Patience In Your Season

Friday, October 28, 2016

"There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every affair under the heavens."
- Ecclesiastes 3:1, NAB 


I wouldn’t want to go swimming outdoors in the fall. Ice cream loses a bit of its appeal when the weather gets colder. And strawberries aren’t as sweet as they were five months ago.

I miss the summer. And in some ways, I wish it were here again.

But I love fall. I love roaring fireplaces and cozy socks and pumpkin spice and apple pie and sweaters and slow mornings with steaming cups of chai tea.

I love fall because… it’s fall. Because there are things you can only do at this time of year, like visit a pumpkin patch or go for a hay ride or take a hike through gloriously golden fall hues. I love fall because it’s unapologetically autumnal. It doesn’t try to rush into winter, spring, or summer, believing any of those seasons to be superior to it. It knows those will come eventually, and so it moves confidently, slowly. Fully embracing, fully present. One hundred percent rocking the things that make it special, and completely unconcerned with winter wonderlands, spring showers, and summer strawberries. It doesn’t question that it will be okay, that it has a purpose, even though it’s different from all the others.

I want to be more like fall.

See, I often get stuck playing the comparison game. Though maybe I shouldn’t call it a game so much as a gauntlet, because the act of comparing is where dreams go to die, silenced by the twin blades of envy and insecurity. Raise your hand if you’ve made that march a few times before, too.

Yep. Thought so.  

I often find myself looking at others’ achievements and feeling as though I’m not where I should be. As though I’ve fallen behind. Like there are dreams I should have reached by now, because other people have done so. I use their success as a measuring stick for my own progress, and I feel so far behind.

But what if I’m not behind? What if I’m just in a different season of my life?

What if it’s okay to be moving slowly toward my dreams because that’s part of my season? What if it’s okay that I don’t have tens of thousands of Instagram followers? What if it’s okay that I haven’t published a book? …Yet.

What if I’m exactly where I need to be right now? And what if there’s beauty in that?

Guess what? There is. Just like fall isn’t supposed to be summer, I’m not supposed to be walking anyone else’s path. And neither are you.

Stop. Breathe this moment in. This is your season. What is meant to unfold will come, as surely as fall turns to winter, which turns to spring, which turns to summer. And there is purpose in that slow, steady, confident progression. There is something precious and unique to this time in your life, to this part of your journey. What’s to come, will come, exactly as it should, in its own perfect time.

For now, just relax. Slow down. Savor. Trust. Practice patience.

And sip your pumpkin spice latte.

Photo Credit: Flickr via Compfight cc

Go Make a Difference: Your Little Bit of Good

Friday, October 21, 2016

“Do your little bit of good where you are. It’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
– Desmond Tutu


I was talking to one of my best friends from college on the phone the other night. She’s pursuing her Ph.D. in biochemistry at Vanderbilt and spent several minutes telling me about the research she’s conducting on a protein found in the human body, work that will likely prevent and cure cancer. The work she’s doing on an all-but-invisible molecular level to fix the mutations that spawn tumors will have an enduring effect on the scientific community, and contribute to saving countless lives. 

Her small, localized work will make a global difference, and I found myself thinking how grateful I am that there are people who are called to these very necessary duties.

It’s easy to think that the people who invest their talents and skills into doing something so literally life-changing are the only ones doing important work.

They aren’t.

What I actually heard in the words dog-piling themselves on each other in their haste to escape her excited soul was the voice of someone who had been called to a particular line of work, and who was pursuing it with untrammeled vigor and heart.

And that’s all of us, isn’t it? All of us ordinary people who live ordinary lives and do small things with great love, things that others may likely never see or appreciate, for something far greater than ourselves, because we are called to do those things.  

And I can promise you this: whether you’re working in a lab, or you’re cooking dinner for your family, or you’re engaging tirelessly in a creative pursuit that few apart from your immediate family and friends will ever see, or you're struggling to launch a small business, or you’re speaking words of kindness and compassion to someone going through a tough time, if your work, any work, is breathing life into someone else’s existence – even if it’s just one person! – you are making a difference. You are doing important work. And you are living out your calling in this life.     

We are all doing small work. But it’s all that small work put together that has the power to overwhelm the world – and yes, change it.

Let us all do our little bits of good. And let's all go change the world. 

