Remembering What We Love

I stole the title of this post from my MOPS devotional book.

I just read Chapter 8 today, Confidence Over Conformity: Remembering what we love.

The author talks about how she made a friend at a playdate for her son. They were talking about finding time for the things they like – writing for the author and painting for her friend. The author was writing a book and her friend lamented having no time for art anymore.

I have encountered that sentiment a lot as I somewhat publicly pursue my own interests. I have had people tell me that I’m lucky to be able to do what I love because not everyone can. I’m told that there just isn’t time for mom or dad to focus on themselves. I’m told that to do lists are just too long and the days too full and the nights too short to spend ourselves.

The author goes on to share a story of when she was in a spelling bee in second grade. She got second place and her mother considered it a waste of time. The author never entered another spelling bee. And she struggles to pursue her creative interests because they are “time wasters”.

How often do we all fall into that trap? There are so many more things I could DO instead of knit. Or write. Or run. Or read. Or create. Or consume. Or enjoy.

I could do that load of laundry that’s been staring at me for days. Or just quick unload the dishwasher… and then load it… and then wash down all the counters. Or clean this thing. Or that thing. Or find something “developmental” for my kids to do. Or whatever else. The list just goes on.

In the past few years, I’ve really started to embrace who I am and what I enjoy. At first, I felt like I needed to make money doing these things to make them worthwhile. If I could sell what I knitted, THEN it would be worth my time to spend hours knitting. If I could just get paid to write, THEN it wouldn’t be a waste of time to write. If I could just start on the path to being a famous, sponsored ultramarathoner, THEN it would be worth all the training time required.

Now, I do these things simply because I enjoy them. Because I need to do things I enjoy to maintain my sanity. Because I am me. I am Cari. I am not JUST mother or JUST wife. I am not defined by my relationships to others. God has given me gifts that are intended to simply be enjoyed.

It’s hard to break out of that mindset, isn’t it?

That our interests are only worth pursuing if they accomplish another means. Because enjoyment somehow isn’t a good enough reason to engage in our hobbies.

Growing up, my parents, like all parents, weren’t perfect. They did stuff that screwed me up just like your parents screwed you up and like I will screw up my kids. One thing they did really well, though, was to encourage us exploring interests. I was in Girl Scouts and band and choir and track and cross country and plays and musicals and church and youth group and on and on. I was never the best one, though. I wasn’t first chair. I wasn’t section leader. I wasn’t the perennial winner. I didn’t even get my Gold award.

What I did get, though, is much better. I got support in the things I liked to do. And now, as an adult, it’s been pretty easy to throw off the chains of “I should…” and embrace “I do it because I enjoy it.” I don’t need to make money to make it worthwhile.

How about you? Did you feel supported in your interests? Did you have to be the best for it to be worthwhile? Did you have to have the right interests? Were you completely different from your parents and they were totally cool with it? Did they pursue your interests with you?

What struggles do you have with pursuing hobbies today?

What lies are you believing that say carving out time for yourself is wrong?

God made us all unique. And that includes our hobbies. That includes finding things to do that make us happy. Finding our passions and our interests and using our skills. Even as a Christian, not everything we do needs to be overtly Christian. Perhaps simply enjoying who God made us to be is a good enough testimony. I am worth spending time on myself.

Being creative for the sake of creativity is a great use of our time and energy. God is the ultimate in exploring creativity. How could a creative God think that spending time in creative pursuits is not worthwhile?

Friends, you are worth spending time on yourselves doing things you enjoy simply because you enjoy them. We need to stop believing the lies that say unless we make money or are “accomplishing something”, that our pursuits aren’t worthwhile.

If you like to write, write even if no one will ever read it. If you like to run, run even if you will never race. If you like to read, read even if you never discuss what you’ve read with anyone. And so on. Even if you never make money. Even if those around you don’t understand. Even if those around you try to make you feel bad for investing in yourself.

I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full. That’s what Jesus said. The thief comes to destroy and Jesus comes to give life.

Are you believing the thief? Or Jesus?

What can you do today to start eroding your belief in the lie and start building your belief in the truth?

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Short Story

I am part of a writing group on facebook. We had a writing prompt: Everyone has a predetermined amount of heart beats from birth. Each person’s is different, and no one knows how many they have. How does your character live their life, when exciting themselves uses their beats faster?

Enjoy!

—————-

My feet pounded on the empty highway heading out of town. Never much traffic out here. I like that.
Scuff scuff–scuff scuff–scuff scuff.
I always had an unusual cadence, landing harder on my left foot. I focused on matching my breathing to my footfalls, but soon my mind wandered away again.
“Stop with that stupid running!” my mom screamed at me, her green eyes wild beneath her frazzled, curly orangey-red hair. I looked just like her. “I’ll die from it! You will kill me!”
“No, mom. You will,” I replied coldly. I walked away from her. Again. Always. I swear the woman has ten times as many heartbeats as anyone else for as often as she gets worked up about nothing.
I run to get away from her. No one will give me a job. I want to be a professional runner. It’s a hard career to get into. They say only crazy people want to do sports. Suicidal people. People who can’t wait to die.
It’s not true. Not for me.
Some people save their heartbeats for love. For children.
If love is what my mother has for me, I don’t want it. If this is what having children does to you, I don’t want them. I want to run. I want to be free. Where it’s quiet. Where she isn’t yelling at me. I hate that I look like her. Everyone knows we’re related. They pity her. Her. If only they knew.
I glance at my watch. Almost two hours. Nearly sixteen miles. I could do a marathon in just over three hours. Not fast enough. I need to go faster. I need to train harder. How can I train harder with her always yelling at me when I lace up my shoes to leave?
Scuff scuff–scuff scuff–scuff scuff
Ten miles later, I arrive back home. I am drenched with sweat. Gloriously tired. I walk around the block to cool down. I see the stares of our neighbors as I walk, slowing down my breathing, drinking my recovery drink that I stashed in our bushes.
I can’t delay it any longer. I really need to pee. I need to get inside.
I walk back into the house, surprised that mom didn’t greet me at the door. Whatever. I sneak downstairs and into the bathroom. Ahh…relief. I might as well take a shower while I’m in here too. There is nothing better than a scalding hot shower after a long run. I stand in there longer than I should. Why isn’t mom yelling at me? Maybe she went out.
I finish up and get dressed in my room. I’m starving. I need to eat something. My body is starting to shake. I walk back upstairs and glance into the front room. That’s when I see her, sitting in her green chair. Her head is lolled back, her eyes glazed over.
I breathe a sigh of relief.
“Finally.”
Now I can train.

