Thursday, February 26, 2009

Affirming Life, Saying Yes to God

My good friend and colleague at the church, Jim, had surgery on Tuesday for colon cancer. It struck me as entirely ill-timed for a healthy man who’s thirty-nine years old and father of three. Besides that, I was just sad because he's a close friend. Thankfully, the surgery was successful, the tumor is out, and Jim’s future is looking much brighter (though with the possibility of some chemo).

In the preparation for the surgery and even in the midst of it, I’ve been reminded of the need to affirm life. To say yes to God's gifts. Affirm life—by that I mean to seek the good things that give us joy, to realize that the present moment is a gift, to thank God for what we are receiving.

So, in the past few days, I've been texting and telling Jim, “I affirm life with you.” I was a little worried that Jim might consider this too cute and glib, but it seemed to resonate. He and I both realized whatever happens--whether it's facing colon cancer or a day that seems entirely plug and play--life has its mixture of struggle and glory, of death and of life. As for me and my buddy Jim, we're going to choose to affirm life and say Yes to God.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Work/Life Balance or Work/Life Rhythm

I've been thinking recently about the theme of "work/life balance." Maybe a better term is "work/life rhythm." You see, I'm found that the key to a productive and beautiful life is a work/life rhythm of rest and labor in which the two play off each other. This comes from being a drummer: having spent countless hours in the past few decades on a drum set in search of scintillating rhythms, I know the key to great rhythms is the artful combining of both sounds and spaces.

In order to find the right work/life rhythm, there is at least one key practice: restrict technology’s reach. Unplug often enough from techie devices, so you can catch the rhythms of your heart.

So here's one way to get there: detach yourself from the email leash. Despite the ongoing example of our President and his omnipresent Blackberrys—and despite the fact that I’m drawn to email like a moth to flame—my iPhone and its alluring email are sufficiently far from my grasp, my hearing, and my vision while I type out these reflections. Why? Emails relentless knock at the door of my consciousness, and that is not good for my brain’s ability to go deep. It’s at the depths that we find creativity and innovation. If you want a new insight on the pitch you’re about to make, the book you want to write, and or how to manage that challenging employee, you need to move into the deeper functions of my brain. I will condense an enormous body of research from the incredible insights of brain science with this: to become creative and productive, our brain needs to engage its deeper functions. When we are constantly interrupted by urgencies, it is simply impossible.

And here's the bigger payoff. When you begin to detach in order to find a healthy work/life rhythm, you start to hear the rhythm of your heart. There you can begin to hear the rhythm of God.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Getting This Rocket Launched!

Advanced anniversaries are curious to me. What makes one month before an event another event in itself? Why not 19 days, for example?

For whatever reason, the coming advent of my book, Say Yes to No, in exactly one month has me partly nervous, partly beaming. The nerves arise from that age-old question: What if you invite people to a party and no one comes? More specifically, what if, on March 3rd, the book doesn't get grabbed by eager hands and sits there on bookstore shelves and the warehouses of The other side of my dual emotions is simply the pent-up excitement of having started this project over seven years ago. And now I stand--almost with disbelief--before the day when the final version of my reflections and labor will be tangibly present.

It's probably just a heightened version of the mixed bag we face every day. At any point, there are things, experiences, and people that can disappoint us or that can exhilarate us. The only real variation is that, given the day, the challenging and the motivating present themselves to us in varying proportions. And the opportunity to choose anxiety and fear or gratitude and hope in God's future lies ever before me.

On this day, one month before Say Yes to No appears, I think I'll say No to anxious fear and Yes to grateful faith. (And, by the way, you can help that process: the book is available for pre-order.)