A good and Godly man

Johns 70th BDay 2018 60 copy

My Dad is pretty wise. One of the things he’s wise about is this thing of saying nice things about people. Before they die.

We often wait until after people pass away to say what we think about them. We stand up at the funeral and we say how great the person was, and what a huge impact they had on our lives. And that’s great, a good way to remember them.

But what if we said these lovely things to them? Before they died. So that they could be encouraged too.

This Saturday we had the chance to do that for my Dad. It was his 70th birthday party so we all got together and said nice things about him, and I want to share my nice things with you.

My Dad has shown me what a real man, a good man, a Godly man is.

I’ve been thinking back through my memories.

I think my earliest is Dad cooking dinner for my brother Anthony and myself while Mum was in hospital with my younger sister. Scrambled eggs on toast with tomato sauce has a special place in my memory, as does sausages and toast. (His cooking skills have improved over time and I’d like to say that his roast dinner with apple pie for dessert was a highlight when my sister Catherine was visiting this year.)

I remember driving with Dad and listening to *gasp* rock music on 7HO FM, or more commonly AM or PM the ABC talk radio shows.

I remember making bricks out of wet newspaper in a special brick making machine. They were dried afterwards in the sun and were burned in our wood heater.

I remember going on a family biking holiday around Brunie Island and how Dad convinced Catherine that there was a bunyip in the dam over the fence. And another trip to Brunie where we fished off the pier and caught a squid.

I remember the laundry being turned into a photography dark room, black plastic on the windows, the smell of the photography chemicals, the wonder that was the enlarging machine.

I remember microphones being set up all around our lounge room as Dad prepared to record Mum’s music. And I remember being soundly told off for eating popping candy at a concert that Dad was recording. (Sorry Dad).

One of my greatest childhood memories is Dad reading to us. All kinds of books. He read the whole of The Lord of the Rings to us as a family. I tried that with my kids, it didn’t work, there was no chance they’d sit through it. But for me, Dad reading to our family, all of us sat up in their double bed, or maybe around a picnic in the park, these are some of my fondest memories.

Dad’s career path wasn’t straightforward. But when people tell me that I am so brave to quit uni and try something new, I know I’m just doing what was modelled for me by this brave man who quit his job as a telecom technician to work with addicts, then moved on to be the administrator of a children’s home, then joined Youth With A Mission, worked in a radio station, moved to the USA with Christian Performing Arts Fellowship, and came home to get ordained and work as a minister in a church. Sometimes the reason for the change was because Dad needed something new, sometimes it was to give Mum the chance to live her dreams. Each of them in the partnership was valued equally, each putting the others interests before their own. Dad and Mum have modelled a Godly marriage.

Recently Dad has battled with physical injuries from his fall when he was renovating, and with mental illness – years of deep depression. He is uncomplaining, he perseveres, he gets up every morning and gets on with it. And at the same time he is vulnerable, letting people in, telling them where he is at. Dad has shown me that you can be vulnerable and strong at the same time.

Dad’s love and care for those around him has sometimes been a detriment to his own health or energy but he doesn’t stop putting others first. He is a true servant leader. He has great skill in taking a mess of an organisation and sorting it out, looking after people first along the way. He is a diplomat and a pastor.

I am so very proud of my father. And so very grateful to God for putting me in this wonderful family. I hope that I can live up to his example, in my own way.

Thanks Dad for being you.

I hope you don’t mind this very personal blog post. Next week’s will be personal too 🙂 

Are you missing some of my blog posts? They come out every Monday. Sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on www.ruthamos.com.au  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. You will also find my podcast, my book ‘My Year of Saying No’, and any short stories or other books will be up there as they come along.

If you would like to support this blog and the podcast then you can head over to Patreon.com/quietlife and help me out for as little as a dollar a month. Thank you so much!

Advertisements

What’s your sincere desire?

Advent 1

Happy New Year! No, I’m not losing track, not that badly anyway. It’s Advent. The start of the new year in the church calendar. The preparation period. Active waiting. All that stuff.

And just by coincidence I have been thinking New Years thoughts. And I thought you might like to hear them, because if you think them too, you might be prepared to make New Years resolutions, or intentions, or ‘word for the year’, or whatever you do to mark that arbitrary date of January 1 in the calendar when it rolls around.

You, and I, might be prepared to start 2019 in an intentional fashion, knowing what direction we would like to push out our boat.

