Procrasti-Nation

Procrastination

Well, it’s Tuesday. Guess I better get started on that work I was gonna finish “by Monday at the latest.”

“You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.” ~Bill Watterson

“The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing.” ~Alan Dean Foster

“The slacker craves yet has nothing, but the soul of the diligent is fully satisfied.” ~Proverbs 13:14

“Someday is not a day of the week.” ~Janet Dailey

“Procrastination is like stopping a train that left the station: when we procrastinate, we hold others up.” ~Joseph R. Ferrari

“God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.” ~St. Augustine of Hippo

“Just do it!” ~St. Nike of Sneakerus

         “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”       ~Pablo Picasso

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Laying a New Foundation for Your Life

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Connecting With God

I wrote previously about rebuilding the “house” of my spiritual life. It’s my hope this example will inspire you to lay your own foundation, whether with these verses or others.

The foundation is the least visible part of a house, but it’s also the most important. I pray these verses by heart at the start every week. (Note: the words in italics are based on studies in the original Greek and Hebrew.)

sand_faceRomans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed to (“shaped by”) this world (or age), but (instead) be transformed (literally “metamorphosed” like a caterpillar) by the regenerating of your mind, so that you may be able to discern* what is the will of God: what is good, well-pleasing, and perfect.**

Prayer is not about aligning God to my will. It’s about aligning mine to His!

Matthew 7:24-25 – Having chosen to center my life on God’s will, I look to Jesus for the “how to”:  “Anyone who hears these words of mine and is doing them is like the wise man who built his house on a rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house, but it stands (Jesus shifts to present tense—the house is still standing!) because it is founded upon rock.”

Bottom line: “Build your life on his Word!”

John 8:31-32 – I now focus on motivation: “When you remain*** in my word, then you are truly my disciples. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set* you free.”

How could anyone not be excited by a promise like that?

Psalm 119:10-13 – Next, I personalize my intention, using the words of King David: “With my whole heart I seek you! (And to that end) I have hidden (or “treasured”) your word in my heart so that I might not sin against you (David realized that all sins are sins against God because anything that is not in accordance with His will damages something or someone He created). And with my lips I will proclaim all of the ordinances of your mouth.”

I will live by and teach all the truths I have learned.

Matthew 26:41 – Here I add Jesus’ warning and promise, “Watch (“stay awake!”) and pray, so that you will not fall into temptation (there is certainty in these words—if you watch and pray, you will not fall!). The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Greek = “infirm,” not weak by design, but sick, broken).

I’m sincere, but I’m also fallen and must constantly nip temptation in the bud!

John 15:10-11 – “When you obey me, you remain*** in my love, just as I obey the Father and remain in His love. (This does not mean, “I only love you when you obey me,” it means, “Obeying me keeps you out of harm’s way and allows you to ‘stay’ in my love.”) “I’m telling you this, so my joy will remain (stay) in you. Yes, your joy will be complete!”**

What a promise!

Hebrews 12:1-2 – I always conclude with these words of encouragement: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (we are not alone!), let us also (just as others have) lay aside every burden (the fears and failings that pull us off course) and the sin that clings so closely (addictive behaviors Run-the-Race-2-220x119that seems impossible to overcome), and let us run with perseverance the race set before us (keep getting back in the race!). (How? (By) looking to Jesus, the founder and finisher** of our faith.”

He put us in this race and he will enable us to finish it!”

To be continued…

⇔ ⇔ ⇔

*The aorist verb tense (Greek “no limit”) = an ongoing activity, sometimes translated “keep on doing.”

**Teleos (Greek) appears repeatedly in the New Testament. It may be translated whole, complete, mature, perfect. It’s an essential God-quality that we are called to grow into, meaning, in essence, “no longer broken.”

***Meno (Greek) can be translated remain, live or rest, but may most accurately be rendered “abide.” It means to make something your “home.”

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The Cross as a Way of Life

death-to-self-transformationTo die to self, to keep the old nature nailed to the cross, is such a battle, isn’t it? And yet in the end it turns out to be not just any battle but the battle. If we win this battle, Jesus tells us, or rather if we allow him to win it in us, we win the entire war. And then the whole world wins.

