On pins and needles

Before December even started, I was already feeling anxious about my  busy season as an accountant, which begins January 1st. There is so much to do! I worry about meeting reporting deadlines and I worry that something important will fall through the cracks. I have the kind of anxiety that keeps me awake at night.

In reading the Sunday paper last week, I learned a new word for that familiar feeling of agitation. In an article on the economy, Jared Bernstein wrote: “The stock market is clearly on shpilkes (Yiddish for “pins and needles”)…” Bernstein tried to explain what is going on with economy and not how to prevent shpilkes.  Nevertheless, I found some hints between the lines.

Just as the stock market is not always rational, my anxiety is not always rational. Sometimes I overreact to bad news or get upset by what someone else says or does. Sometimes I get distracted by all the noise. Sometimes I feel like l’m being pulled in too many directions.

With its highs and lows, life can feel like a roller coaster ride. It can feel like you’re on a merry-go-round, pointlessly going around and around and never getting any where. It can feel like you are on pins and needles.

Bernstein reminded me of the importance of having the right perspective. Sometimes we blow things out of proportion. Sometimes we worry too much about the future because things aren’t going smoothly now. Sometimes we can’t see clearly because we’re listening to people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Keep things in perspective. Don’t overreact. Check the facts.

A little article about the economy reminded me how important it is to filter out the noise. Bernstein writes, “Go ahead and watch the roller coaster if you must, but if it makes you sick, don’t say I didn’t warn you.” There is no point in worrying about things you can’t control. If you filter out the noise, then you can focus on what you can control. You can arm yourself with useful information. You can be rational and proactive not just reactive.

In my job, the best strategy for reducing anxiety is planning and preparation. I reduce my worries of missing something important by making checklists of my tasks and their due dates. I am doing whatever I can ahead of time.

Preparation is huge but I cannot prepare myself for everything. Unexpected things happen. In July, my coworker resigned. I had no idea he was thinking of leaving. We have a small office so I had to pick up half his responsibilities until we hired a replacement. Being flexible helped me make the best of a stressful situation. I looked at it as an opportunity to learn something new.

When I am trying to juggle too many things, I get frazzled and overwhelmed. Last year, I found it stressful when auditors interrupted my work with requests for information. As annoying as it is, being audited is part of my job. I don’t like to admit that I either need help or I need more time. I am learning that there is no shame in asking for help. It’s a lot easier to share the burden.

Looking back at the most stressful moments of last year, I can see that sometimes I forgot to take a deep breath and a moment to relax and refresh my mind. I was too focused on how much I needed to do. I didn’t take advantage of the power in the pause. 

  • Keep things in perspective.
  • Don’t overreact.
  • Check the facts and arm yourself with information.
  • Filter out the noise and focus on the right message. 
  • Plan and prepare for whatever you’re worried about.
  • Be flexible when life throws you the unexpected curve ball.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Share the burden.
  • Pause, reflect, and focus your energy on what is most important.
  • Breathe, just breathe.

+++++++

Photo credit: Photo by Lisa Woakes on Unsplash

The Nightmare of Imperious

I’ve taken the liberty of treating the adjective imperious as if it were a noun because for some reason it reminded me of the word Aquarius. That brought to mind the Age of Aquarius song. Imperious means assuming power or authority without justification, which reminded me of you-know-who.

When a reality star acquires power
‘Cause people wanted a savior
Greed guides their new oppressor
And his rage fuels vile behavior
This is the Nightmare of Imperious
The Nightmare of Imperious
Imperious
Imperious

Division and discord abounding
Hostility and fear resounding
Bald-faced lies and aspersions
Malignant narcissist delusions
The audacious authoritarian rises
And the whole world he surprises
Imperious
Imperious

Let the truth win, let the truth win, let sanity win
Let the truth win, let the truth win, let sanity win
Let the truth win, let the truth win, let sanity win

Oh, it’s let Mueller time, c’mon
Now all who love truth sing along
Truth and justice will march on
Speak truth to power and watch truth march on
When you’re discouraged, let truth march on
We’ll wake from this bad dream and truth’ll march on
And when you feel like you’ve been lied to
When the arc of the moral universe seems too long
Just remember it bends to justice, and let the truth march on

****

Daily word prompt: imperious

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/12/08/your-daily-word-prompt-imperious-December-8-2018/

Silly and Pointless

Thanks to social media, I see and hear a lot of silly things. But some things aren’t just silly, they’re silly and pointless – the very definition of fatuous. 

