Are you an incubator?

Are you an incubator?

Are you an incubator? No, I’m not referring to the warming contraption used for eggs. I’m talking about your brain, your method of tackling projects. There is an interesting theorys-l1000 (that I wholeheartedly subscribe to) claiming that some people previously labeled as procrastinators are actually incubators.

Because there are so many shared characteristics, the line between the two can be difficult to distinguish. There are basically four types of people when presented a project: eager beavers, sloths, procrastinators, and incubators.

Eager beaver: This type of person tends to be studious and punctual. They start on assignments as soon as they are given them. Their work is usually well done and on time. They want to have the work out of the way so it is not hanging over them while they try to enjoy leisure activities. Two examples would be Hermione of Harry Potter and Rory Gilmore from Gilmore Girls. Putting a project off, even for other necessary things is a source of stress for these doers.ya-hermione-expelled

Sloth: These are the lazy ones, the ones who have no intention of doing anything that could take away from fun things. Garfield and Ferris Bueller are prime examples of this. Garfield sees a mouse in the house again, and he says he’ll catch it…just after this nap. No one believes that Garfield ever had any intention to actually get the mouse after the nap. ferris2-300x150Ferris Bueller’s famous day off has been a source of laughter and inspiration for many a teen. However, we see that his excuse of cutting school because of how beautiful a day it was is just one in an extensive line of excuses. In fact, the whole reason why the principal is hunting him is because of how much school Bueller has already missed.

Procrastinator: Unlike their sloth brethren, procrastinators fully intend to meet the8547c50b440a0e54232310352d32776b deadline. But they “postpone one task in favour of another or others which are perceived as being wasier or more pleasurable but which are typically less important or urgent,” explains Neel Burton, an M.D. of psychology. Though they may get the work done on time, it will usually not be their best work and will cause them high levels of stress and dissatisfaction. Opposite her daughter Rory, Lorelai Gilmore procrastinates anything she views as unpleasant. She always means to get around to it, but never does which tends to result in extra drama that contributes to the unpleasantness.

Incubator: Incubators are impossible to differentiate from procrastinators at first glance because they share the same behaviours. They both put off getting the work done until the deadline is closing in on them. They choose to fill that time with socializing, reading, watching TV, or even doing household chores. The differences lies in the ability to perform under pressure and the “back burner mentality” (Biwas-Diener). Once the task has been received, the incubator begins to subconsciously work. However, they need that deadline in order to put pen to paper. Even if they tried to work on it earlier, it would be like pulling teeth…ugly teeth, because there has not been the time for the thoughts to simmer like an incubator requires. According to Robert Biwes-Diener, the professor who came up with the theory, they will finish the work on time and it will usually be of a “superior quality.” Sherlock Holmes and the Doctor represent this way of thinking. There may be a few moments of, “I’m making this up as I go,” but once they fully form the plan it is brilliant.doctor-who-matt-smith

 

Biwas-Diener, R.  http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/worklife/02/16/o.procrastinator.or.incubator/
Burton, N.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hide-and-seek/201505/whats-the-difference-between-procrastination-and-laziness
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Do We Deserve to Be Happy? Nope.

*Quick note: The purpose of this blog is not only to focus on writing, but to transform lives through writing and sharing. I know this will certainly step on toes and if it does, get some better shoes, but keep your ears open.*

I’m not really sure what other cultures believe about happiness, but American culture certainly believes that it is a right. Because of three little words – pursuit of happiness – we cling to the idea that we have a right to be happy all the time. Unhappy with your job? Quit. Unhappy with your spouse? Divorce. Unhappy with your government? Elect people who promise an easier life. Did someone say something that made you unhappy? Run to social media, and heck, even the news to cry about how hateful and unfair it is that someone should dare have a differing opinion!