My mother recently gave me a book to read on prayer. It’s called I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes by Glenn Clark. It was first published in 1953, though Mum’s edition was published in 1978. And would you believe, a quick search has found it on Amazon? I’m pretty blown away by that. So you can buy it and read it too if you wish.

I’m only a quarter of the way through the book so far, it’s one of those that you read slowly, and at this point Clark is talking about something he calls ‘your soul’s sincere desire’. He says that God wants us to pray for our sincere desire. And that he will answer our prayer.

But this is where it gets interesting whether you are a praying person or not, because how do you know what you really want? Deep down, what you want in the depths of your soul. Not what you want to keep up with the Joneses, not what you want because someone else thinks it’s good for you, not what you want because you’ve been going that way all your life and to stop now is unthinkable because of all the time spent building up to this one thing.

What do you really want?

Clark suggests writing a list, brainstorming, writing out everything you want. People, things, activities, jobs, everything. Just write it all out. And be specific.

Take time to write the list. I took two or three days.

And then test everything on the list.

The first test is: Are the things on your list true to your nature?

‘A robin could not possibly desire to swim, and a herring could not possibly desire to fly.’ he says. But we, us humans, we can think we desire something that we actually don’t want. Check with yourself. Will you be happy doing or having the things on your list? Is that thing truly right for your nature?

Here’s an example. I spent a lot of my life wanting big parties for my birthday. Then when the birthday came around I wanted to run away and hide. A big party is not something true to my introverted nature. It is not a sincere desire of my soul. Now I realise that what I really want for my birthday is a birthday card from as many people as possible (a Facebook wish works just as well) and maybe a few good friends over for a piece of cake and a glass of something. That is a sincere desire.

At the same time Clark says that it is good to ask for things that are true to your nature. He says that ‘the apple tree that refuses to bear apples because the poor elm tree cannot have them, is not helping others, but obviously robbing mankind.’

I have truly desired to write books. If I stopped myself from writing because other people do not have the time and space that I’ve been granted at this moment, then I really would be doing a disservice to others. It is good to fulfil your soul’s sincere desire.

So look at your list and cross off things that aren’t true to your nature. I took a day or two to do this too.

Next test: Are these things just? Will you be ripping someone else off if you get what you desire? Are you asking for that job, or house, or whatever, just because you selfishly want it? Or will you use it to help others?

Next test: Are you willing to work towards these things? I love this one.

He says let’s say your desire is a trip abroad. Have you prepared for that? Have you studied the country, its history, its culture, its language, its famous sights? If you haven’t then even if you got given the chance to travel, you wouldn’t get much out of the trip. You need to put the work in first.

Or if you want to be a famous speaker, have you practiced? Studied?

If you want to be thin and fit, have you exercised? Looked at your diet? Or are you just praying in the hope that thin and fit will magically happen?

If you are praying for new friends are you willing to be friendly to others?

Are you willing to work towards the thing you desire? It’s an interesting thought.

That’s as far as I’ve got in the book. I might share more thoughts as I keep working through it. I am spending a fair bit of time at the moment looking at my businesses and thinking about where I want to take them in the new year. I’m thinking about what success looks like for each of the businesses, what I’m heading towards. I’m finding these thoughts, these tests, very useful as I contemplate the businesses. Is this honestly what I want? Or am I building an idea on what someone else found was good for them?

I hope that by January I will have found my soul’s sincere desires and will be willing to work towards them in a way that is congruent with who I am, and that will bless the most people possible.

Oh, and I want to finish with a word of non-condemnation. I am not judging anyone here. I know that circumstances out of our control – chronic illness, poor mental health, difficult financial or family issues – can take our dreams and make them seem completely unachievable. I’m not trying to tell you to work harder or just figure it out correctly and that if you do you’ll be sitting on a bed of roses by the end of next year.

I guess all I’m saying is that I’m finding it helpful to have a bit of structure around figuring out where I want to go, and by the end of the process I hope I have a prize to keep my eyes on while I navigate the difficulties that 2019 throws at me.

I hope that these thoughts are helpful for you too.

As we look towards the new year you might find that a little book I wrote called ‘My Year of Saying No‘ might also be helpful to you or maybe to someone you know. It might make a good Christmas present for someone who needs some peace and space in their lives. Just a thought 🙂

As always you can sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on www.ruthamos.com.au  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. And you can help me with the expenses of this blog and my podcast by heading over to Patreon.com/quietlife and supporting me there. Thanks!

