A Matter of Focus

As midnight approached… and we were scanning through the half a dozen channels that our little RCA antenna is able to pick up out here in the middle of nowhere, we were considering what the new year could hold for us.  Of course, there is no way to completely predict the future, but setting your sights in a particular direction is helpful.

When we saw that Miley Cyrus was going to be the ‘good-bye’ to 2013 in anticipation for the ball drop, it served as a reminder of one of the reasons a cable bill is not a high priority.

Fortunately, the local television station out of Central Michigan University was airing a Yo-Yo Ma special… and that proved to be a bit more captivating than the mind numbing performances on ABC… or was it CBS?

By steering the focus of the families attention towards something a bit more cultured, we at least expanded their horizons (for those who sat in the living room with us)… or caused them to stay engaged in each other with the playing of games rather than camped out before the tv (for those who know in their hearts that we are lame).

The ball dropped… we kissed… and hugged… and moved everyone to their sleeping quarters.

A matter of focus…

Amy and I aren’t the worlds greatest go-getters.  Quite the contrary… we are attempting to simplify life as much as possible so that there is more time spent relationally, and less time maintaining functional ‘things’ that clutter and distract.

Such an endeavor requires focus because there is always the potential for one more cell phone notification to go off… another email to check… little quick tasks around the house to get done… another piece of clutter that could potentially become a pile… another piece of busyness that wants to pull us into a frenzy… another project that desires to be more of a priority than what it really is… another television show that is the latest ‘must see’… another opinion from someone living off their own perception about how it is we are living our life…

…and on… and on… and on…

It is a matter of focus to keep the demons of materialism at bay.

It is a matter of focus to keep the first things first… and hopefully the only things…

It is a matter of focus to do less… and to simply just be who we are… no more… no less… finding ourselves the owners of things that money can’t by.

I suppose as human beings, that’s really what we all want.  Maybe that’s what all of the resolutions that have been made in the last 24 hours around the world are really all about.

We try to see things in an upside-down way.  Our kids are telling us that we are so simple, that we are complex.  Shows me that we have some work cut out for us 🙂

So, hopefully this year… if you grace us with your presence on this blog inhabiting a small corner of the Internet… you’ll find the topics being written about being less in their scope.  You’ll find the depth of what is shared reaching places in your emotions that ring true to the parts of life that really matter.

For us… it is things of relationship… gardening… writing… photography… wine… and love.

That is where our focus is set.

May you have a great 2014.  May blessings be ever in your sights.

Three Things for Writing Into the New Year

The creative process is something that carries the weight of tension in the area of expectation.  I’ve had a desire for years to write… and write… and write…  There are moments when the words flow easily.  There are moments when the words do not flow at all.  In my laziness, I would simply dismiss the reason for it and trust that that is just the way that it is.  No intention beyond that.

In truth, however… I am coming to understand that writing is work.  Even in the ‘down time’.

My day job puts me in a place where, for most of the year… the work flows steady to heavy.  It is during those times that the functional nature of the work is satisfying, because people can leave at the end of the day, feeling accomplished and able to say that they have earned their keep.

In recent weeks, however… the flow of work has been on the slow side.  This is out of our control, but creates a bit of a panic in the white collar world of functionality and efficiency.  It is disheartening at the end of the day to know that you are able to produce more for the bottom line, and not be able to deliver, simply because the data that needs to be processed is not there.  People begin to become desperate to justify what it is that they are doing and there is a cloud of uncertainty as to their value in the company.

I try to encourage them to enjoy the breather and focus on the fundamentals of what they are doing, because in our environment… things will again pick up… and the fruits of the downtime will pay dividends when the stream of work becomes heavy again.

There is a great deal of truth to that, because the skills that can be defined more during the slow times can become razor sharp… and automatic… things that are needed when there is less time to think about what you are doing, and simply produce.

This is true for any area of life.

It’s the basketball player who spends hours just practicing jump shots on an empty court.

It’s that time spent in middle school typing class plucking out something about a lazy brown fox over and over again.

The same is true for writing.

During my times with various blogs through the year, I would find that there are seasons where posts are plentiful… and then nothing.  The few people that do check in to what it is I am putting on the site have come up to me during a slower time and point out what is obvious to me, ‘nothing has been posted in a while.’

This I know… and it typically involved an internal guilt of some sort that I couldn’t put my finger on… which then led to just putting up a post, simply to… put up a post.

My expectation was that I should be ‘doing more’ in the area of combining nouns, verbs and the sort to keep the flow of the blog moving.  That’s no longer good enough for me.

Truth is… there are slow periods during the writing process.

Truth is… I am not intentional about how I use that time.

So… for the New Year, my writing resolution is simple.

I am going consistently… simply to write… and keep the skills sharp.

Saying that, I am going to acknowledge that when the writing seems less than inspired:

  • I am going to be more intentional about using that time as an opportunity to ponder more on the ideas that I desire to frame into something structured… and call that writing time.
  • I will keep a notebook or voice recorder on hand to ponder out loud the ideas that are still taking shape… and call that writing time.
  • I will allow the merging of the forming ideas and the discipline of writing them down to be less than perfect, trusting that with time, the nature and purpose of the ideas will be clear and articulate.

It is my hope for the New Year, that I will be satisfied in this resolve to become a better writer, and it will be for writings sake.

Happy New Year.