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A New Years word: saying no to resolutions


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I fail at new years resolutions.

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Numerous articles suggest we all do. Maybe it’s personality type, maybe I just get discouraged and give up easily, who knows.

As part of my job I’m involved in a lot of goal setting, our goals are meant to be SMART, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed. Like a lot of business-religious-educational acronyms,  some of the acronyms letters seem to only be included to spell a cool word, aren’t achievable & realistic(relative, relevant, result-focused) the same, why would we set a goal that wasn’t relative or relevant? But SMAT doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it.

Maybe I fail at my new years resolutions because I don’t treat acronyms with the hallowed reverence they deserve.

In the past when it came to resolutions I’d get a little carried away, apparently this says something about me as well (personality types & myers briggs) I’d end up with lot’s, achieve very little, forget about them by February, remember one or two half way through the year & officially give up on them. A lot of my goals were about things I thought I needed to do more of or do better. Fitness, weight, the classic christian read my bible & pray more… And it didn’t matter how SMART  I was with them, they always became Stupid Heavy Irrelevant Tedious goals.

Instead I’ve stumbled (sorry I don’t recall where) on to something else that works for me, it flys in the face of Deconstructionist (break every thing down) SMART. It may work for you, it may not.

So instead of a goal I pick a word I want to live by for the year, think of it as a focus, motto, heartbeat, ethos, breath….

What word do I want to breathe this year.

This will be my 4th year of choosing a word in the past I’ve chosen Sabbath, Thrive, Create. Last year my brother-in-law chose ‘Present’, an excellent choice, being present, being in the moment. I don’t recall what word my Dad chose but I was encouraged that the concept had worked for him & he was doing it again this year.

Sometimes it’s tempting to chose lots of words, I find if I have a couple I can’t decide between, one eventually falls to the side. Sometimes – like last year – I wanted to choose a task as a word. The problem for me is that tasks, no matter how noble, become chores, work, an obligation, they drain my energy.

Where as a heartbeat word, a ‘breathe’ word, is life giving.

How does this work? One year I chose ‘Thrive’, unlike a narrow smart goal, ‘Thrive’ covers a broad range of life. My word was a question, Thrive: does this help me thrive?

It may just be semantics or devilish-mind-trickery but ‘Thrive’ was positive & life giving for me, instead of “you must be skinnier no more junk food you fatty” goals, it was as simple as does this help me thrive? Got some spare time on my hands – Thrive – what will be life giving for me to do in this space of time I find myself with.
The real bonus of a word for me is it’s easy to remember, it’s just one word, but it covers so much more than a 100 goals. Sabbath was about rest, being still, acknowledging God, it was also discipline & intentionality.

Last year I went with ‘Create’ I wanted to choose ‘Write’ but write is more task orientated & ‘Create’ is freedom. Creating space to be creative, Create was about acknowledging where I get my energy from, looking for a creative approach to work/problem solving, writing, poems, painting, making videos, cooking more, creating with healthier food….

Even if I do forget my word or make poor choices I can still come back to it, because Thrive/Create starts every day, it’s not the classic “read your bible in a year-plan-oh-no-im-6-months-behind-give-up-futility”.

This year my Wife & I have chosen ‘Wellbeing’, we wanted a word that could embrace the various areas of our lives holistically.  So that’s my word for the year, have fun discovering yours…

Discovery now that’s an excellent word.

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Feature, News

Enter the Void – the year that was


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I believe in world peace.

I believe that all men are created equal.

I believe in the Force, America, freedom, the Tooth Fairy, a bearded man in the sky, Jesus Christ.

 

Beliefs are cool but in the words of Tyrion Lannister,

“words are wind.”

 

They say faith without works is dead, and I’ve often felt that to believe something you need to be living it. Otherwise you just like the idea.

But what happens if that “living it” takes over. What if that action becomes the only sign of faith, does it just become empty ritual… and how can you tell?

How can you tell when you’re so caught up in the doing that you’ve stopped being.

When you’re more Martha than Mary.

How can you tell when the things you do sneakily become  the relationship you have, instead of overflowing from it. And does the fact that I even have to ask a sign things aren’t right?

 

What seems like an eternity ago I embarked on some travels, part discovery, part losing things along the way, part chasing dreams & passions. A journey which saw me hanging out with the houseless in Hawaii, and sharing tears in Palestine.

A journey which saw me stop writing. A little bit awkward if you keep a blog.

And in amongst the travel weariness, shameless self promoting selfies, new experience buzz, innocence lost insight, humanity rediscovered, crisis uncovered, laughter, tears, solitude and connection, was an invitation to enter the void.

 

I would summerise my faith journey this year as an invitation to enter the void. The laying down of things near and dear to me, let the chips fall where they may.

I started writing this post early 2014. I’ll finish it in 2015. Apart from a couple of YouTube videos, quotes & previously unpublished poems, I only wrote one post last year. And while very little of what I write sees the light of day I pretty much wrote nothing of anything.

I didn’t read much either, I made no videos, I didn’t volunteer, I didn’t go to church.

In fact I lost all desire to do any of these things, which was a little bit strange.

