Today, I head out for my annual camping pilgrimage to the Poconos. I have been making this trip for the past twenty-one years (with only one miss) with the same group of guys who are originally from my home town in New Jersey. For me this is the perfect opportunity to relax. On this trip, I’ll go fishing, catch up with some great long-time friends, and I’ll slow down compared to my normally busy pace of life.
For today’s Stretched Ice Breaker question, we’ll continue this theme.
Question: What is your favorite way to relax?
(For those of you who are new here, an Ice Breaker is a question designed to help us get to know each other. Each week, I ask a question which I’ll answer in the post. Then I turn it to the readers to answer the question in the comments.)
I can’t wait to read your answer to this week’s question!
Yesterday, in four or five conversations with different people the subject of busyness came up. The conversations went something like this:
My friend: “Hey, how are you?”
Me: “Okay, how about yourself.”
My friend: “Good, but I’ve been real busy lately.”
Me: “I hear you. I’ve been busy lately as well. It seems like I’m running from one thing to the next.”
Seriously, this conversation with minor variations was repeated several times yesterday. Why do we allow ourselves to become so busy. Do we like being busy, or do we just like the opportunity to tell others that we’re busy? In all our running around, are we making progress towards something that really matters, or are we just trying to keep up with the neighbors?
Staying busy for the sake of being busy is pointless. And even if our activities result in something good, we still need to analyze our list of activities. Are we participating in activities that match up with our gifts and passions? Are we leaving any space in our schedules for rest and reflection? Are we truly making the most of our opportunities – especially when we’re being pulled in a million different activities?
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve read a couple of blog posts and listened to a podcast or two that deal with this topic. Michael Hyatt talked about the importance of calendar triage in his blog in the past week. The FamilyLife Today with Dennis Rainey Podcast talked about the importance of simplifying our lives in an interview with Dr. Meg Meeker.
These are challenging messages to hear in this culture – especially in the Northeast where everyone seems so ME focused. So how can we change this? Here are four simple ideas that could make a huge difference in our journey to take control of our schedules:
1. Write it down. Take time at the beginning of each month and at the beginning of each week to write down and review the calendar. Seeing it in front of you on a calendar will quickly show you if there are any gaps in your calendar for rest and refreshment.
2. Prioritize and prune. As you list out your activities and commitments, consider prioritizing them. You may want to use a number system to assign a priority to each item on your calendar. Going to church is a top priority in our house, so it gets a 1. Other things might be a lower priority, so we can assign them a 2 or a 3. As you review your calendar, consider giving up one of the lower priority activities.
3. Schedule time for rest, refreshment, and reflection. Seriously, block off time on your calendar. Give this a top priority. Don’t let something else come along and take its place. This is something we’re still working on at home. We have tried to make Monday night open for our date night. This has worked most of the time; however, I must confess that the past couple of weeks we’ve let other things come in the way of this.
4. Practice sabbath. I was talking with my good friend, Michael Shaw, yesterday about this very subject. Michael, who is Jewish, holds the sabbath (sun-down Friday night to sun-down Saturday night) sacred. He literally shuts down each week during this time. God’s command for a sabbath was not just meant for us to focus on Him, I believe it was designed to create a regular rhythm of rest in our lives. It’s important that we find ways to practice the sabbath.
What is one thing that you need to trim off your calendar or schedule this month? What other suggestions do you have for slowing down?
Have you ever come to a point where you know you need a few days off?
The time has come for me. I’m taking a couple of days off from work, and I’m heading to NYC with my family for some time away together. The Stretched blog will continue, so don’t go away. It should be great to have some rest and recharge for the final sprint to the end of 2011.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
So seriously, do you need a break? When will you stop to take a breath?
If you’ve been following along for a couple of months, you may have realized that I’ve been running lately. In September, I ran the first ever Perk Trail Half Marathon – A Race To Remember (by myself). The past couple of months, I’ve had the privilege of running with a couple of friends as they’ve pumped out a couple of their longer training runs in preparation for their marathons. One of my good friends just ran his first marathon last weekend, The Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, PA. And another friend is getting ready to run his first marathon in a week or so, The St. Louis Marathon. Running with these guys has made me realize that another marathon may not be so far off for me. I’ve run over 17 miles and still felt great (or as good as can be expected after running 17 miles). So why not consider a marathon myself? That’s a great question. So…I started looking around for a marathon to run either in late fall or early spring or maybe both.
I could run the first ever Bucks County Marathon on November 20th. This one looks attractive, because it’s relatively close to home, it’s a certified course, and it’s all trail. I’m just not sure I want to pay the entry fee to be part of this inaugural race. Also, I’ve already run a marathon in Pennsylvania. If I’m every going to run one in each state, I don’t want to waste my marathon effort running a second marathon in the same state.
