I've been thinking a lot about motivation and discipline. What drives us? What makes our habits compelling? I have an addictive nature. Bad habits come easily. I've quit most of my bad habits. I'm trying to start some good ones. The daily blogging is a habit...is it good or bad?
First came 31 for 21:
Then came November NaBloPoMo.
I had just begun blogging when I stepped onto the treadmill of the daily writing exercise. The first habit I had to break was double-spacing between sentences. With great effort, I've crossed the line - I rarely have to backtrack and eliminate spaces. I've been a trained typist since high school (yes, I took this blow-off class my senior year) and was a professional for 2 years (transcribing legal decisions at over 100 words per minute). Don't imagine that it was trivial to overcome the double-space habit.
In my "alternative writing" (non-blogging) I am learning to single-return/tab between paragraphs (vs. double-return/no-tab). Microsoft eased the pain of that one, but still...it took conscious effort.
Around the end of January I bought (and began using) a journal that inspired me. It's called "The Writer's Desk" and it features occasional photos/quotes from authors. I try to end each day by jotting a few notes about notable events/activities. Since late September, "blog" has appeared daily in my journal entries. I also track whatever I happen to be reading. The "played World of Warcraft" entries are long gone. I've had 2 trips overseas and 2 vacations. Life is recorded. It is now a habit to note what is happening in my world.
Some time ago (I'd have to get off my butt and go check my diary to see when) I started exercising again. Richard and I have had an on/off love affair that started after my first pregnancy. I was given the "Reach" album as a baby shower gift from a friend who loved me enough to care. I weighed in at ~200lb when I left the hospital after my first-born was delivered. When she was about 7 months old I realized the "baby weight" wasn't going away. After two people mistook me for a pregnant lady I considered the jail-time-for-manslaughter vs. diet-&-exercise options and chose the latter. I dusted off the "Reach" album and quit eating cheetos. I remained a lean, mean fighting machine for years. 2nd pregnancy I was "an olive on a toothpick". Afterwards, the undergraduate starvation plan kept the pounds off. Stress at work and the occasional Richard-fling have helped maintain a reasonable balance. I'm a stress-non-eater: I tend to lose my appetite when I'm stressed. With the number of teens in the house dwindling, and a few other factors (I turned 40, had health issues, quit worrying about work), I've had to accept the need to renew the relationship with Richard and we're spending time together just about every morning.
"So what?" you might say. So - I've been doing a 15-20 minute work-out every morning for months and I have not lost a pound! I mean months and months and months. I feel better, I jiggle less, I can climb 4 flights of stairs without having a stroke. I weigh the same. My tools for measuring who I am are inadequate for measuring how I'm changing. I continue to exercise because I'm not looking for reward on the scale by which I measure my weight.
Similarly, I'm blogging every day. Why? To develop my writing skills. To develop the "writing habit". To do something other than develop notebook computers. To share my thoughts on parenting and other twists of life. I've visited a couple of sites where the author is struggling with the self-awareness created by blogging. There is a tendency to seek popularity. To write for the masses. There are writers taking a break from blogging because of the identity-crisis caused by blogging (and the cursed sitemeter). So I started to ask myself, "Why am I blogging?"
Although 1 Corinthians 9 talks about adjusting our style to win over the folks we're dealing with, I ask myself: "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." (1 Galatians 1:10)
I accept that I am not destined to be as popular as Mrs. G, The Bloggess, Maggie, Dammit, Flutter, and others. Maybe there is only one person who will read my blog and be moved. Or maybe no one. I'm not looking for reward on the scale by which I can measure my popularity (sitemeter). I trust that my faith will be rewarded. I know that my skills are improving. I feel better. I jiggle less. Call me a Bible Thumper, a Jesus Freak, even a Holy Roller. There are worse things to be.