I didn’t think I’d be writing this Friday, mostly due to clingy, sickly children. They’re all still periodically hacking like old men, and we did have an episode early this week of gagging on phlegm in the middle of the night and subsequent dramatic puking -but I pin that one on me as I used to do the same when I was a wee lass. The coughing is subsiding and everyone is back to ruffian mode.
On to the list, shall we? I start with a thank you to Jen.
I have always chalked up my enjoyment of writing as a fruitless hobby; like bird watching, or face painting, or keeping an ant farm. Nay, here’s the rub! A hobby isn’t meaningless to the person who benefits from it. A hobby, however trivial it may appear to another person, has the potential to most positively impact the doer’s life, and resonate to the world surrounding. When one combines a hobby with a passion, if they’re not already one in the same, I believe it can create a powerful instrument to enhance our world. I have Jen to thank, in part, for this understanding. Okay, Carolyn, tell me something I don’t know, —Of course, we know this as common sense simply by studying history and the lives of the people who have changed the world for the better. However, Jen’s recent post gave me some more personal self realizations.
The Mental Neat Freak. Jen writes in disappointment that she spent an afternoon in the hair salon getting an aromatherapy scalp massage, but by the end of the day, found herself with the mental rage of the Hullk, ready to snap at any second. She lamented that perhaps she is just a “pathologically ungrateful” person, until she had a conversation with a close friend who helped her understand her true stress reliever: writing. She writes -as I read with my mouth gaping open in enlightenment-:
“Clearly, something had to be done. But I worried that maybe there was no solution, because the problem might be that I’m pathologically ungrateful. Part of me had come to suspect that nothing short of hiring a chef and a live-in masseuse and a butler straight out of Downton Abbey would make me happy — after all, I’m the kind of person who isn’t satisfied even after long trips to nice salons. Then I had one of those God-sent conversations with a wise friend who had just the right words at just the right time, and I came to see the real source of the problem.
[…] And finally, after digging my way through piles and piles of words, I hit the core of the issue: “[Writing] brings order to my brain. It’s like…there are all these things that happen in my days that make my mind feel — I don’t know how else to describe it — messy. Like I’m surrounded by chaos, but on the inside. And it keeps piling up and piling up, to the point where sometimes I feel like I’m drowning.” “And writing helps you tidy up, so to speak,” [my friend] said, finishing my thoughts for me.“
– See more at: http://www.conversiondiary.com/2013/09/the-mental-neat-freak.html#sthash.2Vv5VR2p.dpuf
This post from Jen ignited me to take my “hobby” more seriously. It also gave me gratitude and compassion for the “hobbies” of others. As trivial or time-wasting as someone’s hobby may appear to me, it may be a substantial source of order for the mental health of the person doing it. This hobby can draw out the best of that person —how can we belittle it? I mean, short of murder and other evils, I’m talking about activities which bring God’s Truth to our community. In Jen’s case, her hobby and her passion collide to the humorous, down-to-earth blog I read each week- her “fruitless” hobby helps me breathe (and knee-slapping horse guffaw) relief that folding microscopic infant clothes into perfect squares does not a Super-Mom make, while she weaves in well-contemplated Catholic teachings.
Coincidentally, this week, my husband asked me:
“What do you do when you feel so angry or frustrated or stressed out, that you feel like you’re going to lose it? Don’t you ever just want to throw something?”
I sat there trying to figure out what I do. An image of me internally imploding came to mind, and nothing else. Just a slow-mo of me crumpling from the inside, or like the falling of the Twin Towers on 9/11. They’re built to fall in upon themselves. I don’t typically physically act out in anger- the impulse never enters my mind …other than rage-cleaning in response to a spider bite, I suppose.
Craig’s answer was touching. He says often times, he visualizes what he’d physically like to do (yelling at someone or sending a malfunctioning smart phone skipping down the road) and that helps him master self control over what he needs to do. But he, of course gives it a beautiful, redemptive, Christian twist by further suggesting:
“Smash your anger to the Cross!”
He first texted this to me after I’d sent him a paragraph-long text about my agonizing day with pooping, crying, incessantly eating, and ankle-biting children to the point where I couldn’t even pee without accidentally sitting on someone, they were that clingy (No, not really. I promise, I’ve never literally sat on any of my children.)
We are two completely different people with different ways of handling stress.
While his beautiful suggestion will forever remain with me and help draw me to Christ, crucified for me, I have found that I organize my mind through writing, and reading, as Jen does, and that it helps to prevent internal implosions. Too long have I belittled my “hobby”, waving it off as a trifling time waster. For too long I have felt guilty for “needing an outlet” such as blogging. I, too, have stomped around the house with loud thoughts screaming to myself, “YOU SHOULD BE GRATEFUL!”
Just as Jen writes it, I feel like I cannot breathe if I haven’t made time to write, or draw, or even crochet. I find myself irrationally angry, pent-up, and completely unyeilding. Combine this with mounting piles of laundry, and you’ve got a crazy lady.
The remedy, I must clarify (and I understand Jen to be likewise), is not that I allow time for writing and that writing alone must become my crux. It’s a whole spectrum of health: Spiritually, mentally, and physically.
