Enjoying summer

I need to find ways to enjoy summer more. Mostly, I think this means being outside every opportunity that I get. I read an article about this today, although the article had more suggestions for eating in your backyard than anything else. As I don't have a backyard, this doesn't apply to me.

But yesterday, I went to the library and spent the evening reading, inside. It occurs to me that it would be fun to do this outside, and yet, I need to find a way to be with Dakota at the same time.

Sometime last year, I talked to my grandmother about using her fenced-in yard as a place for Dakota to run off-leash a little bit. She's basically okay with it, assuming the neighbors don't complain (and really, why would they?). However, I need to either find or buy a board that I can use to block off the back portion of her yard, as it isn't completely enclosed.

I'm thinking this needs to be more of a priority. And since I have very few specific plans for the weekend, it sounds like a good time to do it.

Weighing the options

At the moment, I'm trying to make a decision between two possible volunteer opportunities at my church.

The first option is serving as First Serve Coordinator. I talked to the senior pastor about this, mostly because they said they needed someone and I wanted to know exactly what it was. I would basically try to coordinate getting people plugged in to volunteering, and, in particular, coordinate opportunities for people to try out different ministries in the church, to see where they best fit.

The second option is as a singer on the praise team.

I'm analytical by nature, so I've decided to make a list of pros and cons for each.

First Serve Coordinator
  • I could set my own schedule.
  • I could still help out with nursery on Sunday mornings.
  • I would get to use my administrative gifts.

  • Cons:
  • This is a lot of work.
  • I'm feeling a little ill-equipped to handle something like this, especially because I don't think I have a very good handle on all the church's ministries, and because I don't know that many people at church, really.
  • If I can't find others willing to help out with this, especially calling and visiting people who are interested in getting involved, it's really going to be a lot of work.

  • Praise Team
  • I would get to sing.
  • I've always wanted to sing on a praise team.

  • Cons:
  • I would need to commit to another night away each week.
  • I may not fit on the team - there's still a process to go through yet.
  • I couldn't do nursery at the same time, except maybe as a substitute.
  • They might want me to sing a lot of harmony, which could be really tough for me to do.
  • The weekend

    It was a good weekend.

    I think the best weekends are the ones filled with good times with friends and family, lots of fun and little stress. With some productivity thrown in for good measure. :-)

    I hung out with friends Friday night, after Young Life leadership, then went home and did a lot of work setting up my office. I made a huge amount of progress, and that felt really good. It's still a mess, but shaping up nicely.

    I spent Saturday with family. Kelli's graduation open house was in the evening, and I spent most of the morning running errands and the afternoon helping prepare for the party.

    Sunday morning, before the worship service, I auditioned for special music and the praise team at church. I thought it went pretty well, though I was really nervous and forgot the words at one point, but it's so hard for me to judge my own performances (aside from the obvious). I got a call this morning, though, asking me to sing this coming Sunday and inviting me to continue in the audition process for the praise team. Which, I guess means they liked it. :-) So now I have to decide if I want to continue to pursue this - more on that later, probably.

    After church, I went to lunch with friends, then shopping with my sister, then hung out with friends again for a while. I went to bed tired, but very content.

    Aging gracefully?

    I think I'm getting old.

    I got invited to a party last night, and since it was going to be turned into a somewhat surprise birthday thing for a friend, I went.

    Who plans a cookout for 9:00 pm on a Wednesday night? A college student, that's who. For crying out loud.

    I need to find some new, single, older-than-30, non-schoolteachers to hang out with.

    Thinking about moving?

    One of the most fun sites on the web, in my opinion: Find Your Spot

    This interactive quiz asks you tons of questions about the things that are important to you in a place to live, and presents you with a list of your top results. Of course, it can't take into account things like family nearby, but it's still a lot of fun.

    For most of my family members, our results were pretty similar - I think Mom, Dad, Kelli, and Katie all had several in common in the top 5 (Virigina and North Carolina, mostly). Mine were close, and the differences can probably mostly be accounted for when you know that I tend to prefer ocean to mountain views. Mike (Katie's husband) had completely opposite results - his top 5 locations were in Alaska. I'm still trying to figure out how he managed to grow up in Florida.

    Productivity, intuition, and the nature of getting things done

    Last week was a very productive week for me. I could probably come up with several theories as to why that is - but suffice to say, I crossed a lot of things off my to-do lists.

    As, as is inevitable, I finally found myself left with tasks that I was just resisting, things that had been on my list for months without progress. Rather than deal with these things, I've just pushed them aside.

    So tonight I asked myself - why am I resisting this? Why aren't I just doing it? I started to go through this thought process, not methodically and comprehensively, but instead for just a couple of these tasks. And for one in particular, it hit me - I am not doing it because I can't do it, because in reality there is another step that must be completed first (in this case, Internet research on exactly how to do the task).

