Tag Archives: busyness

3 days until Christmas…

Three days until Christmas really means only one more day to get all of my work done.  This year we have Christmas eve and Christmas eve, eve services.  Yikes!  Short blog today?  Probably not.  😉

Last night, someone found by blog with the search words ‘why do people choose chaos’.  I doubt they found the answer to that question here, as I choose to embrace it, but now I’m pondering the question.

First, what is chaos?  Let’s take a look at the definition.  It is defined as ‘a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.’  Synonyms: disarray, jumble, turmoil.  Antonyms: order, peace, calm. Or in other words, my writing style?  Well…

So do people chose chaos, or is chaos a result of human actions?  Is it something that we’re born into, and on some level, will always have to react with accordingly?  I believe life itself contains chaos, and from what I see, an abundant quantity of it.  I do believe we can choose our own level of participation though.  Now I’m not talking about a person just choosing to be disorganized and live in a messy house, I’m talking about cultural chaos.  The chaos that results from masses of people coexisting on this planet, the development of our interactions and the outcome of our participation in society.

Cultural chaos is not only having too many choices, but the expectation that we are to participate in all of them on some level.  Since this is the 25 days of Christmas blog, let’s look at Christmas chaos.  Before I do that, I want to share a conversation I had yesterday with a couple of coworkers.

This little guy was sitting on the desk, inside a plastic bag, smiling at me.  Of course I took him out to play with him, and I also got him a car to ride.  Zoom, zoom!  Peppermint wheels!  I’m glad Sonic still believes in peppermint wheels.  (see Jody’s List from 2 days ago for the reference)

As a few us us were talking, someone said, “It’s the Wal-Mart symbol.”  I immediately argued that Wal-Mart cannot own the smiley face, as it’s a representation of happiness in the 70’s.  Can anyone copyright a smiley?  One person in the room asked, “Somebody designed it, don’t they own the rights to it?”

The answer is yes.  Harvey Ball designed it and owns rights to it, and as you would expect, Wal-mart and their high priced attorneys tried to claim ownership.  In 2008 they lost… or did they?

If we see the smiley and consciously or subconsciously think of shopping and happy prices at Wallyworld, mission accomplished, right?  It hurts me that this symbol of happiness makes people think about a money hungry retail giant.  They might not legally own the smiley face, but make no mistake about it, they do own it.

Now, back to Christmas chaos, which by the way, is just a more specific form of cultural chaos.  Why do you do all of the things you do at Christmas time?  Because you want to?  Because you feel you have to?  Maybe because you’ve been doing it this way for so long, it’s a programmed holiday response?  Is it a tradition?  I recently heard about a child asking her mom what a tradition is.  The mom answered, “It’s something that was started long ago, things we still do today, but we don’t like to do them.”  So why?  Christmas chaos is the fusion of many old customs and countless new practices.  We try so desperately to hang on to something magical from the past and try fiercely to make it work in the present, all the while adding new things, creating a new framework of chaos every year.

Adbusters magazine, a radical, yet thought provoking publication, or as they call themselves, a journal of the mental environment, addressed the christmas chaos in one of their issues a few years ago.  They encouraged people to not buy anything for Christmas and to remember the real meaning of Christmas.  Here’s an image from the article…

The article encouraged people to do a ‘Jesus Walk’, cut out the Jesus face and walk around with it at shopping malls.  They also asked people to photocopy the ‘Garbage Christ’ image and tape it up in any public location they could.  Now, I realize this is radical, and being an activist would be considered reverse chaos.  I  also know some people might find this offensive, but is it anymore offensive than celebrating Christmas without Christ in it?  That’s celebrating the ‘mas’, or mass.

Civilization creates icons of all sorts, placing in our subconscious, the type and location of where they want you to participate in their piece of the chaos.  I don’t want people or large companies dictating what I do and why I do it.  Yes, we have brains and we have to respond, but we don’t have to be clones of society.  They create chaos that we can choose to be a part of or we can learn to coexist with in a healthy way.

Chaos is a really deep subject and I can only hope to scratch a tiny, barely noticable mark on the surface of it in it on a daily blog.  You’ve heard the saying if you can’t beat them, join them?  Chaos exisits, whether we like it or not.  I don’t know if the person searching for the chaos answer was looking for this answer.  In my mind, the answer?  I think it’s ‘comfort zone’.  We choose chaos because it’s what we know and it’s comfortable, even if we don’t like it.  This Christmas, you can beat the chaos, join the chaos, make fun of the chaos or embrace the chaos.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Even if it’s just a little bit, baby steps are good.  Try it.  You can always return to the chaos, if you choose to do so.

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9 days until Christmas…

Tick.  Tick.  Tick.

Only 9 days now.

Tick.  Tick.

Christmas will be here soon.  I have this gut feeling… I’m forgetting something.  What is it?  There’s no time to think about it.

Tick.

Time, our most valuable commodity.  Time, our best friend and our worst enemy.  Time is money.  I think the Eagles understand the meaning of time.  In their words, “…you can spend all your love making time.”  I don’t pretend to even come close to understanding love, but isn’t it something about relationships?  Isn’t it about people?