Recap of 30 30s and goals for 2017

I suppose it’s about time that I share how I did on my 30 30s. In short, it was a series of goals I set for myself to complete during 2016, the year I turned 30. I wanted to push myself to explore new hobbies, to grow in different ways, and to achieve things I may have previously thought impossible.

As far as completion of items, I did terribly. I only completed 9 of 30 categories. I came close in 6 others, but didn’t have the drive to push myself to finish them.

Part of my problem at the very end is that I only wanted to do the things just to check them off my list. It felt really inauthentic, which made it hard for me to push and do it.

However, I don’t see it as a failure. In fact, I learned more about myself through failing to complete things than I would have otherwise. I realized that I really don’t care for working out – either strength training or yoga. While I know these would help take my running to an entirely new level, I don’t have the patience or the drive to do it. At least not on my own. I found that to be very valuable.

I do enjoy writing on my blog, but I didn’t manage to eek out 30 posts in one year. Part of the time, I didn’t have anything to say and sometimes I really just didn’t have the time. However, I have learned that my blog is an important way for me to process through things and I really look forward to processing through some pretty deep and painful hurts over the next year. We are all a product of our experiences and choices and it is high time I let go of some things from my previous prodigal life.

The other thing I realized is that I have lots of hobbies that take time and cannot be done concurrently. I can’t read and knit or run and write at the same time. I also can’t write a blog post and a novel at the same time and each of these takes time. The important thing I’ve realized is that I just need to go with whatever creative whim I happen to be on at the time. It’s okay if I don’t write for weeks at a time while I read or knit a sweater. It’s okay if I give up knitting to write a novel or train for an ultramarathon.

Previously, I had thought I needed to find time during each week to participate in each of these hobbies, but I have realized that as long as I’m feeling fulfilled by the current hobby, it’s okay that I only engage in one or two at a time. I don’t see an uproar here when it’s days or weeks between posts, so it seems you all are living life just fine apart from my musings, though I do want to try to muse with a little more regularity this year. We will see, though.

Some of the goals I had set were things that weren’t actually important to me but I wanted them to be. I haven’t really played guitar for a couple years now and having a $500 guitar hasn’t changed that, even though I wanted it to. It sounds really nice, but I don’t know what to play on it. I don’t know when to play that doesn’t draw toddlers around to pull and pluck and poke and yank and hit it while I play.

I finally did read the entire Harry Potter series this year (actually, in a span of about two weeks…) and it was really enjoyable. I have a stack of other recommended reads by a friend to get through and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m really excited about the books and I’m excited about my growing list of other books to read. I am excited about writing my novel and seeing where the story goes. Maybe I’ll publish it, but maybe I won’t.

In all, I found the challenge to be a great success. I feel proud that I even tried to tackle something so huge. I did grow a lot and I see where I still have areas in which to grow. I have really accepted the things that make me happy, the things that I enjoy, that I want to spend my free time on. I have better learned who I am and I have deepened some relationships with friends that I really wanted to do. I’m being more honest, more encouraging, more open, more vulnerable. The best part about it is that my friends really seem to appreciate it. They aren’t scared off like I had thought they would be. They seem to like me for me and that was actually pretty surprising.

For the majority of my life, I’ve been trying really hard to be someone else – whether I tried to be Megan or Kristin or Katie or Cheryl or Alli or Jenna or Nicole or Katie (a different one) – I was always trying to be someone else and not myself. This year, I’ve learned that people like Cari. People like Cari because she is Cari. I have great things to offer if I would just give myself the chance to offer it.

So this year, I have some pretty specific goals, and far fewer. They are all important to me and they are manageable. They are direct, they are measurable, and all of them are either fun or fulfilling.

So, my goals for 2017 are as follows:

  • Finish writing Tamerna book 1.
  • Run an ultramarathon (paid race).
  • Watch all the Harry Potter movies.
  • Read Lord of the Rings.
  • Take the kids to the park more often than I did this year.
  • Purge more unnecessary stuff from my house.
  • Read to the kids from their Bible more often.
  • Read the entire Bible.
  • Finish reading the Sword of Truth series.
  • Engage more intentionally with my friends to deepen our relationships – check in via text message or calling, do more than just push ‘like’ on facebook, etc.
  • Finish knitting my sweater.
  • Play with the kids more AND let them play outside alone more
  • Date my husband more

 

I am always a fan of accountability so any time you want to check in on me, I am a fan of sharing how things are going.

How about you? Do you set goals for an entire year? Do you call them resolutions? Are you experiencing any success yet? I’d love to hear what you’d like to accomplish in 2017!