My Least Favorite Four-Letter Word

Busy

B-U-S-Y.

It’s one of my least favorite four-letter words.

No matter where you look, people are busy. And the typical answer when asking someone you haven’t seen for a while how they’ve been, is “Busy.”

People are busy. Work is busy. Life is busy. Everything and everyone is busy. We’re busy at work and then busy when we get home as we try to get everything done before we fall into bed, exhausted, only to start it up all over again as soon as the alarm goes off. And when we’re not busy? We think something is wrong.

Too many people base their value on how busy they are. If they’re getting things done (aka: staying busy), it means they’re proving their worth.

I like to think back to when I was a kid. I woke up in the morning, got ready for school, ate breakfast, then caught the bus, riding an hour each way to and from school. While on the bus, I either talked with friends or read a book. I didn’t have a cell phone or computer. After school I made supper. When my parents got home from work we sat down at the table and ate together as a family. After dinner was dishes–by hand, homework, perhaps a little TV, then off to bed.

These days every moment of downtown is absorbed by iPhones, iPads, televisions, and computers. Texting, emailing, checking texts and emails every couple of minutes, YouTube videos, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and checking off the multiple items on one’s to-do list. And have you ever really paid attention to what’s on your to-do list? It’s typically things you have to do, not things you want to do. Trust me, if you enjoy something, you will remember to do it. Give your to-do list some white space so you have time to breathe. Only jot down what has to be done that day.

Don’t be so busy that you don’t enjoy life. Learn to say ‘no.’ Make a list of what’s really important to you and focus on doing more of those things. While I’m not suggesting shirking your responsibilities or letting your family fend for themselves every evening for dinner, what I am suggesting is to be mindful of what you’re keeping so busy with. If it’s not something that has to be done, consider cutting it from your list. Take a break from electronics and let your brain rejuvenate. Base your life’s worth on the quality of the relationships with the people who mean the most to you, not on how much you’re getting done.

Many people, at the end of their lives, have been known to have regrets about neglecting what or who is important to them. I’ve never heard of anyone having regrets about not being busy enough. Strive to be a human-being rather than a human-doing.

With text messaging and e-mails buzzing in our pockets, our constant availability for phone calls, and hot new apps and social media on our phones, we are more distracted, more unfocused and more enmeshed in sweating the small stuff than ever before. And this leads to many of us feeling like we’re sprinting every day but really not getting anywhere.
― Dean Graziosi, Millionaire Success Habits: The Gateway To Wealth & Prosperity

Be Still

 

The Power of Words

 

Words

A while back I posted on this topic and this morning it was brought to my attention again.

While I was on my morning run, enjoying some moments strung together without rain or snow, I met up with an older couple, each with their own garbage bag, picking up trash along the river trail. The river trail is my favorite place to run–when I’m not being attacked by big dogs–because it’s serene, lined with green trees and the river on one side, and wildlife from turtles to turkeys to coyotes. When I saw this couple I stopped, took out my ear buds and told them what they were doing was so nice and thank you. They stopped and looked at me, the woman sighed and smiled, her eyes bright. She said:

“That’s the nicest thing you could have ever said to us, is thank you.”

Wow!

The power of words. How easy it would have been to keep in my own world, listening to my music, being absorbed with me. How many times do we get busy living life that we forget to notice others around us. I know I do. The janitorial staff that comes on shift as I’m leaving the office, the paper delivery boy, the person who has a cart full of items at the grocery store and yet gets in the twenty items or less line and lets me go ahead when s/he sees I only have a few items. How easy it is to scowl that they’re in the wrong line anyway.

What I’ve learned as I travel my journey is that what comes out of my mouth affects the listener as much as the speaker. Not saying thank you to the person in the grocery line leaves my heart hard and burdened, my attitude dark, as self-righteousness grips me. That, in turn, shapes the way I treat others the rest of the day. When I say something kind, regardless of whether or not the person is doing something I perceive as wrong, it makes the person experience joy and it lightens my own heart. It feels good from the depths of my soul to be kind to someone.

When I carried on with the rest of my run after my encounter with the couple, my steps felt lighter, my heart glad, the day brighter.

Whether spoken or written, words carry enormous power. How easy it is to fire off that email or snail mail letter. Or how easy it is to speak something negative or derogatory about someone in the name of defending yourself after they’ve wronged you. I used to tell my kids when they were growing up, “Choose your words carefully. Words are like toothpaste–once it’s out you can’t get it back in the tube no matter how hard you try.”

Those are words I, as an adult, need to remember.

This week as I communicate with others and as I work on my writing, I’m going to work on remembering the power of words. Especially the two seemingly small words that carry great weight–“Thank You.”