So my prescription is:
- Spiritually: Get to confession. Make time every day to pray- and pray with purpose and depth. Read scriptural inspiration and the lives of the saints. It’s an ongoing area for improvement.
- Mentally: Make time to read and write. Find out how much time you need in order to fill your “mental love” cup.
- Physically: I’m still working on this one. ….ehhh. But eating a healthy diet is a good start.
And if I’m getting super mentally organized, these three things can intertwine almost seamlessly. I used to pray the rosary while running! The possible combos are endless..
So, my question to you is this: What are some of the hobbies or passions in your life which positively energize you? Maybe you’ve never paid much mind to them because– hey, real life: “I gotta make money,” or “no one cares,” or “I’m not very good at it,” or “I’m too busy for it”
I encourage you to revisit them, make time for them. Think about how you can reincorporate those activities into your life. Example: my husband uses his 40-50 minute commute to listen to audio talks on theology, or to pray. He loves to stay fit, enjoys golf, and took advantage of a work event golf outing. He’s committed to a company sponsored urban 5k next month. While I’m not looking forward to the complaints of pulled muscles or foot blisters, I know this is his thing that ignites him.
I’ve been trying to research how to blog more effectively and utilize my time more efficiently. Do bloggers post via email? Do they blog on their phone? Do they actually set aside “office hours”? Do they obtain HTML code degrees? blah blah blah no one wants to read me blogging about blogging… but Imma let me finish.
So I had 50 tabs open on my browser as I tried to speed read through some of the worst blogging-advice sites ever, attempting to glean a few nuggets of gold buried beneath the level of “How to Get More Followers!!”.
Note: this research event is actually something that is drawn-out over the expanse of an entire week and putters on throughout the following weeks. I don’t ever have a whole, complete hour that isn’t punctuated with the needs of my children– thus is my chosen vocation! So my research and writing process is something that takes an entire week, or many. I’ve found that if I attempt to hammer out a post in one sitting, the suffocation hits me because IT IS JUST NOT POSSIBLE at this point in my life (refer to the hippo photo above).
So after a week of endless, unfruitful, web-grazing on how to blog better- I arrived back at Conversion Diary. Her Mental Neat Freak post helped me realize I need to take myself more seriously– but her post about Facebook made me realize something else. Something I’ve felt for probably 3 years now, but hadn’t taken a good look at til now:
“Cut Out Mental Clutter”, she writes in her Neat Freak post.
Facebook is a source of mental clutter for me.
It’s not like Pinterest, where one might be inspired by the 500 ways to use Dixie cups.
Facebook always leaves me going, “Where did my life go?” And most of the time, I return with a lost hope for humanity because the typos and grammar are just that blasphemous, or high school sweethearts are getting a divorce “OMGSH, ROSS AND RACHEL!?!”, or cats sleep in the same bed as newborn babies (insert scene of me pounding on the door of new parents and shaking them by the shoulders, shouting, “THERE ARE NO CATS IN AMERICA!”). …I dunno.
The day my husband brought an iPhone home for me changed my life as a mommy. I can do nearly anything and simultaneously stay connected to the outside world. While this is a wonderful, freeing thing, we all know that we can so easily be drawn-in toward information that we’d be better off not being privy to. When you find yourself leaving a social network with more mental clutter than discovery or education, it’s time to clean house. I believe my sister permanently logged out of Facebook for this reason which I am only now fully understanding, also which Jen sparked after reading her Mental Neat Freak post combined with the question, “if you had to do it over, would you have ever signed up for Facebook?”
Facebook has become a venue for gossip, and insinuations that if you don’t share or “LIKE”, you mustn’t love Jesus, and you probably don’t love your own children.
I’ve tried to “hide” the incessant junker-uppers of my feed, but that’s not the whole issue, because I know I, too, can be an incessant junker-upper. I come away, more often than not, with a prideful misery at our world of bad grammar, typos, and ignorance to things like tact, kindness, or compassion. I HATE that I find myself feeling loftier-than-thou thoughts, because I know sometimes I’m the worst of them! So I’m de-cluttering my mind by not frequenting Facebook daily. I don’t want to delete my account because I have information stored there since I was a late freshman in college (that’s kind of a frightening thought). The beauty of it is, that the only person to notice my less frequent presence is ME.
I now protest spending my time cluttering my mind with information that is completely useless: “oh, looks like so-and-so (who I’ve not spoken to since high school) is having a baby”, “hmm this must be the father –WHAT is that TATTOO?” –complete, useless gossip to spend even 3 minutes allowing into my head! This is why I don’t Keep up with the Kardashians and most reality TV (leaving out Duck Dynasty), so why am I living it on Facebook?!
There you have it. Those are some of the “profound” brain things going on in my head as of late. blahblah boring blah.
Here’s my lineup of posts to come in the next several weeks:
- My youngest turns 1 year old this month so I plan on writing a little ode to my tiny heart of gold.
- Breastfeeding- The Things No One Ever Told Me
- Skinny Mommy: Why I am.
- How We get Our Children to Behave in Church (Ha!)
- I want to fix up my About me page. Right now it’s kind of nostalgic and a little Dashboard Confessional. I want to laugh.
Love and peace of Christ to yas awllll!