Concerning even, if I thought to hard enough about it.

 

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Yet I felt strangely at peace with this invitation to emptiness, as if it were ok to be on this journey. Some how comfortable with the uncomfortable, or at least at peace with the process… whatever that might be.

Like rehabbing an injury, things aren’t right but one day will be.

Last year I attended a friends exhibition and was really moved buy the powerful stories and imagery, so much so that I bailed early, it made me think about my own travels, the people I’d encountered and their messed up situations. Maybe 2014 was the year I chose to shut down a bit instead of being overwhelmed by the worlds problems and my inability change things.

As 2015 begins I find a rekindled energy for some of my passions, a desire to read, to write, to create. I’m looking forward to finding and committing to a faith community, but that may depend on where I end up living. Somethings I don’t think I’ll ever resume, their time has past and I’m happy to let them go.

 

Love & Breathe. Here’s to doing coming from being.

Let-Go-Let-God

 

adventures

Caged Love


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Spent the day walking around San Francisco, from the Wharfs to Mission District up to the twin peaks to catch the sunset.

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In my travels I noticed that a lot of the doorway entrances have a caged door as well…

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and then I noticed some churches do too…

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and then I noticed not just doorways but little enclaves & places of shelter were caged off…

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and then I found this man in an alleyway…

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and right across the road was this church…

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it had a large sheltered area that would be perfect for alley-man to sleep & shelter in.

 

It may even make a difference in whether he lives or dies tonight.

 

I want to ask a question, so I find an entrance. On the way I see the churches slogan on a big sign,

Relationship. Not Religion.

 

I ask, “why do I see so many areas caged off?”. The answer it seems is because homeless people would take up residence there. “Is this why you guys have a caged area too?”, He looks awkward, a lady pipes up, “You have to remember we have to keep it clean for Sunday”.

I ask her if she knows a homeless guy died from the cold the other night, that he is the 5th in the last 2 weeks. She tells me if they let a few homeless stay (in the courtyard) soon there would be lots & they have families that come on Sunday.

He tells me they’re busy & I have to go now, I thank them for their time, I’m just trying to make sense of it all…

Wouldn’t God be appalled if our courtyards were dirty.

Heaven forbid we became known as a church where the least & disadvantaged seek shelter, or where faith was raw & real for our families, rather than disinfected-white-washed-sanitised-sunday-school-lives.

Lets do some simple math. There are easily a 120+ people there, that would mean committing 1 day every 2 months where you & another person cleaned up & served the homeless that gathered in your courtyard…

 

who knows, maybe then the words of your slogan would come to life…

maybe then it would stop being religion,

and start being relationship.

adventures, Uncategorized

downsize me!


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You need this, you want this… ooh look at that! What you’ve got isn’t good enough, it’s time to upgrade… to up-size.

 

Lately I’ve been looking for a new car, it’s been a battle. I did have a rough amount I was prepared to spend on a car, then I’d see something I’d like that cost a little more & little more , and soon I was contemplating a loan to get something really nice…

I think I’d go through the same process whether I had 6k or 40k to spend… ooh that Chrysler is just a few grand out of my imaginary-budgeted-40k reach, maybe if I took a small loan…

Instead the challenge for me is to downsize, so I’ve halved my car budget. As long as I can fit in it & it gets me from ‘a-to-b’ I’ll be happy…

 

You see a couple of months a the Government started to review the role my workplace has in their future education plans, and while nothing is set in stone there is a very high chance I wont be in the same job next year. The general reaction from work colleagues has been to cut back on the coffees, put that overseas holiday on hold, knuckle down & save, because chances are none of us are walking into new jobs near the same pay.

I’ve even been taken aside and given that sagely bit of wisdom, you know, about being a good steward & saving in the years of plenty. I could justify that and I’m sure no one would hold it against me, after all my job is under threat & shouldn’t I be saving for a house…

 

But what if being a good steward looks different. What if it’s not about me accumulating my own little empire…

because as I read through the bible the theme seems to emerge that we are blessed to be a blessing, that what we are given isn’t for our benefit but to benefit others, that it’s not for building my kingdom… but another.

Maybe being a good steward isn’t looking at my work situation and saying, “I need to save & hoard because I won’t be making that money next year”, maybe there is another way of looking at it…

 

I may never be in a position to bless others again like I am right now.

 

Wouldn’t it be a shame to waste that opportunity by accumulating for myself. What would it look like if I downsized more than just my phone & car budget… if I downsized my life, if I intentionally put aside part of my income to bless others, if I really stretched myself… say 30-40%, that’d be a challenge, it may even break me, it’s sure to shape me.

So that is my challenge for the rest of the year, I’m interested in how tough this will be, how it may change how I view money and “need”, what small good I might achieve and who I may encounter…  the dream chaser & random stranger.

There is only so much I can hope to achieve in this lifetime & my sphere of influence may be small, but a downsized life enables me to share in what others do too.

Blessed to be a blessing.

 

 

This has been another post in my ongoing journey of discovering of what it looks like to follow Jesus in today’s world and loving people more than money.