Work – More Than Gainful Employment

There’s a time for rest and doing things that we find pleasurable or bring us joy. There’s also a time to work – not just at a place of employment in exchange for money, but in your own homes. A job well done brings  brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction – joy. I am guilty in a huge way of laziness and idleness. Wait. Let me rephrase that. I am guilty in a huge way of physical laziness. My mind is never idle. I have a hyperactive mind! I have great intentions, but I lack the drive get started. I think every task on my list is going to be hard and take a very long time, so I procrastinate … an hour, a day, a week, and so on. Before long, my list of tasks has grown to something beyond overwhelming, and I shut down completely.

Genesis 2:15:

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

The things we are blessed with having cannot care for themselves. Work is required. Man was not meant to be idle. This doesn’t mean we need to be working every waking moment of our days, but work is necessary in life. Even if a person were able to live off the land, cook over a fire, and read by candle light without being gainfully employed, they still work. They hunt/garden, cook, and clean.

Everything we do requires work. Unless you have a servant, getting a glass of water requires walking to the kitchen, getting a glass, perhaps filling it with some ice cubes, and filling it with water.

Blogging is work. It may be harder work for me than for someone else. It has taken me a long time to write just this much. I wrote more but deleted it because it was overkill and headed in too many directions. My mind goes in many directions, and it’s hard not to let my posts run off in all those directions as well. If I wrote the way my mind wanders, everyone would consider me completely bonkers! That may well be, but sometimes I want to make a clear point. I almost deleted the entire post because by this point, I’m feeling like none of this is going to matter much to anyone anyway.

On the off chance it might matter to just one person, I won’t delete it. If only one person can make sense of the madness that comes from my scattered brain, then YAY! :D

Now I must walk away from my greatest distraction (the internet) and work on some things on my list of tasks. I’m talking projects more than simple tasks, though. Procrastination be damned! I need that sense of accomplishment; that satisfaction in a job well done. That’s right! well done. Not just done. I don’t like approaching projects willy nilly and rushing through them just to get them done. I’m sure this is a big reason I see each project as overwhelming.

But I digress. Before I go on and on from there, I bid you adieu. Work awaits.

The Garden of Your Mind

I shared this last on Facebook last night, but I’m sure it fell so far down the news feed that no one will see it today – especially since such a small percentage of people stray from the Home page to visit Timelines (Walls) directly. I found a link to it on a photographer’s blog post. It’s catchy because it’s auto-tuned, but something else about it resonated with me so much that I felt it deserved its own blog post!

Here’s a version that isn’t remixed.

“Did you ever think of the many things that you’ve learned to do since you were a tiny baby?” Think about that! Why do we now go through our days doing the same thing over and over and balk about learning new things?

“You have wonderful ideas. All you have to do is think about them, and they’ll grow.” They really will! The trouble is, as most people would argue, we don’t have TIME to think about them. I’m going to play the BS card on that one. We don’t MAKE time to think about them. If you make time to do things that make you truly happy, bring you joy, then the rough things are easier to endure as well.

Finding Serenity and Joy

I posted a quote on Facebook yesterday from Julie Powell’s blog:

“I am bored by much food writing, by the need people seem to have to equate the preparation of food with privilege, romance and unbroken serenity.”

You can insert a lot of different things in that: “People seem to equate _____________ with privilege, romance, and unbroken serenity.” If doing certain things make you feel these things, that’s great. I’m not knocking that. What I don’t understand is why some people feel that they must do certain things in order to feel these things. It’s like if they don’t, then their life is meaningless. Seriously?! I equate designing jewelry with unbroken serenity, but I don’t feel like I must be doing that to feel that way. I equate playing games with my family with pure joy and happiness, but I get the same feeling just being with them – sitting in the same room, watching a movie, or just watching or listening to them when they don’t even know it. :)

Maybe it’s because I’m the type of person who doesn’t need over-stimulation to feel emotions in a big way. I’m a super-sensitive type so it doesn’t take a lot to make me well up or to make my heart burst with pride and love. In fact, too much stimulation makes me anxious and want to shut down.

What do you equate with serenity and joy? Do you find elaborate, planned activities or interactions with family more fulfilling than simply being together? Why or why not?

Happiness is…

What Constitutes a Happy and Fulfilled Life?

Simply hanging out with my family makes me happy. There’s a relaxed joy about just lounging in the family room watching a movie or favorite shows together. Not everyone in the family enjoys the same types of games, and that’s fine. Some of us enjoy being more silly than others. Personally, it depends on my mood; I can be crazy silly or just slightly silly. Spending time individually with my kids is also important to me – even if it’s just for ten minutes or so. Hearing their views on things, learning what’s important to them, knowing their goals in life (or just for the current week) … these things warm my heart. I encourage their individuality. This brings us all peace.

