This will be a fairly brief post. The mission of a Work in Progress (A-WIP) is to better ones self. I have, in previous posts, outlined what this means to me. Through photography, philosophy, and creative writing I find the best way to live for me. I share this better self of me on this blog as an example of taking control of my life. Now this this idea of being better is different for everyone. Here at A-WIP we want everyone to reach that ideal self, and we believe the only way to do this is to make a commitment to yourself.
I want say this as gentle as I can, but this commitment cannot have excuses. I know that many people suffer from issues be that of mental, or physical and my goal isn’t to mitigate those issues. However, saying I cannot because of _____ just tells me that you have a crutch that you cannot let go of yet. To make a commitment to oneself is to know that these issues may affect us, but should not control us. There is the difference.
To make a commitment to yourself first find out what it is you want out of life. For me it is to live an accepting Christian lifestyle, this could be different for you, but what does life look like to you in the future? Who do you see yourself being?
Know what challenges are ahead for the choices that you make and create a plan for overcoming those challenges. If you aren’t sure what challenges await then at least create good coping skills for when issues arise.
Finally when you create this commitment let us know, and let us know your progress. If anything we want to be supportive of you in your journey along with us in becoming our best selves.
Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness
Soren Kierkegaard in Skrifter vol 11 (maybe the correct citation) meditates on the above paraphrased verse in his writings, discussing the deeper meaning of the words. In short, he discusses that one must first seek the Kingdom of God, and this is accomplish by silence. Silence, according to Kierkegaard, is the first and most important goal in seeking the Kingdom of God.
To Kieregaard dropping everything for God is not the first step to seek the Kingdom of God. The first step is to be silent. To be silent, and to make yourself nothing before God. In this silence we arrive at the beginning, and this beginning is where we seek God.
Yet, what is this silence? If Kierkegaard states that silence is being prepared for the opportunity when it arrives, then isn’t mindfulness the same thing? It’s just another word for the same thing, and we know that mindfulness by itself isn’t spiritual. Rather it is an inward observation. By knowing ourselves we can better seek the Kingdom of God.
In our mindful/silent lives we make ourselves ready to serve God when the time comes. In this meditation we ready our inward self to serve. How can we serve God if our own lives are not in control? First seek the Kingdom of God. By first seeking the Kingdom we learn to be silent/mindful, and we take control of our lives.
God calls everyone to different things. Silence and inward observation gives us clarity to what those things are. The first step toward God is to become mindful of your own life, understanding of your weakness, to become nothing, so that God may use you for his will. The freedom to follow God starts with getting control of ones life. To understand your part in the world, and to be accepting of it.
I can work for God, and do great things for him, but first I must seek the Kingdom of God.
I hope I snagged you with that clickbait title because we do have a very important topic to talk about, and it is related to a border.
If you ask my wife what her biggest issue is with me, it would be I let people walk over me. I don’t stand up for myself, and when things are wrong I don’t get them corrected. Most of what she says I agree with. I don’t like going back into fast food restaurants to get my order fixed, I don’t like complaining to others, and when I get bad services I rather just not go back instead of fixing the issue. My wife is very different. She will march into a store demanding what she paid for even if its just a few dollars of a mistake. She wants things corrected and done right.
For a long time, I would just tell her, Hey you just got to relax. Mistakes happen. She would tell me, Yeah, that’s fine but I paid for it. That was something I never thought about before. This was my money, and my service. Most jobs I worked were in the services industry or working with difficult people in tough situations. I have adopted this passive approach to a lot of my interactions with people because it’s a hard mentality to break. I have always been on the other side correcting mistakes, and I feel like I personally hurt others when I ask for something to be corrected. Mostly because I feel its personal when someone is in my face yelling at me how they bought this yogurt and needed a refund because it’s the wrong Toffeetastic flavor they wanted WayTooManyBerries. Its apparently my fault because I stock the yogurt and mixed up all the flavors making it too difficult for them to find the right one.
For anyone who works in retail, or for anyone who works with people in a services environment can relate to getting yelled at for completely unreasonable things. Having to back down or risk getting in trouble because management cares more about their customers then employees. Why wouldn’t they? Employees cost money, while customers are the people buying the product. After years in this environment I have gotten use to: It’s my fault, I am wrong, and if its not a big deal, let it go.
