Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Permission to Walk

I'm baaack!


Lately, I've been irritable, cranky, and somewhat sad for no apparent reason. I complain and find fault with everyone. I avoid tasks, and prefer instead to hide in my office at my computer or behind a book. I feel like I've slipped back into the old me, and I wonder what happened to the me who lived life along the humerus--the funny bone. I feel like I'm just plugging along through life, like every other poor slob.

(Aren't you glad I decided to come back? What an uplifting post!)

Today, I asked myself, "What happened to my joy?" 

Myself didn't answer. No surprise there.

I think I just let it slip away. I have chosen to live in the negative instead of the positive. It's really not all that difficult to figure out. Nor is it that tough to change. It's all about choices. We have a lot more power over our moods than we think.

Since I avoided my lunchtime run today by doing errands instead (see...choices!), I decided to end my work day with an invigorating jog. Except that I felt tired and overwhelmed. 

"I can't do it all," I said. The dog looked at me. She didn't care. She just wanted her dinner. 

"I can't work full time and write a novel and exercise and cook a healthy dinner, and garden and stay connected with people and pray and...I just can't do it all, God."

He was quiet too. It's not like He doesn't already know. And besides, who asked me to do all those things (except work)?

I dragged my sorry butt out the door and started my run, expecting it to perk me up. Except it didn't. My feet hurt for some reason, and I felt like I was dragging myself along. 

I kept waiting for the endorphins to kick in, to make me feel happy, to give me that spark of energy, and it just never happened. I kept pushing, but when I got to a hill, I did something very important.

I gave myself permission to walk.

I time my runs, so I'm always trying to beat my own time. Why? Because I'm competitive. But why can't I just enjoy the exercise? Why do I always have to be in such fierce competition with myself? Does being this way invite burn-out?

It's okay to slow down and walk sometimes. It's okay to give ourselves permission not to run the race to the point of exhaustion. It's okay to proclaim an end to the race, and even to withdraw from the competition. When we do that we rediscover joy. 

While I was walking, I realized that there are things that I love doing that when I'm not doing them, I'm sad or cranky or irritable (or all three!). One of those things is blogging. 

I've been thinking of putting a compilation of stories together in the form of an e-book for about a year. As much as the idea appeals to me, and as much as I have a desire to do this, and as much as I have a lot of the material already written, I simply don't have the extra time. I mean, how many books can I write at once? Really!

While I was walking up that hill, I wondered why I was saving these little stories for something down the road, when I could be sharing them on my blog? Isn't that what a blog is all about? And don't my readers enjoy my self-deprecating humor? And don't I enjoy sharing those stories?

As I neared the crest of the hill, I began my run again. Suddenly, I couldn't wait to get home and blog. Yes, I'm still immersed in writing this novel--in fact, I'm taking a writing class on top of everything else. It would seem that by blogging, I'm adding more to what I said I already can't do. 

But I find joy in blogging. I always have. A friend told me that by writing and publishing a post, I've invited you, the reader into my prayer closet. I find life lessons in writing, and I publish them because I want to share them with you. So I guess she's right.

For now, I'm giving myself permission to walk. I'm just going to share my little stories with my readers as God leads. I'm not going to go crazy creating graphics. I don't need to prove anything or compete with the big-name bloggers. I can't anyway. I may or may not join a "link-up" party. If I feel an urge to run with a post, I will. But for now, I'm just gonna be me and walk this bloggy road for awhile.

I think that joy often eludes us when we try to do too much and our life becomes out of control. Or when our routines become so boring that we think, like Solomon, "It's all meaningless--chasing after the wind."

But when we give ourselves permission to walk, when we slow down enough to enjoy life, and when we allow ourselves to be continually redefined and refined by God---that's when a little glimmer of joy appears. 

And it only takes a spark of joy to get the fire going.

Blessings along the path as we chase our joy together,
Mary

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