Endings and New Beginnings

46868073_357089848185937_6267967545412681728_n
The new bass. I have no idea what I’m doing 🙂

Moz has been working on a very exciting project lately.

He has been making a bass guitar.

This guitar is a thing of beauty.  It is made to match my little green mini and it even has racing stripes.

But the bass didn’t start out that beautiful.

46712303_2237139292977204_2777335233249280000_n
The kit form guitar.

It came in a kit. It needed to be shaped and sanded. The sanding process seemed endless but all of the imperfections had to be removed before one coat of paint was added.

We had to try various colours of green to find the one we liked the best. Then each coat had to dry for a bit, before more sanding and another coat. And then more sanding and a clear coat. And then the polishing process started to bring up that beautiful shine.

The racing stripes had to be designed, the laminate chosen, and the Moz logo developed and added. The neck was oiled to bring out the beauty in the wood, filling the house with all sorts of strange odours.

And after all that, that’s when things started to get technical!

The neck had to be at the right angle. The frets ground down to be the right height, the little black bit at the top of the fret board had to be filed half a millimetre or so, so that the strings rested in just the right way to make it easy to play. Everything had to be the right height and strength and tension.

20181120_193434
The paint is finished and the strings are on, but we’re not finished yet!

But that wasn’t enough. The electronics needed to be completed too. Copper shielding was placed in the hole on the side. Wires were soldered. Sound was checked.

Finally the bass was declared finished. A thing of beauty. And of fun. And something that we’re all going to enjoy playing and messing around on over the next months and years.

In one way, this project is over, and there’s a little sadness there. It’s been a fun project for Moz to play with and he’ll need to find another one now.

But in another way, the project is just beginning.

Moz has been working on another project too.

For the last six years he has been Head of Year to a year group at the school where he works. The kids started out as little grade sevens, and now they have finished grade twelve. They are adults. They have their leavers dinner tonight.

It’s another bitter-sweet moment, an ending and a beginning. I pray that their lives are instruments that bring great joy to others, and to God, in the music that they play wherever they find their lives heading.

Are you missing some of my blog posts? They come out every Monday. Sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on www.ruthamos.com.au  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. You will also find my podcast, my book ‘My Year of Saying No’, and any short stories or other books will be up there as they come along.

If you would like to support this blog and the podcast then you can head over to Patreon.com/quietlife and help me out for as little as a dollar a month. Thank you so much!

Are you a guest?

I am writing this on Friday afternoon because Monday is going to be my Sabbath. Why Monday? I hear you ask. I’m glad you asked that!

The weekend is full. 

We have guests staying. Our guests are part of the band for the wedding we are attending on Saturday afternoon and evening.

Saturday morning my friend is launching a book.

Sunday I am leading at church.

And that is enough peopling for me. Monday will need to be a rest day.

But it’s got me thinking about community.

Because as much as I am an introvert, I am also a fully paid up member of the ideology that community is important. Very important. Even for us introverts.

We all know that loneliness is the new smoking. That we need to find a community to be involved in for our own physical and mental health.

But community isn’t always a lovely, joyous, barrel of gooey good feelings and warm fuzzies. True community is sticking together through good and bad. Hanging out with the beautiful shiny people, and the successful. And looking after our elderly, our young mums with screaming babies, our loud teenagers, and our disabled.

It’s the sharing of the dinner and the washing up.

It’s dancing at the wedding reception, and helping to pack all the tables and chairs away afterwards so that the church service can be held the next day.

It’s the coffee together at the beach, and the going to visit in the nursing home.

If you truly want to feel part of a community, you’re going to have to do some uncomfortable things. If you’re not doing the uncomfortable things, then you may just be a guest.

Now I’m not saying you have to do all the uncomfortable things. And beware that you’re not becoming a martyr, because no one wants that. But I think to truly experience community you need to be prepared to serve the community, whether that community is church or Rotary or an online club that you’re a part of. 

I hope you can find a community you can serve, stick with, and love through the good and the bad. A place that you belong.

Are you missing some of my blog posts? They come out every Monday. Sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on www.ruthamos.com.au  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. You will also find my podcast, my book ‘My Year of Saying No’, and any short stories or other books will be up there as they come along.

If you would like to support this blog and the podcast then you can head over to Patreon.com/quietlife and help me out for as little as a dollar a month. Thank you so much!

