Friday, November 18, 2005

JK: Attitudes

Someone once said that daily news reports make us cynical and rob us of our sense of humor (truths children still understand). Living is risky. But dwelling on it, thinking only of the awfuls, is the ultimate energy vampire, sucking each of us dry.

We don’t control very much in life, but we do control our thoughts and our attitudes, both of which can be changed (despite country western music that suggests that once you’ve lost your truck and dog you’ll never be the same!). And there are always two things we can do when we’re feeling like a victim – of the publishing world, our jobs, our spouses and kids. One is to get clear about what matters – find that focus, that passion, the “hearth of our heart” and second, have the courage to act on it.

When those around us say we make victims out of them, ranting or raving, holding them accountable for what we say we want and accusing them for standing in our way, there are also two things we can do: we can increase our curiosity, about what we’re doing, about how we’re being received, and about why they’re suggesting we’re at fault. Do I come on too strong? Am I sighing or snapping instead of sharing a thought, taking action on my own desire? And secondly, we can increase our compassion. Not just toward the other person, who like us is mostly likely doing the best they can; but increase the compassion we have for ourselves.
We don’t need editors or readers to reject and criticize us because we do it so well ourselves! We’re so creative! We come up with negative thoughts that far surpass what anyone else could say to us. (Why else would there be all those “diet-now-buy exercise-equipment-fast” infomercials on TV during the morning hours when we’re up getting dressed? Marketers know we’re telling ourselves how bad we look. No one else has to!)

Being kinder to ourselves and others is how I’m choosing to deal with difficult news days. Getting clear, having courage, being curious, increasing compassion. Those words come right out of mediation work, but I read them in books about over-eating, about depression, about social justice, about family relationships, theology, writing, social work, life. It’s what we can do when we think we can do nothing to make a difference. Each of us matters. Our writing matters whether it sees publication or not.

My choice, how I want to name myself, is to allow tragedies to remind me of the choices that I do have, to help me live inside the moment more, to love the ones I’m close to and tell them so.
Author Madeline L’Engle once said, “We’re named by the choices we make.” I like that thought and leave it with you. Today and everyday, we get to decide what our name is: clear, courageous, curious and compassionate. They’re all great names to choose as a name of our own; they all reflect the light of Christ in the writing world. And it’s our choice how we let that light shine during this season of gratitude.

Jane Kirkpatrick,


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