I’m less worried about balance than I am about reducing conflict. In fact, reducing conflict is numero uno!
My life-long pattern, when I wasn’t creating conflict, has been to avoid conflict. Hiding my head in the sand like the cartoon ostrich. Do real ostriches do that? Or only cartoons?
Anyway, the poor cartoon bird has her head buried in the sand and her little arse hanging out for all to see or kick. I say this to remind myself that avoiding not only doesn’t work, it comes back around to bite me in the butt.
Even if I don’t reply directly to yesterday’s button-pushing email from my church friend, I can and am replying in consciousness. I’ve been praying for her as well as for guidance on if and how to respond more directly.
A Job for Spiritual Tools
When I find myself drifting into worry and fear over this, I take that as a cue to pray. There’s no such thing as too much prayer. I borrowed a motto template from Dory of Finding Nemo fame — Just keep praying! Just keep praying!
I also have a meditative process I call Inner Listening, where I pose questions to Spirit and listen for guidance. It works well. I know that the guidance I get is not what I come up with on my own. It always starts with, take a deep breath. That’s how I know!
I have a lot on my plate to do, which leads to feeling overwhelmed. Let me also call that conflict, as this stress creates inner conflict.
Two More Tools: Boundaries and Prioritizing.
Boundaries, which I am still learning to master, keep me from adding even more stuff to my plate. They’re challenging for this chronic people-pleaser.
If I believe something absolutely has to get done, it’s hard to do the poker face stare down and not blink first. Meaning, I am usually not okay with the idea that something important won’t get done. And the staring match feels yucky.
Can I learn to set boundaries with ease and grace?
This means saying, here’s what I’m able to do….and here’s what I’m not able to do. Am I okay with no one stepping forward and all that implies? In a setting like church, it’s not my problem, it’s our problem.
Much of my boundary work is an inside job — another area to take to prayer, along with clarity about priorities.
After hearing me share about these issues, my writing coach recently suggested I consider my writing and all things related to it my “day job?” Let church be my avocation.
I’ve been treating church as my day job — a full-time one at that. With little pay, though there are other forms of compensation. I am fed there in more ways than I realized. But the “job” comes with more conflict than I care to experience.
This mindset change helps. Now we’re setting board meetings in the evenings, honoring everyone’s day jobs. I like this. It means writing when I’m fresher.
That’s also applying priorities.
My life priorities are, to the best of my knowledge:
- God and family
- My closest friendships
- My writing
- My church
- My other creative expressions like my Commedia class
This is what my heart just told me.
In real life, it may look a little different. I would do my darndest to protect my Monday morning Commedia class from any contenders for my time. The same is true with Zumba. So that’s my health at stake there.
And yet, I don’t always prioritize my health. Being on three Zooms in a row, whether a writing or Canva class or church meeting, is not good for my health.
Sitting is the new stroke, as they say.
Oops. I hadn’t even put my health on that priority list! It goes right after God and family. The trick will be to implement that consistently.
At the moment, I’m on a break between writing classes. This gives me a chance to get caught up on projects like editing my novel — writing priority numero uno! As well as set priorities for the semester starting in April.
My intention is to keep mornings clear for writing — my peak creative time. Going to bed earlier will enhance my health and give me more peak morning time. Duh!
We’ve just elected a new board. While I’m on it, I let them know I won’t be President. I’m okay with vice-president or secretary. We’ll sort this out Thursday evening when we meet.
Our challenge will be to divvy up not only the officer positions but the various tasks according to our interests and talents. We complement each other well. Some of us have technical skills; some of us have people skills.
I tend to be good with holding the spiritual consciousness and with details. But I suck at more technical stuff, though I can document projects fairly well. This made me a logical choice for president.
Here comes my first chance to practice letting go so someone else can step forward. I’m praying and knowing they will be better at it than I was.
I get to clarify what I can and cannot do with the new board. Hold me in your prayers or consciousness. I need all the blessings I can get. Thank you!
P.S. I didn’t say a lot about the tool of humor in this post. Except via the photos. Since one picture = a thousand words, I just saved you thirty minutes of reading time! And hopefully made you chuckle!
Thank you, Diana C., for this provocative prompt and all it’s uncovered!
Marilyn Flower writes political humor and satire to delight socially and spiritually conscious folks. She’s a regular columnist for the prison newsletter, Freedom Anywhere, where she writes about faith and prayer. Five of her short plays have been produced in San Francisco. Clowning and improvisation strengthen her resolve during these crazy times. Stay in touch!