An Embarrassment of Flip-flops


‘Tis the Season. Of cheese graters and power sanders on the gnarly heels of women everywhere. Of pedicures and fresh nail polish. Of creams and lotions. And of flip-flops and sandals.

I went for a pedicure with The Jobnnie when she was home for spring break in March. We were in between snowstorms so it was only fitting that we allow ourselves a bit of pampering. A pedicure was just the ticket. And I thought we’d just grab flip-flops on our way out the door. Except… I could not find a single pair of flip-flops anywhere. Not a one. Not in my closet. Not in the garage.

How could this be?

Well… When it was snow boot season, we put all the boots in easy reach. And I, being logical, tucked all of the warm weather foot gear into the boot bin.

And we found them ALL today. Right where we left them. Because I was putting winter boots away and…

Sigh…

You know how there’s collective nouns? A murder of crows… a herd of cows… and I’ve decided it must be an embarrassment of flip-flops.

You want a Revolution? (Oops! I mean… Resolution!)

It all started with this commercial:

Except instead of planning to eat more jelly beans for my personal “revolution” all I could think about was this:

Yes. It’s that time of year… but I’m not making any New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve written about some of the plans I’ve chosen for my personal, professional and spiritual growth. None of them are exactly earth-shattering. They are more about living my faith out consistently, day after day. I wouldn’t say I am trying to live in a way that is revolutionary. I’m just trying to live in a way that changes how I impact the people I care for as a chaplain and a pastor. I want to know that, at the end of the day, I’ve given my best, not think, “Meh. I did stuff.”

It started with the Daily Office readings today where I read these words in Isaiah 62:

Go through, go through the gates;
prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway;
clear it of stones;
lift up a signal over the peoples.

I think I’ve been over-thinking or over-reaching this. It’s not rocket science. It’s a simple, get-off-the-couch, go-clear-theway sort of attitude. To start clearing the rocks that are in the way!

It’s a kind of reboot or restart. The problem is, it’s too easy for me to make excuses or get busy doing something that’s more… comfortable or entertaining or flashy. Picking up rocks? It’s so mundane. So simple. So… hard when it’s been simpler to just let things lie. As my friend Jan Fox says, I need “a revolt to get the jolt!”

Here’s to making the first step today!

Writing drafts and wanting perfection

A few years ago, someone who was not a writer decided he would “enlighten” me on the writing process. (I’ve read his blogs. Trust me. He is a horrible writer.) He loftily explained to me that good writing required “a series of drafts.”

I sat and listened, trying to keep a look of “WELL DUH” off of my face. A glance at a friend sitting nearby made me realize the guy was past ballsy. He was crazy. I mean, does anyone worth reading produce a shining example of prose or poetry in the first sitting? REALLY?

(I’ll wait while you puzzle that one out…)

The answer of course, is “no.”

My problem is not getting a draft. My problem is that I can’t get PAST a draft. It means that draft posts here on my blog never get published because I can’t tweak them into something I consider presentable. (And yet, I publish a lot of crappy writing on this blog. Yeah. I know. I know.)

But “fear of publishing” is real. It slowed my writing process in college and grad. school. And it definitely kept me from completing NaNoWriMo — until this year when I just let fly and WROTE. (Eh. Well, there are over 50,000 words that are loosely related to a novel. And that’s all I’ll say for the moment!)

This practice of constantly holding myself to a dream of perfection is insidious and poisonous.It disrupts my forward motion. It stops me from trying. I don’t even plan, and I’m someone who LIKES to be organized and work from a plan.

Partly it’s because I have a gazoot-full of unfinished projects, hobbies, crafts, tasks and clutter that fill my house and stop me in my tracks…

[gazoot – gah-ZOOT. n. A quantitative adjective, slightly more than a gaggle but less than a parsec.]

It’s much easier to make excuses.

In the interests of honesty and integrity, these are my current excuses. They are not even GOOD ones. But they have held me back from going for broke.

  • I’ll start running again it’s warmer/colder/less humid/I have someone to run with… (Or, its corollary, I’ll go swim instead of run while it’s cold outside. But it’s too cold to go swim today…)
  • I’ll go back to practicing piano when no one is around…
  • I’ll paint the bedroom after I sort everything…
  • I’ll write that book on my (many times) great-grandma when I’ve read more about the times she lived in…

Your list is probably different than mine (um, unless we are writing about the same great-grandma!) but you probably get stymied too. It’s good to know we are human. For unlike the snotty “published author” I mentioned, most of us struggle.

Completing NaNoWriMo helped me see that there is something to this “just do it” concept. (Sorry Nike. I know you don’t write books. You sell footwear. But I digress.) So I’ve started on my next BIG writing assignment. It’s a paper that may never be published, but it’s one I need to struggle through! As a result of my work as a chaplain, I’m writing  on the work of the Holy Spirit and Chaplaincy: Groanings Too Deep For Words.

That rustling you hear is my stack of research, ready to be re-read and studied. Pressing on!