Christmas week is upon us! This past week’s Friday Faves finally:
1) Epic Spanish Romance Cover– Get ready for one of the most beautiful pieces ever written for classical guitar. The composer is unknown. The arranger for this piece is Nathan Mills, at Beyond the Guitar. Enjoy.
[One of his subscribers on YouTube asked him to do for Niel Gow’s Lament what he did to the Spanish Romance. Here in his college days, Nathan plays that piece. Hope he does put his own touch to it again…all these years later. A funny sidebar to the piece below: Nathan’s sister wanted him to play this for her wedding. He said something to the effect that the whole title of the piece is “Niel Gow’s Lament For the Death of His Second Wife” so Nathan played other pieces instead. Didn’t seem a good fit for a wedding day. ]
2) Languishing– Who even knows what this is?! Well, author and organizational psychologist Adam Grant does. He defines it as:
“Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it may be the dominant emotion of 2021.
As scientists and physicians work to treat and cure the physical symptoms of long-haul COVID-19, many people are struggling with the emotional long haul of the pandemic. It hit some of us unprepared as the intense fear and grief of last year faded.
In psychology, we think about mental health on a spectrum from depression to flourishing. Flourishing is the peak of well-being: You have a strong sense of meaning, mastery and mattering to others. Depression is the valley of ill-being: You feel despondent, drained and worthless.
Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work. It appears to be more common than major depression, and in some ways it may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness.
So what can we do about it? A concept called flow may be an antidote. Flow is that elusive state of absorption in a meaningful challenge or a momentary bond, where your sense of time, place and self melts away. During the early days of the pandemic, the best predictor of well-being wasn’t optimism or mindfulness. It was flow. People who became more immersed in their projects managed to avoid languishing and maintained their pre-pandemic happiness.” – Adam Grant
I’m very thankful to come across this article by Dr. Grant. He has much more to say both in the above piece and in his TED talk below. We can learn how to move from languishing back to flourishing.
The links below point to a varied and fascinating reach into languishing. Worth your time.
3) From Sad to Mad – In the midst of a sweet time of year for some of us folks, I have found my capacity for sadness stretched super far. With a background in cancer nursing where loss was always part of life, and with all the hello-goodbyes in our overseas season as a family, and finally having lost very significant people in the last few years…sad is stretched. What has surprised me of late is how fast my “sad” goes to “mad”. I get angry at the losses – deaths to COVID, marriages broken, families estranged from each other, moral failures…and more. Mad is not where I want to be. “Righteous indignation” never stays righteous. It gets mean way too quickly.
Photo Credit: Pexels, Serkan Goktay
The piece above helped me immensely. Therapist Joshua Nash offers helpful steps (go there if this has become an issue for you as well). The main take-away for me is that I shift from sadness at a loss to anger at the injustice of it. What is better for my emotions, body, and relationships is to stay in the sadness. Feel it, examine its impact, mourn the cause. Sadness will subside. Moving into anger (as natural as it is in grieving a loss) mucks up the sadness. Anger is punishing (to yourself and others). As hard as staying in the sadness is, we (and our relationships) will be better for it.
4) Christmas Events – December is practically glutted with events to celebrate Christmas. In a month when meditating on the mystery of a virgin birth and the long-anticipated coming of a Savior King, quiet is hard to come by. We make room for it…alongside all the fun of this month. Below is a photo array of just some of this past week for us.
- Christmas Cookie & Ornament Exchange (us women):
- Old-fashioned Carol Sing (mostly in our own basement):
- VCU Holiday Gala with our favorite alum and his little son:
- Tacky Lights RVA:
- Ethnic lunch out (#Mezeh) with our youngest:
- Quiet times in front of the fire (quiet on the schedule AND with cookies & coffee):
- Christmas with The Chosen:
[If the recording of Christmas With the Chosen: The Global Live Event becomes inaccessible, you can find it on The Chosen app.]
5) I.O.U.S Acronym on a Divided Heart – This morning I was struck afresh how little undivided attention is exercised in my day. Even my introverted husband will spill out all sorts of wise and wonderful words – when I am wholly there. Fixed. Not leaving the room mentally. These moments are more rare than I’d like to confess…all because of the struggle to focus.
Author theologian John Piper tackles this issue with our heart toward God. We struggle with all sorts of noise and clatter pulling us in directions that leave off the wonder of deeply knowing Him.
Photo Credit: John Piper, Quote Fancy
Piper uses an acronym that is hugely helpful in this (setting us in a positive direction for the New Year):
I.O.U.S. – [From John Piper’s Divided Heart article linked below]
“The embattled heart is typical of the Christian life. None of us has a consistently united heart in longing for God.”
- “The letter I stands for incline. “Incline my heart to your testimonies,” we pray with Psalm 119:36. We ask God to take away resistance. We ask God to incline us toward God and his Word instead of away from God. And so we admit all our inclination toward God is a work of God. The psalmist would not be praying like this if the inclination was ultimately within our own power. If it were, he wouldn’t be asking God to incline his heart. We plead with God to take our hearts in his hands and to incline them, bend them, toward his Word.
- Then the letter O stands for open. Psalm 119:18 says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” We need God to work a miracle on the eyes of our heart so that we can see the truth, beauty, value of who he is right there in his word. If we are left to ourselves while meditating on God’s word, we will see nothing of his spiritual beauty and worth.
- Then comes the third letter, U. It stands for unite. Psalm 86:11 says, “Unite my heart to fear Your name.” What an amazing prayer: “Unite my heart.” So what’s the problem that this psalmist is praying to solve? The problem is a divided heart.”
Plead Psalm 86:11 in prayer: ‘O God, unite my heart to fear your name.’ – Is It Normal to Have a Divided Heart? – John Piper
The Last Word – A one-minute video speaks volumes about our country, the media’s impact on us all, and one decision to step away. 62 y/o news commentator Brian Williams stepped away from a 28-year career with NBC/MSNBC. His last show was December 9, and he announced his resignation in this powerful short statement. We can all take something away from this, whatever our politics or nationality. There comes a time…
Photo Credit: Instagram, Adam Young Counseling
Women & Work Book Club – The Common Rule by Justin Whitmel Earley – Check out previous books reviewed and discussed with the authors.
The scarcest resource in life is not time, energy, or love. It's attention.
Succumbing to distractions is a decision to lower your cognitive, emotional, and social intelligence.
Concentration is a precious commodity. Your most important priorities deserve your undivided focus.
— Adam Grant (@AdamMGrant) December 7, 2021
Photo Credit: Pinterest
Photo Credit: Contemplative Monk, Facebook