No, I’m not actually planning to take over the world. Though sometimes it’s fun to imagine what mandatory weekly painting sessions would do for world peace…
This rundown is more of a public promise to myself and a promise to anyone who comes to Mabbat for encouragement and creativity.
I’ve been working for weeks even though I haven’t been posting anything, and I’ve been planning a few changes that I think will offer more help to other people like me who have been muddling through depression brain. It’s also no secret that I love to be creative, and I think everyone is created to be creative in some way. I try to share how creative outlets like writing and painting have helped ease my depression, but I want to be more intentional about that process and why it works.
So, here’s the plan:
I’m keeping Mindset Monday posts, and I’m adding Three Things Thursday. Sometimes those three things will be mental health related, sometimes art, and sometimes just some interesting things. And I’ll keep sharing what I’m working on.
I’m going to e-mail a “Toolbox” once a week (on Tuesdays, most likely, because alliteration helps me remember what I’m planning to write…) that will include a mental health coping tool discussion, some creative prompts, and a creative Bible study tool. If this is something you’d like to see, sign up here:
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Also, I’m going to be consistent about posting in the Mabbat FB group so we can have a fun and safe place to discuss depression and creativity and everything in between. It’s a closed group, so request to be added, and I promise I’ll be quick about it: https://www.facebook.com/groups/773975689656609/
If there’s something you’d like to see, please say so in the comments. I’d love to hear it!
Because I am not a golfer (despite my putt-putt grandstanding) I looked up the word “mulligan” to be sure I was spelling it correctly and not misusing the term. I discovered on Dictionary.com (Mulligan Definition) that mulligan refers to a stew made up of whatever happens to be lying around as well as the more common – at least in my orbit – do-over term from the world of golf. The mulligan has a fun backstory if you love etymology like I do, and possibly refers to two different golfers named Mulligan who for different reasons requested to take another shot at the first hole (Mulligan Origin Story).
Apparently, there are some occasions in the PGA official rules that require a mulligan, and one player this year has been penalized for not taking his mulligan shot (Pro Golfer Penalized for NOT Taking a Mulligan). If you have read my blog for a while and are suddenly worried that I’m turning to sports writing, never fear: the mulligan references are just the perfect illustration for how I’ve been feeling about my writing and my life in general lately.
#1 – As both Misters Mulligan could attest, there’s no harm
or shame in asking for another shot.
I’ve started and stopped this blog so many times that it
will be a minor miracle if anyone comes back to read since I’ve been rambling
for such a long time. I feel like I
haven’t had a good grip on what I should be writing, and I haven’t made time to
do any real writing for several months.
I feel no lack of guilt and shame about that since the one consistent
gift God has given me and put me in a place to use is my writing.
Here’s what I need to remember about that shame: it’s not from God. It’s a wretched emotion that blocks me from writing and sharing again here on Mabbat, and it does nothing productive in my life. What is from God? The guilt of conviction that asks me to start again, to pick up where I left off and turn away from whatever was holding me back from his purposes – that’s from God. He gives each of us new mercies every morning to start the day fresh with him (Lamentations 3:23).
Every day is a mulligan.
We get new mercies every day. Whatever
you are facing that seems insurmountable, tell it the truth that God is
starting every day new with you, and all that old baggage need not ride along
for your mulligan today.
#2 – As Jesper Parnevik discovered, sometimes you HAVE to
take a mulligan. It’s in the rules.
Do you ever feel like you’re fighting the same battles over
and over again? I do. I am always making the same to-do list for
days on end because I don’t accurately plan for the time each task will take in
the real world. (I am much more
efficient in Anne-land without any interruptions or people or…) I feel like I will always be cycling in and
out of depression, and every loop back into it knocks me off track and requires
another run at rebuilding good habits (because maybe this time I will be
so well established in my routines that depression brain can’t knock me on my
duff – it’s a brave thought, at least).
I have been on and off again so many times with diet and exercise that
there’s not a diet plan out there I haven’t read about and at least briefly
All that guilt and shame I described about neglecting
writing? It’s equally applicable to my
habits, my depression brain, my healthy weight management, and any other aspect
of my life that feels like it runs on repeat mode. And the shame is equally destructive to all
those things, too. But guess what? New mercies apply here, too.
Not only that, but there are very real obstacles we run into
that require us to take a mulligan. Like
depression. And loss. Or life changes like job transfers, budget
shortfalls, aging, and a million other things we’ll encounter as long as we’re
alive on this earth.
We can try to play through, but ignoring the need to take
another shot will end up penalizing us somewhere down the road. Lining up a new shot with fresh perspective
doesn’t make you a failure, but failing to restart and floundering where you
Take the mulligan, get a read on the new shot, and get
moving. You only fail if you give up.
#3 – We are all a mulligan stew of our lived experiences and
the lessons we’ve learned from them.