And speaking of book launches, the next book in the Deadly Miss series by yours truly (aka RJ Amos) will be launching on Friday, this Friday the 23rd November. It’s called Deadly Misdirection and I think it’s pretty good. You will find e-books on Amazon, Apple Books, and Kobo, and the paperback should be up on Amazon shortly too. I’d love you to pick up a copy, or three, and give one to someone for Christmas. 🙂 

What is the pace of your life?

This morning, I confess, I’m feeling a little ‘meh’. Please don’t worry about me or feel sorry for me, I’m sure it will pass, and I don’t think we can all feel on top of our game all the time.

But the day is beautiful today, the weather is gorgeous, so I decided to go for a little walk before I wrote this blog, before I started my work. I headed to the beach and walked along the sand, and listened to the waves.

I’d love to tell you that I had an amazing revelation while I was there. That the earth shook or that I started to sing for joy, or that I saw a pod of dolphins, or even a whale. But none of that happened. I just walked on the sand and listened to the waves and felt the sun on my back (and in my eyes walking the other way of course), and it was good.

I smiled at people walking the other way. They smiled back at me. I had a lovely short catch up with some good friends who were enjoying a coffee to start their morning.

Then after half an hour I headed back home, back to the washing and the cleaning, the writing and the marketing.

The thing I am so very grateful for this morning is that my life is now being lived at a walking pace. I am no longer running from appointment to appointment. I am not living at a sprint. I have the space to take the opportunity that the perfect weather afforded and to have a morning walk on the beach. I’m grateful that I don’t need to wait for this kind of weather to occur on the weekend – that’s a bit chancy in Tasmania.

I know I am supremely privileged and blessed. But today I don’t want to feel guilty about that. Today I just want to feel grateful for a bit more space in my life and for the chance to walk.

And I encourage you, if you’re able, to remove just a few things from your schedule this week to allow your life to slow to a walking pace too.

Are you missing some of my blog posts? They come out every Monday. Sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on www.ruthamos.com.au  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. You will also find my podcast, my book ‘My Year of Saying No’, and any short stories or other books will be up there as they come along.

If you would like to support this blog and the podcast then you can head over to Patreon.com/quietlife and help me out for as little as a dollar a month. Thank you so much!

And a Gold Star to You!

On Thursday night and Friday of last week I attended something called the Global Leadership Summit. It was a great time of hearing teaching from excellent speakers, my favourites being Carla Harris and David Livermore (I’m sure you can find them on YouTube). Each of the speakers spoke from their wheelhouse, the things they were interested in, the things they are passionate about. Most of it was amazing and I’ve been left with many things to chew over and apply to my life.

But there was one thing that got my goat, that went against what I believe in, and because that thing is my thing, I’m going to talk with you about it here.

One of the speakers was a pastor of a church with a large congregation that meets in many different places at the same time. It’s a church that uses technology well. Again, I want to say that I agreed with much of what this guy said, I loved a lot of what he said, but he told one story that made me worried for him and for the workers at his church.

He told us that Friday was his day off, but that often he would find himself heading to the office for some reason at around 430 or 5pm on a Friday. Now, as soon as he said that, alarms started going off for me.

I much prefer Eugene Peterson’s approach. Peterson set aside Monday as his day off, his sabbath. He wrote a letter to his congregation informing them of this and asking them to respect that day off. He stated that if there was a crisis then they could contact him, but for anything short of imminent death could they please wait until Tuesday? He would send that letter out annually just to remind his congregation of the importance of a day of rest.

Pastors have one of the most emotionally draining jobs on the planet. People can feel like the pastor is their property and should be available at all times. But no one can live that way, and even God took a day off after creation. So if a pastor feels that he has to ‘drift back’ to the office on his day off as a regular thing, I think there is something wrong.

Now, the other part of setting up this story is that the pastor (talking at the GLS) told us that the church workers were allowed to go home early each Friday. That gave them time to pick up their kids from school, go to the doctors, all the stuff that you can do with a couple of extra week day hours. That is great! I think it’s wonderful that they built that into the workplace.

However, when this pastor would drop into the office on a Friday afternoon he would find some people there still working. They were working unpaid overtime.

Now this pastor is a great guy, he really cares for the people that work at his church, he’s a good leader. So he started to show the workers his appreciation. He would go around and give them a fist bump and say ‘Gold star!’

