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Introspective Sojourner

The journey inward following Christ’s path to that person I was uniquely created to be.

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The Next Shiny Thing

IMG_2044Living without focus or hyper focusing on one thing until I’m tired, bored or burned out, while ignoring all other aspects of my life seems to be a pattern for me. You may have missed me, or perhaps you hadn’t noticed that I ignored you recently. Sorry that I ignored you. I was focused on writing a book, one that is completed now and fully edited. I sent out my first volley of queries for it this morning.
Before I hyper focused on writing, I was working toward my Distinguished Toastmaster’s M … – I don’t even know what the M stands for. I dove into that goal and rocked out all of my advanced speeches and my leadership requirements that were not time bound in about a year. I got burned out on Toastmasters. I struggled to attend at all. Then I gave another speech, participated in a contest actually – and I was nervous! All those speeches that I gave building on each other, strengthening that public speaking muscle until it was strong and chiseled. I could throw together a speech in a day and still polish it up to a point where I was satisfied. I have high standards for myself. Yet, I was nervous. I hadn’t been nervous, really nervous, in so long that I can’t even put my finger on it. Somewhere in my first set of ten speeches, I’d guess.
I managed to pull off that speech and then I practiced again, for an audience of one, at work. My nerves receding already. I gave the speech again in preparation for the next level of competition and my nerves were manageable again. The muscles just needed to be used again. I had nearly tossed aside that goal of DTM. I’m usually pretty focused until the last mile or so.
Before Toastmasters, we trained to run a half marathon. I was diligent in my process that Disney put out for those who are new runners that want to complete a half marathon. I built up my long run, week after week. We ran in 10Ks, and split a half marathon all to push ourselves to complete that goal. I got just a little behind on the schedule and had only ever ran 12 miles prior to the actual event. That last mile and a half was the worst.
That darn timer lady was there over and over again as a silent goal. Once she reminded those of us running just behind her, that if we weren’t in front of her at the mile marker, Disney picks us up. That’s the rules. I’m a slow runner but a long line at the bathrooms put me with her for the last three miles. I pushed thru at twelve and put some distance between us hoping that would make it easier. The last mile and a half was brutal.
I injured myself and haven’t really run well since, my muscles losing all that I had gained, so I threw my focus into Toastmasters, then writing.
What will I take on next? Why am I driven to focus and achieve something, anything, one more thing? I didn’t use to be like this. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been one to lose interest in things easily, my whole life – that’s a “functions as designed” thing.

It was really an unpleasant trait as a child and in the Navy. Detail oriented people don’t understand that there are those of us who aren’t actually lazy or malicious, we just miss details, even with check lists. It took me a long time to love that part of myself.
I have other talents that detail oriented people do not possess. I just have to remember to use my “powers” for good and not evil. Evil is shinier and catches my attention, my sense of humor. It gets me in trouble a lot. Still, I have learned to love that part of me.
Nonetheless living in this hyper focus and unbalanced life is taking its toll. I have to find a love for myself even if I don’t live up to my inner standards, even if I don’t finish my goal, even if I gain back all that weight. I’m still worthy of love. No one else seems to be telling me I’m not, just that inner me, that voice that pushes me to improve.
Somewhere along the way I became my enemy. Christ asks us to love our enemies. I need to include myself – my imperfect self. God’s not done with me yet … as the song goes. If you miss me, if I disappear again, it’ll be something else shiny. Perhaps the next time, though, I won’t apologize because that’s just how I’m hard wired and I learned to stop questioning God’s ways.

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

110%: Too Narrow a View?

