Tag Archives: multi-tasking

5 Friday Faves – Beyond the Guitar’s “Spirit”, Reducing Brain Fog, Crucial Conversations, the Precious Nature of Life, and What We Have in Common

1) Beyond the Guitar’s “Spirit” – Below you will find the latest Beyond the Guitar video from the 2002 movie Spirit: the Stallion of the Cimarron. Nathan’s treatment of “Homeland” theme by masterful composer Hans Zimmer 2002 movie theme is beautiful. One of the commenters on his YouTube video stated that it was as if Zimmer composed it for guitar. Nathan’s arrangement definitely does justice to this incredibly triumphant orchestral piece. Enjoy!

2) Reducing Brain Fog – Brain fog is an inability to concentrate. It is essentially a feeling of “being in a fog” – you feel slowed-down, tired, draggy, unable to think clearly or even find the right words at times.

Photo Credit: Marcus Aurelius, Pexels

Writer and business consultant Thomas Oppong wrote this brilliant article on what we can do to reduce brain fog. He goes into great detail so be sure, if you struggle with this issue, to read his piece. He doesn’t quote from the science literature but his takes on the six points below make enormous sense. All worth a try.

  • Give up the clutter. – Decluttering bit by bit will lower stress and sharpen focus.
  • Stop the multi-tasking. – “Narrow down your most important tasks to 3, and then give one task your undivided attention for a period of time. Allow yourself to rotate between the three, giving yourself a good balance of singular focus and variety.”
  • Give up the urgent distraction. – We have our lists and our goals, but the easier and lesser things around us draw away our attention. Resisting the distractions help us stay on track.
  • Stop feeding your comfort. – Beware of the well-worn ruts in work and life. “Seeking new experiences, learning new skills, and opening the door to new ideas inspire us and educate us in a way improves mental clarity.”
  • Don’t sit still. – Plan physical activity into the day.  It helps us stay mentally fresh and focused.
  • Stop consuming media and start creating it. – Social media can rob us of our hours and energy. “Let creation determine consumption. Allow curiosity to lead you to discover and pursue something you deepy care about. Make time to create something unique. The point is to get lost in awe and wonder like you did when you were a child. When you achieve that feeling from a certain activity, keep doing it!” – Thomas Oppong

How to Overcome Brain Fog From a Long-time Sufferer – Tim Denning

3) Crucial Conversations – So many conversations don’t happen because they are just too risky. They make us feel too vulnerable. Yet we long for deep conversations. For conversations that enlarge us and bring understanding, even between people who don’t share opinions or worldviews.

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High – Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, & Laura Roppe

Top 10 Takeways From Crucial Conversations – Tabitha Bower

Last week, I listened to a Jennie Allen podcast on “life-giving conversations”.

Between the current political division and the physical distancing necessitated by COVID, we are having fewer crucial conversations. That’s not to say we aren’t on video meetings or phone calls for much of the day, but we have to work harder to have satisfying conversations.

March 2020 (BC – Before COVID mediation)

April 2020 – AC (After COVID mediation)

Certainly conversations between people who disagree are happening less. They are just too hard. Especially via screens. Especially when opportunities to talk deeply are just not there.

What got me thinking about this is a couple of podcasts (see below) and also watching (and feeling) the strain of months long requirements of video meetings with work (and church) groups…instead of in-person opportunities.

How to Have Life-Giving Conversations – Podcast – Jennie Allen

How Shame Affects All of Us – Podcast – Jennie Allen with Dr. Curt Thompson

Crucial conversations, whether one-on-one or in a group structure, are harder these days. How can we get past the superficial or the daily grind kinds of talk? I’m thinking there’s a discipline we can develop – to really dig in and want to know the person(s) in front of us and to ask questions and pose topics others can really engage with…especially if we can communicate that we are safe with each other.

“We want to be seen and known in the place we live… we want to ask questions that invite people to be curious and creative. Tell me about something this past week that was really hard for you. Caused you joy.  That caused you to be creative. Regularly take time to validate that in each other. We want to invite people to be curious and creative.” – Jennie Allen, Dr. Curt Thompson

Anything with psychiatrist and writer Dr. Curt Thompson involved is great quality content. Whether it is on belonging, vulnerability, shame, or dealing with physical/social distancing, he has a wealth of practical and neurologically sound counsel. Just watch the YouTube videos with him talking.

