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A Reset Button
Good morning, Friends.
I have a shorter-than-usual newsletter for you today. As I mentioned last week, we were moving offices (more like houses) this past Wednesday and while it has gone well, it is still very much going. I'm in my new office, but everything is still in boxes. And there's a whole house to unpack and figure out how it wants to be lived in. I'm feeling both a sense of disorientation and, if I really think about it, a sense of grieving from leaving my previous space where I was for eight years (even though it was our idea!).
I am ready for the restart but remembering why these kinds of things are also hard.
That said, I’m still thinking about restarts and refreshes which leads me to a thought and a query. I just finished Jeff Tweedy's book, “How to Write One Song,” and I really loved it. Towards the end of the book, Tweedy talks about dealing with “writer's block,” which he confesses to be skeptical of. Preferring to talk about it as a challenge, hurdle, or speed bump. “Block” implies an immovable object. It also implies that you have to go forward to get to where you are going. But for creative, and I would add spiritual, people there are often alternative routes that, if we listen and are patient, can be discovered. Sometimes we call this finding a "third way."
One suggestion Tweedy makes for confronting a "hurdle," in the creative process is to put it away for a bit. But I think this is true in spiritual practice as well. I don't know about you, but when I run into a wall on a project or in a relationship, I can get fixed on trying to figure it out. My mind starts to spin. It plays out a million scenarios searching for a solution. Or like a video replay at a sports game it rewinds and replays conversations over and over again with different lines, different characters interjecting, and different outcomes. Tweedy suggests one way to deal with this is to walk away. Just for a time, but find something else to focus on. Find a way to reset.
"Do yourself a favor and find an activity that helps you push the reset button on your brain." (Tweedy, 146).
Tweedy will often start a new song or work on a different one when he's stuck on a current song. There are many ways to offer a reset. I have a few and want to share one with you.
One “reset” activity I have developed for myself is roasting coffee. I picked up the hobby of roasting coffee when we still lived out West. A friend, Al H., taught me how to do it and it was for a long time a personal hobby. A Whirley Pop, a stove top, and 8 ounces of green beans was my happy place. Then a number of years ago when I was dealing with some really difficult stuff at my job my mental health started to nose dive. I turned back to roasting coffee but this time for other people. I started up a little subscription service and a farmer's market stand. It was new layers of complexity and creativity, it was fun and it was an outlet that allowed me to shutoff the work thoughts and create something else that I loved, and others loved. Eventually, that became a full-blown small business. I promise this isn’t some subtle sales pitch, it’s honestly how I have coped. It is also part of why I named it after Fireweed, a wildflower that heals the earth it grows in.
Most weeks I don't roast coffee anymore because I hired someone to do it (and she does awesome at it). However, this past week my daughter, Mae, and I went out and roasted for about 3.5 hours. It was a really lovely time with her and it reminded me of how roasting has been for me a way to walk away and reset my brain. Recently, I've been dealing again with a number of stressors again, and being out there roasting I didn't think about a single thing other than the beans, and time with Mae. It was really wonderful. I didn’t come back with some great perspective where I was able to figure out a way forward but it did give me a respite from my worry. And that was enough.
I think we need these kinds of things and I wonder if you have something like this or, if you need something like this, what might it be?
Do you have any activities that help you reset your brain, help you with your mental well-being? Help you draw closer to yourself, your loved ones, God?
What helps you create space for yourself or think of alternatives when you face a hurdle in your life?
Sponsor This Week: Thee Quaker Podcast
I want to thank our sponsor of Nurse Log Notes this week: Thee Quaker Podcast. Thee Quaker Podcast brings stories of spiritual courage to your ears each week.
Quakers have always wrestled with big questions in their search for spiritual truth. Thee Quaker Podcast is a continuation of that 400-year-old tradition — we’re digging deep to search for innovative stories that explore themes of faith, conviction, and doubt. Listen and subscribe at QuakerPodcast.com.
If you’re looking for a well-produced, thoughtful, spiritually oriented podcast, this is just for you. If you’re not sure where to start, why not give the episode with my good friend and Quaker pastor, Ashley Wilcox, a listen. Listen here: Insider a Semi-Programmed Quaker Meeting for Worship.
If you’re interested in sponsoring or advertising on Nurse Log Notes read more here.
Epilogue - Jeff Tweedy
“Let me just say this: I believe we stop ourselves sometimes when we’re happy. We create conflict in our relationships sometimes because we’re feeling uncertain and needy. Feeling attached to something can be uncomfortable. Sometimes your stuck because you’re anxious about losing something you love. Maybe you were sailing along working on a song and you kind of fell in love with it. And then you felt vulnerable because “What if its not really good?” Or “What if I can’t realize the full potential of this song?” Isn’t that what someone in the world of psychology would call an “unhealthy attachment?” Maybe you pulled back when you started to fell something. Maybe you recognized yourself in the song and felt a connection that felt like love. And then you worried, “Will it love me back?” Just let a song be itself. Let it be what it wants to be - what it needs to be. A song will always love you back, but sometimes it just needs a little space.” - Jeff Tweedy, (How to Write One Song: 149).
Thanks for reading today!
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Haw River Watershed (Greensboro, NC)