Posts Tagged 'resting'

Slowly Returning

single rose small

 

I think.

At least that’s the plan.

I’ve been “on staycation” for about two months now, with posting here pretty sporadic.

A lot of stuff has happened. Most recently the shingles came back to my eye, and for the last three weeks I’ve been dealing with that, complicated by the fact that I seem to be reacting adversely to the antiviral the doctor wants me to take.

We had a wedding here of one of “our own,”,that is one of the members of our local congregation, a young lady who happened to be one of the students in my Sunday School class, and went on to become one of my dear friends.

Friends and family came in for the event, and such things always cram a lot of things into a very short time, where you spend days after recovering, not only from the simple exhaustion of late nights, longish drives and lots of talking, but having your head and heart full of wonderful moments that surface in a disjointed parade of memories afterward. (See my Introvert post, Static and the Need to Recharge, about needing to “process” the sudden high-volume of “deposits” that have been made into your soul)

At the same time as this was happening, my hubby was away elk hunting, and I had full charge of walking Quigley. (I don’t usually walk him every day — we take turns.) Hubby returned successful, so then we had, well, A LOT of meat to deal with. YAY! (We were completely out of wild game and I detest store-bought hamburger, and am not much fonder of ground turkey…) He did most of the work, but the kitchen and refrigerator were commandeered for about a week, I think, which was… distracting at a minimum.

Then there was the matter of my car failing its emissions test, twice, and various  trips to the repair shop, until finally it was decided that we could get a waiver on the whole thing. And all of this pretty much happening concurrently.

So it’s not really been the most “restful” staycation, and it’s not like I’ve had nothing to do but play… though I have managed a bit of that.  In fact, I actually went on 2 Artist’s dates!  And  yes, a month ago or so, I picked up the next Artist’s Way book, Vein of Gold, and started working through it…  only to stop not far in as the Lord took me off in another direction… but that, I think, is for another post.

In fact, I’ve already written a good deal more than I had thought I would. I just wanted to take a tiny step back toward regular blogging, and here I’ve got a full-sized post already. 🙂

Staycation

Resting: my sketch of our former Redbone, Bear,  asleep

Resting: my sketch of our former Redbone, Bear, asleep

My last post was titled in part,  “Take a Day Off…”

When I wrote it I didn’t realize I was actually going to continue to do it, but that’s what’s happened. Even though I mentioned that I thought the Lord was giving me a vacation — seeing as I’d turned the whole matter of me trying to write and failing, failing, failing, over to Him, and it seemed He was doing nothing, thus it must be a vacation — I guess I didn’t think it would continue to go on. After all, the usual times for a vacation are a week, maybe two. Not a month…

Surely, I thought even as I wrote that last post, I’d been “vacating” long enough  and it was time to get back to work.

Apparently not.  Because I still haven’t been able to get myself to work. I’ve continued to avoid the office and have spent a lot of time reading news and comment stuff on the internet, watching videos on making cards, actually making cards… and just doing the general things around the house and yard that are always there, and could easily take up all my time if I let them.

Internally, however, I continued to fight the whole vacation concept. Or at least to feel guilty about it, as I repeatedly questioned whether I was correctly applying what I’d been learning in Bible class. Maybe I was actually just deluding myself, thinking I could just throw everything out the window like this and and let God do it all. Wasn’t that a bit flakey? After all, as every “Professional writer” knows, if you want to write you must go into the office and force yourself to write. It takes self-discipline, and you must train yourself to do that.  It’s absurd to just “trust the Lord.”

I now think that is the voice of my flesh, which I’ve recently become more and more able to identify. More on this later, but for now though, the fact is, I had already done the “just use self-discipline” thing and it led nowhere.  The only thing left was that I trust the Lord to return the motivation to write, as well as the ideas and the direction the story is to take. Even though He’s taking MUCH longer than I think He should be taking.

Which, of course, means I have to trust Him even more to move me and, as I outlined above, it is very difficult for me to do that. I don’t want to rely on Him. I want to take control and get it done myself.  I have a plan, a timetable that I think is reasonable, and He’s not following it!

Well, yesterday I was doing a search on the Internet for “effects of too many things to do.”  (a subject some friends and I were discussing on Sunday). I didn’t find much on that, but in the course of the search, I did stumble upon an article called, “Recovering from Writer’s Burnout: Steps to Happier Writing.”