“If anyone would come after me, they must deny themself, take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for my sake will save it.”

~Luke 9:23-24

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Inquiring Minds Want to Know

  Some burning questions you may never have thought to ask: (most found anonymously)

How did evolution begin?

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Science:

  • If you melted dry ice in a pool, could you swim in it without getting wet?
  • What happens if you turn on your headlights while driving at the speed of light?
  • Would the ocean be deeper if sponges didn’t grow in it?
  • If there’s a speed of sound and a speed of light, is there a speed of smell? 
  • Do sheep get static cling when they rub against one another?
  • If a bee was allergic to pollen would it get the hives?
  • Can a pig pull a ham string?
  • If you put a chameleon in front of a mirror, what color does it turn?
  • If someone gets addicted to counseling, how do you treat them?

Arts and Literature:

  • If Cinderella’s glass slipper fit perfectly, why did it fall off?
  • Was Captain Hook called Captain Hand before he got the hook?
  • Why is he called the ‘Lone’ Ranger when Tonto is always with him?
  • Does the Little Mermaid wear an algebra?
  • Why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard (or any body hair, for that matter)?
  • At the ballet, you see girls dancing on their tiptoes. Why don’t they just get taller girls? (Greg Ray)

Language and Culture:

  • Do Dutch people always split the bill?
  • If a parsley farmer loses a lawsuit, do they garnish his wages?
  • Are mattresses ever not on sale?
  • Why don’t women put pictures of their missing husbands on beer cans?
  • What do Greeks say when they don’t understand? (“It’s all _________ to me.”)
  • Whose cruel idea was it to put an ‘s’ in the word “lisp”?
  • If “there’s an exception to every rule,” is there an exception to that rule?
  • Can an ambidextrous person make an offhanded remark?
  • Why do ‘fat chance’ and ‘slim chance’ mean the same thing?
  • “When you clean out a vacuum cleaner, does that make you a vacuum cleaner?”
  • If a mime is arrested, do they tell him he has a right to talk?
  • Why do people sink so slowly in quicksand?
  • If money doesn’t grow on trees, why do banks have branches?
  • Can a short person “talk down” to a taller person?
  • What’s the synonym for “thesaurus”?
  • Are female teamsters “teamstresses”?
  • Are male seamstresses “seamsters”?
  • If you steal a clean slate, does that go on your record?
  • If pro and con are opposites, does that make Congress the opposite of progress?

And finally, the biggest question of all:

  • If God sneezes, what do you say to Him?
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The Lives of Trees

Of all the flora upon the earth, none seem quite so human as trees. Endlessly varied, not only by species, but individually, they strive to find nourishment, to grow and produce offspring. They struggle to weather the storms of life, and yet when they sense their time has come, they surrender to the earth. They are persistent and steadfast, yet patient and peaceful. Perhaps that’s why they live so much longer than we do.

Click on any image to enlarge it, or to begin slideshow.

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.” ~Khalil Gibran

“Listen to the trees as they sway in the wind…and their roots give names to all things. Their language has been lost. But not the gestures.” ~Vera Nazarian

“Of all the trees we could’ve hit, we had to get one that hits back.” ~J.K. Rowling

“Real love ought to be more like a tree and less like a flower.” ~Mya Robarts

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast

~Alfred Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see

A billboard lovely as a tree

Indeed, unless the billboards fall

I’ll never see a tree at all

~Ogden Nash

“An orange tree would rather die than produce lemons, whereas instead of dying the average person would rather be someone they are not.” ~Mokokoma Mokhonoana

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ~John Muir

“Blessed are those who do not walk in the ways of the wicked or sit in the seat of the mockers, but who instead delight in the law of the LORD and meditate upon it day and night. They are like trees planted by streams of water,  yielding their fruit in season,       and their fruit does not wither.”

~Psalm 1:1-3

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Tips for Writers: A Cure for Writer’s Block

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One possible cure. Preferable cure below.