Photo Credit: syuu1228 Flickr via Compfight cc

Finding the Sunshine

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Today was a dreary one. I drove to work in the dark (Daylight Savings, I'm so ready for you!) and then the sun refused to come out for the rest of the day. It was one of those cloudy, gloomy days that Eeyore would love, and the kind that makes everyone else a little grumpy, if only for the sake of having a new conversation topic. Have you ever noticed that humans bond particularly well over shared complaints? It's unfortunate but often true.

On days like this, days that are either literally or figuratively drab because of bad weather or pessimism or any combination of the two, it's important to make your own sunshine. You might have to look a little harder -- maybe even squint -- but I promise that if you do, you'll find things to be thankful for.

Here's what some of those things were for me today:

  • Getting to work before anyone else this morning and jamming out to the songs I recently downloaded on my iPod (as much "jamming out" as filling out a deposit slip allows, anyway).
  • Sipping a pumpkin spice chai latte -- thanks, Trader Joe's!
  • Donuts, complete with sprinkles and frosted dreams, courtesy of one of my coworkers.
  • A free full-size tube of toothpaste, and two brush head replacements for my electric toothbrush, both of which were on this week's "To Buy at Target" list, and now I get to save some money! The perks of working at a dental office, I tell ya.
  • Great conversation with coworkers, much of which consisted of trying to decide how to carve our office pumpkin for Halloween this year.
  • Hot tea.
  • Sweaters and scarves.
  • Laughter.

What are you grateful for today, friends? Leave a comment below!

Photo Credit: Sean X. Liu Flickr via Compfight cc

Sweet Nothings

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Okay, so it’s been a few weeks since I’ve written on the blog. And even longer since I’ve promoted any of my writing on my Facebook “business” page.

And honestly? I could blame time. It’s the crucial resource in a writing life (or any life, for that matter). I could say that I’ve been busy working full-time, freelancing on the side, applying to graduate schools — and all of that would be true — but I’d be lying.

I recently joined an online community called Hope*writers, and I was listening to a Podcast of theirs a week or two ago about making time to write. How any of us manage to do it when we’re all saddled with extra obligations is astounding, and yet there are so many people who successfully juggle their writerly calling with the demands of being a functioning human. Time was the first excuse to be tackled in their discussion, since we all have the same number of hours in a day. If you want to write, you’ll make the time. Simple as that.

So then, if I’m not making the time to write, I must not want to do it as much as I think I do, right? Though that’s an absurd thought to entertain. I love writing. This is what I want to do, who I want to become: a weaver of words and a healer of hearts.

So why is it so hard for me to just do it already? Like for real, on a regular basis and everything?

The Hope*writers had an insight for me there, too: if I’m not making the time to write, it means I don’t really believe I have something to say.

And that’s exactly it.

I could be one of those people who begins her day with thirty minutes of writing and posts something every day, or at least more consistently than just “whenever I feel like it”. But to do that, I’d have to believe that all of my little thoughts, as well as the big ideas I blog about from time to time, mattered and meant something to the people who were reading them. 

And the problem is… I really don’t.

I believe only my best bits — the thoughts and ideas I’ve had so much time to hone and perfect and ponder — are worthy of sharing, and still then, I feel like there are so many people who don't really care.

I can’t let my readers see the imperfect. Would they listen to all of my sweet nothings when it's so tough to build an audience as is? Truthfully, some of them won’t. But just because people don’t listen doesn’t mean I shouldn’t write. Not when I know that God wouldn’t have given me this skill set if this weren’t how He wanted me to love the world.

I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this. I know there’s lots of creative work that isn’t being done because we’re afraid of being unheard, and we want to be heard. And listened to. That means we matter. Are our efforts in vain otherwise?

Let’s be clear about one thing: the truth of you having something to say is not diminished by any one person’s unwillingness or inability to hear it. So pick up that paintbrush. Strum those strings. Write the song, the story, the poem. And do it even if your work resonates with only one person. Do it for that person, that one person whose life will be changed because of what you do, who will see the world in a new way because of your perspective. Every minute you wait is a minute you’re depriving the world of something only you can give to it.

So let’s be bold. Let’s be brave. Let’s be creative. And let’s be consistent.

The world needs you. And you are so loved.

Photo Credit: Flickr via Compfight cc