Lisa Rivero, friend and writer extraordinaire, had a great post recently called, “Dear Neglected Blog.” It resonated with me in so many ways – in particular:
During the past seven years, I’ve used blogging to motivate and entertain myself, to share other blogs and resources, to think out loud, to meet readers and writers. I know it goes against rules of personal branding, but I treat my blog as I did my childhood bedroom—changing the furniture arrangement when I’m bored, sewing new curtains, repainting the walls, decluttering now and then.
2017 feels like a time to return to some serious blogging, with a renewed focus and plan, starting with a new tagline: Writing my way to meaning.
Meaning is, after all, the role that writing plays in my life, in at least a couple of ways. First, the act of writing itself brings meaning to my days. Whether it is writing a blog post or poem, short story or essay, for publication or not, I end my day better and fall asleep more satisfied if I have written. It took me most of my life to figure that out—that meeting specific writing goals are not, in the long-term, as important to me as the act and process of writing itself. Writing is an aspect of finding authenticity: when I write, I am more myself.
When I first began blogging, in 2009, I called this blog, “Finding Meaning with Words.” Indeed, my first post looked like this:
Finding Meaning With Words
My son once asked me if I always had to find meaning in everything. I answered, well, yes, that’s what a writer tries to do. It also turns into a vague enough title to allow a writer to explore pretty much anything she wants in this blog. 🙂 So, we shall see where these musings take us, but I hope we’ll all enjoy the journey.
In thinking about meaning and my life recently, I’ve realized that I have allowed negativity to crowd my brain. There is nothing worse for creativity and a healthy mind, body and spirit than dwelling in negatives. Before and after the presidential election, I was swept away with fear, with disdain and with borderline hopelessness. I became one of those people who shared every post I saw on Facebook, especially those denigrating Mr. Trump. I haven’t cured this obsession, but am working on it and am trying to be careful to focus on verified truths, as I should always do, but don’t always do.
The answer seems easy, doesn’t it? Avoid Facebook. Spend my time with good literature, with my own writing, with friends and family face-to-face, in person. But I’ve never been a great all-or-nothing person. I know this about myself. If I think hard about dieting, I’m more likely to overeat when I take an all-or-nothing approach. So, I’m not going to try to completely abstain from Facebook, but I am going to monitor my time and actions better. Instead of letting Facebook be the connecting tool that I enjoy, checking what friends and family are up to, literally all over the world, I’ve allowed it to go from being a connection to being a distraction. I must rebalance that purpose back to connection and positivity, not distraction and negativity.
Most mornings I do spend a few moments with my bible and some prayer time. Often this is a rote quick-and-easy, well that’s done, kind of action. Sad to say, but true. This morning, a familiar verse resonated with me that I will continue to ponder as I consider how I spend my time, how I seek meaning in my life, how I strive to be a force for good. Perhaps it will resonate for you as well, whether or not you have any connection – good, bad or indifferent – to the bible. The verse is from what we Christians call the New Testament, from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 4 verse 8:
…..whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
My last post, at the end of 2016, was Saved by a Love Letter from Luis Urrea. I need to review his Tin House podcast I referred to which is a shout out to all that is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent and praise-worthy. I need to turn off the noise about golden showers (have we truly come to this??) and Americans losing their healthcare and impending nuclear holocaust, and stick to what I can do. I believe that the God I love has gifted me in two key ways — 1. to be a connecting person – I seem able to get along with many folks and to be able (sometimes) to bring opposing forces together to communicate and connect and 2. to write (and/or at least exercise my creativity in some positive ways – like perhaps turning inspirational quotes into nice picture quotes. 🙂 ).
I have been visiting family and friends in Massachusetts since the end of 2016. While here, I’ve attended services at the church of my youth, seen again above, First Congregational Church of Southampton, MA. In that space, I first learned of the ideas of seeking truth, honor and justice. I heard excellent words and songs. I learned about praise-worthy thoughts and deeds.
As I lift my head slowly from the fog of negativity I fell into at the end of 2016 and prepare to return home to Wisconsin, I will try to remember Paul’s words on what to think about, what to fill my head with. I want my mind to dwell on positive things.
Shalom friends. I hope your 2017 is off to an excellent start!