I truly enjoy the work I do at my “day job”. It’s satisfying to know that I helped someone solve a problem or that I did my part in maintaining a safe and secure place to do business.  It’s also a total thrill to me to push and challenge myself to do better all the time. It’s a bit of an adrenaline rush for me!

Photography is a passion of mine. Anyone can take snapshots, but simply buying an “over-the-counter” DSLR Canon from Best Buy didn’t instantly make me a professional. Yes, my photos started looking better, but until I really learned how to use all the settings available and invested in a few good lenses and learned more about composition (I already refused to use the on-camera flash – ICK), I was really still a point-and-shooter – just with a somewhat nicer camera. At best, I had moved up to an avid photographer or an aspiring professional. But I digress. What I love about photography is capturing the ordinary in extraordinary ways to draw the eye to things normally overlooked so you see the true beauty and find real emotion in things. This brings me joy!

There is something I find fulfilling, and that is to observe and totally absorb my surroundings wherever I am. At the risk of sounding like a stalker, I do pay attention to people at the store. I find human behavior very interesting. It’s much more than that, though. I pay attention to sounds and smells all around me, and I really SEE everything – not just what is directly in front of me. When I’m at the grocery store reaching for apples, I notice the entire display of the variety of apples and how meticulously they are stacked at an angle with the stems all facing left. I notice the sweet and tart smells and also the sound of the produce bag rustling as I place each apple into it. I notice the smooth coolness of the apple (or the peculiar bumpiness of an avocado) in my hand. Total awareness like this is extremely satisfying to me. To make the conscious effort to notice everything in life is important to me. It calms me.

Notice the end of each paragraph: peace, adrenaline rush, joy, and calm. These things make me happy!  What makes you happy? What satisfies you and fulfills your life?

Joy vs. Stress & Worry

Pure joy can be seen in this expression!

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” ~ Psalm 90:14  (see all of Psalm 90 here)

While processing the hundreds of photos I took at our church’s annual block party, I noticed many different expressions on faces. Only after the event did I read a message again that specified they were looking for lots of smiles.

Shaking in my boots, I opened the photo file to see how many smiles I actually captured… a wave of relief washed over me when I saw that many were smiling. There were also expressions that gave off vibes of concern, worry, tension, stress, and distance (their bodies were there, but their minds were somewhere else).

Because I knew a lot of these people and was also there for fellowship myself, I didn’t spend a lot of time noticing or studying these expressions while I was photographing them. The beauty of photography is that it allows you to capture moments in time and save them forever. Looking back at photos, you see things you may not have noticed in that moment. There are so many things we take for granted and don’t necessarily notice as we go about our day. Since I have that “photographer mind” all the time, though, I notice and pay more attention to these details.

I love it when smiles come easily, and it concerns me when smiles don’t come easily for people. Without being able to hear a conversation someone is having 100 feet away, you can tell the tone of the conversation by their facial expressions and body language. The furrowed brow, the tilt/nod/shake of the head, the way their mouths form their words, the way their hands are used, and the positioning of their bodies. It’s great to have compassion for those with unfortunate circumstances or illness. We should absolutely pray for such people. We should also pray for those causing fear. Lift it all up to God, and then leave it with Him. Don’t carry it around with you throughout your day and spread it to others.

My thoughts are scattered, and I’m trying to rush through this post. My two main thoughts here are 1) gossip/”gloom-and-doom” conversations, and 2) stress and worry. The first one just shouldn’t happen – period. The second one is hard for many to avoid, and it seems to be getting harder for each new generation. I’d love to just let that open up a discussion about why that is the case through comments, so please feel free to throw your thoughts out there by commenting below!

What causes your stress? How does your stress influence the way you react to situations that may arise at work, at home, even with your children?

On the other hand…

What causes your joy? In times of joy, how do you react to situations that may arise at work, at home, even with your children?

Quality – What Does it Mean?

I heard someone mention recently that they wanted quality in their life.  I’ve heard the phrase “quality of life” used when talking about illness, and I know what means to have your work performance evaluated for quality.  Exactly what having quality in your life means wasn’t as clear to me.

So I looked up the definition of quality.  Excellence, superiority, and high social status stood out to me throughout.  Excellence is open to interpretation;  superiority isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; and high social status is just too much work.  It’s like striving for perfection when we all know there’s no such thing as perfect.  Until you realize this, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.  I’d rather choose contentment.  (See Psalm 145)

Being content doesn’t have to mean you’re settling.  I think that if you combine that contentment with gratitude, that is quality. “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24)  I want joy in my life.

Where are you on this spectrum?  Are you searching for something more, or are you content with your life?