Needing to Focus

“Listen for the call of your destiny, and when it comes, release your plans and follow.”
― Mollie Marti

The end of summer always makes me feel restless. I ask myself what do I want to do this fall? Some activities are a given: my work as church librarian. Being a community coordinator with my husband for Worldwide Marriage Encounter. Going to adoration, a weekly prayer service, and Sunday Mass. I firmly believe in exercise, so I will continue to walk every day. And let’s not forget Weight Watchers meetings! I need that support.

But what about the local women’s club, which I was part of for the past two years? What about Bible Study, which is taught at a local convent by an extremely knowledgeable nun? I enjoyed her class last year, and she is offering another course this fall. What about my faith sharing group, which I’ve been part of for two decades?

Each of these activities is good. The problem is that doing all these things keeps me from writing. When I’m not doing the above, I’m grocery shopping, doing social media, reading, or socializing.

Last year, I was an off-again on-again member of a WordWeavers group (a Christian writing group.) I’d like to go consistently, but I need to write items for review to make that time productive. There’s also a secular writers’ group that I’d like to join again. And I recently found out a friend will be teaching a class based on the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

How does one decide? The problem with all these scattered interests is that I seldom sit down and write–and I feel called to be a writer. I told my daughter Katie, “I have so many interests. Everything that comes up appeals to me.”

She answered, “You’re always going somewhere. Maybe all these activities help you avoid writing.” Hmm. Maybe so.

I hid out with my journal to ponder this, because journaling helps me reflect and make decisions. I realized it is good when I am not overwhelmed with activities, because that is when I feel like writing. What if I made the radical decision to drop out of faith sharing. Not sign up for Bible Study. Not renew my women’s club membership. Other than my givens, what if I were to focus on activities that are related to writing? What if I joined the two Writers Groups and sat down to write more often so I have something to bring to these groups?

And what about that Artist’s Way class? I had trouble making this decision so I journaled, prayed, and did a mindmap. The class is not directly about writing, but I need to start thinking and acting like a writer-artist if I want to succeed at writing. I need support in changing to a writer’s lifestyle, which I find attractive. The Artist’s Way encourages us to write every day and to take artist’s dates. It also teaches that creativity is a gift from God. I have decided to take this class.

What about you?

Have you taken time to assess your activities and whether they are in line with your goals? Have you ever given up the good for the better?

 

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About Susan Ekins

Freelance writer and blogger at Women Making Strides. Interested in personal leadership and empowerment. Wanting inspiration and to inspire. Leader in church ministries. Blog: http://www.WomenMakingStrides.com/ Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/WomenMakingStrides1
This entry was posted in Christian, Inspiration, Intentional Living, Journal, Leading Ourselves, personal leadership and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Needing to Focus

  1. I’m glad you decided to take the class. 🙂
    Yes, I have at times given up the good for the better – and it always was better, though hard the process.
    I actually read this last night, Susan, and then again this morning. ruminating over your words and my own actions. Often, this time of year, I also feel restless. For some reason, more so this year.
    I need to get back to journaling. Blogging has taken a front seat and I need to find time to make them both work together. I am always in a “better place” when I journal – so, I thank you for this introspective posting. Enjoy the day – sure humid here in Chicagoland.

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    • Susan Ekins says:

      Sounds like we both need to find a balance between journaling and blogging — except I let journaling take the front seat over blogging. 🙂 Thanks for your visit and your encouragement to persevere in pushing toward the better.

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  2. Sue Shanahan says:

    I’m quite conscious there are only so many slices of pie that make up my life. I feel called to share my gifts too. The thing that is hard for me is watching the weeds overtake my garden. My husband enjoys puttering around in the yard but his work schedule has been crazy this summer. If I start weeding it will never end so I just have to let it go and comfort myself that Bob will be retired the summer after next.

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  3. Kim says:

    Great and timely post for me Susan, especially as summer ends….when my life tends to get too cluttered with “good” that is taking me away from the “best”, i.e., what is linked to God’s purpose for me during a particular season, He often takes me to Proverbs 4:26, 27 interpreting “my ways to be established” as all that is linked to His purposes for me, and “keeping my feet from evil” as all that is “good”, but not linked helping me achieve His desires for me at the time. Thanks for sharing because I had to read Proverbs 4:26, 27 just yesterday…..:)… God bless!

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    • Susan Ekins says:

      Thanks for your insight, Kim. I agree with your thought process about considering God’s purpose for you. For anyone interested, the King James Version of those passages is “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”

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  4. nanciec13 says:

    I struggle with this same problem…always something else to do! However, today writing is at the top of the list! Thanks for sharing your thoughts Susan..

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  5. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on how to prioritize your schedule to write more productively.

