Focus

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Now that I work throughout the week, my days often consist of projects upon projects upon projects. Plus technology issues come my way (I was called the tech guru today!), which is awesome because I love problem-solving. However, it also means that my brain is going 20 places at one time, not allowing me to concentrate on anything for a long period of time. I think it was a relief at the end of my day to trace some of the drawings done by kids for next week’s church bulletin (youth sunday!), because I was able to sit down and focus on something as simple as tracing a pencil drawing with a sharpie pen.

Focus. That’s always been difficult for me in the short-term. In the long-term, I like to think that I’m focused. I know what I’m doing, and I know what I want to do in the future (up to a point of like, 2 years, okay? I don’t exactly have my life planned out because no one has their life realistically planned out at 20). Anyways. The short-term is harder though. This week. This month. This semester. I’m really good at doing way too much, and taking on too many projects at once, which means that I can’t give adequate focus to all of them. For instance, my thesis proposal this past semester turned out pretty good, but it could have been great had I actually focused on it a month earlier (when I was at conferences).

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Perhaps my summer spiritual practice will need to concentrate on this particular shortcoming. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been able to unplug when I come home in the evenings, and focus on doing something with my hands. Lately, that’s been cooking and putting together jigsaw puzzles on the dining room table. Just something as simple as following a recipe requires focus and thought. I tend to just toss ingredients into pans and go from there, but this evening, I actually followed a recipe. I knew it was going to be good as soon as I dumped the spice while sautéing the garlic and peppers. This smells right. It’s going to be good. But I had to slow down long enough in order to get there.

I’ve also been trying to establish a Bible-reading routine, which again, requires me to focus. I’m enjoying being interested in reading the book that I profess faith with, because it was never something that appealed to me before. But a new translation and attempting to disturb my gendered mental image of God has been helping. Bible reading and prayer are tenets of Christian practice, and yet I have never been able to consistently do either of them. I’m attempting contemplative prayer a few days each week, which is really hard. If you’ve never tried it, it’s essentially the Christian meditative form of prayer – and sitting there trying to focus on God is hard when you have twenty things running through your head and God seems like the least exciting of all of them. Focus is hard.

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So I’m curious. If you’re reading this, and empathizing with me, or nodding along because this sounds so familiar – what are some of the practices you partake in that help you focus? I want to hear them!

p.s. perhaps ironically, the pictures accompanying this post are all visually centered on focus itself. That was not intentional, but is certainly suggestive.

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