Monday, February 19, 2018

Lent Life Lessons

Lent started on Valentines Day this year. Weird. I only know that because someone said Lent fell on this goodie-indulgent day, and I know many people who usually swear off chocolate for Lent, aren't doing so this year!

This year I decided to give Lent a try. I don't normally do Lent. Ever. But this year I decided to see if I had the guts to give up something and stick with it.

And it had to be something big. Giving up small stuff wasn't going to cut it.

God and I have been at odds lately. I've found myself going to Netflix and PC games more and more, drowning myself in games and TV characters lives so I can forget the troubles in my own universe. Games let me attain goals. Attaining goals is good- though with games it's short-lived.
Very short-lived.
And once the Netflix show is over (or in my case, the entire dang series), there I am, back to my own life.
Back to life...back to reality... (I hear you humming it!)

I found myself unable to get out of the game/TV loop. Then along comes Lent. A chance to attain some real goals. But could I do forty days? That's a really long time!

I glanced at my messy writing desk, the piles of unfinished projects, the unread books, the cluttered craft table, and an email cache that could gag an elephant. Then I wondered if forty days was enough.

So I took the plunge. No Netflix. No PC games. I allowed myself games on my cell phone, but deleted the longer term ones and kept Solitaire and Flow Free. And the only entertaining screen watching I could do was if another family member was watching something on the big TV- which isn't often. Basically, when the family sits down to a show or movie, I can too- which is no more than twice a week, if that.

I woke up Valentines Day with an agenda.
I cleaned, straightened, and decluttered papers, and went through emails I've been meaning to read for almost a month. I barely made a dent in them. I also printed out recipes I'd been saving in my emails for months- which are now three hole punched and ready to go into my 'try these' recipe binders. Yes, binders. Plural. But that's a project for a different day.

I'll be honest here. I was sorely tempted to play some games when going through my emails. It was more out of habit than an actual desire, so I managed to squelch it quickly, but the want was still there.

By eight o'clock that night, I was nodding off. The day seemed to last forever!

Day two was interesting because after I was finished running errands, I was hoping the kids would want to watch something so I could watch too. My daughter was nice enough to offer to switch her choice of show (Transformers- anything Transformers!) to something I would be more inclined to watch- an animal program. We watched a single episode together before we both got back to chores.
I loved it, but part of me knew better that to sway my daughter's choice again- that was bending my own rule- a big No-No. So back to work we went.

I got through a few more emails- I'm involved with three guru type life coaches with free content, so most of these were newsletters or short videos of things I needed to watch. Not wanted to watch per se, but needed to watch in order to learn something. Learning videos are allowed because I'm not using them to escape.
I took a few more virtual comedy classes I'd paid for months ago, but never could 'find the time' to finish. I managed to read a little, but not as much as I should have.

My craft table was cleared off and sorted. I'd found half of a cookbook in the piles of crafting printouts- this half-book had the recipe for Pizzelles I'd been looking for since November! Lucky for me the other half (that was still downstairs where it should be) wasn't thrown out (though I almost did!) and the book is now whole once more. This was the only recipe I really liked for Pizzelles- I felt like I'd found buried treasure!

By the end of day two, I found myself nodding off again around eight o'clock. Why was I nodding off an hour before my actual bedtime?

Because I was active. 
More active than I was watching Netflix or playing PC games. My brain was more active too, because I was learning most of the day. I almost gave in to habit twice near the end of the day because I was tired and wanted to relax. So I forced myself to walk away from the computer, shut off the TV entirely (it's usually in sleep mode) and sit and read instead. I fell asleep- I mean checked my eyelids for light leaks- within a few minutes, then gave up and went to bed early.

I learned a lot about myself in just two days.

I learned:

I'm much more productive when not distracted.
I'm more physically active- I like to work a little upstairs and then go downstairs when things get tedious (and vice versa).
Emails don't seem as overwhelming, now that I see the numbers going down.
I see progress in decluttering my home and work spaces.
I feel more accomplished.
I also found myself sleeping more solidly than before.  A very nice side effect!

The rest of the week was interesting because the 'shiny' was beginning to wear off. What do I mean by that, you ask? It means I started something new, and the excitement was waning. Fast.

