No TV Day

                I want to let you in on the funny irony I feel as I’m writing this post: my husband and I don’t have a tv.  I cannot tell you how many people have passionately offered us an extra one they have or an old one they are getting rid of when they learn this about us.  Others often seemed shocked and even concerned, as if they just realized we’ve been living without food in our home, or sleeping on a cold, hard floor.  We always decline these kind offers and try to reassure the well-intentioned worriers.  Because, to be honest, we love not having one.

            Of course, we still watch tv – thank you, Netflix!  In fact, we just finished the final season of Burn Notice and are casually going through Last Man Standing, Undercover Bosses, and LOST (I was one of those crazy fans back when it originally aired; my hubbie is a newbie).  But after a long day at work, it can be all too easy to spend too much of our evening zoned out in front our laptop.

About the time we began vocalizing this concern to one another, our church community began talking about fasting in preparation of the Lenten season.  We connected the dots in our lives and decided to schedule ‘No tv Wednesdays.’  While the topic of fasting probably deserves an entire post of its own (spoiler alert to an upcoming post, lol!), I want to focus this space on what I’ve learned during this journey, so far.

1)      We have more time than we think.  As I’ve mentioned in other posts, time is a hot commodity in our household.  I’m sure we’re not alone in often feeling there is not enough time to do what we need and want to do.  I am always surprised at how much longer the evenings feel when we choose to refrain from watching any tv shows.  Time just feels slower when not being sucked away by our technology.         

2)      Watching shows is not the only way to unwind.  While I wouldn’t call myself a tv fanatic, I do find it very relaxing to cuddle up and watch a show.  Perhaps that is because it is an easy way to ‘escape’ from our thoughts about our own lives and instead get caught up in another story.  Of course, novels are another way to do this (I’ve loved to read my whole life), and taking a break from the tv helps create more time for pastimes such as reading.  Getting out of the typical routine also provides an opportunity to get creative – one of our first tv-free days, I pulled out a coloring book and enjoyed an activity I hadn’t done in a long time!

3)      We need breaks from sensory stimulation.  We are a fast-paced, verb-focused, and entertainment-hungry society.  We go, go, go, and do, do, do.  We watch, listen, and share videos, music, and data faster than ever before.  This, of course, has its good points.  However, I often find myself overwhelmed at all the visual and auditory information that is constantly bombarding me.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  I can choose to ‘unplug’ and allow myself to be quiet and still, enjoying the benefits of doing so.

Do you have any ways you ‘unplug’ in your life?  

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The Magic of Sabbath

            I think Sabbath can be an intimidating word.  It’s heavy with religious tradition and has been around long enough to have many misconceptions attached to it.  But at its core is a simple yet revolutionary concept to many Americans (and others in fast-paced, performance-centered cultures): rest.

            Followers of Christianity and Judaism get this concept from Genesis.  God created the world and then set aside a specific, intentional time (the seventh day) for rest.  Later, this becomes a huge debate between Jewish followers who wonder what exactly they can and cannot do on this special day.  Jesus shows up and, in a typical Jesus move, tries to tell them that they’re missing the point.

I think we’re still missing that point.  We all know we need rest, but building it into our everyday lives can be difficult.  We stay up late watching TV and then try to get up early to hit the gym before work.  We stay late at the office, pick up extra weekend shifts when we can, and cram every moment not at work with errands, chores, and as much fun as we can handle with what little energy we have left.

I reject this harried lifestyle, even though I partially live it (I’m working on it!).  The following are three characteristics to consider as we attempt to embrace Sabbath a bit more in our lives, whether we consider ourselves ‘religious’ or not.

  1. Individually – Your Sabbath should be just that – your’s.  Everyone has preferences for how they best rest.  Some may want to be alone, but others may rather rest with a partner, or even as a family.  Some may want to lounge in their PJs all day, whereas others may want to head to the park to ‘play’ or picnic.  It’s not so much what you do (or don’t do!) as much as that you feel rejuvenated.
  2. In Increments – While I really need a full day of rest pretty regularly, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the benefits of rest if you don’t have an entire day to spare.  Even just a few moments of closing your eyes and breathing deeply at work can help you feel more at ease.  Find whatever time you can – whether it’s five minutes or two hours – to begin enjoying periods of rest.
  3. Intentionally – For most of us, beautiful chucks of nothing are not going to magically appear in our schedules (as much as we may wish they would!).  Reaching towards Sabbath may initially involve a bit of work and planning on our part.  I think saying no plays a big role; that may even mean saying no to a fun event on a weekend that is already filled with plans.  Know your rest needs, and don’t be afraid to actively pursue creating space in your life! (Sounds like this goes back to boundaries…)

Do you have Sabbath in your life?  If so, what does it look like?  If not, how can you make it happen?

