Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

In a world where opinions are our most powerful form of currency, always present, always vying for our attention…

In a world where everything and everyone seems to have a voracious craving for attention, and is never satisfied…

This is the world in which we live, my friends, and I admit that I am as guilty as the next loud mouthed, selfie taking, video making, blog writing, social media posting, sharing, sharing, sharing person out there.

So, what the heck are we to do with all of this?

First, how are we supposed to have any time to create our own individual identities when life seems all about one-upsmanship?

Second, how do we quiet our minds even for sound sleep when we have a constant Twitter-esque feed of thoughts and opinions and post creation going through our heads around the clock?

And next, how do we truly take in all that is thrown at us and assimilate it in a way that we can do something with the good and discard the ill-serving?

How do we live through each day of this without going completely nutty?

Personally, I struggle even with creating content and the ever-present question: To share or not to share? I love to create, and that creation feels somewhat cheapened when self-promotion comes into play. So, do I write, paint, collage, graphic design, digitally sculpt, record, and post merely for the sake of the art of creation, then sit back and cross my fingers that anyone may actually be interested in what I have presented? I am reading a fascinating book (Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday) that likely is the catalyst behind today’s quest, but challenges the artist to create the art for the sake of creating masterpieces. Those masterpieces will stand the test of time if they truly are masterpieces, and if they are not then shouldn’t we either find a medium in which we can each create our own version of the masterpiece, or work harder at our craft until what we create truly does stand the test of time.

IF our creations are great, they will stand on their own and self-promotion becomes a moot point.

As much as I agree with putting effort into making great work, isn’t this why so many classical artists—artists whom now grace every cheesy calendar and coffee mug—were completely broke while still alive? When I was younger and spending every dime I made on art supplies I half-joked with every person I ever gave a painting to that they should be sure and hang onto it until I am dead because then it may be worth something.

Marketing genius Seth Godin comes closest to this create but don’t self-promote mindset of anyone I can think of who is living out this extremely loud and incredibly close digital era. Yet he is succeeding. He writes. He posts. He leaves it alone. But his genius is grasped onto by countless busy sharers who take his words and feed them to others at lightning speeds.

Therefore, if we all produce, produce, produce, but resist the pull to share, share, share, what happens to anything we’re creating in this, the Age of Attention?

This post may prove to be the worst-case-scenario of exactly what I am lifting up here. There’s no full-circle answer here, tied up neatly with a bow and a shareable quip. There are only more questions and the inevitable question at the end as I will again struggle with the if’s and where’s of social networking.

For now, I am going to focus my time and energy on creating. If you find value that makes me happy, however my joy is in the creating. If I allow my satisfaction to be derived from your perception of my work then (1) my own joy is in your hands rather than my own and (2) it is fleeting. I’m not a fan of “feast or famine” happiness and I encourage you to also take stock of the work you create and the WHY behind it. **Another great book: Start with Why by Simon Sinek.

Until next time, my friends, I appreciate your time and attention. I know it is in short supply these days so if you’re still reading at this point, I sincerely thank you.

Make it a great day,

Marilyn

Comparison Really Is The Thief of Joy

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”  -Theodore Roosevelt

This famous quote is so easy to spout and so difficult to follow.

I can have  perfectly lovely day, spent exactly the way I would have wanted to spend my day with exactly the people I would have chosen to be a part of my day, but five minutes on Facebook can wipe it out and turn me bitter.

Why?

My mind starts going through all of the various comparisorial (yes, I make up words…but if it make sense, who’s to say it’s wrong?) joy-stealing monkey mind talk of:

“How in the world can they afford that vacation?”

“Another new car? Are you serious?”

“I can’t believe they’re still together. Everyone thought they’d be the first to split up.”

You know the comparisons you make as you scroll through the newsfeed.

It’s joy-stealing!

So, we have one of three choices to make:

  1. Keep doing what we’re doing and keep getting what we’ve been getting.
  2. Stop the judgmental monkey mind and learn to scroll without the constant stream of caddy self-talk.
  3. Stop looking at the newsfeed…at least, stop looking at the newsfeed without first going through some hearty preparation.

John 10:10 speaks of the thief who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (ESV) When we compare, we are not only judging others (see Ten Commandments), but we are allowing ourselves to believe that what we are or what we have is not enough.

If you choose in this digitally socialized world not to completely excommunicate yourself from the rest of the world, I don’t blame you, I’m no social leper, either. But I do encourage you to take a moment’s pause before opening that app or clicking over to your browser. Take a moment to arm yourself to be genuinely happy for your friends, to not grumble that they’re doing this or that and you’re doing something less thrilling or expensive.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” (James 1:2, ESV) Don’t be dissatisfied with your own blessings just because you didn’t spend the day on the beach, read the latest best-selling novel, teach an art class, and learn a new language today. As you look through your Facebook feed (sorry to be seemingly picking on FB today…it’s just the most convenient for this purpose), make a list of all you “wish” you could have done in that day, then look over that list and realize how incredibly impossible and non-at-all relaxing that “perfect” day would have been.

