Whether you turn to the right or to the left,

your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,

“This is the way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

Spend it all ...

I have not written much at all lately.

I keep getting great ideas and I write them in a notebook and promise myself that I am going to write a post on this blog!

And then I fail.

I am not beating myself up; just noticing the way I am navigating this issue.

So, I came across this little bit of writing this morning from Annie Dillard - an incredibly nuanced and prolific writer.

She motivated me to start afresh and actually WRITE!

Dillard says,

One of the few things I know about writing is this: Spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Don't hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The very impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful; it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes."

I don't want to open my safe and find ashes.

More writing coming soon!

Regret #2 ...

Regret #2 from the book The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying is ...

I wish I hadn't worked so hard.

This can immediately make some of us feel guilty because we are working hard!

And there are certain seasons of life where this is unavoidable.

There is also nothing that implies this statement only applies to paid work.

There is nothing that implies that laziness is what will leave us with no regrets.

What I believe this statement does imply is that people - when they get to the end of their lives - regret:

 ... that they didn't create enough space to nurture important relationships

... that they focused too much on gathering more stuff, rather than more meaning

... that they didn't make time to read, rest, relax, recreate, refresh, renew

... that they spent too much energy and effort on self-improvement rather than self-acceptance

... that they worked too hard on home improvement rather than on travel, hospitality, and generosity

... that they allowed the Protestant work ethic to keep them on the treadmill of endless busyness

Again, this regret can be a great springboard for self-reflection:

Where and how am I working too hard? Too much?

Am I creating enough margin in my life for the things that really matter most to me?

Are my closest relationships thriving or withering?

Do I allow myself the freedom to cease work without guilt?

Is my life a balance of hard work and deep rest?

When is the last time I "wasted" a day doing something that refreshed my soul?

Maybe take a bit of time this weekend to ask yourself a few of these questions

... and be sure to do it with your feet up!

 

Regret #1 ...

I've experienced a couple of deaths lately and this has me thinking about life. Isn't it funny how that works?

By chance I picked up a book a few months ago that sat on the bottom of my pile until recently. It is called "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying" by Bronnie Ware. (And yes, her name is Bronnie, not Bonnie.)

Fascinating. Motivating. Thought-provoking.

What do you think Regret #1 is?

I will spare you the suspense ...

Regret #1 is: "I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."

So, I've been asking myself every morning: Is this day - at least most of  it - the day I want to live? Or is it mostly the day others expect me to live?

Pretty great questions, aren't they?

If I notice too many activities that are not true to who I know myself to be I am going to start cutting those things out of my life, out of my days.

If I notice not enough space, time, or energy for the things in my life that feel truest to me, then I will  create more space, say no more often, remove obligatory tasks, cut out dumb time wasters.

I want to move more and more toward living every day in such a way that I don't experience Regret #1 when I face the end, whenever that may be.

Way too many of our younger years are often spent trying to gain the approval of others - our peers, our parents, our own inner critic.

As I move through these middle years, I happily find myself worrying less and less about what other folks think of me. I care more and more about what I think of myself.  I really only do a few things well. Thankfully, those same things bring me life and joy.

My current mantra is as simple as this:

Do the things that are the most you. Don't do the other things. The end.