    This whole things makes me realize that what I think is intuitive, isn't. I should know this. It makes so much sense to me, it seems just basic logic, to write every place I have to be down on one calendar. But I know this isn't intuitive, because many people don't do this (and it works just fine for them). I didn't even do it myself, until a couple years ago (though it didn't work out very well for me).

    Staying organized, working efficiently, getting things done - this takes practice. And I think it also takes constant monitoring.

    A poem

    A friend shared this Maya Angelou poem with me recently:

      Love arrives;
      and in its train come ecstasies
      old memories of pleasure
      ancient histories of pain.
      Yet, if we are bold
      love strikes away the chains of fear
      from our souls.

      We are weaned from our timidity.
      In the flush of love’s light
      we dare be brave
      And suddenly we see
      that love costs all we are
      and will ever be.
      Yet, it is only love
      which sets us free.
    I like it, not because it talks about love. Because, to be honest, I don’t like reading poems about love - unless I'm in the right mood, I find them rather sappy.

    But what I like about this poem is that to me, this is not about human love, but about a deeper love. Because I think when a person first encounters God’s love, it is scary. We base our perceptions on imperfect human relationships, faulty by nature, and the idea of a love that literally does cost everything we are is intimidating. But it truly is the only thing that sets up free.

    It reminds of a quote from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, about the lion Aslan:

      "Ooh!" said Susan, "I'd thought he was a man. Is he--quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."

      "That you will, dearie, and no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver, "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else silly."

      "Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.

      "Safe?" said Mr. Beaver. "Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

    The appeal of doing nothing

    I had a great conversation with my friend James last night, about the power of being exactly in the moment that you're in, without spending time and energy on anticipating whatever is next.

    It got me thinking (and I still am), about two things in particular:
    1. Should we set aside specific time in our schedule to do nothing, or is it something that we should learn how to do in the midst of everyday activities?
    2. Why is it sometimes so hard to achieve?

    For the first question, I think there's value in both approaches. Before this conversation with James, I was thinking about making plans for Saturday, because I have none. Now, I'm thinking that planning nothing at all is the most appealing thing. This doesn't mean I literally won't do anything, because first thing in the morning, I will probably make a list of 5 small things to do that will take no longer than 10-15 minutes each. (This is part of my new effort to improve both my productivity and my sanity). The point is, though, that there is nothing that I have to do, nothing that I must accomplish, and nowhere that I have to be.

    Still, setting aside a day, or even a evening to plan nothing isn't that practical. This is actually okay with me, because I like my life this way - the alternative sounds rather boring, really. Which means that we must find ways to relax in the midst of the things that we do every day.

    This brings me to the second question - how do you achieve this on the regular basis? I'm still figuring this one out, but one thing I've decided - part of it is about being comfortable in your own skin, being able to just be who you are, wherever you are.

    At the moment, though, I'm just looking forward to not doing anything tomorrow.

    Christmas in June?

    A few days ago, while shopping at Kohl’s, I saw a potentially good Christmas gift idea and called my sister to talk about it.

    Having someone you can call about Christmas gifts in June, without that person thinking you’re weird – this is a good thing.

    Fight Night

    (This happened a few days ago, so I figured it was time I blogged about it already.)

    Saturday night Josh (a coworker) had several guys from work over for Fight Night - the Ultimate Fighting Championship 53 on pay-per-view. I've never watched mixed martial arts before (Josh made me watch a DVD before I was allowed to come, just in case I got totally grossed out), and I have to say it was pretty interesting. Some of it was brutal and somewhat babaric, as you might expect, but there's a lot of skill involved, too. These guys have to be good a lot of things - kickboxing, boxing, wrestling, martial arts, etc.

    In a way, it's kind of like football - you need to be good to play, but there's also a point where you just ram your head and body full force into the guy in front of you.

    Here's Josh's post on his weekend, including Fight Night: http://joshsl.com/default.asp?myBlogDate=One&ID=63

    Ugh. Allergies.

    I thought my allergy season hit in force last weekend. I was wrong.

    Today has been a pain. My nose feels raw from blowing it, my eyes are bloodshot, and I'm dreading even the 10-minute drive home.

    Probably the worst part - I was planning to hang out with a couple friends this evening, in the park. After less than an hour there, I was so miserable I had to get home. I hate it when things like this interfere with my life.

    Out of town and under the weather

    This weekend I traveled with several good friends to Young Life's Lake Champion property, just over the border into New York state, for the annual Leadership camp.

    It was a good week, though my allergies (which seemed to come out of nowhere, honestly) left me with a travel tissue pack permanently attached to my pocket. But, I met new friends, relaxed and took naps, felt spiritually refreshed, and Kate met a guy. All of these are good things.

    I came back to real life Monday night, though my unsettled stomach had me calling in sick to work this morning, which postponed a full re-entry into the routine. At least until tomorrow.