A Sweatshirt for the Soul…

Cold, always cold so I put on the sweatshirt.

Sometimes the classic gray, others the navy blue.

New, as they were, since I was just reminded of their classic look.

Perfect for knocking about, puttering as it were around the house.

Yet, classic and kind of hip and cool,

At least for this old coot, classically unhip and uncool as could be.

Is there a sweatshirt for the soul, for the heart?

My Own Ecclesiastes Moment…

I want to sit and think and write and read and drink coffee and hide from the world. I want to be in the world among people with no fear or concern for a virus or such.

I want to laugh and I want to weep.

I want to fix the things that are wrong with my house and I want a new house.

I want to wake up from this funk and I want to sleep. I want to smile and I want to grimace.

I want to say I told you so and I want to hope for better things. I want to be right.

I want to be acknowledged. I want to make a contribution.

I want to shout and I want to pray. I want to sing and I want to mourn.

My own Ecclesiastes moment is here. Now. And vanity of vanities, all is vanity. Empty. Nothing. Chasing after the wind. A time to and a time to not.

Sound and fury, signifying nothing.

To All The Things I’ve Loved Before…

(This post first appeared in my morning pages on September 17, 2018.)

I used to love the South. Not the media caricature of the South as racist, crass, and ignorant. The South of grace and genteel charm and crisp October Saturdays and ma’am and sir and how y’all and all that. Polos and khakis and penny loafers with no socks and plaid in the spring, seersucker in the summer, and heather-toned Shetland in the brief winter.

I used to love shopping, going to the mall, browsing.
I used to love food. Cooking it, tasting it, sharing it.

I used to love Alton Brown’s podcast, where he interviewed creative folks of all kinds, not just foodies, but artists and poets and authors and whiskey connoisseurs and puppeteers and podcasters and such.

I used to love reading. Newspapers, magazines, books. Real dead-tree, dead-octopus kinds.

I used to love people. Meeting them, talking to them, learning about them, serving them.

I used to love this house. When it was new and big and cool and ours.
I used to love this community. When it was new and different and cool and ours.

I used to love to exercise.

I used to love preaching and preparing to preach and studying and standing in front of people and inspiring them and helping them think and act and do and become.

I used to love going and doing and seeing and experiencing and enjoying.

I used to love learning.
I used to love hoping and dreaming and anticipating and expecting.I used to love knowing there was always tomorrow, that things would work out, no matter how bad they seemed today.

I used to love going to church on Sunday. Even though it meant going to work, it was a good thing, a God thing. I was glad when they said unto me, and then I wasn’t.

I used to love.

I. Used. To love.
Once upon a time. In another time. As another person. As another me. In another place. In a different life. I used to love.

And then I didn’t any more.

Reading…

Image: gordonplant https://flic.kr/p/5ToRh7

Reading.

I saw in someone’s blog today that they had read three books by simply setting aside 15 minutes with a timer each morning to read. Coupled with Elizabeth Gilbert’s admonition to curiosity in Big Magic, I realized I , too had reconnected with reading over the past couple of months.

I’ve always been reader. Well, let me clarify: I’ve always wanted people to think I was a reader. A voracious one. But truth be told, I’ve been in love with the idea of reading more than the reading itself. Kind of like writing. But that’s another story for another dark and early Sunday.

If I’ve cultivated a new appreciation for reading in the time I have, how much more could I read and enjoy if I really put my mind to it? For instance, if what’s her name could read three books by committing to just 15 minutes, could I do that, too?

What would I read? What am I curious about? What would nourish my mind and my soul?

There would be the Bible, of course. True confession time: I haven’t really read it beyond a snippet or two here and there for last-minute sermon prep in a long time. What if I invested just 15 minutes in reading the scripture? Surely the One Year Bible plan would facilitate that. And who knows where that might lead?