    I often pray and journal (writing out my prayers and God’s answers). It helps me organize my thoughts, goals, and schedule. I just came out of a heavy year of writing. I wanted to keep up the momentum, but God is pulling me back for a season. So, I am doing the opposite. I’m still writing a bit. But, I’m rediscovering other areas of my life that I’ve neglected.

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  6. Pam Matras says:

    Oh, Sue, how is it that you always seem to know what I need before I do!! I have been have the same struggle with time and commitments. I need to get my health issues under control with diet and exercise. My sister suggested that I look at as my “job” and give it my time and attention. My question (to myself) is am I staying in group activities because they are good for me or am I afraid others will judge me if I drop out for awhile?
    I am torn about Sr. Judy’s class. Who knows when it will be offered again? Hmmm……lots to think about.

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  7. J.T. says:

    I hope it’s okay for a guy to contribute to your blog. I am married and have nine-year old twins . . . a stay-at-home-dad. I am an author/illustrator. I read one of your posts on Dennis Palumbo’s blog: “Turning Anxiety into Creativity.” I struggle with focus and creative anxiety myself as I wrestle with being an artist. After three decades of being in industrial production and graphic arts, I am attempting to begin writing and illustrating a children’s book. Over the past 15 years I have kept “morning pages” as suggested by Julia Cameron’s book: ‘The Artist’s Way.” I read where you were contemplating taking a class study of it. It is a powerful book and can help your creative journey. She has written several other books, including “Letters To A Young Writer” where she discusses blocks, fears, etc. Another book I have found helpful has been the text: “Art and Fear” by Ted Orland & David Bayles. “Art and Fear” describes the working life and fears of two artists. I also suggest a third, titled: “Free Play . . Improvisation in Life and Art” and written by Stephen Nachmanovitch. Stephen is a Ph.D. in History of Consciousness from University of California at Santa Cruz, a violinist composer, poet, teacher, and computer artist. In his book he explores the journey of creating, its joys, and its detours. Stephen tells his own struggles as an artist and shares the struggles of other artists. Never in my life have I felt so intimidated allowing myself to write from both heart and body. I recently entered two writing contests and was rejected by both. The pity party soon started. I have spent the past year trying to bring 30 storyboard illustrations to life. And it has scared the living sh&% out of me. Finding focus has been another. I come to the drawing/writing table every day from – 9:00 – 11:00 am & 12:00 2:00 pm. Some days I just sit there. Every negative voice in my head screaming “you’re a hack” or “nobody’s going to want to read your book”. Or the worst of all: “Real dads have real jobs.” I felt better when you described your struggles to write. I am learning that no one can write for me. And I see how so many times I’ve attempted to draw power from someone else, rather than stand on my own two legs. I haven’t wanted to experience the vulnerability, the rejection, the judgment. Even more curious has been my fear of success! I’ve tried local writing groups, but most break up after a few sessions. I find comfort that many of you are Christian writers? Good. A cord of three strands is not easily broken. God writes straight with crooked lines. Heaven knows that’s been my experience. One step forward and three back. Man makes the plan but God directs the steps. Last year I lost my niece. In September, 2006 I lost my sister. After her funeral I had a dream of a large fountain pen filled with gold ink coming down from the sky and into my outstretched hands. It was all I could do to keep it above my head and steady. The ink inside sloshed around. Then I woke up. Later that October, I was at my sister’s townhome making sure nothing was left behind before the house was sold. I checked the attic one more time. The power had been cut off, so the attic lights did not work. I spotted a lone box in the corner, which turned out to be a box of old Christmas ornaments. I felt a lump in my throat as I rummaged through its contents. Seeing no need to keep the box I tossed it over onto a large pile of trash. As I did so, I heard a rattle from within. I stuck my hand inside and felt what appeared to be a stick. Pulling it out, I realized it was a pen. A fountain pen full of gold ink. Jennifer always looked out for me, her little brother. It’s hard now with her gone. She was my “go to girl.” And would let me know her “woman’s intuition” on questions I had. It would be cool to be able to check in with you guys here and there, but if boys aren’t allowed I will understand.

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    • Hello,
      This story of the gold ink pen is just the kind of story I am looking for for my anthology, “More Than a Coincidence”.Please check my blog for more information on that. Thanks
      Joyce Kocinski

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  8. Susan Ekins says:

    J.T. Happy to hear from you. Yes I welcome comments from men. Thank you for your recommendations of helpful books. I will definitely try to read them. Regarding your occasional thought, “Real dads have real jobs,” you DO have a real job–you’re caring for your children besides being an author/illustrator.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sorry to hear about the tough times you’ve experienced.
    But that’s a cool story about the gold pen. It does sound like a sign that you’re meant to keep writing, doesn’t it? You seem like a prolific writer!
    Best wishes.