This meant a lot to the workers and their spouses would send him notes to say how much they appreciated the fact that he showed his appreciation. This made him more inclined to say thank you to all the people who were working when they could have been at home.

This situation continued and built up. And now when he heads in on a Friday afternoon he takes a bag full of little gold star toys and hands them out, yelling, ‘Gold star to you! Awesome job! Gold star!’ He showed us a video. The staff were so happy to get these toys. It means a lot to be appreciated.

And it’s lovely that he appreciates his staff. That’s great.

But wouldn’t it be even better if he told them all to get out of the office and go home? Wouldn’t it be great if he enforced the rule of rest, rather than encouraged overwork and overtime?

Insane busyness is a sickness of our age. I feel the church is called to be counter-cultural in this area as in many others. We need to be careful not to add to the busyness of our congregations by adding too many ‘good religious activities’ to their already overcrowded schedules. We need to remind people that it is God that provides our needs, not our work, nor our boss, however that looks from the outside, and that God has directed us to take a day of rest each week.

I have tested this and found that God will help me with my work in the rest of the week if I dedicate a day to resting. No-one has yet died because I took a Sabbath.

Even if you are not a believer, studies have shown that taking a rest will lead to better and more creative work later. And that not resting will lead to less effective and poorer quality work. The universe works on this rule of resting one day in seven.

I’m not sure how you’d do it, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if this man, this pastor, could give the same encouragement that he gives to his overworking staff to his staff when they left the office, went home, built relationships with their families and reached out to their friends and neighbours on a Friday afternoon?

gold star 2

Gold star to you – you played in the park with your kids!

Gold star to you – you read a novel (and therefore increased your empathy for mankind)!

Gold star to you – you stacked the dishwasher and filled the washing machine and gave your wife the couch, the remote, and a glass of wine!

Gold star to you – you invited your neighbour to go watch a movie with you!

A big gold star – you took a nap!

I encourage you to make time to take a rest this week. And if it helps, give yourself a big gold star when you do it.

For more on Eugene Peterson’s ideas on the sabbath, listen to this

Are you missing some of my blog posts? They come out every Monday. Sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on www.ruthamos.com.au  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. You will also find my podcast, my book ‘My Year of Saying No’, and any short stories or other books will be up there as they come along.

If you would like to support this blog and the podcast then you can head over to Patreon.com/quietlife and help me out for as little as a dollar a month. Thank you so much!

Come to life

 

It’s spring. In Tasmania this means the weather flips between summer and winter. And on Saturday I think we got winter. In our house we were cold enough to light the fire, though we hope it’s the last time we do that for the year. We’re running out of wood.

We have some gum tree logs from a tree we cut down on our property last year. Moz bravely rescued them out of the rain and did the hard work to get the fire going. The eucalyptus logs are harder to get burning, but they last a long time. At the end of the night he pulled the fire apart, separating the two remaining logs to either side of the fireplace and we went to bed.

Sunday was much warmer and we didn’t need the fire anymore. I was sitting on the couch and reading in the afternoon when I looked up in shock. Apropos of nothing, the single eucalyptus log had burst into flame again. Full on red flames were coming out of it. It had smouldered all night and for some reason had relit itself.

I had two thoughts from this amazing occurrence.

One: Australian bushfires, and the fires in the gums of California and so on, are so scary just exactly because of this – there was no reason for the fire to start again, it just did. In a single log. That’s really frightening when you’re trying to fight a fire.

The second thought is a little more detailed. And hopefully a little more cheerful.

It made me wonder if some of us have a dream, or a desire, or even a word of encouragement that we have tucked away inside of us. Something that smoulders away, giving those around us no inkling that anything is going on. Something that just keeps you warm inside.

Then one day, for no reason, it bursts back into flame. It comes to life.

It may be a surprise or a shock to those around you. They haven’t noticed the warmth, the smoulder. But you have known. Or you might have known. It might have been buried too deep for you to even realise.

When the log in our fireplace burst into flame, I did nothing about it. I let it burn, and after a while it burned out. I’m pretty sure that the fire is dead now.

I could have kept it going. I could have placed a second log on the fire, or added some kindling.

If you want your dream to stay you’re going to have to nurture it. Now that it’s shown itself, now that it’s burning on the surface, find some other like-minded people and nurture your flame. Make an effort to do the writing, or the practice, or the exercise, or the training, or whatever makes your dream a reality. Take the next step. Don’t waste this moment.