Maybe you’re in a rough patch right now. Please resist the urge to compare your current rough patch to another’s moments of bliss. They’re not comparable. You may or may not see the rough patches when others go through their own. But either way, “count it all joy” when those rough patches come because that’s when the growth happens. And in going through these kinds of times (and not internally punishing others for not going through their own at the same time), and “Rejoicing in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4, ESV), you will thrive through this stage and have your own fun to post on Facebook soon enough.

All in God’s time, my friends.

Let’s be vigilant together, and not allow anything steal what God has blessed us in having.

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

Summer Is Reading Time

Summer is such a great time to pick up a book or five and just get lost in reading. There’s something in the mindset of summer that relaxes things.

I love to read year-round, and the library is my very best reading buddy! Although I used to frequent the book stores so much more often, I’ve found so much less guilt in disliking a book if I haven’t spent 15 bucks on it, first. When I find a true gem, I will still purchase it for future reading, highlighting, underlining, etc. But anymore that is a very special book, indeed.

Please join me in reading a little bit extra this summer. Of allowing a few more breaks in the routine for escape into the written word.

If you’d like to keep up with what I am reading beyond those I post or create video content about, you can check out the “Books” tab with quick reviews of what I’ve read most recently, and the ever-growing list of books I’d like to read next. Also, if you have suggestions and favorites, I’d love to hear about books you think I’d enjoy so I can add them to my reading wish list!

Until next time my friends, read on!

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

Love/Hate Relationship With Summer Vacation

This is the last week of school for my children, and although in many ways they are excited…there’s a flip side to their excitement. You see, each year as school winds down, I ramp up with my “GREAT MOM IDEAS” to keep the kids active, alert, and learning throughout the summer vacation.

Work, chore, and learning opportunities abound! wpid-fb_img_1430702899892.jpg

Projects and family-fun activities make my eyes brighten!!

Daily family fitness and “active play” ideas fill my mind!!!

…My kids hate this…

They’re not against doing stuff, but their Mom has a tendency to over-schedule their three months that are (to their minds) supposed to be a break from schedules.

So, once again I have busted out the notebook and been sprawling endless lists and schedules and time tables of what kinds of things we can be doing when, where, and how allllll summmmmmer long.

Oh yeah, kids…get ready! Momma’s got the summer well planned.

“Get up! There’s no sleeping in in summer!!!”

“I’ve been up since 4…it’s time to get up and have a great day!”

“I have the best idea for today! Remember how we talked about how great it would be if the garage were completely cleaned up and reorganized?!?!?!!!!”

“Let’s start running together, every day, as a family! How about getting up early before the summer heat sets in!”

“Math workbook time!”

Yep, they’ll love it 😉

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

Do Something Once, Do Something Well

We all heard it countless times from our parents as we were growing up…”Either do it right or don’t do it at all.”

As adults, either at work or in our home life, not doing something at all is usually not a very realistic option. So, instead, we rush through the chore or the project or the task on our way to doing something we actually want to do and want to put our whole efforts into.

Let’s take our parent’s advice this time, though, and DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME.

On this Motivational Monday, I want to encourage you to take so much pride in yourself and your abilities, and value your time so much that you put 100% effort into everything you do.

Do the task, do it well, do it fully and correctly the first time, and put your stamp of approval on the project, knowing it’s something to be proud of.

Thank you for joining me on this and other Motivational Mondays! Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,
Mari!yn

My Relationship with Social

image

I’m going to kick off with a few grand generalizations, and see if they stick. Ready? Here it goes:

The majority of people who are on social media check their various outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., etc.) incessantly throughout the day and night.

And, to piggyback onto that, here’s numero dos:

Oftentimes as we peruse, we thumb through our news feeds, liking here and favoriting there, but primarily acting as voyeurs into our social media worlds.

This is what we do. If you were standing outside my house on in the darkness, watching my family and I through my window it would be creepy, but we think nothing of social media voyeurism.

There is a problem, though. And it sucks. This social media voyeurism habit sucks time right out of your life.

Great news, though!

When you consider that we each likely (another generalization) spend more time with Facebook than we do with our best friend, you can see that we’ve come to treat social media outlets in such a personal way as to actually have earned a spot at meetings, at sporting events, at the dinner table, and in bed with us. Rarely are any of us EVER without at least one device that is socially connected and oftentimes in use.

Being a voyeur on our social world is like being in a one sided friendship with someone who only takes, complains, requires time and energy, and is never there when you need that attention reciprocated.

