Daily Blogging?

I just sorta threw this out there at the end of my post about momentum:  What if I blog every day in May?  On one hand, I like the idea of writing everyday.  I think it will force me to look for things each day worth writing about .  It might cause me to reflect a little deeper about everyday realities and current news events.  On the other hand, I wonder what the heck I will write about!  Certain days will be no problem.  I might see something really cool, or maybe just have something on my mind worth writing about.   But what about those days that, well… are just normal.  When nothing special happens either in my life or the news and nothing in particular comes to mind;  What then?

Over the next week or so, I will be trying to brainstorm ideas for those days.  I want to get a list of things to write about so that I have a bit of a “bucket” to pull from once I get into the thick of everyday posting.  The blog is going to look a bit different, though.  Up to this point, all my posts have been directly tied to my experiment with embrace and refrain.  I am going to need to go outside of those boundaries into some uncharted territory (for me).   I am excited to see how this goes.  Here are a few things that pop into my head in terms of categories:

  • Sports:  I love sports and the NFL draft is coming up this week!  I am a big DETROIT sports fan, so I might post about the Lions draft and maybe about the early MLB season with the Tigers.
  • Learning Web Development / WordPress:  Over the last 8 months, I have been learning as much as I can about web development and WordPress.
  • My new profession… adventures of a stay at home dad.
  • My experiences as a Youth Pastor:  Before my recent switch, I worked in youth ministry for 12 years.  There might be something in those 12 years worth writing about…
  • Apps, iPad, Apple, etc:  I’m an Apple fanboy… what can I say?
  • Embrace / Refrain Updates:  I continue to work on all 3 of my first 3 months practices at lesser levels.
  • Things I’m thankful for:  My wife writes a daily list of 5 things she is thankful for.  It’s a pretty cool thing to do.
  • Politics:  Nope…  not going there.
  • Photos:  My own quirky version of Instagram!

Well… that’s not a bad list for starters.

Momentum

As a youth pastor for 9 years, I experienced both positive and negative momentum.  If we had a few student leaders (not by title, but by practice) who were genuinely excited about our group and what we were up to, the group would take off for a period of time.  On the opposite end, if we had some prominent students who were negative about the group, it could really kill any momentum we seemed to have.  I think we often tried to spiritualize those realities when we tried to explain them, but maybe it was just a practical reality of momentum.

This year the Detroit Red Wings were one of the best NHL teams early on in the season (if not THE best).  After several injuries, toward the end of the season they went on a huge slide.  Just before the playoffs they got most of their players back, but they never regained the momentum they had earlier in the season.  They were just ousted from the playoffs after getting dominated by the Nashville Predators 4 games to 1.

It’s not ministry or a professional sport, but apparently small-time blogs are effected by momentum as well.  Early on in this project, I was genuinely excited.  The blog was new, it was fun, and it was something I had wanted to do for some time.  I posted regularly for the first 3 months.  Toward the end of the 3rd month, I had a couple of really busy weeks, followed up by a family vacation.  I lost momentum.  When I got back, it was stinking hard to even open up WordPress and start writing again.

April ended up being a wasted month in terms of the blog.  I tried to salvage it about a week and a half in, but I never really got any traction either with practicing the first 3 months habits or writing about it.  Admittedly, it’s pretty hard to write about something you’re not working on!  Without trying, I ended up refraining from embrace/refrain for April.

When our momentum was down in youth group, we would look hard at some things we could do to get the group excited about our community.  It didn’t always work, but we didn’t just sit around and accept that our groups momentum was going in the wrong direction.  We did something about it.  The Red Wings will definitely be busy in the offseason trying to correct the slide that happened at the end of this season.  They will work hard to change their momentum.  In the bigger picture of life, ministry, work, family, etc;  this blog isn’t that big of a deal.  However, I do want to finish out the experiment that I set out to do at the end of 2011, as I have already seen some great benefits from trying to work on better habits and discipline.  I need to do some work on getting that momentum back.

I think May will be an embrace of blogging. I will try to post as often as possible.  Do I shoot for every day?

 

Refrain Ideas – 1

I’m settling in on what I’ll do for January, but thought I’d post some ideas on refrain beforehand. Interestingly, ideas for things to refrain from come much more easily to me than ideas to embrace. Here are some possibilities for things to refrain from for a month:

  • Information Technology: This is the big one, and probably the idea that started me down the path to creating this blog. I heard a story about a journalist who took a month away from modern information technology. She picked an arbitrary date in the 1950’s as a baseline for what types of technology she could use. No computer. No color Television. No cell phone. No iPad. Since I heard the story, it has vanished! I have scoured the internet to find even a mention of it without any luck. Did I imagine it? Either way, the idea stuck with me… and now finds itself first on this list.
  • Automobile: I live in the suburbs, so this would be almost as big as information technology. What would life be like without using a car for a month? I love my bike, so it would be nice to actually use it for most of my transportation needs. I would also need to learn the public transit system. So many of the things I just jump in my car for would have to be thought through in advance. Fun!
  • Any beverage other than water: I am amazed at how many things I drink other than water. Juices, coffee, pop, beer… Not all of them are bad for me, but I think it would be interesting to limit to just water for a month. Not fun, but interesting. Would there be any beverages I wouldn’t go back to? Would I feel better overall?
  • Sweets / Sugar Foods: I love cookies, candy, cake, etc. But lets face it, this stuff is just plain terrible for me. I don’t eat a ton of sugary foods, but I think it would be good for me to take a month off entirely.
  • Buying Stuff: Of course I need to buy groceries and toilet paper and such, but what would it be like to only buy things I need for a month? I would have to put some clear parameters on what is a necessity and what isn’t, but I think it’s safe to say that I buy a lot of stuff every month that I don’t really need!

I purposely listed huge category ideas. I think much of what I’ll do is take one or more from some of these bigger categories. I could refrain from computer use, or cell phone use instead of all things information technology. Or I could just do coffee, pop, or beer. Some of these ideas would dramatically change how I currently live on a day to day basis! If you have any ideas of things to refrain from for a month, feel free to leave a comment.

Embrace Ideas – 1

Here are some ideas that I have for the months where I embrace a practice:

  • Write a letter a day: I think writing letters is almost entirely lost in our culture. I was at a wedding recently where the sister of the bride referred to a recent letter that the bride had written her, and that is when this idea popped into my head. It would be cool to think of 30 or so different people that I could write letters to!
  • Wake up at 5:30 every morning: For some people, this wouldn’t be a big deal. If I am left to my own devices, I will go to sleep between 1 and 2am, and get up between 9 and 10am. Lets just say I avoid being awake before 7am if at all possible. Yet, I wonder what benefits would come from getting up early every day for a month? What would I use that time for?
  • Ride my bike everyday: This wouldn’t be a huge stretch for me, since I love being on my bike. Yet, I certainly don’t ride everyday, probably not even 3 times a week. So it would be a challenge, and it certainly would be good for fitness.
  • Practice the daily office: The daily office is a practice of morning, mid-day, and evening prayers. I’ve been thinking about setting up a spot in the house that is conducive for quiet reflection and prayer, which I think would work great if I chose to embrace the daily office for a month.
  • Do an art project everyday: This would be mostly sitting down with my kids and doing art with them. Usually, I just encourage them or tell them how much I like their art, but I don’t often do anything artistic myself. It would be a good practice, and fun to do with my kids.

I’ve got to settle on January’s practice pretty soon. If you have any ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Introducing Embrace / Refrain

Over the next year I am going to take each month to embrace something new, or refrain from something that is a regular part of my life.  I am going to embrace 6 new practices for a month, and refrain from something 6 times for a month as well.  I will do alternating months, starting this January with my first practice to embrace.  Let me explain a little more:

Embrace:

I often have these ideas of new practices that I think might make my life better, or healthier, or something along those lines.  I often make plans to put those things into action.  However, I am apparently not all that disciplined.  So, I put these things into action once or twice, and then I have another idea that comes along and I move onto that.

My ideas for these kind of practices can be pretty varied;  flossing (I actually was successfull in making flossing a habit about a year ago!),  a daily practice of prayer or meditation,  exercise of some sort, etc.  Some ideas could be pretty intense to do for a month, while others would be beneficial, but not all that difficult.  My hope for any of them is that they would help me see the world in a new way, get in better shape, or just simply accomplish something new.  Ultimately, I hope they help me grow as a person in some way.

So, for six months over the next year,  I will choose a something to practice, and embrace that practice as fully as possible for one full month.  During that month, I’ll blog occasionally about my progress, and what I might be learning in the process.

Refrain:

On the months that I am not embracing something new, I will choose something that is a regular part of my life and refrain from it for the full month.  Awhile back I did a fast (from food) for about 3 days.   During that fast, I realized how much I love food, depend on food, and I missed it during the fast (obviously).  I also could see ways in which my life was negatively impacted by some of my habits around food.  I had a new appreciation for the place that food had in my life.  Afterword, it occurred to me that I could take the process of fasting beyond food and get the same type of perspective on whatever I might refrain from.

Just like with embracing new practices, I could refrain from something simple like not drinking pop.  Or, I could do something something much more difficult  like a technology black-out (not sure how I will blog about that if I choose to do it).  Most of my endeavors will fall somewhere in-between.

So there you have it… this is what Embrace / Refrain is.  Six months where I embrace something new.  Six months where I refrain from something that is a regular part of my life.  I invite you to follow along, join me in my endeavors, or do your own alongside me.

Ideas

I specifically didn’t get too much into ideas of what I might actually embrace or refrain from.  I’ll do a few of posts over the next couple of weeks exploring some of the possibilities.  I’ll try to settle on what I’ll do for January, well…. sometime before January.