1. What Have I Done? – Life Out Here
Alone in my closet and speaking into a rose-colored microphone, I feel odd. I am not a known conversationalist and yet here I sit, recording my first-ever podcast, wondering what have I done?
I started listening to podcasts on evening walks through my old neighborhood. I could get two miles out of one DIY MFA Radio episode, one mile out of a Write Now episode. Down sidewalks I knew by heart, the wisdom and encouragement of Gabriela and Sarah propelled my writing pursuits. If the kids were asleep when I snuck back in the front door, I sometimes burned the midnight oil to add a few scenes to a story or fashion an article for the blog. Though I did wonder what it might be like to record a podcast, I never gave podcasting my own show much thought.
Until “North, to Alaska” was born. And one afternoon the words of a dear friend and mentor rang clear as a bell: your blog would make for a terrific podcast.
I checked into it. A good microphone runs between thirty and fifty dollars. As for the hosting platform, you can drop a paycheck or nothing at all depending on your intentions. Not expecting to be the next Beth Moore, the next Storynory, or the next anything, I opted for the free route. The next thing to consider was how to do it, and the FFA Creed Speaking version of myself emerged to suggest narration. I could not picture myself interviewing Abigail, Izaak, or any moose passing through the neighborhood, but I could read aloud my blog posts. Yes, story time with Kathleen felt doable.
But doable while a mother to two kids and two dogs is a relative concept. On some days we never change out of our pajamas. On other days, it can take two hours round trip to venture out to the post office, depending on the weather and who must poop before we leave the driveway. Is a podcast doable? I’ve been asking myself, asking God.
The answer is no and yes.
You know how the latest trend is picking one word for the whole year? This idea was attractive to me until it took off like wildfire. Now everyone stamps their “words-of-the-year” everywhere and they all start to sound the same mid-January. Imagine being married to the word “sparkle” for 365 days!
No, years ago I learned my soul prefers to operate in seasons that may or may not adhere to the confines of a calendar, and sometimes it’s a phrase that settles on my heart. My current phrase settled on my heart in late December, and that phrase is “pace yourself.”
It’s really a message from Jesus himself; he knew I’d stand with a great Gatsbean hope on the edge of January 1st like it was some high dive perched over that pristine Olympic-sized pool called The Year 2021.
He knew I’d dive headlong into new resolutions or new routines or new projects. I felt no corralling on his part, just the freedom to pace myself. No, this year it was not a question of whether or not these pursuits were right, but a question of management.
It’s easy to mismanage in an Olympic-sized pool.
You see, hope gives birth to joy and sometimes joy must be harnessed like it’s wild energy.
Now, I am not a swimmer, and I am not a backpacker, but I do know that backpacking is not the same as taking a neighborhood walk. You must pace yourself to save yourself. Each unnecessary movement or word uttered to fill empty space can drain the energy store you need to make that eight or ten or twelve miles before dusk. While a hurried and inconsistent pace can make it seem as if you are cheating the system, you’re only cheating yourself of that precious commodity called energy.
I think often of mana, that mysterious morsel God gave to the Israelites each morning as they wandered the desert. “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed,” says Exodus 16:18. Those who tried to save extra portions for the next morning ended up with smelly maggots.
Don’t cheat yourself and reap smelly maggots. Take only what you need, what you are given, each day. Each moment. Then, someday, you’ll look back on a bountiful harvest, knowing precisely why you did what you did.