It’s always a blessing to hear from readers, to know that my words on a printed page or a computer screen actually connect with someone else. So I was glad to hear from Twitter friend Kate Morgan that she was inspired by this post to put together her own “To Don’t” list. She’s an educator, writer, and artist, and if she ever starts her own blog, I’ll definitely follow. In the meantime, I’m pleased to share her “To Don’t” list as a guest post. For writers, pastors, parents, or anyone else looking to “find more time,” I hope this will help you think about your own Don’t Do list.
I don’t spend time on Facebook. Yes, I occasionally (like once every 10-14 days) and quickly scroll through to see if there is anything of interest, but Facebook just seems to me to be a very one-sided conversation… and if I really care where you had lunch or about your great-aunt Martha’s recipe for apple muffins, I would ask about it the next time I saw you.
I do use Twitter. It gives me a glance at topics of interest to several writers I enjoy, a few news services, a few people of interest, a funky science site and one sight that tweets a few cute animal pictures. I can glance through my Twitter feed in just moments and choose what’s important to me and what, if anything, I want to follow up on. It also lets me offer my ‘followers’ a few of my thoughts for their ‘glance’ and their choice whether or not to follow up.
I don’t apologize for cat hair. He lives here. You don’t. I vacuum. I use a lint brush. I do my best, but he’s been a little gray furry gift, and a wonderful living illustration of God’s unconditional love… so if the little bit of cat hair on my couch bothers you, invite me to Starbucks!
I don’t do 7% conversations. There have been all kinds of studies that show that the words we say are only 7% of the meaning we convey. Body language is 55% and tone of voice 38%. Don’t even think that we’re going to have a conversation on Facebook, Messenger or by text. If you want to talk to me, deal with the cat hair on my couch or meet me at Starbucks, but either way, a “conversation” actually requires we make time to sit down face to face.
I’ll send you quick notes to let you know my meeting ran long and I’ll be ten minutes late, or a quick pic’ of my patio garden… but I will not do a ‘conversation’ on social media.
One important caveat: I have benefited so deeply from correspondence with a few people I am unlikely to ever encounter in my day-to-day life. I appreciate so much the opportunity email, blogs and Twitter provide for me to connect with those people, but if you are a part of my day-to-day life and you want to talk, I need you to be present.
I don’t pick up the business phone on my weekend. I learned the hard way that being self-employed requires a commitment to self-care. I pay for two cell phones on purpose. One goes in a drawer on Saturday at 3:00pm and stays there until 3:00pm on Monday. I’m not a doctor or lawyer or anyone you can’t live without until Monday afternoon, and I need the space away from the needs of other people if I’m going to be good at my job next week.
I don’t apologize for my anxiety, although I may try to explain it. Okay, let’s be honest, I’m not as good at this as I want to be, but I’m working diligently on this one. I have an anxiety disorder, which at times can be quite severe. In the past, I tried to bury or hide my anxiety only for it to erupt in brash, impulsive, sometimes angry, sometimes very hurtful behaviors. I have a great doctor, and a compassionate therapist (if compassionate means committed to my wellness more than to my comfort). I take medications that help me deal with the worst of it, I watch my diet and my ‘life’ for triggers. I wouldn’t apologize to anyone if I were diabetic, and I’m learning to stop apologizing for my anxiety. If you’ve shown yourself to be trustworthy, I may share with you how I came to have this disorder, or maybe some of the ways I try to make life easier (or on a bad day bearable), but I don’t want to apologize.
I don’t overlook even the smallest crumbs of joy or forgiveness. Things beyond my control made a chaotic mess of the first part of my life. I added to that mess for another whole part of my life. In the past few years I’ve been working to process both parts of the mess – a big enough mess that if I wanted to bury myself forever in shame, guilt, regret and grief, it would be easy. I don’t. I want to know God and discover God’s purposes in what’s left of my life. I’m learning that one of the surest connections I can cultivate to God is to savor and celebrate even the smallest shreds of joy or forgiveness. This morning I stood at my patio door with a good cup of coffee and took in the beginnings of my patio garden – geraniums, ivy, fuchsia, pansies – and felt God’s joy in the rich taste of the coffee and the multi-colored beauty on my patio. I will savor that moment all day.
I don’t apologize for my home. My home is comfortable and simple. It suits me and my life. A few years ago a couple came over to have dinner and the woman immediately re-set my table, folding napkins into crowns and adding forks (seriously!!). I felt small and embarrassed. I don’t invest time or money in trying to achieve elegance. If you come to my home, you’ll be welcomed warmly and genuinely, the food will be simple and delicious, the conversation will be rich, and there will be reason for laughter. What I won’t do is try to impress you with something I’m not or feel small if I don’t.
I don’t engage in pointless arguments. I believe climate change is real. I believe violent video games are detrimental on several levels. I believe in the saints as part of our ‘great cloud of witnesses’. I believe Ignatian spirituality can have a profound place in Protestant spirituality. I have a favorite hockey team. And I know people who would love to talk me out of all of those positions and more. I won’t waste my time arguing a position. I’m happy to talk it over, happy to listen and discuss, more than that, I’m pretty sure I could learn something in listening and discussing – but if you just enjoy a good argument – I don’t, and there are far better places for me to invest my energy.
How about you? Have you started a “To Don’t” list too?