“I need you to give 110%!”  I just cringe when I hear that.  Even people who are not good at math have most likely been told that you can’t have more than 100%.  Percent makes it “of the whole”.  You can’t have more than a whole pie of a pie.  You can however have too narrow a view.  Perhaps you are really only considering a slice of the pie.  If you give 110% effort at work, or at a sport, what was the cost to the other pieces of your pie?  Did you give less at home, perhaps to a spouse or your children?  That will cost you in the health of your relationship slice of pie.  Did you negate your need for sleep or exercise?  Those things will eventually cost you in your health slice of pie.  Burnout is right around the corner if you ignore those.  Did you skip picking up, doing the dishes, or laundry, or other household functions?  Those will eventually catch up with you, so your ability to give 110% to whatever you are focusing on, is time limited.  Did you cut out your quiet time with God or your spirituality as a whole?  That will affect… well pretty much everything else in your life.  Somehow it’s usually the first thing we cut out, isn’t it?  Yet it’s kind of the crust to our pie. It’s what everything is built upon.

You could have been thinking about the other valid way to get 110%, though that is still an incorrect way of describing your level of effort.  You could be comparing your effort to an expectation level that is actually too low.  Did you compare your full effort to someone else’s full effort and determine you gave significantly more than they did?  The way that they slice their pie does not change how you sliced yours.  Did you expect to be able to do less and surprise yourself?  Therefore you feel like your effort was more than your ability to give?  I’m guessing you see the issue with the this immediately.  Your ability to do more than you thought you could, is either that you underestimated your time and talents, or you took from a different slice of your pie to be able to focus more fully on the task requiring your effort, thus putting it back into our “too narrow a view” idea.

Looking more closely at the estimation of our ability, that we often compare our actual effort against, can easily go both ways.  On some occasions we are proud of our selves for achieving more than we thought possible.  It was obviously possible, so our theory that it wasn’t was incorrect.  Nonetheless, we also berate ourselves when we don’t complete our self-assigned lists, or complete them to a lower standard than self-assigned as a perfect score.  My supposition is that often the second one is another piece of the pie catching up with us.  It needed our attention previously, but we stole from that piece of the pie temporarily, and now the piper needs to be paid.  Frequently the piper that shows up is the ones we can’t ignore such as poor health or need for rest.

The Bible gives us a great example where God clearly expects us to get enough rest and take care of our own needs in the story of Elijah.  Elijah had just killed all of those prophets of Baal.  He had been on the mountain top in his career, and here comes Jezebel and she’s out for blood.  She wants Elijah dead, and she’s the queen.  Being hated by those in charge, even feeling like you are disliked, is completely draining.  Elijah ran away and hid.  Good plan! I think.  God sends an angel and tells him to get up and eat, and then go rest.  A second time God sent an angel to instruct him to eat and rest.  Finally God tells him that he really needs to eat because the journey is too far.  This is where most of us think the story starts.  This is where Elijah listens for the Lord but the Lord is not in the wind, or the earthquake, but in the gentle whisper.  Elijah had to really be listening to hear him.

I often fail here because I was too busy being a storm of my own to stop and listen.  I’m also a regular steal-er from the health and rest pies, when I’m completing a different task.  It always catches up to me and then I berate myself for not meeting my own standards.

What’s your point already?  Right!

My point is we need that balanced life.  God designed us to need a balanced life.  He then made sure to give us examples in his word where He shows that He values our need to balance our lives.  We innately know that we need a balanced life, that’s not news to us.  But our need to take pride in our effort is the root of the problem.  We get unbalanced when we try to give 110%.  When we stretch ourselves in one area of our life and neglect another, we eventually pay the price.  Sometimes there can be long term consequences such as divorce or estrangement, or long term health issues that can not be resolved or can’t be resolved quickly.

I believe this pride issue, that gets us out of wack, starts with our thought process.  That need to be proud of ourselves or gain the approval of others by giving more than expected is the catalyst.  That desire to overachieve in one area of our life, without looking at the whole pie, is the first harmful action.  Comparing your slice of pie to how someone else slices their pie, on the other hand, only breeds apathy and disdain.  It is even less healthy.  Both are a battle in our minds.  Changing our thoughts to be kinder to ourselves and others is at least part of the answer.  Stopping the internal slave driver, who is fine with you skipping your exercise routine, but forces you to stay late at work.  Stopping that internal comparison to others which keeps you driven to be the best you can be, until the other parts of your pie come crashing in around you, never works out the way we want.  Instead of expecting 110% from yourself, or that you must always get an A, do your best without stealing from the rest of your pie.  Take the whole whole of your life into consideration.

