Five Minute Friday: Finish

(I participate with a group of writers in a weekly “Five Minute Friday” writing exercise. In response to a word prompt, each writer sits down for five minutes for “no extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.” This is also described as a sort of writing flash mob and a great form of “free therapy”.)

Five Minute Friday: Finish

Go:

I admit, I have some perfectionist tendencies.

So, it is really, really hard for me to consider something “finished.”

That’s one reason these “Five Minute Fridays” have been healthy for me.

I can be “OK” with something not being refined and polished.

I can point to the rules and say, “I only had five minutes. Those are the rules!”

And if I have perfectionist tendencies…they are nothing compared to my sense of playing by the rules.

If the rule says “finished in five”…well then…I have to be finished in five!

Lisa-Jo Baker, the gal who founded this “Five Minute Friday” group announced this week she is passing the baton.

She is finished and ready to move on to her next challenge.

So, I want to thank her for coming up with this idea and hosting it for the past four years.

And I applaud her for being honest enough to say she needed to be “finished” with hosting it – and for caring enough about those of us who have come to look forward to these “Five Minute Fridays” to find a person to carry on the tradition.

I read recently that life is not really a sprint…and it’s not a marathon…it’s more of a relay race.

We each run our leg – the best we can – and then pass the baton to the next person, the next generation, the next champion of those things we care about.

We each, like Lisa-Jo, can find times when we have “finished”…but the race goes on.

Stop.

Two runners at a girls' track meet - handing off the baton in a relay race

Photo from Keyser High School 1980 Yearbook

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Five Minute Friday: Bloom

Bloom County comic character Opus at podium with lots of microphones, tips his political straw hat

(I participate with a group of writers in a weekly “Five Minute Friday” writing exercise. In response to a word prompt, each writer sits down for five minutes for “no extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.” This is also described as a sort of writing flash mob and a great form of “free therapy”.)

Five Minute Friday: Bloom

Go.

I miss Opus.

The funny pages just aren’t the same without Bloom County.

Of course, it’s also no longer the 1980’s.

The 1980’s were my decade of college…and graduate school…and first real job…and three different years of studying or working in Germany.

The 1980’s were a big decade for me.

So here we are in 2014.

No Bloom County.

But plenty of political unrest and foreign policy drama and uncertainty.

We had that in the 1980’s, too.

We had the Cold War, cruise missiles, apartheid, AIDS, Chernobyl, the Falklands War and violence in the Mideast.

But we also had Bloom County.

The world is still turning and it’s as nuts as ever.

That’s evident just from the past 24-hour news cycle.

The world has gone CRAY CRAY!! (As we say in 2014…)

It’s just harder to cope without Bloom County in the funnies.

I miss Opus.

I even miss Bill the Cat.

Ack! Thbbft!

Stop.

From Bloom County comic - Opus imagines turning a water hose on an inconsiderate smoker who is ruining his meal.

 

Slow Down

Speed Limit 10 Sign - with forest backdrop

In a world that celebrates speed and plenty, it can be hard to enjoy slow and less.

But, as they say, sometimes less is more.

Sometimes slow and steady wins the race.

See?

Even a cliché touting the benefits of slow and steady presumes there is a race!

We zip through life in the grip of fear.

Fear that we are missing out on something.

Fear that we won’t get everything done.

Fear that life is a race and we are getting lapped by the competition.

With this reality as a backdrop, my family and I went on vacation last week.

We slipped away to a beautiful, quiet, leafy retreat deep in the mountains of our home state of West Virginia.

(That’s “Almost Heaven West Virginia” for those of you who may not know.)

Looking out the window at the sun shining through tall trees

Some days we ventured out and about to see waterfalls, hike trails and descend into caverns.

But most days we hung out and played games, watched movies, read books, sat in a hot tub or in front of a fireplace, munched on snacks and walked our dog.

A stack of Jenga blocks - ready for a game

Every year we try and go someplace different on vacation. Sometimes our destination calls for more intense “engagement” – like the year we went to the Washington, DC area for a week. Sometimes, like this year, it’s more about a change of scenery and a separation from our “to do” lists than it is an effort to spend the week on the go.

