Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fuel 2014

I have a completely unsustainable habit. It's called: finding new or faraway places and relishing them. It's also called: complete bliss. 

Tucson from the top of Campbell. Don't judge my iPhone. 

I adore my thinking time. I protect it and nestle it away from the rest of my life. I fight for it and carve out insane amounts of time for it. I feel spare when I don't get it. But the reason I say that it's unsustainable is that…it kind of is. For real-life grown-ups. Who have jobs. The amount of time I spend processing life - thinking, journaling, traveling, sitting, soaking - could easily rival the amount of time I spend living it, and to be frank, ain't nobody got time for that. It is completely unattainable for me to be able to travel and explore and dream to the degree that I wish most of the time, so I settle for smaller adventures, day trips, night drives - all of them like little sighs from a greater yet unsatisfied wanderlust. 

This winter, I had the chance to actually steal away into what I am realizing is one of my very favorite things to do: travel alone. I jotted up to Seattle to visit my grandma for a couple days, caught the train to Portland for a little longer stay over Christmas with my dad and the lovely lady in his life. I no sooner returned to Phoenix than I hit the road for San Diego for a friend's wedding. A run on the beach, back to Phoenix for a couple days, and then back in lab down in Tucson by January first. What. A. Busy. Holiday. Oh but I thrived

Washington Square, Seattle
Amidst planes, trains, and automobiles, forests and beaches, there was that beautiful, unadulterated reflection time that I crave. The very best kind: where your eyes and mind are taking in the world around you and your thoughts are on free play.
Looking out the train window.

I was turning over many thoughts in my head about the years past and the years to come. The rich, savory stew meat: life, love, sacrifice, excellence, purity, passion…it all distilled into one primary word for 2014: Fuel. 

Fuel~

Fuel is something you put into a machine to get an output. I'm a far cry from any kind of physicist, but I see it as a kind of potential energy. If you want good output, you need good input. What am I fueling myself with in 2014? This question settled in my thoughts. It just stuck. Everything in my life boiled down to putting good things in so that I could get reliable things out. So what was I putting in?

Downtown with Dad
 (Portland)
I saw the roots of this in virtually every area of my life. Flying over desert plains and shrubby mountains, I saw the traces of fuel leaking into my mental life, my spiritual life, my emotional life, and my physical life. Because, on the cusp of 25, the habits I make now echo into my future with very real impact. I'm not just making choices for the day, the week, or even the year. In a way, the choices I'm making now thread themselves into the years to come, and even into how I will parent and serve my family. So am I living with this in mind? 
San Diego


A sobering quote from John C. Maxwell:

"See what a person is doing every day, day after day, and you'll know who that person is and what he or she is becoming."

Eek. Who am I becoming, and do I like that person? Let's make 2014 count. 

So without further ado:

Mental Fuel
Simply put, what am I putting in my brain? I have a limited amount of time. Am I using it to scroll through endless Facebook articles ("You'll NEVER believe what this one adorable kitten did" etc), or am I reading books of substance that challenge my thinking? Am I cultivating my intelligence or wasting it? It might be one thing to read mindless Facebook threads over an evening, but is that what I want the next five years of evenings to be made up of? And what's the difference in capacity on the other end of that five years?

Emotional Fuel
Am I engaging in smart emotional relationships? Do I have healthy and stabilizing networks within community, and am I consistently being open and honest with trusted people who will ask the hard questions with love? Do I set good boundaries, avoid overextending my heart, and say no to codependent, manipulative, or otherwise unwise interactions? Do I encourage movement or do I let my emotions sit and fester? Am I responsible with the way I feel about things, treating them with rationality? Is my self-worth reflected in the way I talk to people or let them talk to me? Obviously, love is love, and God asks us to engage with people all over the map. But my security must be firmly grounded in Christ or else the weight of these interactions will tip and pull me around in unhealthy ways. And there's always got to be a point when you just say, "No, thanks." 

Physical Fuel
Seriously, eat well. I'm 25, I can't afford to invest poorly in my future anymore. Just because I'm in good shape now doesn't mean I'll always be, and the difference starts now (probably years ago actually, but oh well). I am still experimenting entirely with what 'eat well' means, but in general, am I putting whole and healthful foods in my body, real foods, in good moderation, and am I building up strength and endurance through exercise? I really believe that how we treat our bodies is also how we treat our minds. When I don't take care of myself physically, I'm also closing doors in thinking clearly and having the energy to engage in worthwhile things. A physical investment is a holistic investment, so do yourself a service and take care of yourself. 

Spiritual Fuel
Am I digging in spiritually or coasting? Do I wake up and ask the hard questions, engage in real times of prayer, study the Word, and invest in the most important relationship I will ever have? Again, this is not just an immediate benefit, but a long-range one. In five years, what will be the difference in my character if I had really dug in and engaged spiritually versus if I had sorta kinda went through the motions? Spiritual health, in my experience, affects each of the other areas too. It aligns me when I'm out of place, challenges my ideas, humbles me constantly, and importantly, cultivates a deep sense of joy and gratitude. Game changing things: I want them in my life in 2014. 

So I suppose 'resolution' is not exactly the correct word for how I came into this year, but I have many concrete reflections about who I want to be. I'll say it: I am SO excited for 2014. (Yes, I know we're already 1/6 of the way through, nerds.) I have an amazing feeling about this year, and feel like I am ready and open in a way I have not yet been. I feel as if I will pick up what my life has been equipping and readying me for this year in some ways. I am full throttle. Bring it on 2014! 


What are you excited for this year?