Here’s the thing though. We don’t deserve happiness. It is not a right. Being happy in life isn’t a given. We are never told we have the “right to be happy”. In the United States we do have the “right to pursue happiness”, but it never says it’s going to happen. More than that, how can I say that I deserve happiness, even at the cost of what God has called me to? Because I’m a good person? Hardly. Sure, I’m nice. I like helping people. But I’m not good. Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:19) [Small digression here: This isn’t Jesus saying that He isn’t good, or isn’t God. This is Him stating something all the hearers knew: only God is good. This is Jesus saying that they are recognizing that He is God with their words.] Does that mean we should only be stern and morose, moping around saying “Woe is me!”? Absolutely not! There is joy in this life! There will be thousands of happy moments. These moments are part of life, however,  undeserved. Sadness, happiness, and rain come to wicked and righteous alike.

As Christians we are called to something much more important than pursuing our own happiness: love. We are called to love others. Not with the superficial “I’ll say hi on Sunday mornings” kind, but with the sacrificial love that Christ showed us. Paul David Tripp highlights in his book, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, that “relationships are not primarily for our fulfillment. On the contrary, relationships between sinners are messy, difficult, labor-intensive, and demanding, but in that, they are designed to result in God’s glory and our good as he is worshiped and our hearts are changed.” Loving people is not on a case by case basis, it is a conscious choice to make loving people a lifestyle.

This lifestyle does not lead to the road of “prosperity.” It is the road of obedience and blessing. This road is rocky and narrow, full of hardship and tears. But Psalm 126:5 tells us that those who sow tears will reap songs of joy. A life worth living is hard work. To have a full life, we must fill it with meaningful relationships, not staying focused on ourselves. Pursuing our own happiness means sacrificing others – the exact opposite of what we are called to do! On the last day of your life, what will it matter what job/house/car/clothes you had? It’s all staying here. And once you are gone, will people remember you as a bulldozer, someone willing to do anything to stay happy no matter the cost to others? Or will people remember someone who loved well?

 

First Drafts: Replace the Fear with Fun

What is your initial reaction when I say, “first draft”? Nausea? Panic? The urge to run away and scream? All of the above? Fear no more, fair writer! I am here to save you! Well…at least to help you.

We work so hard on our stories and constantly seek validation from friends, family, critique groups, and even random stranger here and there. This is a great thing to do once we can offer them at least a second draft, but a terrible idea for the first draft. During the fragile first draft our story is at its weakest, as is our perception of our ability to write.

Consider the first draft “For Your Eyes Only”. The danger in letting others read this is two-fold: The reader may be so harsh as to cause you to re-write unnecessarily, or you might receive so much praise that you will be unwilling to change anything. This is an opportunity to discover the story. Whether you’re a planner or a pantster, the roughest of the rough drafts is your journey, your time to fully know what the story is before anyone else can lay their eyes on it.

Hopefully some of your fears have been relieved. Now it’s time for fun!

first-drafts-poster-2

Keep Going Up

Keep Going Up

by Paul Fair

Eternity seemed to stare at me from every side. Downward, rocks ready to send my soul to where my body cannot go. Upward, the distance infinite to my finite muscles. To either side, limitless possibilities.

I was mostly naked by then. I had seen the top, and I wanted it, so I had started to climb. And as I began to climb, I quickly learned an invaluable lesson — lovely young ladies in tights at my local rock climbing gym aren’t simply being considerate to adolescent boys; they are garnering flexible clothing so they don’t end up being overly kind to those adolescent boys by having to take off their inflexible attire…like I did.

After failing to stretch spread eagle between two semi-connected towers, I climbed down, and took my jeans off. My shoes were already forgotten; they were no help gripping the sharp but loose edges. As I began again, I moved past the wedged face who had previously laughed at my tight jeans — I reached out, far out, and landed a foot on the rock wall next to me then I climbed a few feet past. “Is this enough to Snapchat me and make it look dangerous?”

Now if you had attempted to have a male anatomy lesson-free leisurely hike that afternoon, taking care to move along the trail you are supposed to take, which cleverly goes around this small cliff, you may have observed a few things: First, a pile of clothes. Second, a charming six-packed 20-something male with lean muscles rippling from his toned body. Thirdly, and although not seemingly as exciting but possibly more importantly, you may have noticed the precarious position in which that six-packed male found himself, who had already passed the Rubicon in which one can let go and fall a reasonable distance to safety.