You never know what may come of it.

 

Are you missing some of my blog posts? They come out every Monday. Sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on www.ruthamos.com.au  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. You will also find my podcast, my book ‘My Year of Saying No’, and any short stories or other books will be up there as they come along.

If you would like to support this blog and the podcast then you can head over to Patreon.com/quietlife and help me out for as little as a dollar a month. Thank you so much!

The many benefits of creativity

Charlene's painting
This is Charlene’s beautiful work in progress. Isn’t it delightful?

My friend Charlene wrote something on Facebook on Friday that really made me think about creativity.

She wrote, ‘I love finding little bits of time to paint. I put my headphones on and listen to a book, while I add some more colour to my painting. I have found it is extremely beneficial to me when I am anxious’. 

I feel exactly the same way about my writing. It is easy to forget and to get hung up on doing other ‘more worthwhile things’ but maybe there is nothing more worthwhile than being creative.

Time is very precious to me right now. I have so many projects that I want to make happen, and I also have editing work that I need to do to get some money in my pocket. I have found that over the last few weeks the admin and the editing and the other little jobs have taken priority most of the time, and writing, my creative side, hasn’t had much of a look in.

But on Thursdays I take two hours to head to the café and write. And that time is set aside, it does not get taken up by anything except the writing of the novel, no matter how stressed I am about anything else. I have committed to others to be there and writing, and they are keeping me accountable. Those two hours are purely writing time.

It is amazing how great I feel after spending that time writing, it grounds me, it slows down my rushing anxiety, it helps me back into my own skin again. It reminds me of what I have made all these changes in my life for. And it reminds me that once this busy time is over (and it should be over by next week) I must set aside more time for writing once again.

The act of creating is so beneficial for us. Therapeutic, even.

I think we remember this when we are doing our own art, creating our own thing, writing our own book, practicing our own musical instrument. But when we see art in a gallery, or read a good book, or attend a concert, do we think about how many ways that art has benefitted society?

Originally, and I hope this is generally true, the creative work has benefitted the creator. We are meant to create and I think in most cases the act of creation has brought joy to the person creating.

Then by being in the world it brings joy and peace, or enthusiasm, or a cathartic experience to us who are viewing or listening or dancing to it.

And finally, by being sold or licensed or borrowed it brings good to our economy.

Creativity is a cornerstone of who we are as human beings. I encourage you to find your own creative outlet and make time for it. You may do it just for yourself, just to bring yourself that peace and joy. You might share what you create with friends and family and bring them joy too. Or you might find that what you create can be shared with an even wider audience. I think that whatever you do, the benefits are totally worth the time invested.

I’d love you to share with me what you do creatively. Tell me in the comments, or write to ruth@ruthamos.com.au and send me a picture or a soundbite or a paragraph. I’d love to see how creative we can get about creativity and have a long list of creative endeavours for next week’s blog.

And if you want to know what I’ve been so busy doing you can head to www.ruthamos.com.au/podcast and have a listen to the very first episode of my new podcast A Quiet Life. I’ll be launching on iTunes and Stitcher very soon, God willing, and you will be able to subscribe and hear an episode each week.

Are you missing some of my blog posts? Sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on www.ruthamos.com.au  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. You will also find my book ‘My Year of Saying No’, and any short stories or other books will be up there as they come along.

If you would like to support my writing and the creation of my podcast then you can head over to Patreon.com/quietlife and support me for as little as a dollar a month. Thank you so much!

Getting my priorities right

Today’s blog is going to be short, I reckon. I don’t have time to fit much into it. I don’t have a lot of time to do anything today, actually. I was a little stressed about that this morning but I’ve decided to change my mind.

You see, Moz is on holidays, so we left the alarm off and had a nice slow wakening rather than the ‘keep an eye on the time and jump out of bed’ one that we normally have.

Which meant that after my normal morning routine I was running about an hour later than usual and starting to panic that I wasn’t going to get enough done today.

I usually start my work day by writing in my journal. It gets my thoughts sorted out before I try to write anything that anyone else will be reading. And I started by journal today by saying what a lovely morning it had been, and how excited I am to be getting my daughter Jess from the airport (she’ll be here for a short and sweet four day stay), and then I wrote, ‘But I find I’m stressed.’