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  9. Great post, Sue. I can SO relate–they’re are lots of great classes starting at my church this fall, but I also feel the “call” to return to my writing, which I’ve neglected for some time. I’m praying to know how to prioritize, and journaling about it too.

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  10. As I read this, I felt like you were writing the story of my life. It’s a constant struggle to make writing a priority, but the more I do it, the easier it becomes. Sometimes you just have to say “no” to other activities – at least for a while. I’m glad you decided to take The Artist’s Way class. I hope it inspires to devote more time to writing. You obviously have a gift for putting important issues into words.

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  11. irishcarter says:

    HI Susan,

    What a beautiful post on you reflecting on your thoughts on writing. When others come to me and discuss seeking fulfillment, I always ask them what their heart says and their instinct is. If God is leading you to a purpose of writing, he will continue to send you the messages to make writing right smack dab in front of you. Do what your heart desires my dear and the rest will work itself out. Best of everything finding balance and I trust that you will. = )

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  12. Reblogged this on Joyce's Journal and commented:
    I understand the feeling of being torn in all directions.I am a grandmother who is the daily caregiver for my two granddaughters, a part time teacher at the local community college and also a member of two bible groups. However, I am now concentrating on my passion,and started my writing career two years ago. ( Letters from Mom- a Daughter’s Journal of Healing) Finding the time for me means asking God daily to give me strength and courage to do what He wants me to do.

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  13. I certainly understand the need to focus, and I find it amazing that you had been involved in so many activities! I too feel called to write. But ever since I made the decision to become a writer, so many things have gotten in my way. If you have looked at my blog yet, you know that I am disabled, unemployed, unable to work out in the world, penniless, living with my elderly parents. I have to help with the cooking and grocery shopping. I do my own laundry. I have many doctor’s appointments, and also I am involved with church activities. Plus, I have to find some immediate income in order to get my car inspected, buy clothing, medications, and any other personal things I need. My dad has been paying for my storage and he wants me to take over that. So I started selling Avon in June, but its slow going to get started this time and I haven’t made much money yet. I haven’t found any writing gigs yet. I spend a lot of time on Linkedin getting tips about writing. writing articles to post on Linkedin because they asked me to and I need the practice. I spend a lot of time on my blog. And I am trying to spend as much time with my little grand daughter as I can. She inspires my writing so being with her is a win all around. I decided, like you, that I need some support in my writing, so I have joined a meetup groups for writers. I am looking forward to going to these meetings and associating with other writers. I think I need to spend less time on facebook, go to bed earlier so i can get up earlier and do some writing in the mornings before my parents start making their demands. Right now I feel pretty frustrated.

    I like your blog, and I have a couple of questions for you. 1. how do you get those tag links in multiple fonts on your page? are those you categories? 2. how do you get the button to have people click to sign up for emails? I am going to enjoy your blog, and I will certainly have more questions for you soon!
    Blessings,
    Susan Hudson mysticheartblog.wordpress.com

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    • Susan Ekins says:

      Hi Susan, Thank you for the visit. You have a lot on your plate. Regarding the blogging questions, I’m not an expert on formatting blogs, but I picked a template that had options for those two capabilities. I then selected the appropriate widgets to display. Yes, my tags are the same as my categories. Best wishes for your blog and writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Brenda says:

    As others have said, I can relate to your post. My blog often calls out to my soul, it seems, but I find other things (like social media) to stay “too busy to write”. If I had read this when you originally posted it, I might have stopped myself from enrolling in my 34-week Disciple Bible study that will keep me busy until May. So many worthwhile opportunities, but so little time.

    Just yesterday, i heard a suggestion about setting goals… What ONE goal, if you achieved it, would help the others fall into place? For me, that is wrapping up loose ends with some other commitments and saying a firm “No!” to new commitments. Following through to completion is something I often struggle with.

    And as your daughter suggested, there’s also the avoidance of writing…. The Resistance, as Steven Pressfield says, in whatever form it takes.

    I thought that by now, at this age, I would have it all figured out. I’m getting better. But I’m definitely not there (wherever THAT is!) yet. 😉

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    • Susan Ekins says:

      Brenda, I love your suggestion about setting that ONE goal that will help the others fall into place,and the idea you came up with about wrapping up loose ends and saying a firm “No!” to new commitments. This remains a struggle for me, and it took a fair amount of angst before I turned down three events this week: a painting party, Weight Watchers book club, and a workshop run by a friend. It feels like a barrage sometimes, but I will keep trying.
      For my readers: I just found Brenda’s blog today and think many of you will like it. Please see http://mymidlifeproject.com/ .

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