Here’s the first paragraph:

Many writers (and other creative people) hit that point eventually: they burn out. They feel tired. They can’t feel any interest in their work, and doing that work becomes harder and harder. “

That was and still is me. Feeling very tired. No interest in the work. I’ve mentioned it before. I kind of like what I’ve done so far, but I can’t think of the right place to go from here, and for some time now it’s all seemed dead. I don’t want to think about it.  When I try, I just confuse myself. Should it be this or that? I can’t decide. If I force the decision I can’t write… Or flip back to the alternative the next day when everything after the bit I’ve written goes blank.

I thought I’d already gone through the whole burnout thing. I thought I’d given myself a break. After all, it’s been six years since I finished The Enclave. Of course, that led right into the caregiving for my mother. And then dealing with her estate and all kinds of family changes — my son leaving home, settling in another state, and getting married, the arrival of our granddaughter… in addition to my own health issues …

All of those things, even the happy events, still intruded into the flow of my writing, sometimes for weeks at a time.  Does that sort of thing contribute to burnout as well? I”m not sure, but I can say from experience that after a while it gets frustrating… I couldn’t remember what I’d decided the last time I’d worked with the material, stuff that had seemed good before the interruption no longer seemed so good… I lost a sense of where I was going exactly…

The article continued in a second paragraph:

“I started to hit the burnout point last year with my freelance writing. Unfortunately, I missed some of the signs and so I continued taking contracts. Eventually I became almost completely burned out — unable to take interest in all but the lightest, most relaxing writing. That’s a terrible place to go if writing is what you’ve wanted to do all of your life.”

Not just wanted to do, but what you’ve actually done. I’ve been writing fiction for over forty years and the drive was always there. Now suddenly, it wasn’t. And since throughout most of that time I believed it was the Lord who was supplying the drive, the desire, the ideas, the guidance… then it must be that for some reason He was withholding it now, and not just something about me. In other words, I don’t think it’s actual “burn out” so much as me stressing out because God hasn’t come through in my time, and so I keep trying to get back in the game when it’s pretty clear He’s been telling me I need to wait.

The biggest reason I can think of for Him to remove the drive, desire and ideas, is to remind me that it really is Him doing it, and not me. Secondary reasons include forcing me to trust Him for all of it and teaching me to put aside the internal shrieking of my control freak sin nature in the process. He’s also making me take a deeper look at ways I’ve always looked at life and self and my work and finding they are not really in line with His ways… Plus, there’s been a huge upheaval and change of direction in how I’m coming to understand the spiritual life overall. And how can one write Christian allegory/analogies if one’s whole perspective on the Christian life is changing?

One of my friends reminded me of the blessedness of winter concept, when the trees are stripped of their leaves and stand bare and gray, seemingly dead. But inside God is doing a work and before long the new life of spring appears…  That He does the same with us.

I know she’s right, and  I think that is what’s happening to me. And part of that includes the fact that God really does want me to have a longer vacation than I think is appropriate.

Because in the above mentioned article, the very first suggestion of what to do for the “burned out” state is “Take a Vacation.”  🙂

Here’s what she has to say:

“There’s one thing that, above all, you should try to do for yourself when you start to burn out. If you can afford to, take a vacation. If you’re still finishing off a contract then take a vacation as soon as it’s over. Be lazy. Sit around the house and read thrillers, mysteries, or something equally pointless and fun. Watch movies. Take lots of walks in the sunshine. Relax. You need to be able to approach the rest of all this [ie, her other suggestions] feeling rested if at all possible.”

So, that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing, even if by default. I haven’t, however, yet allowed myself to read novels, thinking that would be too great a “time consumer”. But having read this, I decided that maybe I really should treat my vacation as a real vacation, so yesterday, I picked up one of the recent Brad Thor novels sitting on my shelf, Full Black, and am now halfway through it! 😀

Update:  I wrote this post in the afternoon, and barely got it done before time for live Bible Class from Lighthouse Bible Church in Florida where Pastor John got up and started talking this very thing!  That we keep thinking there’s something good about us that’s going to get the job done (be more loving, be more self-disciplined) when that’s part of the old self that was crucified on the Cross!  The words and phrases he used were almost direct answers to things I’d thought and wondered about in the course of not just writing the above post, but over many days. It was one of those times when I knew that God was talking directly to me, and reinforcing my conclusion.

Yes, the writing is to come from Him. No, I do not need to try to be “more self-disciplined.” Yes, it is right to wait for Him to lead, and I do know what that feels like. This very post, for example, I believe was the result of His leading and guiding and moving,  because until I started writing it, I wasn’t planning on writing anything at all. I don’t even really know why I accessed my blog in the first place, and initially all I did was check out some of the other blogs I follow. Then suddenly I found myself opening the new post window and the words were flowing.