Why was I stressed? I was stressed because I had a long list of things that I could be doing. A long list of tasks that are necessary for moving my different businesses forward. And what with taking it easy this morning, and picking up Jess at lunch time, and so on, I was not going to make it through my list of tasks.

But then I realised I needed to reframe and reprioritise.

Today is not a day for churning through work tasks. I have a lot I could be doing, but even this blog is not something I have to do. I don’t think any of you will die if the blog gets released one day later than I planned. In fact, I could leave the blog, not write it at all, and nothing dreadful would happen. It’s good to remember that occasionally.

Today is a day for concentrating on my family. For enjoying the rest that comes with school holidays. For giving Jess a big hug at the airport and making the most of having her with us for a very short time. For going out to lunch as a family because we can. And for watching Dr Who together tonight (we’ll be late because Caleb will be at uni until 8pm so no spoilers, please!!)

Sometimes it is important to focus on work, to strive to get through the jobs and to put your pleasures on hold for a while. Sometimes the day needs to be prioritised the other way around. It’s part of the rhythm of life, the seesaw of living.

We are leaving in an hour or so to pick up our daughter Jess from the airport  and today will be a family day. I’m going to enjoy every minute of it. The tasks will wait.

I hope that whatever your day holds you also will know what to prioritise and what to let go.

Are you missing some of my blog posts? Sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on www.ruthamos.com.au  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. You will also find my book ‘My Year of Saying No’, and any short stories or other books will be up there as they come along.

If you would like to support my writing and the creation of my podcast (coming soon, I promise) then you can head over to Patreon and support me for as little as a dollar a month. Thank you so much!

Rest

This week I’ve been reading a book called Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. I had heard it highly recommended on a podcast so I toddled along to the library and placed myself on the hold list and got hold of a copy. I was number 2 on the list for this book, not number 60 like I am for a book called Educated by Tara Westover. You might get a book report on that one too but you’re going to be waiting a while.

Anyway, Rest is one of those books that looks at the science behind resting – fMRIs and studies of various student groups, and all that kind of stuff. It also looks at the lives of great achievers through history – great politicians, authors, artists, and scientists – and shows us how they incorporated rest into their lives, encouraging us to do the same.

When Alex talks about rest, he’s talking about sleeping well at night, napping, walking, vigorous exercise (like marathons, or rock climbing), and immersive hobbies (like chess or building an 18 ft robot giraffe). All of these are aspects of rest and help renew our minds so that we can work better and more creatively.

He nowhere mentions watching TV or movies or surfing social media as aspects of rest.

When Moz and I were first married we lived in a little granny flat out the back of a friend’s house. For the first few months we had no television. (And no computer. Almost no one had a computer back then. It’s really crazy to think about that.)

We didn’t miss it very much at all. We read, we chatted, visited with friends. It wasn’t a problem most of the time. But there were some days I remember coming home and really wanting to sit and stare and be entertained. So I think that TV has its place in the list of restful activities.

But I also think TV-watching has a very limited ability to refresh us. It is so easy to keep watching, keep flicking to the next Netflix show, when it would be much better for us to either sleep, or walk, or read. Any of those things would be ultimately more refreshing. I can spend a day watching TV and be more exhausted at the end than I was at the beginning.

Social media is similar. I love to just scroll through my feed when I’m feeling tired. But the scroll can become never-ending and you can end up more tired than when you started. And more disturbed and emotionally unwell too, depending on the content that comes up.

It’s important for our brains to feel boredom. To spend a little bit of time not being entertained. The flickering low-level entertainment of TV and social media is a short-term gain but a long-term loss for our well-being. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, I’m not saying anything new. But maybe it’s important to check what we are doing when we’re trying to rest, and see whether it actually helps us to feel rested or not.

It’s easy to read Rest and to add a checklist of new activities that you now have to tick off in order to achieve greatness. To feel pressure to add more of these ‘restful activities’ to your week. But I’m sure that’s not what Alex Pang intended.

Instead, if you’re feeling like you should be working more and more and harder and harder to get things done so that you will achieve what you are made for, this book will give you good scientific and historical evidence that making time to rest is essential for good work. And it will give you some good suggestions for what this rest could look like.

Rest, after all, is included in our instruction manual. Let’s include it in our lives.

 

Are you missing some of my blog posts? Sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on www.ruthamos.com.au  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. You will also find my book ‘My Year of Saying No’, and any short stories or other books will be up there as they come along.