably look like a significant weight loss. I have 22 more pounds to go to reach my birthday goal, but as – much to my chagrin – I no longer have the metabolism I had when I was twenty, this will probably look more like 15 pounds, which is still pretty great. This will also look like pearls in my ears, red on my lips, and cute shoes on my feet, as emotional well-being is often manifested in how I care for myself physically.
  6. Finish at least one manuscript and publish a 2018 calendar.
  7. Run a 5K.
  8. Go on a writing retreat (can be alone or an official one with a group).
  9. Get paid for writing in some way. This can be as simple as submitting a piece for publication and having someone say yes, but I want to see tangible proof that it’s something I can do.
  10. Continue/establish beloved traditions. I want to have baking weekends. I want to have parties that people come to expect every year. I want to have traditions that are just mine – that embrace the single life I have now instead of waiting on other people to have traditions.

Do you make resolutions? If so, what are they?

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Reading Wild

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“The best way to save coffee is to save what’s wild.” From Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love by Simran Sethi

Reading is the main way through which ideas and action are loosed for me. Many of the books I’ve read this year have revealed truths long buried in my soul and have reminded me of why I do some of the things that I do.

In 2017, I am going to set my goal to read 100 books (a goal that I have not met in the last few years, but we’re going to ignore that. Hope springs eternal). In addition to books I enjoy with my book clubs and books I read just for fun, I am going to read more of the following:

  1. Books like A Man Called Ove that remind me that love is meant to be wild and scandalously extravagant and helpful and generous.
  2. Books like Bread, Wine, Chocolate that help me focus on the why (fighting oppressive food systems that leave people in poverty and destroy biodiversity) behind the what (loving coffee and food and talking about it a lot) of my passions.
  3. Books like Between the World and Me that continue my education on justice issues.

I also want to continue to read my daily news, except I want to read with more intention of finding quality (i.e., well-researched, well-written, lacking in tactics such as clickbait that give the impression that they are more fluff than substance, etc.) information to share with others.

Do you set reading goals? If so, what are your goals for 2017?

 

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This is my favorite running shirt. I approve of anything that is simultaneously a Firefly fandom squee and a notification that I aim to kick ass.

As my one word for 2016, true has been brutal. Part of this brutality is that I thought it would be easy.

I’ll just pause a moment for everyone who knew better to stop laughing.

It hasn’t all been terrible. I have fine-tuned my life significantly to form it into something that is truer to who I am. That part has been invigorating. In some ways, I am significantly more at home in my life than I was a year ago.

All this change has been uncomfortable, however. I have discovered the sharp edges of certain aspects of myself that were only hazy forms in the back of my mind before, and they’re not all pretty. Some are upsetting. I’m not as honest with myself as I would have liked to think I was. Admitting that things are true about me that I desperately want not to be true is disheartening. And the process of deciding what to do with these realizations has been excruciating. It’s not finished, but I wish it were.

I’ve been reading through The Road Back to You for the last couple of months, and I wish I’d read it at the beginning of the year. I’m a One. I am a perfectionist and pretty hard on myself. True is the calling of the Ones – for our principles to 1) be high and right and 2) be congruent with our behavior/life/outcomes. The cognitive dissonance often created by this pursuit (as, alas, we are not perfect) is very stressful to us.

Stress is anger-making (although we prefer to call it “frustration”). It’s no wonder, therefore, that Ones are part of the Anger Triad (or as a friend affectionately calls it, the Chaos Trio). Rather than feeling the guilt I would have expected when I read this, I felt relief. It offered an explanation for my anger rather than the condemnation I’m used to receiving for it. It also confirmed my choice for my one word for 2017 – wild.

This coming year, I’m going to embrace the wild.

Wild is a natural progression from the last few years of beauty and fun and true. Wild encompasses them all and sets them free. That is exactly the kind of year I’d like to have. That is exactly the kind of year I insist on having, despite whatever effort the world might have to squelch it.

Wild abandon – I want to learn to hold resources, such as money and time, more loosely. I don’t want to treat them irresponsibly or in a way that is destructive, but  I could stand to regard them less fearfully. I want to develop a practice of derailment. Half of what stresses me out when the news is especially terrible is how it derails my whole life. I even toyed momentarily with the notion of not reading so much news, but then I promptly dismissed said notion, because I know I’d be doing so in order to hide, thus thwarting my ability to be informed about how to pursue justice. So instead I want to embrace the derailment. To thrive within it. To stop worrying so much about it. And to definitely stop apologizing for it.

Wild survival – Wild things are obsessed with staying alive. They are acutely aware of dangers and how to avoid them. I want to pay closer attention to my survival instinct. I want to resist laziness and continue pursuing my health goals that I set last March. I want to take care of myself emotionally instead of ignoring warning signs until they become so tangible that they become a detriment to my well-being and productivity.

Wild liberation – My word for the year could just as easily be “free.” With all that threatens to oppress in this world, I want to be a force pushing in the opposite direction. I imagine this upcoming year will present many opportunities to do so.

This is just the beginning, but I am excited (and also terrified…three parts excited to one part terrified isn’t a bad ratio) to see what this year of wild brings.

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