I could run the Rehoboth Beach Marathon on December 10th. This would be in Delaware, so it would be a different state than my previous two marathons. It looks like a well established race on a certified course. It’s a possibility.
I could run the Ocean Drive Marathon in New Jersey. This March 25th race starts in Cape May, NJ and ends in See Isle, NJ. This point to point race could be pretty scenic as it runs 26 miles up the Jersey coast. I have to wonder what this winds are like on this course. This could definitely be a possibility for the spring.
As I was doing my research, I came across a unique marathon possibility. The Thanksgiving Marathon on November 24th takes place in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, New York City, New York. The race isn’t certified, but I don’t think that matters to me. The race doesn’t have any aid stations, but I could carry my own water and food. The race doesn’t come with any fancy T-shirts or running expo. But the race is FREE! You just sign-up, show-up, and run. For finishers of this race which takes place Thanksgiving morning, a 12 inch engraved fork is your reward along with the satisfaction of knowing you earned the calories that you will consume for this year’s Thanksgiving Day meal. I haven’t signed up yet, but I’m definitely thinking that this may be the one.
What do you think? Anyone interested in joining me? Are there any other marathons that I should consider?
Goals like this are great for keeping us focused and moving forward. But it doesn’t have to be a marathon or hiking up Mt. Everest or swimming across the Gulf of Mexico. I’ve been inspired by many who are pursuing their own C25K goal (Coach To 5K). Whatever it is, set a goal. Go after it. You can do it!
So what’s one of your goals? What are you doing to pursue it?
Last night, I decided to take out the saxophone for a little bit. Back in junior high and high school, I used to play it quite a bit. I loved the fact that I could make music and express myself through this instrument. I loved playing in several jazz groups, concert bands, marching bands, pit bands, and even all-state bands.
A couple of years ago, I took lessons again to see if I could get back into playing shape. To some degree it worked. I relearned a few things, and I was able to get my lip back into playing shape.
Getting back to last night, my son has been working on a few pieces for us to play together. Isaac has a real gift; his ear for music is incredible. He enjoys playing the trumpet. And his piano skills are really coming along. Last night, we jammed to two songs, Going Home and Tequilla Sunrise. It was so much fun to play with him. We both have some work to do before we’re ready to take our show on the road, but it is so much fun to play together.
Today, I’m thanking God for this gift of music.
1 Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.
Last night, Leanne and I enjoyed the 3rd of 5 shows in this year’s Walnut Street Theater season. We’ve already seen Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Oliver – both musicals. WST is now running a new play called The Eclectic Society.
The play is set in the fraternity house of an east coast all male school in the fall of 1963 as the fraternity is going through the pledge process of accepting new freshmen into the house. The school (and fraternity) is traditionally an all white school. However, this was changed a couple of years ago when both the school and fraternity accepted its first black student who earns his place by excelling in sports. The Eclectic Society which prides itself on the well rounded students that are represented in the house is split when the fraternity is faced with accepting its second black member who doesn’t carry the traditional traits of an Eclectic Society member – he’s from the ghettos of Cleveland, he isn’t paying his own way to the school, and he needs extra financial support to survive the day-to-day expenses of campus living.
Without giving away the play, The Eclectic Society raises questions related to racial harmony during this time in the history of our country, but it also forces one to ask if things have changed much since. Sure, we have our first African-American president. Sure, there is more diversity across many aspects of our American culture. But you have to ask if everything has been done to carry out the dream voiced by Martin Luther King. Do we look at people as equals? Do we look at all people as being created in God’s image? Do we rejoice and acknowledge how God made us all special with something to give?
These are some of the thoughts that were raised last night.
To finish out my review, the set and costumes and WST were fantastic as always. The actors did a fabulous job. I would not recommend this play to children due to language, a couple of fight scenes, subject, and one “mooning” scene. But I would recommend the play to anyone else who wants to be challenged and entertained at the same time.
Yesterday, I traveled with 12 of my fellow Siemens colleagues to Lebanon in central PA for a day of golf at Iron Valley Golf Course. The day was gorgeous (it actually was hot in the afternoon). The course was spectacular (very hilly with some great views). And the company was fun. These were all guys from my department – fitters, technicians, engineers, specialists, and managers. My golf game was okay for not playing much over the past few years; I shot over par – let’s just put it that way. Bottom line is that I had a blast hanging out with guys from work outside of work. I hope to attend next year’s golf event!
Until the next post…