There are two definitions for block: 1) an obstacle to be avoided; 2) a material to be used (as in construction). The cure for Writers Block (and its evil twin, Trouble Getting Started) is to abandon #1 and embrace #2. But before we can do that, we need to understand what writer’s block is and is not:

It’s not about being unable to write. Professional writers–who do not have the luxury of waiting for inspiration–know that being unable to write (short of a serious medical condition such as a coma*) doesn’t really happen. Why? Because writing is simply putting thoughts into words. If you have thoughts, you can write.

The real fear is being unable to write well, which amounts to the fear of not being able to write a great first draft.

Writers who believe in great first drafts are like romantics who believe in love at first sight. But if you ask people who’ve known enduring love, most will tell you their relationships grew into something wonderful. First drafts, like first dates, often begin awkwardly and then evolve through repeated exchanges of thoughts and feelings. That’s why one of the most fundamental sayings about writing is:

“Great stories (essays, plays, etc.) aren’t written, they’re re-written.”

True, writing Under the Influence of a muse can sometimes produce stunning results. On the other hand, writing While Not Under the Influence can produce equally effective results. Woody Allen, one of the most successful screenwriters ever, has said he demands only one thing of himself: to write for four hours a day. He doesn’t require himself to write well, because he knows he can’t plan on that. Furthermore, he has observed zero correlation between inspiration and success. He’s written flops while feeling inspired, and some of his most enduring works while experiencing writer’s block.

How to use writer’s blocks to construct something:

First, write crap! Uninspired writing can be the “plumber’s snake” that clears your pipes, allowing better writing to flow. That first hour of bad writing is often responsible for the better writing that follows. Similarly, writing what doesn’t work is often the key to figuring out what does. “Wait, she can’t do that because then he’ll know she has a gun…. But what if she hides the gun…?!”

Second, write from the left. When the right (artist) side of your brain isn’t cooperating, use the left (technician) side. Outline your story; use tried-and-true formulas (your right brain will eventually shape them into something original). Don’t have an idea? Steal one and reverse it: “What if A Christmas Carol were about a kind and selfless man?” Result: It’s a Wonderful Life. Or take time to figure out who you can base your characters on, and then write bios, noting mannerisms and speech patterns. Disciplined R & D You will lay the groundwork disorderly Artist You when he or she shows up late, smelling suspiciously of herbs.

There’s no such thing as “pure art.” All artists are also technicians. If they weren’t, their work would be incomprehensible. Remember Edison’s famous “10% inspiration, 90% perspiration” line? Well, it applies to writers, too. And, anyway, the wall between the two isn’t made of stone, it’s made of jelly. Artists spend most of their time oozing back and forth between the two sides of their brain. So lace up your literary Nikes and “Just do it!”

Don’t stumble over writer’s blocks, use them to build something that will—eventually—be wonderful!

*Not be mistaken for the comma, a somewhat less serious condition that, can, nevertheless, worsen, if, used, inc,orre,ctly,,,

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in regards to Foghat

life_street_old_city_windows_ladies_portrait_people-506494My Featured Blogger this week is MB (M Brazfield) of Words Less Spoken. MB is a self-described Gen-Xer who grew up in urban Los Angeles and in her youth haunted the streets and clubs of that sprawling metropolis. She struggled with anxiety and depression, with finding a livable rhythm to life. All of which shows up in her post-beat poetry, her art, and her rhythmic prose. Her work is intriguing, challenging, sometimes beautiful, sometimes exasperating. In other words, it’s real, she’s real…

And her journey is everyone’s.

words less spoken

At 21, I didn’t know two things; how I got through 4 years of college and who played “Slow Ride.” But grunge was growing on me and I still had Miles and Monk, maybe a little Ginger Baker in between.

I also didn’t know what to do other than just ‘party.’ Code for self medicating and wasting life away on account of being lost in the City of Angels.

I was of the streets; my family had good bones, some education, jobs, the normal shit. I didn’t, however we were all lost together but galaxies apart.

I’d walk listening to the organically mechanical jazz of the city. Notes of deep blue pain, orange notes of sorrow, pink notes of hope and black atomic scary love oozing out of the trumpets heralding our demise. Us, all walks of life, us in that beautifully grotesque melting pot of angst.

Needless to say…

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