If, however, you treat this social media relationship as you would one with the other most important people in your life, then Social (now a person, and therefore using a proper name) deserves you to give back a little instead of just take, take, taking.

For this reason, I suggest we all make a commitment to check in on Social only when we also have something worthwhile to share. Don’t just use Social to soak in the latest gossip, but give something of meaning, or hilarity, or depth, or intrigue back.

Itching to check your Twitter feed? Share a line of your favorite song lyrics that have been rolling through your head all morning…in 140 characters, or less, that is.

Looking through Facebook at everyone’s latest family pics from Easter or spring break or winter blues turning to spring blooms? Remember to share your own pictures and stories from the season.

Read an interesting article in the latest copy of Forbes Magazine? Maybe one of your LinkedIn connections would also gain something from reading the article.

As our world continues to become more and more digitized, we have to actively seek ways to stay truly connected. Keeping up our end of a two-way relationship is a great step to take!

Make it a great day,
Marilyn

I Make Time Work For Me, Not The Other Way Around

I wish I had time to volunteer at my kids’ schools more. I sure would like to spend more time with my girlfriends; I feel like I never see them anymore. My husband and I haven’t had a date night in months, and I sure miss it. I wish I could learn to play the guitar…the piano…the saxophone…the harpsichord. I wish I could pursue my great idea for a business, but I’m just so busy with my “real job” to get around to my own passion. I wish I had time…

Does any of this sound familiar to you? I know it sure hits home for me! It’s just too easy to wish we had time for EVERYTHING, and –in turn– feel so guilty for all that we can’t seem to make time for in our already jam-packed schedules. It’s time to regroup!

We cannot do everything, serve everyone, be everything to everybody, and also give ourselves the time and attention we so desperately need for survival. There truly is a time for work and a time for play, a time to be together and a time to be separated. There IS time to do all of the things that are truly the most important to us–the key is that we must figure out what most deserves our precious time!

The best way I have chosen to do this is to sit down–yes, this takes time, too–and jot a list of alllllll of those things that I would like to do. Read for an hour a day, exercise for 45 minutes three times a week, have time with each of my children individually each day, play golf every week, have two hours of TV time each night after work, wake up each morning before anyone else so I have some moments of peace and quiet before the hustle and bustle of the day begins. List ALL of the things that you currently make time for, add the things you wish you had time for, and still add those things that you feel guilty that you rarely have time for in your life. The list will likely be extensive…and if you put the calculator to it, your extensive list will likely require your week to have many more hours in it than are available.

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

168.

That’s how many hours each of us have available in each week.

Seven days a week.

52 weeks a year.

168 hours.

Some inevitable time-consumers to that 168 hours are: sleep, food, basic self-care, and likely at least someone’s time-clock. Other choices we’ve made and people and things we have prioritized eat up more of our time. We chose to get married, we chose to have children, we chose to attend school, we chose to work to join this committee or work with that political campaign. Now, it’s time to choose how exactly you would like to spend your 168 hours a week.

From the list you made, what are your top priority items?

I work at a wonderful coffeehouse, which allows me to meet all kinds of exciting people and be at the central hub of the city in which I live; this takes about 40 hours of my time each week. I have a goal (and I really do mean GOAL, because if I don’t prioritize this goal I tend to fall VERY short) to sleep eight hours a night, which comes to 56 hours each week. I have a husband and three kids still living at home that I enjoy having quality time with; so I need to make sure my schedule includes these wonderful people so that it doesn’t exclude them as my week unfolds. I want to make time for this website, and for my YouTube channel, and other of my social media sharing, but these things require time. I want an hour to myself every morning and an hour of relaxation time each night before bed; this adds another 14 hours a week to my prioritized time needs.

The next critical step is to actually schedule every hour of your coming week. If you take the first step of seeing what is most important for you to make time for, but do not look at your calendar and see how it will all fit into the schedule, you’re selling yourself short and you will NOT be able to fit everything in. However, if you schedule every hour of your week–including sleep time–you will see exactly how your priorities fit into your life, and where you may still even have more time for some play here and there.

“You CAN have everything you want in life–just not all at the same time. And this, by the way, is a GOOD thing! Spread the joys over a lifetime so you always have something to look forward to in your tomorrow!”

weeklytimeplanning.jpg

I prefer military time, which is why my time listing along the left edge of the paper is written in 24-hour segments.

Above is my first 168 Hour Schedule that I created last October in it’s most rudimentary version.  I plan my week ahead when my coffeehouse job’s weekly schedule is posted, then I organize the other time categories around my work week. I take into consideration all upcoming family events, other obligations and priorities, and finish up by color coding the different categories so that I can see at a quick glance how my time splits–like a pie chart in my mind.

This doesn’t have to be a slick professional presentation, but the numbers do have to add up. Making time work for me makes all the difference in the way my weeks unfold–planned and prioritized, 168 hours at a time.

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn