I have not blogged for a couple of weeks now. I’m just breathing in and out every day, doing my job, taking care of responsibilities. I’ve been focusing on Soul Care issues with any spare strength I find. Boundaries- I’m pushing back those boundary lines that have crept too close to the center, giving myself space to breathe. One of those boundaries is pulling away from social media for who knows how long- until I feel more like myself and less like a conglomeration of acquaintances who share a page in cyberspace. I had already been toying with the idea of not blogging so much because it was starting to feel like homework. I need to go back to the place where writing brought me joy and for me, that means less structure and more spontaneity.
Another boundary I’ve decided to resurrect is to read more real books. Reading articles and news headlines on line has not been renewing my mind enough to be refreshing. I have been spending my weekends curled up in a comfy chair with a good book, ignoring the world as much as I can. I still have to do ministry things on the weekends and take my kids to birthday parties and go to church, but I’ve decided not to feel guilty about guarding my weekends and doing what I enjoy for once.
And finally, I have been making space in my schedule to have those coffee dates with friends that I have neglected the last few months. Even though I don’t have much to give them, just being with them, hearing their life updates, and enjoying their friendship has brought me joy. I need to do that more often. A friend of mine came into town as she traveled from Thailand to Dallas to Costa Rica and home to Argentina. I dropped everything and told my husband, “Find your own dinner and take care of the kids. Don’t call my cell phone asking when I’m going to come home. I’m going to be with my friend for as long as I possibly can.” And it was a magical 5 hours of talking and laughing long after the coffee and dessert was gone. (Waiters here never bring the bill until you ask for it, they just expect that you’ll sit as long as you want after you’ve eaten. It’s all about relationships in Latin America.) I needed that time with her.
So here I am, just living each day one by one. I wake up every morning and ask the Lord for the strength to get through today, for the wisdom that I will need to do my job, for the Lord to bless the work of my hands. Having boundaries and knowing what my soul needs to be energized are part of my Soul Care plan. You’ll see me around the blogger-sphere more sporadically for a while. Thank you for all your loyal readership over the last 2 years. Let’s bump into each other again soon.
P.S. I do have a blog going up tomorrow too. So come back then.
Before I moved to Latin America I had a rather large, roomy personal bubble. Most Americans do. I didn’t like “close talkers” to use a phrase from Seinfeld. You know, a close talker is someone who stands uncomfortably close to you when they talk. And they may even unconsciously pursue you as you back away gradually. A close talker could easily creep me out or make me super irritated.
This past week at the conference I was basically chased around a table by a close talker. I kept backing up and he kept following me! I even tried throwing a few chairs in his path, but they didn’t deter him! He was WAY into my personal bubble.
But in Latin America, my personal bubble was completely burst. Here girlfriends often touch each other’s hair and clothing as they talk. Old ladies hold my hand or pat my cheek or rub my arm while they talk to me. Friends link arms as they walk along. Everyone kisses as a greeting. Closeness is part of the warmth of the culture. Sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t.
When we lived in Mexico occasionally we would take advantage of our two oldest kids finally being in school and we would go to see an early movie. No parents in town meant no babysitters for date nights, so we compromised. Naturally because we are Americans we always bought our tickets early and arrived at the theater early enough to choose our seats. Being the first ones, we had the whole theater to chose from. But it never failed, the very next couple to enter the theater ALWAYS chose the seats RIGHT NEXT TO US with no buffer seat between us. (Have you noticed how Americans put their coats on the seat next to them as a buffer?) To our American sense of space, this was incredibly awkward to be sitting in an empty theater shoulder to shoulder with total strangers. Awkward!
But for the Mexican who were used to living in one of the most crowded cities in the world, it was nothing to be nearly on top of each other. More than likely they were thinking we had chosen the best seats and naturally they wanted the best view too. It’s kind of like how you can draw a crowd just by staring and pointing to something vague in the distance. (It’s kind of a fun prank, you should try it sometime.)
Here in Latin America touching and grooming and friendship all shrink my personal bubble. I have discovered that when I return to the United States I often freak people out by standing too close for comfort. I don’t mean to be a creeper, I just forget! One time I was in the grocery store in the meat section. There was only one other lady in the whole place. She was looking intently into the cooler case, examining some packages of meat. I thought because she was looking so purposefully that she must have found a sale item. So I slid over to her side and looked right where she was looking. She looked up in surprise and took a few steps to her right. Instinctively I followed her a few steps to the right. She gave me a dirty look. Then I realized what a creeper I was being. I apologized and headed to the bread section post haste! It was pointless to try to explain that Latin America had broken my personal bubble.