I was talking with my friend Thom the other day, complaining because I didn’t have enough time to get everything done, and he asked, “If you’re saying you don’t have enough time, isn’t that like telling God he didn’t give us enough of it?”  Hmm.  I think he’s right.  Why are we so busy?

I’ve received a few Christmas cards so far this year.  I don’t send Christmas cards anymore, mostly because it’s a Christmas expectation.  It’s that feisty, non-conformist part of me that just won’t do it.  I don’t want to send a meaningless, mass produced piece of cardstock to someone, only for it to get lost in a sea of empty tidings.  Everyone complains about no having the time to prepare their many Christmas cards.  If it’s such a hassle, why do it?  Do we even notice if one of our friends doesn’t send the obligatory Christmas wishes?

I do like seeing the family pictures, as this makes the cards more personal.  This is also where people get creative, maybe because they need to top last years photo or make their card funny so it’s more memorable and stands out from the others.  I have some friends that not only create the funniest cards, they have the next eight years’ ideas planned.  And we all think the same thing, “My, how everyone has changed since last year!”  Time really flies.

The cards I find the most interesting, are the ones containing family updates.  I’m not quite sure where this process originated, but I suppose if you only hear from people once a year, it’s important to catch up on the entire time span.  Limit: one paragraph per person please.  These updates usually reflect the family busyness in a comical way or highlight the achievements of the role-model kids.  If someone read these, without knowing the people, one might believe they have achieved worldly perfection.  Where are the ‘reality cards’, the ones saying it’s been a tough year?  My kids are struggling in school, I lost my job and oh, by the way, you can take his name off the card.  He doesn’t live here anymore.

Tick.  Tick.  Tick.

It takes a lot of time to achieve excellence in anything we do.  This blog is taking a good amount of time to write everyday, so why am I doing it?  I’m doing it to enhance my writing skills and to communicate my Christmas story.  My story is filled with the hatred of consumerism, the love of watching people interact with the ‘season’, the sadness of our culture, the happiness of watching people change that culture, the lack of time and the process of making more time for the right things.

Honestly, when I start writing at 5am, I’m trying to create a masterpiece instead of just writing from my heart.  I don’t spend enough time in my heart, only in my head.  To me, it’s a much safer place to be, although C. S. Lewis would disagree.  Time to reevaluate my goals.  Regroup.  If I’m doing things for the right reasons, not because of an imposed cultural burden or a self-inflicted nonsensical expectation, wouldn’t that give me more time to do the important things in life?

Tick.

I think we try to take all of our normal activities, which there still isn’t enough time in the day to do, add the Christmas craziness on top of it, and we turn into a bunch of crabby Christmas robots, programmed to accomplish, not experience.  No wonder everyone is stressed out.  If it’s how we function as a society all year long, why should Christmas be any different?  Could we change this?  Do we even want to?

Instead of focusing on society’s definition of success, I think I’ll define my own.  The word balance comes to mind again.  Balance of time and achievements.  So what if Cole can’t tie his shoes yet?  Who cares if my kids don’t want to learn to ride a bike?  I don’t want to teach my kids that they have to do what everyone else is doing.  They don’t have to keep up with the Jones’.  Who chose this family to represent our portrait of success?  The thing I find funny here is that nobody has ever met them, although you’ve probably receive a Christmas card from them every year.

Tick.  Tick.

My Christmas cards, if you choose to call them such, are different this year. It’s giving away tiny little gifts to people I know and to those I don’t know.

Your time is valuable, so no, you don’t have to click on other links to figure this out.  Here’s what is posted on the blog:

Why did we give you a tiny envelope with words?  To wish you an inspired, fun and very special Merry Christmas!  There’s a few more reasons, but first here’s a few things you should know.

  • The first thing you need to know is that we did not hand select your words.  All of the words were randomly placed into small envelopes and sealed for your safety.  🙂
  • There are Spanish words because we are encouraging everyone we know to learn a few words.  Then you can go with us to Casa Hogar Elim.
  • We want you to place your words on a metal surface that you look at frequently so you can always remember this – everyone is creative in their own way.  What is your gift?
  • Christmas is about relationships and we want you to remember all year long that we’re glad you’re our friend!

In a nutshell, words are great, but we don’t take enough time to use them.  Once Christmas nears and the exhaustion sets in, and we are all worn down, trying to figure out this whirlwind called Christmas, we might take a few moments to remember something about the birth of a baby.  A baby named Jesus.  Yes, that’s what I’ve forgotten.

Time goes quickly.  Life will pass us by.  Maybe we need a visit from the ghost of Christmas past.


11 days until Christmas…

I can’t believe it’s only eleven more days until Christmas.  There’s still so much to do before then, right?  Where is my Christmas to do list… wait.  I didn’t make one, nor do I really have many Christmas things to do.  Plenty of other busyness, but not as much related to Christmas, with the exception of work.  So someone please tell me why I feel so busy and stressed?  I suppose I do have two things that come to mind that are Christmas related.