You might not think that spending a week “chilling out” would result in much, but quite the opposite is true.

That lesson was reinforced this past week during a visit underground.

A cavern tour provided a wonderful example of slow and steady results.

Deep in total darkness, the trilogy of time, water and geology have created some of the most beautiful sights in the world.

Stalactites in an underground cavern

Slow and steady.

Even when there’s no race.

It’s a winner. Fire burning in a gas fireplace

Five Minute Friday: Exhale

(I participate with a group of writers in a weekly “Five Minute Friday” writing exercise. In response to a word prompt, each writer sits down for five minutes for “no extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Unscripted. Unedited. Real.” This is also described as a sort of writing flash mob and a great form of “free therapy”.)

Five Minute Friday: Exhale

Go.

Catch your breath.

But don’t keep it.

Of course you need oxygen to survive.

But if you hold it in – if you hold your breath – you will die.

We are never meant to hoard or hold onto all of the good things that come our way.

And life is full of good gifts.

Love.

Nature.

Books.

Nutella.

(To name a few…)

We should accept and celebrate these gifts.

But we should also share them just as willingly.

Jesus tells us that if we try to save our life, we will lose it.

But if we lose our life for his sake, we will find it.

Sarah’s interpretation: life is meant to be lived through sharing and sacrifice.

You can’t just keep it to yourself.

That’s not how it works.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Live.

Stop. 

 

Good Sports

Montage of Target and Hobby Lobby logos

Hey, America, how about we try to be better sports when it comes to communicating about political issues?

Let me give you a for instance.

Today the retailer Target took a public stand against people bringing guns into its stores.

“This is a complicated issue,” the company announced. “But it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create.”

I am among the many hundreds of thousands of people who emailed, tweeted and otherwise called on Target to make this very decision.

I am very happy about it.

But I also understand there are people who are NOT happy about it.

So, it made me cringe when groups that have helped push for this decision crowed about our “victory” and those who were upset began the expected surly push back.

Do I think it is a “victory”?

Yes.

But I think offering a simple and sincere “thank you” and then moving on to the next opportunity to advocate for a gun-sense position is a better way to go.

Here’s another example.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that Hobby Lobby and other family owned or “closely held” for-profit companies can opt out of following certain law if they have religious objections.

I was not happy about the ruling.

Mostly because I fear we are going farther down the road of treating “companies” as “people” – which they are not.

Also, because it seems to set up a bad precedent for companies to “claim” religious objections in the future that may or may not be sincere vs. simply having an economic motive. Who gets to decide that?

But I also understand there are people who ARE happy about the ruling.

So, it made me cringe when the handwringing of some whose position did not prevail and the whooping victory dances of some whose position did prevail got underway.

Do I see it as a “defeat”?

Yes.

But a simple statement along those lines and then moving on to the next opportunity to advocate for a corporations-aren’t-people position is a better way to go.

By no means am I suggesting that we stop discussing the issues and stating our points of view.

I absolutely think we should keep talking, discussing and debating.

But why not try to conduct ourselves with some class, decorum, grace and “good sportsmanship” regardless of whether we prevail or suffer a setback?

You know the old saying…you win some and you lose some.

In the long run, relationships with those around you are more important than the winning or losing on any given day or on any given issue.

Most “winning” and “losing” is not permanent anyway.

Issues and problems and solutions tend to be cyclical.

They will come up again.

It reminds me of the game Chutes and Ladders.

The Chutes and Ladders game board – like life – presents opportunities to advance and to lose ground.

In moving from the proverbial “square one” to square one hundred you will climb up and slide back down along the way…multiple times.

The trick is to persevere without getting overly smug or sulky.

When you hit a ladder, smile and keep moving on – but without gloating.

Because – sooner or later – you will hit a chute.

And when you do…don’t cry. Pick yourself up, roll again, and keep moving on.

After all.

It’s not whether you win or lose.

It’s how you play the game.

Nobody likes a bad winner or a sore loser.

So if your hobby is to lobby…please try not to use your fellow citizens as targets.

Chutes and Ladders game board