Don’t worry — I’m not writing this from a hospital bed. And I’m glad, and not just because I don’t enjoy testing how good my Disney is. But more importantly, I’m happy I made it because those rocks taught me something.

While I felt pinned spread out between rocks– stuck too high to let go, too far from the top, with bleak, distracting options to either side, with muscles about to give–I began to panic. My muscles were loosening and tightening at the same time — my breath was alternating between rushing in and escaping out. But then a thought occurred.

Keep going up.

I stopped considering falling. I forgot about all the other devastatingly distracting holds and routes to my right and left. I had one goal now. So I kept going up. I got past that part which had screamed “impossible.”

I’m glad I made it, because I learned something — Those cruel rocks gave me something in exchange for a little blood and sweat — We don’t overcome by stopping. We don’t win by quitting. We aren’t successful by failing. And we only reach the top by doing exactly one thing: Keep going up.

And we can’t afford distraction, and, further, the world can’t afford us to be distracted. Think about it, if I had tried to go sideways, searching for a falsely labeled “escape,” I truly may not have finished. (And then think of all those future empty Calvin and Klein ads?) I could have fallen. We only have so much strength to overcome impossible odds, a limited amount of time with eternity awaiting us, and a finite being with infinite purpose. We can make it to the top, we can start an orphanage, and we can be Olympians. But we can’t climb sideways, and arrive at the top. We can’t waste our life, and build an orphanage. We can’t eat fast food cross the finish line. The mountain requires sacrifice.

The world is waiting for us. The world doesn’t need anyone else telling them to take the easy path. The world needs encouragement — they need someone with passion, who’s willing to make it to the top, who will break against the common lie that by somehow letting go of the rocks, we are falling to safety. The world needs the truth — that letting go of our dreams, of the pain, of the hard stuff, is actually FAR more dangerous than carrying on.

Back on that rock, if I had an audience, they may have had two prayers instantly occur: One –“Lord, please let me know if Paul wears boxers or briefs.” And two — “Don’t let him fall.” You would have had all your prayers answered, because, well, JC’s cool like that, apparently. But also, because we lose things along the way, if we really want to make it. You must be willing to risk embarrassment. People may see the real you, and no matter how great you looked in those yoga pants on the treadmill, when you are spread eagle between two rocks with no shoes, and blood and breath screaming from your body, not everyone will think you’re an Abercrombie and Fitch model. Not everyone at the bottom is gonna appreciate the route you take. But you know what? Those voices at the bottom aren’t the voices I would listen to. You will never reach your goal if you do. And your goal may be the answer to someone else’s prayer. I’d listen to the voice inside, who created the mountain, telling you to keep going up. Because you won’t remember what part of your body is bleeding. But you will remember the view. That’s yours to keep.

Those who hiked around the easy way probably didn’t understand the pile of clothes that sat suspiciously on the ground. And sure, those people, who took the easy way, the nice, inviting, pre-groomed, packaged, sure-fire trail may have seen the same view as I did — they may have gazed from Pulpit Rock as the cliff opened to a valley which races across Olympic City at the foot of the Rockies, stretching out as far North and South as humanity can witness.

Sure, they saw that. But they didn’t behold it. It probably hasn’t stuck in their memory like it did in mine. Taking the easy way always meets the end lacking the “aha!” moment, steals the spice, the flavor, the kick, the climax; you can’t take the easy way and taste the moment that steals your next breath, the moment that confirms to you that you’ve accomplished something beautiful, and it was good. Don’t skip that. Keep going up.

Welcome our new writer: Paul Fair!

I am so excited to introduce you to Paul Fair. He is a brilliant writer and adventurer. There is so much that he has to share, starting tomorrow!

Paul lovPaulFairHeadshot (2)es people. You can find him slopping some coffee at one of his pops’ shops, probably stressing over why nothing’s ever done right, but at the same time trying to help someone at the bar figure out why this guy is such a jerk.

If he’s not at Jives, it’s probably because he’s in Uganda, India, France, learning something about someone he’s never met…He gets around. In a good way.

After attending UCCS, where he was Editor-in- Chief for the student newspaper, he took off to DisneyWorld, where he hugged kids for a living and tried to dance. They paid him for that. Everyone is still wondering about how that worked out exactly.

