the art of the short(er) story

I talk too much.


Granted, there are some people who don't mind this.  They can rant and rave and ramble as well as I can and we get along just fine.

But there are other folks I talk to, talk way too much to, and after I get done my monologue and there's finally silence hanging in the air, I'm kicking myself for taking 17 sentences to say what I could have said in 5.  In my head I replay my run-on paragraphs, my lack of pertinent information, my silly anecdotes that did nothing but take up precious time, and my lengthening tale of woe that just went on and on ....when actually, I'd made my point minutes if not hours before.

I see this as a sign of weakness, because I don't think it's an especially attractive quality.

We all have people like this in our lives.  The ones you see coming down the hall and you think, "I need to dart into the rest room before she reaches me because I just don't have time for a story..." or, "Don't make eye contact because you know once he starts talking, it's going to be at least 10 minutes."

I don't want to be one of those people.

So I'm going to need to work on this. 

Truth to tell, I'm finding it to be more of a conscious effort than I thought it would be.  For me, telling a short story is something of an art form that I am growing to appreciate.  I'm learning that I can say just a few lines about something and the hearer is really quite content.  I'm learning that the less I talk, the more it gives someone else the space to do the same.  And I'm learning that me saying less allows me to listen more.

Which is always a good thing.

This is something that I've sensed God nudging me about and that I've taken on as a personal challenge for 2013; to be others-centered, and to not be so worried about getting my two cents in that I don't really take time to stop and listen to what someone is telling me.  To not just be planning what I'm going to say the whole time someone is speaking to me.  To practice speaking succinctly and thereby speaking less, yet hearing more.

If talking is art, then listening is even better art. 

I'm all ears.

the iron-y of it all

I like to be prepared.

And I hate to iron in the morning.

So, I have started to advance-plan my wardrobe and get out the clothes for my workday the night before I plan to wear them.   This way I can do any ironing, if necessary, the evening before and avoid hauling out the board and accompanying apparatus during my rushed morning routine where I barely have enough time to dip my mascara wand twice, much less put a hot metal plate on something and risk scorching it to death.

One morning last week I was all set.  I had the perfect outfit all ready to go.  As I put it on, I took notice of how perfectly I'd pressed it the night before; not a wrinkle anywhere.  But as I turned away from the closet, something up on the top shelf trapped under a pile of poorly folded clothing caught my eye.

It was a scarf.  And it wasn't just any scarf; it was the perfect scarf to go with my outfit.

But there was only one problem.

It needed ironing.  And it was morning.

What's a girl to do?

I did the only thing I could do.  I decided to forego brushing my teeth to give me the extra three minutes I would need for the scarf.  ;)

As you might guess, this is often also the scenario in my day.   Try as I might, I can be all set and planned out and yet not too far into it starts
                                                   the interruptions,
                                                             the disasters,
                                                                     the delays,
                                                                            and the inconveniences.

And here's where I have a choice.  I can either balk at those unplanned events, or I can let God do His work through them.  Those events are allowed into - if not sometimes downright sent into - my life to shape me; to mold me into who God wants me to be in a way that couldn't happen if they didn't happen.  They are refining tools, meant for my good and never for my harm.  This is why it says in James 1:2-4,

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. "

The funny thing is, after I had done all that work, in my hurry I almost left the scarf on the ironing board. That would have been a waste.  I would have sacrificed brushing my teeth for nothing.

But instead,  I took the scarf and put it on and let it change my look for the better.  That ironed scarf which once seemed an inconvenience now added color to my outfit where before there had been none. 

And I smiled.  It's the same with life.  God allows trials to come in order to make us more colorful than we were before.  It's up to me to embrace them, wrap them around me, and allow them to do their change-work in me.

So there I had it.  A wrinkly scarf had turned into a spiritual lesson.

And the irony was not lost on me. 

the resolution I didn't mean to make

It's the New Year and people's promises abound to change this, change that, stop doing A, B, and C and refuse to participate anymore in X, Y, and Z.

I've resolved to stop making resolutions, because I usually don't keep them and I end up letting myself down.  Again.  And who needs that?

So my overnight sensation of giving up caffeine and aspartame had nothing to do with making a New Year's resolution because I didn't even see it coming. It wasn't in my plan.  I didn't even know I wanted to give up those things.

But the other day found me fighting an internal infection, and part of the treatment was to drink water.  By the gallon.   And as I was drinking this water and not drinking my usual fare of Diet Coke and caffeinated iced tea with artifical sweetener, I had an epiphany on one of my numerous trips to the bathroom.

"I should be doing this - putting good things in my body - all the time.  Not just when I'm sick." 

I realized the backwards way I was doing things.  As soon as I had a little scare that something might not be right inside, I dove into healthy eating and drinking.  And my standard course of action is that when the problem goes away, I go right back to my semi-unhealthy habits and just keep plugging away until the next time some body part needs my attention.

It looks like that will change, on a liquid level anyway, in 2013 as for some reason the determination to do this thing has stuck.  Even through the headaches and the wanting to reach for a Diet Coke, I have noticed an unfounded resolve surface many times during the day that keeps telling me the way I was doing things just wasn't healthy and that this is the year to change.

So I'll go with it.  I have nothing to lose and maybe some health to gain.

Is this lucky '13?  Maybe.  Is this God watching out for me?  Of this I am certain.  He always has my best in mind.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and, apparently, one unexpected resolution.

And those are the ones that stick.