After working in a more therapeutic, case management environment I am still dealing with difficult people, but there must be a wall between us. This wall also makes it so that I am able to say no to people to better help them. Having this passivity harms the overall impact I can have in a clients life.
I discovered this with my first client who had a bill of over 4000 dollars. Part of my job was to find clients who slipped through our sliding scale and help them get a reduced fee. Normal therapy session for an LCSW is about 140 dollars without insurance. With the sliding scale the service could be reduce to 12 dollars (Depending on size of family and income).
I was very ambitious at this time seeking to change people’s lives and help in any way that I could. That led me to being used, and not helping a family in treatment. By always driving to their house I made it so they no longer had to get ready for the day. By going inside, I normalized myself to the point they no longer cleaned, or washed. By transporting them to all the places we needed to go they became reliant on me. It didn’t matter how much hand holding I did they kept regressing.
I brought this case to my supervisor who pointed out all my flaws mentioned above. I wasn’t helping the family with becoming independent I was making them reliant on me. If I was doing my job correctly they would no longer need to be my customer and learn to advocate for themselves. Its about meeting people where they are and moving forward from there. A part of that is I have to say no. No, I cannot take you to this appointment, I can meet you there. No, I cannot come to your home for this appointment you need to come here. No, I cannot do that for you, but I will gladly assist you. I will assist and help in the least invasive way possible till you are able to stand up and do it yourself.
It was like everything sort of clicked into place when she said that. You mean I can say no, and help people? You mean I don’t have to let others walk all over me? I can keep a boundary, and still help them? This was incredible news for me even if it was taught to me multiple times in school. Getting the experience of working with others made everything click into place.
I started recently applying these skills in my daily life. I started saying no to people. Instead of coming up with an excuse as to why it’s impossible to hang out with someone and not seem like a jerk, I just say no. I have boundary with them, they make me feel bad, and I’m not spending time with them. I’m an adult, and I can make these decisions myself.
We must create these boundaries with others. Its not that we don’t like them or want them to feel bad. We must care about ourselves. This doesn’t mean when the pimple-faced teenager rings up our WayTooManyBerries at the wrong price we get in his face and yell. It means we politely ask for them to double check it. Make sure we didn’t make a mistake, and we say no if we know they are wrong. It’s not about being a jerk, it’s about caring for yourself.
I picture the body as a nation. I am the nation of Felix. I have a flag, my county has a religion, we have an okish economy, we got a really hot ally (my wife), and the national sport is eating Doritos while playing D&D (Damn good nation). When I let people walk over me I let them take a part of me. They start eating away at my main resources: happiness, dignity, self-worth. I lose them to these invaders, and my people are still a welcoming people. We like to believe that others won’t hurt us, but we must have boundaries to protect our resources. To protect Felix from being broken down to the point of hate, pity, and humiliation. A place where we have all been before.
I know in the news there is a lot of issues going on related to the border. Don’t let this analogy get in the way of the message I’m trying to tell you. You need to be a patriot of your nation. You need to be a patriot in that you care for yourself enough to say no and stick to that no. Create boundaries with people, and don’t feel bad about them. You are a human, your only here for a short time. Is it so wrong to want those years to be comfortable? Is it wrong to want the same dignity and respect other people have?
I never felt like I deserved what other people had, I thought it was fine for people to walk over me. I am saying no. If I payed for it, it will get fixed. If I don’t want to spent time with you, I won’t. That doesn’t make me a bad person. It just means I am human, and I want to be happy while I’m here.
The most cliché thing I love to repeat is “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” All my life I have made plans, and they have never been fulfilled. I’ve given up, honestly I have, and I am letting go of all worry. What is the point anymore? Since I was a child I had this huge plan about where I was going to go, and what I was going to do. There was a perfect outline of events that would create the perfect life. I worked hard every step of the way only to find that the door I was searching for was always closed to me. It wasn’t part of my journey no matter how badly I wanted in.
This has to be relatable to other people. I don’t think I have ever met someone who has said, “Oh yeah, everything I ever wanted came out just as planned.” There is just too much going on for anyone to completely succeed at everything they set out to do. I wanted a completely different life than the one got. Planning was dumb, I was blinded by ambition, and a need to succeed that I never learned a single thing about myself.