You can’t sleep when you’re dead.  You need to do it now and you need to stop beating yourself up for needing to do it now.  You can’t have the best relationship with your friends and family if you neglect them now, not without taking from another slice of pie to restore it later.  So next time you feel the need to give 110%, acknowledge where you are stealing from.  Acknowledge that you are cutting into another needed piece of your life.  If you are honest with yourself about that and you choose to do that for a season, then give more.  Otherwise look at the whole whole and stop expecting someone else to divide their pie the way you do.  Then most importantly, start with your crust.  Start by listening to God.  Spending time with Him and in His word.  Look at your pie the way He does.  He’s the recipe holder after all.  Who else knows how to make your pie the best it can be?

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

Crisis of Significance

There is a disturbing trend in our country. We are losing our true sense of significance.  Oh we have a strong “false sense of confidence” and “fake bravado and brazenness”.  But what we are truly feeling is a crisis of significance.  Who am I important to?  Who knows my name?  Why do I matter?

We try desperately to fill a void that is ever increasing with social media.  How many “likes” can I get?  Does this blog have enough followers?  Is my tweet trending?  Am I relevant? It’s something that changes in the blink of an eye and that can be so elusive.  People struggle to understand how to capture and maintain the attention they seek.  They long for significance.  We believe we desire that from only one person but social media tells us that casual attention by many is just as satisfying.  Youtubers and bloggers long for more comments and followers.  Even I look for more followers.  But the numbers do not change your value.  It does not change my value.  It never had the power to do so in the first place.

Even if you are the most followed Youtuber with several viral video’s, even if your Facebook posts are constantly reshared and have dozens of “likes”, your value is no different.  It has not changed.  This blog could “blow up” and still I would have no more worth than I did before that occurred.  I would be shocked! But I would have no more value.  I am not and you are not, entitled to special treatment of any kind.  Sorry!  Perhaps you might earn payment from Youtube.  That payment does not define your worth.  It only defines your bank account.

Your worth is no greater than the mom who is raising her children quietly in her home.  Your worth is no greater than the teenager being bullied for her body shape.  You’re not more valuable than an elderly man with no one left to visit him in the nursing home or the foster kid who aged out of the system and is now living on the streets.  We are not an ounce more valuable. We are not more worthy of love and dignity than the man in prison convicted of crimes.  That one slowed you down, didn’t it!

Because we are all but one prayer away from being redeemed, just one prayer from being flawless in God’s eyes.  We are the same me, you, the wealthy man, the homeless kid, the prisoner, the terrorist.  We are all the same, just one prayer from being redeemed and forgiven.  We are all made in His image, each and every one of us.

And we should treat each other as if we have the same value.  Priceless. We should treat each other the way that our creator sees us because we are supposed to be His hands and feet. We are called to be an extension of His love.  We are His church.  We know it.

There is a crisis of significance going on out there.  We are looking at the wrong indicators to determine our worth!  There are no ordinary people.  We are all one prayer from redeemed.  That is God’s design, that the whole world be redeemed.  Acts 3:2 1 talks about restitution of all things. Since the world began.  He wants to redeem us all, each and every one of us!  Romans 5:18 sAustin  the transgressions of one man led to condemnation for all men but so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

Just one prayer.  What greater value could there possibly be?  How much more significant could you be?  He knows your name!  How much more adored could you be?  Jesus died so you could be forgiven, redeemed, justified!  Jesus died so you could be flawless in His eyes!  Priceless!  You are worthy beyond any measure with just one prayer.  Just one.  He knows your name!  Now that’s significant.

 

by Vicki L. Pugliese

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