The hardest part of launching a teleconference memoir-writing class has been to figure out how to time-slot in 15 participants from Texas to Michigan, the East Coast from Maine to Florida, a woman in California, and various writers from Canada (Ontario and Saskatchewan), with a few from the Midwest.
Frankly, my mind does not work well with these kinds of detail demands. It just boggles; papers confuse me. I don’t develop orderly systems naturally; I have to sit down and figure out the process. Though I am a highly intuitive person, there is nothing intuitive in me that is able to organize detail systems.
So my editor devised a chart (for a whiteboard) that keeps me from shuffling the same papers over and over. Here is the name of the participant, geographic location, boxes to tick if they’ve sent a piece of sample writing, have paid the registration fee, which time zone they live in, and the number of their group teleconference group—either Monday days or evenings, or Wednesdays days or evenings. Our office manager also took mercy on me and helped me put the possible blocks of time together in which three different groups could met.
Whew? By the time I struggle with fine-tuning with what I know for someone else would not be a very complicated exercise, the detail process itself has exhausted and deadened my sensibilities. Obviously, I do not have the natural capacities to organize systems data.
However, I am three responses away from being able to send out the final email and I am priding myself, albeit in a messy and halting way, for facing down the detail demon. I am also learning that it is not helpful for me to say to myself, You know you are just not good at managing details. Or saying to others, “You’ll be sorry if I take the notes of the meeting.” Here in these nagging dreaded insufficiencies is the possibility for growth. Step up to the I-can’t-do-it-plate. Take the challenge. You may do it badly, but you will have done it. That is what is important.
And you may discover you’re not so bad after all, at doing what you hated, because you’d thought you were bad at it. I am functioning in the later years of my life better than I ever have because I have developed proficiencies in areas I never thought I’d be able to accomplish. For instance, the car is always cleaned after we drive it, the laundry is done, folded and put away on time, dishes are washed after dinner, and as of this month, my writing study is organized and cleaned and waiting for me to be productive. I’ve rearranged file folders (and discovered wonderful forgotten articles and letters and notes to myself). Every corner of the house is ordered—I no longer have wastelands of disaster behind closed doors. To become proficient at keeping rooms aesthetically pleasing (all the time), cleaning up after myself, sorting and filing and putting things away (in a place where they belong), storing seasonal decorations with identifying labels, discarding items that are no longer used or needed—this all has taken me a lifetime. Believe me, it has been an arduous trek.
However, just the doing of difficult things badly has taught me how to do them better, so little proficiencies have developed. And though organizing the memoir-writing class has tossed me into a mind maze, it is now done. I’m ready to jump into the things I do really well, the things that give me joy. However, overcoming the memoir mind-maze—even badly—has given me satisfaction. That in itself is no small thing.
Award-winning author Karen Mains has long had an interest in spiritual formation and the obedient Christian walk. She has written about the God Hunt in her book by the same name, The God Hunt: The Delightful Chase and the Wonder of Being Found. A hardback copy can be ordered from Mainstay Ministries for $10.00 plus $4.95 shipping and handling. Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be happy to autograph a copy for you.
Karen continues to write content for her Christian blog, “Thoughts-by-Karen-Mains.” In so doing, she desires to touch the lives of Christian women and men and help them find ways to walk closer with the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition, through silent retreats, spiritual teaching, women’s retreats, Christian vacation opportunities, and other ministry activities, Karen helps each Christian woman and man receive vital spiritual food.
Through her Hungry Souls ministry, Karen serves as a spiritual coach to many Christian women and men, and teaches a mentor-writing class. And, through the Global Bag Project, she is working to develop a network of African women who sew exquisite cloth reusable shopping bags, Africa bags. This micro-finance women opportunity helps provide a much-needed sustainable income for struggling African families. For more information on this critically important project, please click here.
For decades, Karen and her husband, David, have served God through religious communications—radio, television, and print publication. They are the co-authors of the Kingdom Tales Trilogy: Tales of the Kingdom, Tales of the Resistance, and Tales of the Restoration. To find many valuable resources for pastors and congregations at the Mainstay Ministries main website, please click here.
Likewise, pastors will find special resources to help them prepare effective, life-transforming Sunday sermons by visiting David Mains’ website by clicking here.