Good afternoon my friends. As I write to you today I am enjoying a quiet, sacred time my church offers called “Sanctuary”. I love this time when all is still in the house of God. It is a time to reflect on my life in the presence of my Savior. This blog is largely just that, a reflection on my life.
I told you in my last blog that I have spent time recently rearranging my schedule. While evaluating the rhythms of my life, I noticed that I had developed habits over the past months of distracting myself with shallow, interruptible tasks. I was able to keep going on the busy work of church and home. I could handle bookkeeping, web updating, event planning, shuttling people around, cleaning, shopping, cooking, etc. But in the quite times when I would try to study or write I found my thoughts scattered and oftentimes dark. Some of the “busy work” I engaged in was important while some things were just time fillers.
When Kelley died, those things that kept me busy also kept me sane. It kept me distracted enough to limit my grieving to shorter, more manageable spans of time. The shallow work kept me from drowning in an ocean of grief I was not yet strong enough to swim. While this season was important to my mental survival, it is now time to leave the shallows and dive into the deep. So I have made some changes in my schedule. This was done in order to better accommodate larger blocks of time for reflection, study and writing.
Here’s me trying to organize the “blocks” of my life.
Previously, I had split up my tasks in such a way that I worked a little bit, every day on each of the things I had determined were necessary both for work and my overall physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. But chopping all of these tasks up and sprinkling them daily throughout my week made it difficult for me to dive deeply into the more cerebral endeavors. While I was beginning to see this on my own, my thoughts were helped by a book I’ve recently read. (Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Calvin Newport.) In order to fully engage in “deeper work” I needed time to immerse myself in the activity. One-hour blocks of time are not conducive to this. So I rearranged tasks to make those deeper activity panels a bit bigger for larger blocks of uninterrupted time.
This uninterrupted, deep work is necessary for my mind to explore, process, engage with and articulate new thoughts. Some of these thoughts are encountered outside of myself as I read articles and books, listen to a podcast or study the scriptures. Some thoughts originate within my own mind as I think, meditate and pray. Most thoughts are overlays of my imagination and evaluation on top of my research.
Articulating these thoughts in writing not only helps me sort through what I believe to be true; it exercises my mind and brings health. This blog is one of my outlets for articulation. I am truly grateful to all of you who read it. However, even without an audience, I would write. Writing is crucial for me to maintain a healthy mind; a workout for my brain. It is the exercise in which I bring order to my thoughts. In addition to blogging, I have also started to write a book. The project is still taking shape but I believe I know how it will unfold.
As a way to enhance my emotional health, I also write in journals. One journal is set aside for processing my grief and loss. One journal is for processing daily Bible readings. I’ll write more on journaling later.
I am hopeful in my newly formed plan. I enjoy the extended times to write, to stretch and exercise my mind. And so far, I am off to a good, though not perfect, start. I give myself 4 out of 5 stars this week.
Tune in next week to see if I can keep it up. After all, this is all just an experiment being refined by trial and error. Peace be with you all.