Thoughts?

4) The Precious Nature of Life – What we think on this has divided our nation – those more for life from conception and those more for the rights of the conceiving adults.

As a mother and grandmother who has lost all but one of her cherished older relatives, I want to celebrate the precious nature of life. I want to invite you to celebrate as well.

We never know when we will be gone from here or when those we love will be either. We just never know. Thus, the imperative to not let anything stand in our way of loving…or at least honoring the lives of those in our own.

Why this for a Friday Fave?

The 21 y/o son of friends of ours died this week. The whole wrong gone of this dear young man has stopped us all in our tracks. God’s grace holds people up…as does His grace with clothes on, friends and other family, leaning in to love. His passing has been very much on my mind, and his parents on my heart.

Canadian author Tim Challies also lost his son, Nick, recently…also suddenly. 20 years old. We are thankful that the Challies family has a huge circle of support, too. He has been writing about their loss of Nick in a series of blogs. Here is one: The Cruelty of Quarantine: A Lament.

If you could use some help with your own grief, walk with Tim through his.

Cherish these loved ones we’re privileged to have in our lives. In all their scruffiness, various differences, political activism or not…they are gifts to us. We don’t throw them back. We figure out how to love them and be there for them…and hopefully, they do the same for us.

Right?

COVID (and its mediation) is putting incredible stress on our lives and relationships. Important to keep our eyes and minds clear on the precious nature of life…not just ours, but each others, of course.

5) What We Have in Common – When there are rifts (political or familial) or a growing discontent (in a relationship or at work) or a vain sense that life could be better with someone else, it’s good to give pause to that thinking, and consider: What do we have in common with each other? What might we be giving up that we may not see in the every day but that, once out the door, we may miss and regret the decision?

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Think of the person(s) you’re may be having difficulty with. Now, come up with what you have in common, make as long a list as possible. Be creative.

I’m thinking…ok, here goes:

  • We share the same core values.
  • We care about the world we’re leaving to our children.
  • We both want to be successful, but also to be effective.
  • We’ve both lost a parent (or two).
  • We are both American (fill in your country) and we care about our country.
  • We’ve both been to the doctor way too many times this year.
  • We both struggle with insecurity, although it surfaces differently.
  • We both have trouble talking with each other about these things.
  • Yet, we both know we are a part of a greater story.

Can we take the things we have in common and move toward each other instead of more apart?

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Just a few thoughts that didn’t get laid down until after a busy, lovely weekend. Hope the rest of your week is peaceful and full of good.

Bonuses:

How to Overcome the 5 D’s of Leadership and Life: Doubt, Distortion, Discouragement, Distraction, and Division – Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast – with Guest Jon Gordon (Podcast & Transcript)

The Curse of the Honeycrisp Apple – Deena Shanker and Lydia Mulvany

Fall Leaves in All Their Glory (Before the Rains Came)

Memory – Whatever it is that I Don’t Have I Want to Keep

Blog - Memory - BegoniasBlog - Memory - Chocolate Mint

My husband is a master gardener.

We have a beautiful backyard with a garden nurtured by a previous owner, Holly, and now made our own by Dave. Just beyond the patio are two pots. One is a pot of begonias; they have thrived all summer and keep blooming into Fall. There’s a matching pot of chocolate mint that is more scraggly. Dave told me next summer he wanted to do begonias in both pots. I asked him what he would do with the mint and he said he’d just throw it away.

No…I don’t want it thrown away. It has memories for me. What memories, he asked. It was here when we came (Holly was also a master gardener and left all kinds of sweet treasures in this yard of ours).

Then Dave said, “No, it wasn’t.” “It was a gift from our neighbor where we used to live.” To which I responded:

“Whatever the memory is that I don’t have I want to keep it.”

That nonsensical sentence is actually quite revealing. Once upon a time, I had an amazing memory. I could multi-task like crazy, keeping up with all sorts  of details. Now, I make lists tucked on my keyboard each day to remember what I might otherwise forget.

My doctor, who is my same age, tested my memory at my request. He said it was normal and he struggles with the same age-related forgetfulness.

“Whatever the memory is that I don’t have I want to keep it.”