Here’s a link to the message in case you’re interested. I thought it was pretty phenomenal even aside from the immediate personal connections:

The Activity of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Church Age believers, part 51

Undecided and Unfocused

Well, here I am on Sunday evening, and I really don’t know what happened. It’s been almost two weeks since I worked on Sky. And, as is obvious to regular readers of this blog, I’ve also fallen off the wagon of doing five posts per week no matter what!!!!

Part of that was Introvert’s Fatigue, as I’m calling it. Doing a lot of things, absorbing a lot of information, consciously or unconsciously, and then needing not only to rest but to process. I wonder, often, if this is getting worse as I age, or if there’s simply more information to process. Or if there’s simply more to do than I think. Kind of along the lines of that problem I have with the space-time continuum.

Because when I come home after a trip, it’s not to this peaceful, sublime place where I can rest for a few days and then move gently and gracefully back into my routine.

No, the routine is in shambles, I have doubled loads of laundry to get done, the plants need tending to, the house is a mess from all the packing to leave and unpacking upon return. Sheets need washing, towels need washing, floors swept, carpet vacuumed, groceries to be bought… Blog posts “need” to be written, photos uploaded, selected, edited for the posts, the mess leftover from The Big Project needs to be dealt with…

And in the midst of all that I’m wandering around like… well… I hate to use this analogy, but I’m rather like Quigley in a target rich environment of different smells. I’ve succumbed repeatedly to the tendency I’ve described before where I go into another room to get something, see something new in the new room, forget entirely what I was doing in the old room, and start doing the new something, pull boxes off shelves, partially pull out the contents, move into another room to get something else, forget what I was doing in room two and go outside to hang out the laundry, return to deal with some of the paperwork on the table, then suddenly decide to go read blogs… that’s been really bad last week, what with the debate.

[Which I actually managed to watch in entirety —  except for the times I had to walk out of the room because I got so agitated….(“Calm down, Karen. Now go back in there and sit down and listen quietly. It’s okay…”)]

In addition to all that, or maybe in the middle of it, when I actually TRY to decide what to do, I can’t, because a flood of “you shoulds” and  “you musts” and “don’t forget about thats” and “you needs” engulfs my brain, and I don’t know which to pick. So then I go read blogs…

Why is that the default I wonder? Why is it easy to “not-decide” to read blogs? By which I mean, I don’t sit there and evaluate everything and consciously decide, it’s more like I get the sudden desire to read them and I act on it. Whereas everything else is a big …“I don’t know. Should I clean the bathroom? What about washing the kitchen floor? Maybe I should do tricks with Quig but I don’t want to. I should get started on my Christmas cards and…”

And then somehow I find myself sitting in front of the computer reading Drudge for “just a minute,” again. It’s like I was enspelled…

Or maybe I was just tired.

Static and the Need to Recharge

 

Like riding on a carousel where everything goes by too fast to focus on…

I mentioned a couple of posts ago feeling overwhelmed, discombobulated, and like my head was full of static after returning from the conference last Monday.  Actually I felt like that during much of the conference as well. Not overwhelmed in the sense of “I can’t handle this!” or “I don’t like this”,  but overwhelmed with input — experiences, places, people, teaching, thoughts, activities.  Much was packed into those five days and I’m not complaining at all, because it was fantastic, but I have been very aware this time of my need for processing it all.

I’ve written before of this sort of thing (archived here), quoting from a book I read a couple of years ago called The Introvert Advantage, by Marti Olsen Laney, PsD. It was the first time I’d heard of the introvert’s  special “need for down time, solitude, time to sift and sort through all the things that have been deposited…”

According to Dr. Laney,

Right-brained introverts (I’m one)… require large amounts of protected sifting and sorting time because they take in so much unconscious information. Without private time they end up feeling confused and fragmented.

The more introverted you are, the more you need a serene environment for processing stimuli and for recharging. Why is processing time so crucial? Without it, you get information overload. New input lands on top of old imput, and suddenly your threshold is reached and you shut down. Crash. Circuits are jammed. Numbness sets in.

She compares this to a bank computer, accepting deposits, allowing withdrawals, processing thousands of different transactions, and temporarily putting them in some sort of electronic holding area as the day wears on. At night bank clerks handle them all in a “batch process”, so that in the morning everything is where it should be.