I began to realize that in taking out all of the 'fun stuff', I'd never added any non-screen fun stuff to replace it. It's draining to clean and work and learn all day long with no interlude to let the mind rest! It's also not good to find fun things to do, because forty days of nothing but work not only makes Jacqueline a dull girl, it makes her grumpy and not want to make it to the finish line.

I have to change things up if I wanted to keep things going!

So some of my reading material was switched out with books for purely entertainment purposes. I set aside some crafts to do once certain things were cleaned/cleared off in my sewing space (which also makes for good motivation to get the work done!)

I also programmed our entertainment system for different types of music to fit my changing moods- relaxing tones for reading or background noise, thumping, upbeat music when working, or silly songs when I'm doing something particularly hard or boring. And when it gets too much and I need some quiet time or prayer, it shuts off with the touch of a button.

I wish I could say everything is worked out or scheduled, but I can't, because life changes. I love having things all lined up in neat rows, but I know this is not the season for that- it's a chaotic season and I need to roll with the punches- and it's so much easier to roll when my eyes are focused on a PC game or Netflix!

Today is the sixth day. Just the sixth day. Six down (almost) and twenty-five to go. And I'm so glad you're here taking the walk with me in spirit! I appreciate you, my dear readers!

Are you walking down a similar path? Have you given up something for Lent- or just in general to see what happens or make a lifestyle change? Tell me about it in the comments!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Tough Love 101

Tough love is never easy. That's why it's not called 'Rainbow Unicorn Fart' love.

It's tough.
It's love.
And it breaks Mom hearts all over the world. Dad hearts too.

Parents don't want to tough love their kids. They want them to listen, learn, and as they get older, debate, learn more, and grow.

But sometimes debating turns to arguments. Ears close on both sides of the fence. And the fully fledged bird refuses to leave the nest. 

Parents have to make their babies take wing if they refuse to do it themselves. And it's one of the hardest things for a parent to do. 

We constantly ask ourselves...
Have we been too harsh? Not harsh enough? 
We taught them all we know- why aren't they flying? 
Have we made life too easy? Too hard? 
And what steps do we need to take now so our children can go out in the world and be the stellar beings God made them to be?

So what do you do with a child that doesn't make much effort to be independent?

You go to the Bible.

Proverbs 12:11 says Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense.

Proverbs 19:15 says Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless go hungry.

2 Thessalonians 3:10 says For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat."

You teach them God's will. You show them the scripture. You talk, help them come up with a game plan, but you don't execute it- your fledgling has to. 

Even our pastor was asking why we're still feeding our fledgling! At the time three square meals a day was the norm; we had to make some changes.

We did. Our fledgling just got used to the changes and made no changes to their behavior. We upgraded (or downgraded?) more changes with the same result. Nothing we did worked.

We had to start pushing our child out of the nest.

This is where a parents' heart breaks. We have to send them out into the world and lock the door behind them. In our case, The fledgling in question has Aspergers. Very high functioning and quite capable of holding a job, but makes almost no effort to find work- for more than six months now. 
We've done everything we can think of to help, but we're waved away like annoying insects. It's been a strain on the entire family, and though we hate to do it, we need to let our fledgling go.

We found a program for autistic adults. Our fledgling has a certain amount of time to find work, but when that time is up (by the end of this week), we have to make a call for this program to come and get him. They have the training, knowledge and the 'I'm not your parent' factor that will help our fledgling fly on their own. They provide housing, and teach the skills needed to be independent.

We love them enough to let them go. We have to. If we don't, we're enablers. And let's be honest here- we won't live forever (at least not on Earth!) and what will happen if my fledgling can't fly when my Father calls us home?

None of us would prosper from it.

Tough Love 101- As a parent, you have to do things you don't want to concerning your kids. You have to let them deal with their own consequences. You have to let them get hurt, flounder, and yes, even get into trouble in order to get them to understand the world doesn't owe them anything- and that they will prosper only if they are willing to work for it.

God does this all the time. His heart breaks when we mess up. Sometimes He rescues us, sometimes not- and we have to learn to do the same for our children when the time comes.

I pray that God gives me the strength to not only do this if I have to, but to not cave in if it does happen- and to give my fledgling the strength to fly.

We hope someday soon to see our fledgling soar!