So…I write to keep that memory…of family visits, far-away places we’ve traveled and called home, lessons learned, and all the times God showed Himself faithful and kind in our lives together.

I write for my children…and for me. It would be a huge joy for me if my meanderings add to your day in a positive way.

I write to keep remembering…such times as these. Grateful. By the way…that pot of chocolate mint? It may hold begonias next year, but my dear husband will plant the mint somewhere so I can enjoy the memory…of that sweet young man next door who shared it with us…now that I remember again. Joy.IMG_0113 IMG_0117 IMG_0007

Forgetfulness – Seven Types of Normal Memory Problems

Age-related Memory Loss

When Memory is Normal & When it is Not-So-Normal

Living in the Moment – It is All We Have

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I want to learn more to live in the moment.  Little guys seem to know how to do that intuitively, like they have no sense of what’s down the road.  Just the joy of the “right now” – a dinosaur pancake on a Saturday morning is splendid enough.

I’ll never forget the time that I walked up on our first-born Christie, when she was not even 2, and happily coloring on the hallway wall.  As soon as I appeared, her reverie stopped abruptly, causing her to even startle and catch herself, with the guilty crayon held still in mid-air.

She knew she was in trouble.  Her eyes went wide and her little mouth froze open.  Of course, I didn’t discipline her, but I didn’t take a picture of her crayon drawing either.  We grownups too often are  bound to the future, and the proper raising of children, rather than focusing in on what we have right in front of us.  A beautiful little girl who had lost herself in a white wall with a crayon in her hand.

That little girl is all grown up now, a teacher of little ones herself.2014 June Christie's 3rd grade class 024When I hear her talk about her childhood, there’s so much lovely detail.  She has a great memory, and I thoroughly enjoy her recaps of times gone by. I have lost too many of these details that are so vivid to her, and I’m thinking there are at least two reasons why.  One reason, of course, is that the memories are hers.  Those things happened to her.  I was a bystander, usually an interested one, but too often, a distracted one. Then there’s a second reason – life itself bombards us with so much to notice.  It’s like the experience of a baseball fan whose attention is drawn from the game by what’s happening on the big screen, or by the antics of some crazy person down the row from you, or by a hawker with just the snack you were watching for. There’s so much going on, you miss huge chunks of the baseball game…if you’re like me.

Life happens at many levels all the time.  We choose where we focus our minds…our attention.

As a parent with small children, attending to their needs was an in-and-out mental work.  I could hone in when I needed to be fully there to meet their needs.  Learning to quickly discern if they were wet, hungry, tired, hurt, mad.  And I would, at times, just be fully involved from the sheer joy of having them in my life.  Their babytalk, their discoveries, their accomplishments, their wonder at the world around them, their work and play, their sleeping times.n7607486_31797847_6155[1] Then there were other moments, however, when they were content with their cereal, or toys, or Daddy, and I would focus out – to a radio program, a phone call, or an idea or problem I was working on silently in my head.

This being my reality, there are details I don’t remember, or don’t remember well, because, in a way, I really wasn’t there.  Not that there is a moral issue necessarily at work here. It’s a reality of having the capacity of both attending to the needs before us, and thinking of other needs, or desires, not yet before us.  It’s one of the dichotomies that come to mind when I hear women who want to be stay-at-home moms because they don’t want to miss their children.  We can still miss our children, even when they’re hanging on our hips, or taking ballet right in front of us, or reading their first books to us, or playing those soccer games.  We can be talking to other moms, thinking about what’s on the schedule tomorrow, or sorting out how to deal with a conflicted relationship.  We can mentally be very absent from our children.

I don’t want to miss the people right in front of me anymore.  I want to learn to be in the moment…the moments ahead will take care of themselves.

A Bit of Instructions on How to Live a Good Life – Pay Attention. Be Astonished. Tell About It.

One Thing Well (the multi-tasking trap)

How to Miss a Childhood

How to Miss a Moment

P.S. My children were little, a couple of decades ago, before the internet or cell phones were our constant companions. Our lives were quiet compared to today’s assault on the senses. This is the culture in which they will raise their children. I write this for them…not to encourage them to focus on their children in an unhealthy, child-centered way, but to be all there with them. And when they must attend to other responsibilities or relationships, to teach their children that others matter, too. We can, joyfully, live in the moment – focused, intentional, generous, and aware.