But what if, she asked, the bank computer didn’t operate at night? The result would be —

Serious congestion and backup. Accounts would be incorrect, your balance could be too high or too low. You wouldn’t be able to make sense of anything. Human beings are the same. If you dont’ have time to process the stimuli you take in, you get backed up and congestion sets in. You can get fuzzy or go blank.”

This is just what I’ve been experiencing over the last few days, not only because of all the things I saw, felt, thought and heard on the trip, but all the things that happened afterward. The house was in chaos, in part because of the replacement of the dishwasher, but also because there were so many things needing or waiting to be done:  unpacking, laundry, dealing with stuff that had come up since I’d left, figuring out how to load and use the new dishwasher…

I’ve experienced the need to process this time, though, not just in the sense of feeling forgetful and discombobulated and like I have static in my head, but also in the way fragments of thoughts, disparate images, snippets of conversations  from the weekend seem to drift randomly through my head. I want to grab hold of them, make sense of them, figure out what to do with them… but they’re gone, replaced by another before I can.

Suddenly I’m recalling the man walking his three huge dogs in the park, or me sitting with royal family in the almost empty restaurant on Saturday afternoon, or waiting at the terminal in the airport for my fellow travelers to debark after me, or the fantastic panorama of cloud and rain and mountain and shafts of light that we saw as we circled the airport in Tucson waiting for a thunderstorm to move on… they go on and on.

And that doesn’t even count the actual lessons taught.

There’s also the sense that all of this relates to my bigger picture, having to do with all the new stuff I’ve allowed into my life as potential “necessary” activities.  I’d just about come to the conclusion before I left home last week that perhaps all these activities were not so needed after all. Now I wonder if  I am literally incapable of doing everything I’m thinking I want/need to.

But so far there hasn’t been time to sort it out. Or perhaps I should say, I’ve not given myself the time to do so…   So that is my plan for tomorrow.

 

Ospreys as I’ve Never Seen Them

 “Do you know know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired… and to him who lacks might, He increases power.

Though youths grow weary and tired and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength;

Tthey will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not grow weary.” ~Isaiah 40:28-31

This passage has long been one of my favorites. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on the imagery of eagle’s wings, and the fact that when eagles hunt they rest, letting the wind carry them along. God’s provided everything for them to do their “job” of finding food: sharp eyes, feathered wings, deadly talons.  So many great analogies there to the Christian Way of Life (in fact I did a blog post on this very subject six years ago called Reflections on Soaring.) mostly about resting and waiting for the Lord and using what God has given us…

So when my husband sent me the following video of an osprey at work, I was enthralled.  Though technically not an eagle, ospreys are in the same Order
(Accipitriformes) as eagles. However, specialized hunting behaviors  and physical characteristics like a reversible rear toe have led taxonimists to give the osprey its own separate family. So I don’t think I”m too off using the osprey as an illustration of the eagle.

In this video, one not only has the opportunity to watch them soar, but spot the prey and when then they find it, dive: that is,  tuck, point the head down and fall. What a metaphor that is.

You see it all in this video, and more. I had no idea the kinds of very large prey an osprey can take. Nor that they could actually go completely underwater.  Watching God’s creatures, I’m continally amazed at His design.

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

…try, try again.

So, once again I will make an attempt to take up blogging again. I don’t know why I haven’t been, exactly.

Maybe because it’s been hot and humid, and I/we have to walk Quigley at night during the times I used to write my blogs. By the time we get back, it’s too late, I’m too tired, and it’s time to go to bed.

Or maybe because I’ve been doing the Flylady stuff more assiduously than before. I’ve been working on the morning and bedtime routines and sticking to them fairly well. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been doing it on a lesser scale than previously, or the fact that given the state I’m in, having a list of regular tasks to pursue is just what I need. They’re things that need to be done, and I don’t have to think too much.

Plus I tend to get sidetracked in the midst of them by unexpected developments, and they end up taking longer than I expected.

Or maybe it’s because I’ve just been feeling weird lately. Grieving? It doesn’t really feel like grief, though as I understand it, grief can take very strange forms.

Burnout? Possibly. Maybe even probably. I’m not sure I like the term “burnout”. Exhaustion — physical and mental — may be more accurate. Certainly once my mother’s house sold and all the immediate, deadline-type things were completed I spent a week or two doing a lot of sitting around staring out windows.  I even took a few naps.

I didn’t fuss at myself for doing it, either, because I knew that I was exhausted. And I have recovered a bit. I am doing things, after all. And don’t feel like everything is just way too hard to tackle, as I did there at the beginning.

