It’s good to be back: Or, lessons from the road

Here are a few things I've learned since my trip to Missouri:

  1. I suck at following my own advice. Instead of staying ahead on my blogging duties, I let it slip to being handled last minute. But then, when I was covering rallies late into the night or driving straight for 12 hours, producing content isn't easy.
  2. Don't beat yourself up. Yeah, I dropped the ball on blogging for almost two weeks, but that's OK. I don't need to defend, apologize to or reprimand myself. When we mess up, human nature says to go on the offensive. Blame someone else, project emotions, internalize the struggle. That's not healthy. I messed up. Oh well. Today's a new day to create.
  3. We need rhythm in our lives. It's healthy to know what time you'll get up, go to bed, eat and work. I hated not knowing when I would get in bed while in St. Louis. But, then when I came home, I was so out of breath and behind that I couldn't keep a consistent schedule. Consistency allows me to come to work consistently.
  4. Find a happy medium. I've consistently produced well above the norm for blog content and for my work at The Lariat. Doing a blog a day is great. Writing three or four articles a week is great. But doing that AND school AND writing a book AND reading my typical load of books AND writing for other outlets AND socializing AND attending events is utterly impossible. So, I've decided to cut back. I don't know the number yet, but there's definitely no need to always say, "Yes!" I'll write regularly, but publish less. I'll work regularly, but commit less. I'm finding that quantity has a direct relationship with quality. (Ground breaking, right?)
  5. Your calling makes you hum, not smile. This past week I attended the Pruit Symposium, a conference on black gospel music that was like no other academic event. We danced, sang and grinned together for three days. And we all walked away with songs on our lips. This group of people truly loved what did. But I could tell it was there passion because it was evident on their faces AND in their voice. They used lyrics in their regular conversation without even noticing that. Whatever you do that with — and it does not have to be music — is what I'd guarantee is your calling.
  6. Make a fool of yourself. The professor who organized the symposium told me Saturday, the last day of the gathering, that he would rather get into the music and make a fool of himself by dancing along than sit and watch others, with quiet enjoyment. I love that. I want to make a fool of myself with what I love doing. I want to love my work so much that I'm prepared to dance in front of hall of several hundred people.
  7. Take a break. I needed this two weeks "off," really. It gave me a perspective on blogging. This was like my regular hiatus from Facebook. I stopped looking at every conversation as blog fodder and, instead, as the actual conversation. I realize that not everyone can do this, but it's easier to step back than we think. Letting go may be just what you need for a weekend or even an evening.
  8. Put in it for the long run. I think this ties everything together. If we slack once, we'll slack consitently. If we think negatively about ourselves, it will degrade our other relationships. If we lack rhythm, we'll lack guidance. If we polarize, we'll burn out. If we get the wrong things right, we still won't find joy. If we take ourselves too seriously, we'll miss the moment. If we over-work, we'll wind up sore and sour. These results all lead to short term outcomes. The long run is won by a consistent runner, not the sporadically quick and bursty sprinter.