I hit my head against a wall fighting for my “dream job” while living in this fantasy that if I don’t give up then I will get what I have always wanted (For some people this works). Giving up has honestly been the best choice for me. I stopped planning. I’ve stopped worrying because how the hell am I suppose to know what tomorrow will bring when I can barely control today. I still have wants, and dreams. I make achievable goals for that, but I’m over creating a five or ten year plan.
God will provide, and I sincerely believe that. Now I’m not trying to proselytize here, but can you say that all those nights spent worrying turned up anything besides bad dreams with upset stomachs? After dealing with one client’s crisis to the next, staying up late at night trying to plan out the perfect situation to get them the most help, I learned it all works out in the end. Maybe not for the best, maybe even to a decompensated state. However, the crisis is over, and they grow from it. They can rebuild.
I failed at everything. I pushed so hard to be let down. I sacrificed everything I had for what I wanted to do, and was crushed for years when I learned I couldn’t do it. I was physically unable to. Yet I persisted, and fought more. I dug myself deeper, and deeper believing in this dream. I had no idea that I would be where I am today, but I am better off for it. I learned to rebuild, and I built the life I have now. With help of course from my religion, my wife (pictured above beautiful as ever), and my family especially my mother.
Life isn’t always pretty, and I understand there are powerful forces at play in people’s lives that cause harm. All I am suggesting is that for all the hours I spent hunched over begging God for help, could have been spent thanking him it’s not worse. Instead of feeling sick and being restless I could have been asleep or enjoying the limited time I have here in life.
That’s what it boils down to, 75 years (If I am lucky) of life. Already 25 have been spent, and a third will go to sleep. More to work, cooking, traffic, and chores. All told I only have maybe 5 years left of time that I get to enjoy. If that time is spent worrying about tomorrow I won’t get to write cool things, love on my wife, and take stupid photos.
Tomorrow I will wake up. I will walk to work with the sun shining down on my face. At work I will speak with clients, and help solve their issues. During lunch I will eat, and work on some more content to publish working on the things I enjoy. I will finish my day at work, and go home. I will play D&D with my friends, and wife. I will cook dinner with my wife. That is my plan, and that is as far as I will go. An infinite amount of things (good or bad) can happen between then and now. I choose not to worry because I cannot know what tomorrow will bring. I will take whatever life gives me, and work with what I have.
Each time I failed I learned, and moved forward. So here is to us, the imperfect, the broken, and the rebuilders. To those who have given up on waiting for life, and making plans for tomorrow. Be here today, and laugh with God about plans made.
What is something you spent time worrying about? Did your life’s plan turn out the way you wanted it to?
If you are an observant individual (like I know you are) you will have noticed my tagline is Life in Mind. Now there are several reasons why that is an important phrase to me and it also explains more about why I am blogging. It’s also an important phrase to you. That is really what we should be talking about because you are the most important person to yourself.
Life in Mind is a mantra of mindfulness for the busy person who is on the go (most everyone). To me it means Don’t forget life. I do forget about life, not the functions like breathing, but noticing that I am alive. This is my life. I only get one of these, and what am I doing with it? North American Culture specifically the United States is one that is constantly on the go. We like fast food, fast lines, fast fun, fast movies, fast cars, and fast work. We like to get it done get it done now and move onto the next thing. We are so on the go all the time that we forget about living, we forget about life, we forget about ourselves.
Life in Mind isn’t trying to stop your life, or even slow you down. Some people live in the fast lane it’s perfect for them. What it is about is taking a moment each day to notice you’re alive. You take a moment to be mindful of the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that surround you. You notice the feelings you feel at that moment. We want to be non-judgemental during this, and just be in the moment.
Each time we take a moment we get better at learning how to take moments more often. As we get more mindful we get to learn about ourselves in new ways. Once we learn about ourselves we can make good decisions that benefit ourselves emotionally, and logically. Take some time every day to just be, and you might find something about yourself.
Now time for me to be selfish and talk about how it affects me. I like writing, and I love reading. I’m not good at either, but each time I took a few moments for myself I learned I really like what I think about. I really enjoyed the stories that played out in my head, and the drama. I enjoy making the characters move, and change. So, I wanted to write stories, opinions, reviews, and ideas. I wanted to write, so I made a blog with Life in Mind to write. It doesn’t matter if its good, just matters that I do it to benefit me.
Are you a mindful person? What do you do to be mindful? What can you discover new about yourself?
Let me know.