Except for creative things. My novel under contract. My blog. Even card-making has been difficult. I made a birthday card for my sister last week and could only do tiny bits of work on it before everything went blank and it all seemed too hard. When she told me later that she’s felt the same way (she works in a rubber stamp store) I began to think it might be something other than… laziness or failure to be disciplined. Especially since I’m experiencing exactly the same thing relating to The Other Side of the Sky. I can only think about it for a teensy bit of time and then no more.

Regarding Sky, I have determined, in the small amounts of time I’ve been able to make myself get back to it, that the reason the first chapter (which is actually the second chapter, since I’m starting with a Prologue) has been so terribly hard to read, so… boring… is because it is. One of my writing books talks about how the writer often needs to use a bunch of words to tell herself the story and I suppose that is what I was doing. In any case, analysis has shown me the fact that it actually has structural problems. One of the parameters for scene construction is that you must start out with your character having a goal, which is then obstructed by some kind of problem and then conflict as the character attempts to overcome the problem and achieve her goal. Chapter One has lots of conflict and bustle and problems, but not really anything related to the viewpoint character. She has no goal. Stuff just happens and she has to deal with it. Which is why I find it boring. So I have to come up with some kind of goal for her.

And so far, I haven’t.

I have however, done a lot of decluttering around the house. In fact, I’ve been almost obsessive about it. But maybe I should save that subject for tomorrow’s post…  (Yeah, I know, I’ve said that before. Hopefully I WILL be back for tomorrow’s post. In fact… maybe I’ll go write it now…)

Casting Your Cares on Him

A reader responded to my last post with this:

“Placing our cares with God and leaving them there is soo important and difficult at times. All He wants to do is to take care of us. All He wants us to do is rebound and take in His Word! He gives us the energy to do whatever He wants us to do. Seems simple but it takes concentration on God’s viewpoint and being aware of distractions. Enjoyed your article.”

Wonderful words. I love “all He wants to do is take care of us.” Which is hard to really live in, at least for me. Because it’s so against my human nature.

The part about being aware of distractions, though — yeah, that’s really important, but it’s also what’s been driving me nuts, lately. Is housecleaning a distraction? Is accompanying my husband to his high school reunion? Maybe. Maybe not. Planning a tea for one of my best friends? Making a birthday card for another? What about the dog? He is certainly distracting, but should we get rid of him? (No way! He is an amazing, rich, continual source of blessing.) Is writing in my journal a distraction? It does take time, yet often it really seems to clear my head and siphon off the emotions that might be hindering me from proceeding. Many times it helps me to see the distortions in my thinking and reminds me of what I should be thinking.

Plus, with writing sometimes after a bit of concerted effort you just need to break away and do something else. Sometimes you need to moodle. Or play… how do you separate the distractions from the things God is sending to inform, refresh or challenge? How can you confess something if you don’t really believe it’s a sin?

After chasing my tail for far too long, I decided to put the deciding which is distraction and which is not into God’s hands and leave it alone. Then I received the above email and after reading it I had a momentary second thoughts, followed by “Oh no, not back to square one again!”

But no, I don’t think so. Because the thought that came to me then was, “Well, you know for sure that guilt and frustration and resentment and anxiety and flusterment are all distraction. So why not just concentrate on dealing with those (rebound and concentrate on God) and leave the other stuff with Him?” Because really, He is able to make His will clear to me, despite my incessant lack of confidence in my ability to perceive. (Which, for a writer, is really an insult to His ability to communicate,  since of all people I know that in communicating you have to make sure you eliminate all the potential side paths your words might stimulate a reader to take. Do I really think He can’t do that?)

And now look at this… I’ve just written a blog post, when I was in the middle of getting noting upcoming activities on our family calendar, came in to find the email regarding the aforementioned reunion to confirm the date and found my friend’s comment on yesterday’s post which in turn stimulated this. So… was that a distraction? I don’t know. It no longer matters. I’m just going to go forward and wait for God to make it clear.

[Addendum: I wrote this on Monday, but by Monday evening there was so much going on, by the time I came in here to put it into WordPress, I knew I was too tired to do anything that made sense. Then today, I suddenly had to spend the afternoon on unexpected errands and medical issues, yet because I’d already more or less written the above, now I do have energy to put it in and smooth it out. So the timing’s been pretty cool.]


Categories

My Online Church

Visit my Old Blog Here:

Music I’m Writing To

Transformers (Revenge of the Fallen) Soundtrack - Steve Jablonsky


%d bloggers like this: