Thursday, May 22, 2014

Controlling the Uncontrollable

How do you control that feeling when you feel like you want to control something that is not in your control?

Wow.  That is a loaded question when I read it written out like that.  I think that the key differentiation lies in the action around the word "control".

I know I can't control everything.  Primarily because that is not my God given purpose, but also because I shouldn't.  I have lived 38 years of experiences that are my own only.  I have expertise in some areas, I know enough to be dangerous in others and I am flat our ignorant on all the rest.  Me controlling everything would create too many problems and I would probably explode with anxiety resulting over what actions I did or did not take attempting to control things.

Controlling everything is not an option.

What can I control?  Well, really the only thing I can control when it comes down to it is myself.  My actions and emotions are mine alone.  My actions and emotions are impacted by others and experiences.  I seek to be guided by God.  He gave me free will to own my actions and emotions.  His teachings guide my decisions and create a foundation of morals and beliefs that make me who I am.

I am enough for me to control.

There are 168 hours in a week and every one of those (with the exception of when I am sleeping) gives me an opportunity to decide my action and emotions.  Wasting time in the wilderness of worry was a big time suck in my past and I have since improved greatly; however, sometimes the question that I first posed above taunts me and I find it hard to return to center.

Eventually to answer that question takes defining what it is that is causing me to be in the wilderness of worry and to lay out some choices.  How do I weed out the choices?  I first ask which ones require work by others to play out and throw those out or add actions that I can take to help (talking to someone, asking them to help, etc.).  Ultimately the choices have to consist of my next action, not someone else's.  Secondly, I think through the results of taking that action or proceeding with that emotional decision and determine that some are not workable or desirable to solving the problem (not just a band-aid) and throw them out.  Third, I take the top choices and ask what is the worst that could happen and ultimately make a choice from there.

Sometimes the best choice is to take a minute, take a deep breath (the action), smile (another action), write down my feelings on scrap paper and rip them up to say goodbye to them (the action mixes with emotion) and decide right then and there that I am going to be thankful and grateful (two awesome emotions) for the ability to even have a decision and make the choice to move forward in service to the world eager to help and use the gifts and talents that I have been given to make a difference for someone else.

It is not really about me anyway.  It really isn't even about the other person in the end either.  At the end of the day it is about serving others through the love and grace of Jesus Christ and that makes me smile.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Creative Outlet

We all need a creative outlet.  Something, or in some cases a few things, that allow us to separate from the day to day of our job and even parenting or connect with our own creative nature.  Even if you are tasked to be creative for work or if you are creative as a homeschooling parent, there is still a need for a creative outlet.

Creative outlets can come in many forms.  They may be quickly accessed and only take a few minutes to tap into, or they may be planned longer term and take time away to fully experience.  I think that there is a need for both.  Some examples of my creative outlets are:

  1. When I have 5 minutes - I keep a coloring book and colored pencils at my desk at work and take it out sometimes when I have hit a block and need a quick escape into something totally unrelated to anything.
  2. When I need an hour - Every 2 weeks, a group of co-workers and I meet in a conference room to knit or crochet for charity or personal projects.  Sometimes work is a topic so it truly isn't a complete separation; however, it does allow my hands and eyes to escape from the computer and keyboard for an hour and to connect with some co-workers I don't see too often.
  3. As a daily reprieve - I crochet/knit at home on a nightly basis.  Each night I try to do a few rows and relax as I move from day to evening.  I like to crochet/knit for charity and being able to think of the opportunity to give something to someone I don't know puts a smile on my face as I hope it will do to theirs.  
  4. When I want to retreat - I have been known to lock myself up in my room with a day of Netflix and some yarn to just knit/crochet the day away.  I have a friend who recently visited Brown County, Indiana and rented a cabin there for a weekend.  I am  hopeful that I will find the time to perhaps explore this as a creative retreat overnight someday soon.  
A couple of "rules".  Although there are really no rules to creativity, there are a couple of helpful things that I have found to keep the "habit" of creativity active in my life.

  1. Portability - it is important that at least some the tools of creativity are portable to meet the needs of  life.  I am not always in the same place at the same time every day so having a portable option ensures that when I need a creative break, I have something that I can take along wherever I may be going.
  2. Accessibility - "Out of sight, Out of mind" definitely applies with creativity.  I need to be able to see and quickly get to my creative tools or I risk getting out of the habit.
  3. Form a Habit - at the risk of making it sound like a "job" or a "task", work at the beginning to form a habit of creativity so that you will be able to look forward to the moment and get in and out of it quickly.  This way, when you are in creative mode, you can truly enjoy the moment or moments that you get.

Writing this blog entry today was a creative outlet to me.  I now feel happy to return to work a more focused and productive person.

Enjoy your day!