Many Countries in the Same Space

I was fortunate when in London in September to see Yoko Ono’s Exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery: Into the Light. It was a free exhibition as part of the London 2012 Festival. Incredibly interactive it had an underlying message of love, peace and freedom. I was fascinated by the charmingly primitive nature of her work.

Some of her simple concepts resonate with where I find myself in my world right now. On one canvas were the words:
many rooms, many dreams, many countries in the same space
Another, ‘Three Mounds’ was exactly that – Mounds of dirt, each labelled as Country A, B, and C (attempting to blur the invisible frontiers between countries at war).
All of this has me thinking about how under the surface the difference between countries is less than we think…….
…that people across the world are connected more than we realize…..
It has me contemplating similarities and the common ground we share:……in relationships, love of beauty, hope, pain, joy and the pursuit of Love.
It has inspired me to focus more on people’s shared stories
and to concentrate less on the tension…
and more on the harmony fashioned by the opportunities of my own life!

Letter to My Teenage Self

My dearest child, I wish you already knew how loved and accepted you are but that will take a while….
Instead I watch you always on the edge of every social circle; you have many friends but no “kindred spirit”. I know it bothers you but it will also be your strength. It is teaching you compassion for outsiders and through these years you will learn to be inclusive and to understand situations from different people’s perspectives. As a result of not having ‘one crowd’ you will not be tied down to one group or one place and will always be open to different adventures and people. Mostly it will be the reason that you will put your faith in Jesus at a young age and it will be the best thing you ever do. In Him you will come to know acceptance and over the years you will begin to live above the lies that you are in some way ‘defective’ and ‘miss the mark’. Yes, your faith makes you feel a bit of an “Outsider” in your family and among friends but because of your relationship with Him you will know rest and Truth and it will all be worth it.
You have great courage and are prepared to stand up for what is wrong. This will allow you to be a leader in your family and in your community and your years of being independent of the crowd will prepare you for standing up for political and social issues that you feel strongly about and are not popular. While your ‘principles’ are admirable they can also be judgmental and unloving, as a result I so long for you to occasionally soften your position. Fortunately, over the years you will come to understand the danger of standing on values and not on Love, but living from that understanding will be a life-long process.
Lighten up :)!! I want to encourage you to take life a little less seriously, to have more fun, to laugh more and be less anxious about outcomes. Life was made for laughter and sadly you do not do enough of it. Surround yourself with friends and people who do! Allow yourself to make mistakes, the lesson of loosening our grip on self-protection is one you could benefit from learning early.
You have an exciting life ahead. Do not be so fearful. You will come to understand life as a great and exciting undertaking. Not only will you travel and live in different cultures but you will know the adventure and the reality of the miraculous moments and the freedom of an abundant Life in Christ, no matter where you are.
Enjoy every moment. It goes too fast!

Distraction Disorder

Moving around and between different places a great deal sounds exciting but brings with it a lot of confusion and noise. In addition, no matter where I am, I have things I am responsible for that do not go away. I also have friends and relationships that I love and that need nurturing and a deep desire to cultivate my creative side. The question is one of budgeting and management. How and where must I invest my time? Where can I add the most value to what matters most to me and the people who care about me?
 
I have been blessed in my life to be partnered with a very wise husband. He has the gift of discernment and strength. It’s a gift that I have come to rely on. He sees things and understands the world in a way that is foreign to the way I was created but is essential to my health and survival. For a while now he has been talking about the fact that in this age of technology the commodity people are most short of is attention. He has said that having focus and attention is going to be the one thing that sets us apart. It’s taken me a while (ok at least a year or two) to really understand what that means for me and why its so important.
On my Face Book Page I have posted TED talks about harnessing technology and not allowing it to rule our lives, but I have been slow in following these recommendations. Recently I read a Blog posting by Ann Voskamp in which she quotes David Murray ‘s summary of the book ‘Digital Leader’. It struck a chord. This is why it matters.
This is why I need to master technology and not allow it to master me:
“A study at The British Institute of Psychiatry showed that checking your email while performing another creative task decreases your IQ in the moment by 10 points. This decrease is the equivalent of the effects from not sleeping for 36 hours—and exhibits more than twice the impact of smoking marijuana”.
 
“In a study of 1,000 of its employees, Basex, an information-technology research firm, found striking data showcasing inefficiency. It was determined that 2.1 hours per day is lost to interruptions. This figure indicates over 26 percent of the average workday is wasted due to multitasking and unwanted interruptions”.
Jordan Grafman, chief of the cognitive neuroscience section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, explains, ‘There’s substantial literature on how the brain handles multitasking. And basically, it doesn’t …what’s really going on is a rapid toggling among tasks rather than simultaneous processing’”.

“Almost everyone has too much to handle in this complex, digital age. The average person receives 41.5 texts per day and sends/receives 141 email messages per day.”

I have justified my distraction with technology by the fact that it has allowed me to stay in touch. In the last eight years it has changed so dramatically that the experience of being connected with my first child when they went off to boarding school is very different to the experience of my baby starting boarding school last year. It has become easier and even more interactive. I have come to depend on it. I need my BlackBerry attached to me and want to be able check it every few minutes. It’s like an insatiable itch!

I am, however, coming to realize that if I want to move ahead with the plans God has for me I am going to have to stop technology ruling my life. I need to be free. I want time free of distractions to be creative. I desire to learn the discipline of allotting my time, simplifying my life, regaining focus for what is important and perhaps if I get brave enough I will even institute a technology Sabbath.

Paralympian Inspiration and Living Free

  

 

The 2012 Paralympics have enthralled me. Each individual athlete’s story has captivated my heart. The bravery and courage of these participants and the support of their families has brought tears of awe to my eyes. These inspirational athletes have responded to adversity in ways that really is a prototype for us all. They have risen above any “labeling” and have not allowed stereotypes to determine the path their life has taken. The decision to not allow the challenging events of their lives and their handicaps to define them, speaks deeply to something within me.

When I was out running this morning I was mulling over all of this and became aware the labels I have had for myself when it comes to physical activity…. “unfit”, “not sporty”, “inferior”. We all face challenges and have had people (very often in our youth) “label” us in both positive and negative ways. Names that are attached to us can become the impetus behind our choices and can sometimes direct our lives. Sport is an area where I have “never been good enough” and I have carried this message into much of my life. As a result, my thought pattern this morning tempted me to stop the run and to call myself “useless”. Fortunately, I know the truth of who I am in Christ and because of His affirmation of me I was able to take these thoughts captive, continue my run and not allow these thoughts to direct my day.  
Each day our minds are bombarded with a relentless stream of negative thoughts, suspicions, doubts and fears based on lies. Unless we renew our minds (Romans 12:2), we risk continuing to believe falsehoods and will often make important decisions based on deception. I do not know how these awe-inspiring Paralympians have overcome the demons in their heads but I know that for me walking free from the labels that haunt me and choosing the Truth is the only way to fully live!It is often rightly said that people with disabilities should be judged not by what they can’t do but by what they can. I think that may just be true of all of us. If we chose to live in the Truth (even though it may be invisible to our earthly eyes: 2 Corinthians 4:18), we would live according to the Spirit and the Kingdom within us would be stunningly evident!! What we were not created to be would be unimportant. Instead people around us couldn’t fail to be inspired by watching us exhibit what we were designed for!

For other writers who write on this topic see:

Ralph Harris’ Book – God’s Astounding Opinion of You: Understanding Your Identity Will Change Your Life   AND

Sandi Grecu‘s wonderful piece called “What’s in a Name?” for Lifetime Guarantee (http://www.lifetime.org/author/sandigrecu/)