Posts Tagged ‘living intentionally’

This Week in Intentional Living

Where are you?I mean that question in, well, lots of ways.  Where you are – right now – geographically, personally, professionally, any way you think about it, matters.

Where are you reading this?  At home on the sofa?  At your desk, during office hours?   That makes a difference. Maybe not a big one, but it’s an indication, for instance, of how sharp your focus is at your job if you’re reading my blog on the clock.

Not that I want you to stop reading the blog, no matter where you are.

I’m writing at home, in the evening, with the Sprightly Daughters safely and gently snoring and my Lovely Wife next to me working on her computer.  Does that say anything about me?  Yes.  For starters it tells me I’m one of those few people in the world with the leisure time to work on a writing hobby.  And that I’m fortunate beyond words in plenty of other ways.

Where would a GPS say you are right now?  I’m here in Gainesville, Florida, where I’ve been for forty-four years, give or take.  That says a lot about me.  It says maybe I’m not a big risk-taker, but it also says I probably know quite a lot about this place.  And while there’s more – much more – to learn, I think my depth of experience here is helpful to who I am and what I do.

I always have a hard time understanding people who don’t get a good look around where they are when they get somewhere. People who move somewhere and don’t get out of their neighborhood the whole time they live there.  I can’t do that.  If I travel for business, I spend any and all free time wandering around, just find out where I am.

Where is your career?  Are you where you thought you’d be ten years ago?  Better?  Worse?  Completely different?  Know that if you’re exactly where you expected to be a decade – or even a year – ago you’re in a very small minority.  The rest of us have experienced a turn or two on the path to where we are.

Maybe if you’re not where you want to be professionally it’s easier to ignore it.  To let yourself keep flowing down the river of work and just see where you end up.  But that’s a really bad idea.

You do know the chances of you moving to a better (more suitable, happier, better paid, etc.) job are pretty small if you don’t, you know, do something about it, right?   That said, it’s amazing how many of us (myself included through much of the 1990’s) don’t bother to take that first step of asking, “Where am I?”

What about your health?  I’m guessing that since you read this blog you’re at least a little concerned about the state of your health.  Understanding where I am from a health perspective is the reason I started writing this blog.  I realized early in 2011 that where I was, health-wise, was in the cardiologist’s – if not the undertaker’s –  waiting room (virtually speaking).  And I didn’t like where I was.

I still don’t like where I am in that regard, but I like where I’m headed.

Speaking of health, if you don’t honestly understand where you are right now, you’re not going to get to a better place by accident any more than you’re going to get the career you want by chance.

It’s easy for me to ask these questions.  I’ve thought about where I am, and as I’ve said many times, I’m blessed/lucky/fortunate/whatever-you-want-to-call-it.  Yes, there are areas of my life I want to improve, but they’re all, let’s say, improveable.  And I’m working on those improvements.

Not everyone is in my position.  Some of you are working with far greater obstacles than any that have come my way.  If that’s the case for you, you have my greatest empathy.

But let me ask you this:  Will it get better on its own?  Or will you have to create a road map to a better place?  A better job, a better relationship, a better body, a better mind?  I’m pretty sure that no matter how bad things are, they won’t get better until you figure out where the path out – and up – starts.

Remember road maps?  Those big paper things with all the lines you used to find the places you were going back before the GPS?  Were they ever any good if you didn’t know where you were starting from?  For that matter, what’s the first thing Google Maps wants to know?  Where you are.  It’s impossible to get directions without that data point.

And let me note this also.  I’m a person of faith, but as a pastor friend of mine says, “God don’t dig no ditches.”

Which is to say that you can have all the faith there is, and it can be well-founded.  God/the divine presence/the universe/whatever-you-want-to-call-it may have given you the perfect path, but you have to walk that path.  Youhave to dig the ditch, and then the water will flow just fine.Here’s the big secret … the road to what’s waiting starts where you are.  So you’d better figure out where that is.

Eating Intentionally

In several posts I’ve talked about the concept of “eating intentionally.”  And as you’re reading along, you’ve either missed it entirely or thought to yourself, “what the heck is he talking about?”  While I can’t claim authorship of the phrase, I can tell you what I mean by it, and why it’s important to me.

When I use the phrases “eating intentionally” or “intentional eating,” what I mean is thinking about my food.  If I’m eating intentionally, it means I’m considering the choices I make regarding my meals.  It means I’m actively choosing what to put in my shopping cart, in my oven, on my plate, on my fork and in my belly.

Sure, I read that avocado is good for my prostate but, hey, I don’t really like avocado.  Will I actually eat it or will it sit on the counter and rot? (That was a bad example.  It would not rot.  My Lovely Wife loves avocado.  Give me a little license, por favor.)

Boy, that pasta looks great on the menu.  But it’s not whole wheat.  I know white-flour pasta isn’t a good choice for me.  Hmmm … what else is on the menu?

DAMN that was tasty!  Yes, I’d LOVE another helping!  Hang on … my stomach is actually kinda full already. Is it my taste buds or my belly that needs another plateful?

You get the point.

It’s amazing … almost magical … how much better I feel when I approach food intentionally.  When I consider what it is I’m trying to get from that next forkful (Sure, it’s gonna taste fabulous, but do I need the fuel?  How is it going to make me feel?).  Maybe it’s just because it slows me down for a second or two. Or maybe it’s the power that focus brings to just about any human endeavor.

When I make better choices about food – at the grocery or at the table – I feel better in the short term and I see a difference at the scales on Friday.  But I also get the benefit of having made a good decision.  Of taking one more step to taking care of my body, to getting more mileage out of myself.  Don’t discount the psychological benefit of knowing you made a good decision.

If you don’t mind me stepping outside the normal point of this blog for a moment, I want to endorse – as strongly as I can – the idea of living intentionally.  Being where you are.  Thinking about your actions as you act.  Moving through your day, your week, your life, as though you intend to get somewhere, to achieve something.

It’s easier said than done.  I don’t claim to be able to do so all, or even much, of the time.  It’s hard to stay on whatever course (or courses) I’ve chosen.  Life is distracting, necessarily so.  But when I focus, when I act with intention, I see and feel the results.  Often immediately.

I can let the day sweep me along … or I can remember that the time will soon come when my Sprightly Daughter will stop asking me to read her a story – and I can make time to read that story (and file the memory away for safekeeping).  I can make phone calls while I walk to the car … or I can look at the shapes in the clouds and feel the sun on my skin.  I can grab a snack at the Kangaroo store … or I can enjoy actually tasting my food at dinner.

I can move through life and miss days or weeks at a time … or I can live, intentionally and productively.

I’m not telling you to drop all your responsibilities, large and small, and move to Oahu in pursuit of your lifelong dream of becoming a champion surfer.  And I’m not telling you that focus is the only thing standing between you and Trump-esque world domination.  What I’m saying is that when I take control of the minutes – even the seconds – of my life, good things happen.  It takes practice.  Most good things do.  But training myself to think and focus in the moment has been worth the effort.

I’ll wager it would be for you as well.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: