I do this basically every year: I write a post a few days before the new year, prepping for the new year and then, I write a post in the new year to try to jump start my writing during the new year. This year, however, I had a very different thought when I wrote the former: what if I finally followed through on my constant quest for simplicity, not just simple minimalism but whole-life simplicity. And what if I used that to help with the latter: journal about the moves I have made in the effort toward simplicity. Also, I have a vested interest in continuing this effort, as my second child is due in early May and I am assured that stuff gets crazy after that.
During Shawn Blanc’s The Elements of Focus, a few of the overarching themes were consistency, routine, and follow-through. After the course completed, I read some writing advice from Ben Brooks that followed the same path, leading Ben to a successful variant of NaNoWriMo during which he wrote over 50,000 words on his site during the month of November. From both of these gentlemen, I took that I need to make writing (and really any act with which I would like to become consistent) a routine in order to make it an important part of my daily life. Set aside time, preplan, and capitalize, even if that means that all I have is a very rough draft in the end.
As a part of this thought experiment, I starting writing down the things that I would like to accomplish each day, keeping in mind what I thought to be the most important parts of my day. In addition, I would like to include these accomplishments as part of a new routine that I practice daily. A few of these items are listed below in following with Lesson 10 of The Elements of Focus, “Schedule your most important tasks”.
- Spend time with family (at least sixty minutes)
- Spend time in contemplation (at least thirty minutes)
- Take a walk (at least thirty minutes)
- Take a picture (negligible time)
- Read something for fun (at least thirty minutes)
- Read something for learning (at least thirty minutes)
- Write something down (at least thirty minutes)
Some of the above items may seem overly simplistic or overly obvious, but remember, this post is about contemplating and obtaining simplicity by reminding myself of what is important and scheduling those tasks I personally deem to be the most important.
More important still than the list itself is what I have learned of myself in all of this; things like: I overthink things, I hold myself up to a very high standard and become frustrated when I do not reach said standard, and I am a planner. However, in thinking through what simplicity really is within my own frame of reference and why it is important to me, I decided that part of my endeavor this year has to be about giving myself more credit for hard work or, better said, letting myself off the hook more often. I may desire to keep a clean house, get all the filing done, and have large amounts of time to devote to reading and writing, but in the event that I am too busy doing something else of value to get to my extended list of things and beyond, that should be OK.
Within the context of simplicity, prioritization is key. If I am to let myself off the hook, I have to actively seek my own understanding that the ways in which I spend my time are not a waste. Similarly, if I believe myself to have wasted time, I should actively seek understanding about why, trying to change the ways in which I see those wasteful practices. Finally, prioritizing the well-being of myself or my family should never be considered wasteful.
I will be honest that this post may not have the intended effect of jump starting my writing in new year, especially given the fact that the writing portion of my above-listed endeavors may include journaling or other written practices each day. However, I can say that I will attempt to write up interesting anecdotes regarding my moves toward simplicity in the new year. 2016, here I come!
Read, Think, Share, Repeat
The Challenges of 2020
TL;DR: Follow this link.
One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the “all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.
My wife and I meet with my “home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.
I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.
In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.
These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.
I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:
Thanks to a $10,000 ‘matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our “2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.
KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.
Thank you for your consideration.