I promised Dulce, or as we call her, Candy, a pair of mismatched shoes for Christmas.  Candy is one of the beautiful kids down at Casa Hogar Elim.  Her name fits her well.  Every time I’m down there, Candy has the biggest hugs and the biggest smile, not only for me, but for everyone.  If there’s a poster child for the love we feel from CHE, it’s Candy.  She has always been intriguged by my carefully, deliberately mismatched shoes.  Now Candy speaks about as much English as I do Spanish, so her desire to have a pair of mismatched shoes has been communicated through loving charades.

As much as I am looking forward to selecting this meaningful gift, there is no part of my being that wants to go anywhere near a mall or retail store.  The only stores I have been to over the past month is a few used bookstores and stores with groceries.  Food and books.  Life’s necessities.  Well, we can add mismatched shoes now too.  I will keep you posted on my future shopping adventure.

The other thing I have to do is get passports for my kids.  This is their big gift from me this year, and besides a few small gifts of books and such, that’s it.  We are supporting charities for Christmas this year instead of buying a bunch of stuff we don’t need.  And the beautiful thing about this?  My kids are okay with it.  At 9 or 10 years old, being the spoiled brat I was at that age, I’m not sure I would have accepted this paradigm shift from my parents.

Now one would think getting a passport might be a simple process, but like everything else in our bureaucratic, complex society, it is not.  Their dad had to sign release forms, which also had to be notarized, and luckily he did.  I suppose he didn’t have any desire to spend two hours in line with me any more than I did him.  I took the kids a week ago right after school to get their passports, only to find out they only issue them between the hours of 10 and 3, Monday through Friday.  I guess my choices are to pull my kids out of school or take them downtown and pay the enormous one day rush fees.  I’ve decided.  I’m going to pull the kids out of school one day this week and make a fun day of it.  We’ll go to lunch, get the passports and do some other enjoyable things.  I never thought I would look forward to standing in a line at the post office, but for this, I am.  Maybe they will get creative with the Priority Mail tape like they did several years ago.

I want to teach my kids the right things, unlike what they learn by participating in our culture’s methods.  When I was in Zambia five years ago, I caught a glimpse into a different world.  It was a shocking world, as they had no electricity, no running water and none of the modern conveniences I had and take for granted.  On a two hour bus ride, without my camera, I saw a happiness and contentment in people that I had never seen before.  Had I not had my kids to come home to, I might have jumped off the bus and never been seen again in the US.

I have to say, my first reaction to this scenario was that I wanted to give these people all of the things I had, not just the essential commodities, but the things that make us happy.  Computers, internet, flat screen TV’s, cell phones, cars, kitchen appliances, toys and the list goes on.  Yet something didn’t feel right.  It didn’t take me long to see that these people had something I didn’t, but something I desperately wanted.  Something I still greatly want.  Peace.  Happiness.  Fulfillment.  And most of all, contentment.  I’m not quite sure how or when my thought process changed, but I have no desire to give them a TV anymore, or any of the other things we can’t live without.  I do still want to give them clean, running water and warm shelter though.

I wish I had never been spoiled by all of the materialism and possessions of our American culture, because now I’m addicted.  I need my computer and my iPhone.  I need my nice house and my car.  Could I experience true happiness with out all this stuff?  I feel burdened with my knowledge, shackled with electronics and locked in a cell of selfishness and greed.  I know these people I’m speaking of have a whole different set of struggles in life, but they get it.  They are happy and content.  Why?  Because they don’t have all of the distractions to keep them from having deep relationships with the people around them.  I’ll bet they aren’t looking for the Christmas spirit like I am.  I hope to someday experience just tiny bit of what they do.


14 days until Christmas…

This morning, I have to sadly report that the Christmas season is getting busier and doesn’t show signs of slowing down.  My blog is named ’embrace chaos’, because I do just that.  I’m not good at relaxing, slowing down or experiencing any type of leisurely lifestyle, although I do have some deep down desire to do just that.

In trying to evaluate my schedule and why it feels so hectic, I did realize a few things this Christmas season.

One thing is that there’s more to do during Christmas, but the rest of the busyness and regular weekly tasks don’t go away or change to accommodate this reality.  Due to the commercialism of Christmas, most people are not only busier in their personal lives, but also at work.  I work for a church, and although it isn’t busier for the same reason, there’s still a lot on my plate.  I’ve come to the conclusion that everything on my plate is attached to bungee cords.  The tasks might be accomplished, but they eventually come back, and with much more force the time second time around.

So as much as I would love to blog all of my many thoughts on this topic, I simply don’t have the time.  I have to get the kids up, drive across town for Joe’s wrestling, go to work and finish my weekend stuff before the 2 o’clock rehearsal, finish making our ‘tinselectomy’ Christmas gifts, finish two freelance jobs, start another one… okay, you get the point.

Take the time this year to evaluate your hectic Christmas season.  Although I’m too busy, I’ve started the evaluation process and I’m looking for innovative changes to create the magic word we all crave: BALANCE.


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