And now I’m back to using my words at Camp NaNoWriMo. 🙂

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” — George Orwell, 1984

Bonfire-Brainerd

 

 

 

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

Letters

Does anyone else miss the days of pen to paper letter writing? Technology has made things so fast and easy, that it seems the personal touch of actually writing has become obsolete. Not only is writing electronically faster, but when you make a mistake it’s easy to hit the backspace or delete key and with no indication whatsoever of any error, you’re back on your way to creating the message. When you make a mistake when handwriting a letter, unless you scribble out the error, leaving it look less than beautiful, or you use the tacky, sticky white-out method, still leaving proof of an error, the only way to be error free when handwriting is to start over. And over. And over.

But there’s something about putting pen to paper that makes a message more personal and intimate. Choosing the stationery or notebook, the style and color of ink, feeling your hand move on the page, even the smell of the paper. And speaking of the smell of the paper, did I mention the extra personal touch of a spritz of scent on the paper before sending it on its way?

When I write, whether it be novels, poetry, or even writing practice, typing on the computer and writing by hand produces a significantly different outcome, which I’ve come to learn there’s a reason for: How you write affects the way your brain processes information.

One of the items on my bucket list is to become friends with people from ten different countries. In my pursuit to make that happen, I began looking at different websites that assist with finding pen pals. When I looked over the lists, a large number of those potential pen pals are looking to exchange letters specifically via email. I have to admit, I bypassed those.

I began to look at my own letter-writing habits and realized when I write letters to my sponsor kiddos in Togo, Tanzania, and Burkina Faso, I write them on the computer, sending pictures electronically as well, because it’s faster and easier. But when I receive their handwritten letters, seeing each curve and individual style of their handwriting in their handwritten letters, it brings me a sense of closeness to them, and pride when I see the progress they’ve made in their handwriting skills. I treasure those letters. Not to mention the thrill of seeing a letter in the mailbox. Oh the joy! 🙂 Perhaps it’s time to send them good old-fashioned handwritten letters in return.

In an age like ours, which is not given to letter-writing, we forget what an important part it used to play in people’s lives.”  ~Anatole Broyard

What are your preferences?

Writing pen to paper or email?

Actual books or electronic readers?

Electronics–friend or foe?

Receiving handwritten letters via snail mail or email?

Carpe Diem

Back to the Basics

I’ve decided to take a week-long “partial” leave of absence from electronics.

I received an email the other day that contained a series of pictures, each with a brief caption beneath it, that had a profound effect on me. Let me share some of them with you here:

tech1

A day at the beach

tech2

Out on an intimate date.

tech3

A visit to the museum

tech4

Enjoying the sights

“I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” -Albert Einstein

What affected me the most about this email is the truth that lay within. It’s a rare occasion that I don’t see several people talking on their phones or texting while driving. And there is no finger-pointing going on here, as I’m among the ones talking on the phone.

One of the weekend magazines in the paper I read this past Sunday had an article called “Massive Media,” and one of the sentences popped right off the printed page as I read it: Media went from a series of choices and a schedule of events to the air we breathe.

That same article also stated: With only 24 hours in a day, it isn’t possible to make a dent in everything that demands to be seen, listened to, read.

But how hard we try!

Some days, I’m so busy checking blog stats, Facebook statuses, Twitter feeds, emails (on two home accounts as well as my work account, and each email opened leads to further reading/link-clicking and mindless wandering), Internet surfing, checking for text messages, etc., that I miss the majority of the blessings in my day.

So what does a “partial” leave of absence look like?

For me it means taking a complete break from social media and engaging in social human interaction. It means being present with the people I’m with, rather than being unaware of their presence while I socialize elsewhere.

It means beginning my day with my good old-fashioned Bible rather than surfing for devotions online, which almost always ends up with me reading something completely unrelated.

It means keeping my cell phone on vibrate or silent so I’m not checking every beep I hear;  and checking for text messages once or twice a day is sufficient. In fact, rather than send a text, perhaps I will make the old-fashioned phone call to humanize the connection.

It means checking emails once per day, rather than every half hour which I have been known to do. No joke.

It means not checking my blog stats for an entire week, and get back to posting because I love to write and share; and connect with wonderful like-minded people.

It means no Internet surfing unless it’s research on my novel.

It means living with intention rather than mindless living.

I want to say that again, to get it into my own head if for no other reason: It means living with intention rather than mindless living.

1000789_602599603108372_472059398_n

Here’s to writing a new page in my life’s story for seven 24-hour segments in a row. Perhaps it will be the start of something marvelous that will continue on.

And now it’s back off to Camp NaNo. 🙂

All is Grace.