How do we “do life”?

I’m a practical person and I get fed up when I hear a sermon or talk and there is no practical application, but then I realised I’d sent out a piece that talked of “doing life” and having the right attitude but didn’t really say how to. And ok one can say that actually we all need to work out our own path to finding a right attitude, but all these self-help books wouldn’t sell so well if it was just about us working it out in our own heads. So here’s my attempt at “how to do life?”

Life in all its fullness – John 10

As a Christian I do go back to the Bible and to what Jesus says about things. I believe as well as being the Son of God – wholly God and wholly human – Jesus was also a great teacher so I think it’s good to hear what he has to say on things. Jesus said “with me you can have life and life to its fullness.” This was doing life and life in all its completeness. I don’t think Jesus was saying there wouldn’t be any hassles, any deaths, cancers, loses to grieve over, hard times to walk thougth but I do think he that what he is saying is that we can have life in its fullness even in those hard time. But how do we tap into this?

Well Brian McLaren  in “We make the path by walking” says we need to look at the story behind the miracles Jesus did. In the story of where Jesus turns water

Paolo Veronese’s interpretation of The Wedding at Cana – hung in the Louvre, Paris

into wine (John 2) we get so caught up in the details of this story that we can miss what could be the underlying message. Jesus uses the jars that were for ceremonial washing and messes things up. McLaren says that Jesus is showing that it doesn’t matter if this are clean or unclean but that it is all about super-abundance and super-celebration. Here was too much wine for one small Galilean village to drink in a week let alone in a day! And also they could no longer ceremonially wash their crockery or hands. The need to be religious had gone and it was time to enjoy life. This didn’t mean they stopped farming, doing business deals (and a wedding was a place where many business deals were carried out), caring for children, elderly parents, those who were sick. The things of life would go on but the religiosity was gone. Again McLaren talks of a healing Jesus did on the Sabbath. And the sermon is always based on the fact that Jesus did his healing on the Sabbath. My daughter has always struggled with this saying that Jesus was being deliberately obtuse and surely that’s wrong. But actually what Jesus again was doing was saying let go of your anxiety and fear of getting it right, stop being paranoid and look at me.

Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones with the real Jane and Stephen Hawking

We watched “The Theory of Everything” and in that saw a man who could have so easily been pitied and achieved nothing, and I am sure people with lesser disabilities do give up but not just Stephen Hawking, but his wife Jane and many of their friends “did life”. In fact there are so many quotes for Hawking that I don’t know where to being. The film finishes with him saying “where there is life there is hope” and there is:

Look up at the stars and down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder what makes the universe exist. Be curious.

However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.

Hawking doesn’t have much choice where he looks because of not being able to control his muscles but he does have a choice of how he views life. Often we can choose where we look but choose to look at our feet. As Oscar Wilde said:

We’re all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars

To “do life” means we choose where we look and how we view the world. We can choose to look at the stars and be curious or we can choose to  look at our feet and our circumstances. We can choose whether we accept what we are told or be curious at what is going on. Hawking and especially his wife Jane, refused to accept what they were told and look at the difference he made to the world. My friend who started me on this quest regarding “doing life” refused to let cancer beat him. I have other friends who refuse to accept what the world says about how their story should be played out and are “doing life” in the craziest of ways.

I’m not sure how practical this has been but to be it is about having faith, being curious, getting rid of fear and paranoia and looking at the stars, at the what could be if only …  And then, I believe, not just going for it but helping, supporting, encouraging and loving each other to get there too.

Advertisements

The dilemma of being both relational and an introvert

introvert

Along this journey of self-discovery I am realising that I am an introvert. More and more I am realising that I need time and space alone to recharge. This was why, even though many people felt sorry for me, having New Year’s Eve all to myself was just what I needed.

I am also realising that I am a relational person. I make connections with people easily. People like me. They want to be with me. I love talking with people, encouraging them, hearing what they have to say, connecting. But this then tires me. I love walking my dog but I have connected with many of the dog walkers in my area and most mornings I walk with someone. My dog is uber-sociable and he just wants to be with other dogs, so will look very sad if I try to go off just us two. And there are other dog walkers who crave other people being about and they will look sad if I say I want to be alone. So I have to learn to be sociable and relational but also to get time to introvert and to recharge.

It helps me understand why, much as I did enjoy my job, before the incident that rechargecaused me to leave, why I found it so tiring. I was with people for too long. So how do I make sure I get time to recharge, to introvert, but also have time to be with people. It’s not a job. It is a vocation, connecting with people, and it is what I like doing, but it’s not something that recharges me. Actually it gives me life to hear about other people’s stories, to be able to learn how they see they world, to look at the world from another perspective, as well as encouraging them along their journey. I encourage them, they encourage me. It’s not a one way path but goes back and forth.

My key relationships are with my husband then my children, but if I give too much time to others, because of being on that introvert scale, I can finish up with not enough internal resources left to give to my husband or children. So I would work – which was giving of energy, catch up with friends – another giving of energy, manage a bit of time with family – more giving of energy, and then wonder why I got snappy. I wasn’t angry but I was short tempered, but was because my inner energy tank was empty. People would challenge me on whether I was doing the right thing see people and I would always answer “yes it was the right thing.” And actually I do believe that to be true, but what I wasn’t doing was making sure I had time alone to recharge, either with writing or a book or just a lie in the bath.

As I journey through this I am learning to plan my time better. Not that goal-orientated-time-management stuff where one makes sure one fits in as much “productive” stuff as possible, but actually making sure, as I look at diary for my week, that I have enough time to be alone. Some days will be harder to sort than others. Some days I’ll just have to be kind to myself, tell myself and my husband that I will be more tetchy because I’ve not had space to recharge. It’s ok not to get it right every time.