Now, he’s back in Colorado Springs for the moment. Come by Jives to see him.

The Thing About Humans

Humans are silly, fickle creatures. They are never quite content with what they have. Unlike their jollier cousins, the Hobbits, they are obsessed with being busy. Heaven forbid they actually enjoy free time. And I do mean free time. Time that is unpaid and unscheduled.

Some two hundred years ago, humans worked from sunrise to sunset. They worked hard, and enjoyed the fruit of those labors. But they were tired. And so some humans called “scientists” or “inventors” began thinking of ways to make life easier. Over the years they made machines to help with plowing, printing, cooking, cleaning, traveling, and even communicating. One could look back on these marvelous inventions and assume that humans now had oodles of free time. Well, you know what they say about assuming things…

Sadly, just the opposite was true. They were busier than ever! Now that machines could do much of the work humans used to do, people were now “free” to work more, clean more, organize more…you get the idea.

Even food–a simple, essential pleasure for the Hobbits–became a chore and a curse. Eat too much and be condemned for the weighty aftermath; eat too little and be accused of superiority or mental disease. Then there was even a time when people were culture-pressured to purchase, or grow, only special produce, cook it in a way that still rendered health benefits, and looked like a baby rabbit. Others gave up completely and let other prepare “food” for them because they were too busy to do it themselves.

Surely, you say, they must have been content with finances since they worked so hard for it. Au contraire, my good friend! As each one’s wages grew, the needs also swelled, usually far beyond the wage earned. And so many–too many–became dependent upon their leaders to support their lifestyles. Of course, many of the leaders lined their own pockets as leaders are wont to do.

What became of these sad, sad creatures? The majority continued in this way of self-destruction, while others returned to the ways of their ancestors. They abandoned the cities and once again worked the land. They studied the habits of the Hobbits in an effort to really enjoy life, rather than blazing through it. They are content…at least for now.

Take Back Your Social Life & Community

overloadWhat happened to communities? There is an abundance of online “communities” that are supposed to serve as a way to connect to those around us, but very little of it actually creates and nourishes real-life community. We are inundated with social media: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, Google+, and the list continues. All of these are acting as tools for the embetterment of our social lives. The result, however, is that we are trapped in our computers, smart-phones, and tablets while real life is happening around us.

Social media is not the Big Bad Wolf, nor it is the embodiment of evil. It is simply often misused. Imagine trying to serve soup with a slotted spoon. A trying task, indeed. But that doesn’t make the spoon bad. It just means that the spoon was used for the wrong purpose. Social media is meant to be an accent to our lives rather than the entirety. Complaints abound about people paying more attention to their “friends” on social media instead of the friends who are right next to them. Everyone is too busy with having things to share online to have an actual social life. It’s not healthy and it’s not community.

The Oxford dictionary has two basic definitions of community:  1) A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.  2) A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

There are many places that fit the first definition. But what about the second? Where was the last place you felt “a feeling of fellowship with others”? If the answer to that is an online group or an instance from more than a month ago, it’s time to make some changes.

Churches used to be a place that fostered community. People would often have a potluck lunch after the teaching or invite someone to their house to share a meal. Now churchgoers tend to arrive just in time for the service to start and make a run for their cars immediately after with a few nods and waves to acquaintances.

Neighbours, too, were friendlier than now. It used to be that when a new family arrived several neighbours would introduce themselves and even bring food! Today, if a neighbour happens to be spotted in between bouts of busyness they are viewed with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion.

I won’t pretend to have mastered the now ancient art of community building, but I do have a few suggestions for anyone who is ready to change the way they view and live true community.

  • Get to know your neighbours
  • Make friends with people you can meet with – in person- who will share each other’s burdens
  • That new person at church or work, reach out and make them feel welcome
  • Host a game night
  • If you have elderly or disabled neighbours, shovel their driveway or offer to mow the lawn
  • Find a group a people that share an interest or hobby with you

*If you have more ideas of how to build community, please share in the comments. The more the merrier!  And don’t forget to come back and tell us how implementing these ideas helped.*