What if I added another 15 minutes of general interest reading to that? You know, whatever I happen to be curious about at the time. Maybe it’s making progress on some gigantic masterpiece like Tolkien. Maybe it’s something encouraging, challenging like Big Magic. Maybe it’s a feel good memoir like Ben and Erin Napier. Maybe it’s one of the hundreds of titles languishing in my Amazon Wish List. Maybe it’s one of the countless “to be read” titles that I never got around to reading. 

Fifteen minutes. Plus fifteen more. One half hour to rekindle a love for something that I’ve enjoyed, and benefited from forever.

Making Something…

Photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

The only things I’ve ever made in my life are messes and excuses. I want to make something.

Some noise.

Music.

An impact.

A difference.

Art.

A living. And a life.

Money.

Whoopee.

A racket.

A scene.

A mark.

A date.

A plan.

Someone happy.

Sense.

Memories.

Amends.

Up.

Out.

Friends.

Home Town…

We don’t watch a lot of TV at our house. Oh, sure…it’s almost always on. But very seldom do we sit and watch a show all the way through. There are exceptions.

For instance, somehow I got hooked on Game of Thrones, binge-watched the first two seasons over a weekend, and set a reminder for Sunday nights until Jon Snow took out the Mother of Dragons in season 8. (I was pulling for Arya to sit on the Iron Throne).

Then there’s Moonshiners, my guilty pleasure show. I’m a hopelessly uncool teetotaling Baptist pastor in one of my lives, but the adventures of Mark, Digger, Tickle, and Tim, and the misadventures of Josh fill up my Tuesday evenings like nothing else.

And that brings me to Home Town. I discovered Ben and Erin Napier as I rode the recumbent bike at our local YMCA.

Now, most of the time, those remodeling/flipping shows don’t do a whole lot for me. I mean…he’s 26, and drives part-time for Uber, and she’s 24 and works at a local day care, and their total budget is $550,000? OK, then.

But there’s something about Ben and Erin, and their efforts to revitalize the houses in their hometown of Laurel, Mississippi. Why do I love these two and their show so much that I’ve already binged every available episode?

I like them because…

  • They could be my kids. My son and his wife are around the same age as the Napiers.
  • They seem like real people. I know everything you see on TV is not necessarily the way things are in real life. I get it. Usually “reality TV” is the furthest thing from reality itself. But Ben and Erin seem like they are genuinely good down-to-earth folks who love what they do and where they live.
  • They are immensely creative and talented. I envy them. They are really good at what they do, and it seems they are always interested in getting better. I had artistic and mechanical bypasses at birth, so when I see artists and craftsmen pour their lives into beauty and such, it does my heart a lot of good.
  • They appear to love people and have servant hearts. On top of their restoration work, they are  actively seeking to support the folks affected by this week’s storms.
  • They look to be in love with each other. Their family life is a model for others.
  • They’re local church folks.
  • They have a great sense of style.
  • They work really hard.
  • They’re cheerleaders for Mississippi and Laurel.
  • They tell bad jokes. And often their teasing and humorous interaction makes the episode.
  • They’re Southern and unashamed! The big hook for me when I first watched their show was the fact that I didn’t need subtitles to understand them. They talk like I talk. And that makes my heart smile out loud!

There’s a lot about Ben and Erin and Home Town that makes me a fan. I don’t see myself ever moving to Mississippi, but if I ever do, I’d like to meet them, buy them a cup of coffee or dinner, and get to know them in real life.

Thanks, y’all for helping many of us adopt Laurel as our hometown!

 

 

I Hate the Gym…

From earlier this week:

Dear ultra-swanky home gym (AKA The Garage): I’m going to stop pretending that I even like you. I don’t. And that’s no exaggeration.

I. Just. Don’t.

In fact, it’s been about 14 years since I first met you and your companion, the Y. And you know what? Even though the first few years were really, really good, to be honest, I’m still waiting after all those years for those mythical endorphins to kick in.