I do wonder at times if we live in a world that says we should fill it full of things and people, of goals and busyness. I am reading “Quiet –The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” and can see how we live in a world that praises extroverts. I have been given “The Introvert Charismatic” that I need to read too. It will be interesting to see if we can bring about an “Introvert’s Revolution” or whether that is just too much for introvert’s to execute? 🙂

Along this journey of self-discovery I am realising that I am an introvert. Moreintrovert charismatic and more I am realising that I need time and space alone to recharge. This was why, even though many people felt sorry for me, having New Year’s Eve all to myself was just what I needed.

I am also realising that I am a relational person. I make connections with people easily. People like me. They want to be with me. I love talking with people, encouraging them, hearing what they have to say, connecting. But this then tires me. I love walking my dog but I have connected with many of the dog walkers in my area and most mornings I walk with someone. My dog is uber-sociable and he just wants to be with other dogs, so will look very sad if I try to go off just us two. And there are other dog walkers who crave other people being about and they will look sad if I say I want to be alone. So I have to learn to be sociable and relational but also to get time to introvert and to recharge.

It helps me understand why, much as I did enjoy my job, before the incident that caused me to leave, why I found it so tiring. I was with people for too long. So how do I make sure I get time to recharge, to introvert, but also have time to be with people. It’s not a job. It is a vocation, connecting with people, and it is what I like doing, but it’s not something that recharges me. Actually it gives me life to hear about other people’s stories, to be able to learn how they see they world, to look at the world from another perspective, as well as encouraging them along their journey. I encourage them, they encourage me. It’s not a one way path but goes back and forth.

My key relationships are with my husband then my children, but if I give too much time to others, because of being on that introvert scale, I can finish up with not enough internal resources left to give to my husband or children. So I would work – which was giving of energy, catch up with friends – another giving of energy, manage a bit of time with family – more giving of energy, and then wonder why I got snappy. I wasn’t angry but I was short tempered, but was because my inner energy tank was empty. People would challenge me on whether I was doing the right thing see people and I would always answer “yes it was the right thing.” And actually I do believe that to be true, but what I wasn’t doing was making sure I had time alone to recharge, either with writing or a book or just a lie in the bath.

As I journey through this I am learning to plan my time better. Not that goal-orientated-time-management stuff where one makes sure one fits in as much “productive” stuff as possible, but actually making sure, as I look at diary for my week, that I have enough time to be alone. Some days will be harder to sort than others. Some days I’ll just have to be kind to myself, tell myself and my husband that I will be more tetchy because I’ve not had space to recharge. It’s ok not to get it right every time.

I do wonder at times if we live in a world

This explains so much of why I don’t like small talk. 🙂 Clever tortoise

that says we should fill it full of things and people, of goals and busyness. I am reading “Quiet – In praise of Introverts” and can see how we live in a world that praises extroverts. I have been given “Introverts in the Charismatic world” that I need to read too. It will be interesting to see if we can bring about an “Introvert’s Revolution” or whether that is just too much for introvert’s to execute? 🙂

Calling and role rather than setting goals

Like the chameleon I need to be able to adapt to my surroundings

I’m now at the day when I was going to “start the plan for the rest of my life” but I think what is being revealed is that things don’t always go as planned. My daughter was meant to go back to university either yesterday or today but isn’t now going until tomorrow so I’m spending time with her. My husband now only works a 4 day week and doesn’t work on a Monday so he wanted to have time with me, which was lovely because we haven’t really seen much of each other this year as he’s been working away in Holland for a few days and then I was away this weekend studying. Also I’d arranged to dog walk with a dear friend who’s input is very special in my life. So “the rest of my life” didn’t start it’s planning today. But I think what this has said to me is that flexibility is part of the plan.

An old home schooling friend who is now in business as a life coach for simple, authentic living recently published a blog post that said how instead of setting goals, which means we are always either looking at the past to what we didn’t door to the future of what we hope to achieve, which can so easily lead to disappointment, we should look at who we are. So one looks at one’s calling, one’s role and also how one can serve, and in serving it isn’t just serving others but serving ourselves in the situation. So often we are taught that to serve ourselves is selfish and that we should be giving to others when in fact the advice given on an aeroplane is to put on one’s own oxygen mask first before helping others. In other words check you’re ok and can breath before rushing off to help others. So if I make sure I’m safe and breathing then I can serve others but if I’m struggling and can’t breath then I won’t be able to help anyone else. A bit of a change of culture.

There is a challenge inherent in this process of allowing ourselves to accept, be with and act on what transpires. (To begin with, what appear to be concrete goals can seem a lot safer!)

Who are what would you rather be guided by? What gives you greater peace?

So following on from my friend’s advice above I need to accept who I am and be me and then act from who I am and see what happens. So there is no plan, no set of goals but an living out who I am. So no goals are going to be set on the fact that I am going to this on this date or that or that date, or that I’m going to get thinner by x or more healthier by y. In fact last year I did lose a lot of weight and I am fitter but not because I set a goal to be but because I took a simple blood test to find out what foods I was intolerant to and then cut them out. I’ve gone down a whole clothes size and I do look good. I’m also healthier because I’m no longer eating foods that my body doesn’t like. I worked on accepting who I was and what I could eat and acted from there.

So for now I have to work on my MSc in creative writing for therapeutic purposes because its what I love doing, part of who I am and see what happens from there. I enjoy being with my family and with lots of my friends that I am being able to catch up with now I’m not doing any paid work. And work-wise something will come about that will help to pay the bills, but it won’t come by me setting goals but by me accepting who I am and living my life from the place of being me.

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
We have come to our real work…
And when we no longer know which way to go
We have come to our real journey.
Wendell Berry