Saturday, February 09, 2013


There's a crazy retired guy from my church named Darrell. But when I say "crazy," I mean that truly in a loving, awe-filled, I-respect-this-man-beyond-words-for-his-radical-ideas kind of way. I'm not saying he's Jesus, but, I think he and Jesus have a lot in common. They both like serving people. They both like challenging the status quo. They both like skipping the small talk, and diving right into the deep stuff. And they both balk at religion.

These are my kind of people.

I don't remember how I met Darrell or how I got onto his "Salt Shakers" email list, but a year or two ago I started getting these mass emails from him, asking for volunteers to serve food to the homeless. Beneath each plea was also a [long] paragraph or two of Darrell's recent thoughts about church/religion/living out faith. At first I thought, "what a weirdo!" Then, as I read more and more of his "crazy thoughts" (his own description), they grew on me. In fact, I started really looking forward to Darrell's writing, to the point that I'd drop everything I was doing to read his emails when they popped into my inbox. I knew his words would inspire me. I knew this one email, out of the hundreds of emails I would read in the day, carried with it the potential to change the way I encounter my world.

Monday morning this past week Darrell and I met for coffee and conversation, and I finally made a commitment to help at one of his monthly food-serving things. It's long been a[n overly romanticized] dream of mine to serve at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving; an otherwise boring and routine Thursday night in February isn't exactly Thanksgiving, but close enough. I've put this off long enough.

My week leading up to Thursday had been very stressful. The contractor at the desk next to mine was let go on Tuesday, and this sent me into an unwarranted minor panic attack about my own job security. (I say unwarranted, because I asked my boss if I needed to be worried, and he said "no") My "todo" list at work keeps growing - no chance of being bored anytime soon - and that got me stressing out with worry (though again, unwarranted - my coworker Wendy reassured me I had my priorities set correctly and was exceeding their expectations). And the casting company was hired to book some extras for a commercial next week, as well as host auditions, and then the online software had a major bug and things weren't working and the friend I was going to hire to help with booking people got sick so I had to do ALL THE THINGS myself and did I mention I'm terrified of failure and disappointing people?


By Thursday evening I was frazzled, albeit on the mend, but still, frazzled.

Time for a perspective check.

Darrell had gathered a dozen or so people to help, and for most of us this was our first time serving. We gloved up, put on some adorable hairnets and plastic aprons (hint: "adorable" in this context means "not actually all that attractive"), and then the doors opened and I found myself scooping hot dish onto trays and giving them to the homeless people walking by on the other side of the serving table.

To be cliché, I feel like I got more out of the experience than I gave. Let's see: my biggest problems are that I'm over-employed, have an active social life, and ... why exactly was I complaining again? It's hard to pay attention to my own first-world, upper-class problems, while looking into the eyes of a man, woman, or child, who will be sleeping in a shelter tonight.

My calming change in perspective may have been short lived (blog post coming soon about the emotional turmoil of Friday), but for that short period of time, I felt much more at ease with my "issues." I told Darrell to count me in for next time.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Goals update for 2012-2013

Last October I set a[n ironic] goal for myself of setting "reasonable, achievable goals." Let's see how I'm doing:

Set reasonable, achievable goals
Also, Stop stressing about how much I can't accomplish
Measurable success. I'm still overly-optimistic in my list-making, but I actively give myself grace, by accepting my daily list of tasks is not a "must get done" list, but rather a smorgasbord of things I could during my day. As former coworker Keith frequently reminded me, "if it gets done, it gets done."

Sub-goal: Punctuality
Measurable success. Still a ways to go, but making headway towards leaving and arriving on time!

Avoid procrastination
Measurable success. I love when I get into a "get things done" mood, such a natural high.

Focus on tasks that matter
Marginal success; I still have a hard time saying "no."

Focus on people that matter
Measurable success. I need to become even more discerning, but feel I've done pretty well allocating time thus far.

Take one thing at a time
Success. The multi-tasking I do choose to do, I'm able to handle, and the moment it becomes too much, I back off and remind myself "just do this one thing."

Accept that I cannot solve every problem

Okay. I'm trying.

Marginal success.

Strive toward better anger management
Mostly successful. I still catch myself writing an exasperated Facebook comment every now and then, but when it comes to "stupid people emails," I'm rocking it. One time John (my friend who volunteered himself as my anger-management mentor) even said there's nothing he would change from what I'd written!

Move on from Minnehaha
Marginal success. Overall it's been a natural progression - Cray is taking most of my time, so there's not a whole lot left of me to give to MA. I still miss the half of my job that I loved (building cool web tools and scripts), and I suppose I will miss that for a while.

Eat more healthfully

I mean, marginal to measurable success. I'm cutting down on the sweets, let's call that forward progress.

Take responsibility for my own actions
Owning it. Success.

Sub-goal: be discerning about whose opinions I let matter

Second sub-goal: find my value in the Lord; aka, be myself, and do so unashamedly.
Fail on the first half, success on the second half. I am definitely more comfortable in my own skin, I'm owning my beliefs, I'm owning my actions. At the same time, I continue to judge my self-worth based on the wrong metrics (job, relationship status, cool things I've done, number of friends, etc). That needs to change.

Spend time with God
Success at first, fail in recent weeks.

Continue maintaining a healthful life/work balance
Success at first, fail in recent weeks. This is my highest priority to change.

Take more risks
Mostly success. I just started ComedySportz's intro level improv class, and that is pushing me to stretch myself in the risk-taking arena.

Don't ever settle
Success. If anything, I might be doing this one too well.

I'd like to add two goals to this list:

Take a vacation!
Self-explanatory :)

Always speak my heart
The most obvious example is not waiting to tell someone how you feel about them (specifically I have in mind ἔρως or φιλία). A less obvious example might mean standing up for what I know in my heart to be true, whether that's about God's love, stopping the spread of gossip, words of encouragement, or something else completely - I'm rather bad at coming up with examples.