I. Hate. Your. Guts.

But here’s the thing today: As much as I despise even the thought of you, if I don’t come see you on a more regular basis, I’m going to die, and that real soon. I mean I’m going to die anyway one day, but I’d rather it not be today or this month or this year. Now I may get hit by a bus or some such. But the parts I do have control over, I need to start having control over them again.

So here we are, Monday morning at the ultra-swanky home gym (AKA The Garage). And you will not beat me today.

Details…

Photo by Clark Young on Unsplash

It’s all about the details. The little things matter.

Is the colon aligned vertically when representing time? Or is it sitting on the baseline in the default position? Did you even notice? Did you change it? What about the dash between times? Did insert the n-dash or just settle for the hyphen key and call it good? What about the kerning? Did you follow the style guide?

Did you take the time to make the shadows realistic on the composite image? Or did you just duplicate the layer and position it somewhere in some sort of alignment? Did you think about where the light would actually hit? Did you make the shadow black instead of a gradient of grey-blue?

Did you check your spelling? Your punctuation? Did you leave the passive voice, or did you even think to re-read the copy?

Did you leave the piece of paper towel on the restroom floor? Did you send the thank-you note? Did you remember your customer’s name?

The details do matter. The little stuff does count. The little things do add up to big things. And if you do the little things consistently, it will become a habit. And the habit will become excellence in practice.

Needs…

Image: “Needs, ” by Taber Andrew Bai  https://flic.kr/p/d1nLBW

Random things I need, in no particular order…

  • I need to lose 60 pounds by Thanksgiving. That’s 30 weeks away from right now, and losing an average of 2 pound per week is doable.
  • I need to learn InDesign, Illustrator, and maybe QuarkXPress.
  • I need to decide on the new side gig at The Y. Or I need to quit.
  • I need to write consistently and well.
  • I need to save more money.
  • I need to set up a new credit account.
  • I need to call my Dad.
  • I need to get a more positive attitude.
  • I need to read something inspiring, informational, uplifting, etc.
  • I need to get outside more. OK, I need get outside. Period. Full stop.
  • I need to unplug more.
  • I need to take all the jobs seriously, “as for the Lord.”
  • I need to get the oil changed.
  • I need to lead better–from the first chair, and the second.
  • I need more confidence.
  • I need to do stuff that matters.
  • I need to live the rest of my life in a way that counts.
  • I need to read what the boss is reading.
  • I need to contribute something of real value.
  • I need to complete a leadership certification that I’ve put off for a year.
  • I need to sleep more and better.
  • I need to listen more carefully.
  • I need to be a better friend.
  • I need to find some friends.
  • I need to get a used trumpet or flugelhorn.
  • I need to get a hobby.
  • I need to get on top of my email.
  • I need to walk the walk.
  • I need to stop hiding behind the Cynical Old Coot mask. Or the Regular People Loving and Trusting Guy. Whichever one is the mask.
  • I need to do something for the sheer joy of doing it.
  • I need to exercise more.
  • I need to encourage my son.
  • I need to do something with my son.
  • I need to take my wife somewhere.
  • I need to go somewhere I’ve never been before.
  • I need a Bucket List.
  • I need to preach better sermons.
  • I need to sing out loud, just because.
  • I need to go the library.
  • I need to go the music building at a college, sit in the hall, and listen to students practice their craft.
  • I need to leave the campus before they call security on the old coot sitting in the hall listening to students practice their craft.
  • I need to practice my craft.
  • I need to discover what that craft is.
  • I need to stick up for myself.
  • I need to know my neighbors.
  • I need to pray more.
  • I need to read some poetry.
  • I need to go to the art gallery or museum and stand there in “the pose,” and contemplate beauty.
  • I need to do the same with nature.
  • I need to offer to mentor someone.
  • I need to start a podcast.
  • I need to blog more consistently.
  • I need five more words. One.
  • I need to go to bed.

To all a good night.