(If you’re interested in this subject, I highly recommend Lauren Winner’s book Mudhouse Sabbath.  Only one chapter covers this specific topic, but the others are very interesting, as well.)    

Boundaries

This may seem like a strange post on a blog about loving life (Boundaries? Ick!  No fun!), but I’m realizing more and more just how essential boundaries are for experiencing peace and joy in our lives.

 In fact, we had an unpleasant lesson on this topic in our home just recently. An impoverished and ‘somewhat  homeless’ neighbor we have had a relationship with for years was in our kitchen alone while my husband went to check for empty cans & bottles we could give him.  Later that evening, we realized some money was missing from an envelope that we had forgotten was laying on a nearby counter.  We did some legwork in hopes that our initial conclusion was wrong, but unfortunately, all the evidence (including a peanut butter smear on the envelope) pointed to this man that we had called friend.

 Our boundaries with him are now going to change. That doesn’t mean we no longer care for him or that we hate him or that we want to completely cut him from our lives.  It means we are making adjustments in our relationship with him in response to this saddening occurrence.

 Boundaries are important in multiple areas of our lives, but I want to focus on what I consider three of the most obvious:

  1.  Relationships – As my mom always said, ‘You teach people how to treat you.’  I’m pretty sure this concept shows up in many psychological-based books on relationships.  As much as we want to, we can’t ever change other people; we can encourage and help growth, surely, but we can’t make the actual growth happen.  What we can control is ourselves and what we allow in our relationships.  This often involves some uncomfortable conversations (like the one we now have to have with our neighbor), but being honest about what you expect from others is a great way to grow those relationships and – hopefully – weed out negative behaviors.
  2.  Work – This one can be tricky.  As an employee, you are paid to do certain tasks and, as such, have entered into an agreement of work with your employer.  Obviously, none of us want to piss off the person signing our checks. All communication regarding boundaries requires tact, and perhaps this is most evident in our work lives.  But if your work load has continuously increased with no compensation, perhaps there is a manager or someone you can go to about such concerns.  Or maybe you’ve been picking up more and more slack for a co-worker and you feel they’ve begun to take advantage of that.  There’s nothing wrong with finding a good moment to tell them how you feel and explain the limits to how much you are able to help them from now on.
  3.  Time – As you may have already realized, good boundaries are set in place as a form of protection.  They are not walls; they are not created to keep people out, but rather to ensure the enclosed space is both defined and respected.  I find that time is one of the areas my husband and I have to be most on guard to protect.  It’s like we could blink and – poof – four days in a row are filled with plans with little time for rest or each other.  So we carefully consider when we make social plans, how much we can volunteer, and how many different activities we can commit to.  This takes honesty about our wants and needs, as well as some hard-core prioritizing.  But I think protecting our time is well worth it.

 What areas of your life might need some better boundary building?

Welcome!

Hi! Thanks for stopping in. I’m a first-time blogger (though life-long writer) who is looking for a way to use up some extra creative energy I have jostling about within me. After daydreaming more times than I can count of quitting my office job and pursuing my dream of (depending on the day and my mood, insert yoga instructor, holistic healer, home elder companion, non-profit position, Etsy creator, or author here), I decided I really need more creative expression in my life. And I don’t think quitting my job is the solution – though a girl can certainly dream.

I have a lot of interests, so while this blog may seem to be a bit all over the place, I hope everything I share can be applied to better living – and loving – life . I predict topics spanning from going green & eating healthy to racial reconciliation & various social justice issues to relationships & organization to travelling and…well, you get the picture. I don’t see a reason to limit this space to one topic when that is not really how most people work. I’m a messy collaboration of passions, sure, but I’d rather be that than have no passions at all!

So, here’s a little about me: I’m in my twenties and am very happy with my life. I am married to my best friend (yeah, yeah – corny, I know) who is the most delightful combination of loving, smart, & goofy. We have many wonderful relationships with family members and friends, live in Detroit, and love to volunteer both at church and in our community. I’ve been known to over-organize and make massive lists and also to blow off my to-do’s to venture into Netflix land (except for Wednesdays, which is currently ‘no TV day’).

Life is a crazy journey, and I feel so grateful for where I’m at on this winding path – where are you?