  • It is fatuous to lie when the lie is easily disproven.
  • It is really fatuous to lie about trivial things.
  • It is fatuous to brag about yourself.
  • It is really fatuous to boast about things that are not important or admirable.
  • It is fatuous to let foolish pride get in the way of admitting the obvious.
  • It is really fatuous to pretend to admire the emperor’s new clothes when everyone can see that the emperor is naked.

It feels like I’m living in an alternate universe. If I couldn’t laugh, I would cry.

****

Daily prompt:

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2018/12/06/your-daily-word-prompt-fatuous-December-6-2018/

Image credit:

Drawing by Vilhelm Pedersen (1820 – 1859) – English Wikipedia (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/47/Emperor_Clothes_01.jpg ), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4038625

Kinder, gentler, wiser

But where is it written that we must act as if we don’t care, as if we’re not moved. Well, I am moved. I want a kinder, gentler nation.

George HW Bush, 1988 speech

When I heard that George HW Bush passed away, I thought not about his politics but about his call to care about others. “I want a kinder, gentler nation,” he said. Bush knew that in caring about others, some would see softness and weakness. He cared anyway.

In the kinder, gentler speech, Bush said, “[p]rosperity with a purpose means taking your idealism and making it concrete by certain acts of goodness.” Thirty years later, America is still a prosperous nation.  Unfortunately, she is losing sight of her noble purpose. She is losing her goodness.

George Bush’s sentiments were at odds with those of the current president. Today, Americans are encouraged to be self-centered – to put America first. Today, Americans are urged to live in fear of others. Instead of celebrating a thousand points of light – selfless volunteerism – we’re building walls to keep others out. 

George Bush had a privileged upbringing yet he still lived a life of humility, a life of servant leadership. He understood that from those who have been given much, much will be demanded. He understood that from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Luke 12:48).

Kindness flows from wisdom, but as I think Bush understood, it is not the “wisdom” of the world. The world sees kindness and gentleness as weakness. The world teaches a false wisdom of selfish ambition and vain conceit. Those who subscribe to this way of thinking put themselves first, viewing others with an “us verses them” mindset. Instead of sowing unity and peace, they sow division and discord. Instead of practicing acts of goodness and kindness, they look only to their own interests. Instead of lifting others up, they tear others down. 

Kindness and gentleness, like all good virtues, flow from the wisdom of God. A person with heavenly wisdom sees the self realistically, with humility. It’s a wisdom born of pain, the ability to step into and share the feelings of others. Kind and gentle people value others above themselves, looking to their interests (Philippians 2:3-4). Those who are wise in God’s eyes, emulate Christ, clothing themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:12).

Where is it written that we must act as if we don’t care, as if we are not moved? Where is it written that we should act out of selfish ambition? Well, I am moved and I want a kinder, gentler, wiser nation.

****

Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash

Ideas for going deeper in your faith

The pastor of my church preached a sermon series on Living Deep and then gave us a list of 14 practical steps to help us go deeper in our faith. I took the liberty of rephrasing a few of them. The most useful piece of advice for me is to look beyond what I can see to the deeper reality of what God is doing behind the scenes.

  1. Trust in God’s loving plans.
  2. Trust in God’s loving protection.
  3. Depend on the Holy Spirit.
  4. Look beyond what you can see to the deeper reality of God’s work.
  5. See yourself through God’s loving eyes. (Examine yourself accurately  based on God’s truth.)
  6. Come out of hiding and confess your brokenness.
  7. Simplify your life and make time with God a priority.
  8. Dive deep and immerse yourself in Scripture.
  9. Remember who you once were and embrace your new identity. (Learn from your history and get wiser.)
  10. Focus on who you are (and can become) rather than on what you should do.
  11. Replace unhealthy thoughts with healthy ones.
  12. Choose the right path each day. (Choose a new direction and start on it again each day.)
  13. Cultivate thankfulness, generosity, and kindness.
  14. Become an everyday vessel for God to use.

And here’s one of my own to grow on:

  • Seek God’s truth and wisdom.