I could list a lot of things I regret saying or doing. I imagine we all can. But I don’t think we should spend much time
on the regret. Everything I’ve lived
through has made me who I am today, and if I could go back and change the
things I regret, I wouldn’t, because they’re all a part of me now. Who would I be if I hadn’t learned the
lessons those regrets taught me? Who
would I be now without walking through all those years of loss? It’s taken a long time to get here, to feel
this free and this strong. I’m not going
It’s not the regrets that built who I am today, though; it’s what I learned from living through them. Remembering that I was cruel to someone who didn’t deserve it in middle school still pushes me to encourage and build up others instead of gossiping. Living through the worst of my depression brain taught me to ask for help when I’m struggling and to offer a lifeline to anyone I can. I have never been nor will ever be perfect.
I’m a hodgepodge stew of lessons learned, hopes, dreams,
failed good intentions, faith in the God of new mercies, and so much
coffee. What makes my particular stew
tasty rather than bitter is the salt and light of faith that has given me fresh
starts and God’s big-picture perspectives when I’ve needed them.
Here are three things for you to ponder this Thursday:
What kind of mulligan stew are you?
Where do you need to take a mulligan today?
How does the knowledge that God provides new mercies for everyone every day change your opinion of taking a mulligan?
Progress is progress. Keep moving and never give up.
Do you ever feel like you’re stuck on a hamster wheel and
never really getting anywhere with any of the things you want to accomplish in
your life? Me, neither. Ha!
I think we all feel like this at some point whether we admit to it publicly or not. Today’s Mindset Monday comes from my planner on a day when nothing had gone right for at least a week. At least that’s what I thought until I sat down and reviewed my daily evaluations in my planner.
I felt like I had done nothing to speak of because I had
nothing to mark off my goal checklist.
What I saw when I spent some time reviewing what I had accomplished that
wasn’t written on my goal work list was not as insignificant as it felt when I
was feeling mopey about it. I had taken
care of my household, worked, done some writing, and mostly stuck to my food and
exercise plan. That was plenty!
It may have felt like nothing was happening when I looked at
what I had done on my book writing, but I was still making progress there,
too. It just wasn’t the lightening pace
I had set for myself when I planned out my goals.
I’ve been taking a new approach to goal setting and
achievement for this season of my life.
I’m not setting deadline dates as often.
If there’s no outside reason for a deadline, I’m leaving it open ended
rather than pacing it out on a calendar.
Think of goals as a roadmap rather than a timeline.
I’m still going to get to the end destination, but my pace
won’t always be the same or predictable.
Some days I can speed down the highway at 90 miles an hour, while others
I’m on a leisurely stroll. Both are
getting me closer to the goal result, and I need to be happy that I’m moving
towards it, even when it feels like a snail could outrun me.
With parenting and work and volunteering at church, I’m just
not in a space in my life right now to narrowly focus on much else. Whether I like it or not, that means writing more
than my daily journal pages will be the thing that slides down the list of
important things to do. That’s okay,
because it won’t always be like that.
In fact, here’s a story of a woman who published her first
novel at the age of 95.
She never quit. It
took her 63 years to write her novel, and she did it. She is my hero and a brilliant example that
you’re too old or too late until you’re dead.
Whatever it is you’ve been avoiding because you think you don’t have time
or will never be able to finish it, just start.
Start with something small and then just chip away at it little at a
time until you’ve achieved your goal.
You can’t accomplish anything if you never start. It may be slow and feel all kinds of ugly, but slow and ugly progress is still progress. You only fail if you give up.
Discipline is most important if you’re going to accomplish big goals.
I find that I repeat this in various wordings and journal
entries and motivational memes for my vision board. I tell myself some version of this statement
several times a day.
I wish that meant that I was good at being disciplined about
writing and exercising and eating well and housekeeping and…
I have some very big goals, and I have some even bigger
dreams. And I struggle to stay on top of
my daily chores list to keep my life and my family running more or less
smoothly, much less knock off items on my goals list. I fight with the knowledge that if I sit down
to write or paint, then I am not doing something else worthy of doing on my
to-do list. I have to make space to
write, and that space will always come from the space of something else I could
It’s always a dance of time management. I think I have two left feet when it comes to
this dance. I am always scrambling to
keep up with parenting and housework and work work and goal work. It’s not really possible to do it all well
all the time. I know that, but I still
think I should be able to do it all.
Discipline does not mean I will do it all well all the
time. Discipline will allow me to work
in each space for a focused amount of time while maintaining an acceptable
level of slack in the other areas – when I’m good at it, anyway.
Without applied discipline, I have too much slack everywhere,
not enough focus on anything, and everything slides to hades in a handbasket. What I aim for is to keep doing small chunks
of maintenance work every day. I want to
spend less time more frequently doing things like cleaning my house or doing
laundry so that I can keep larger amounts of time every day open for goal work.
If I spend 45 minutes per day on laundry and housework, I
won’t spend 5 hours on the weekend doing it, which is when I usually get to do
the most writing and crafting. (I say
this like I’m an exceptional weekly house cleaner – I’m not.) If I do smaller weekly tasks every day, even
if I skip something one week, I will probably get it the next, and maybe it
won’t snowball into horrendously ignored levels.
Also, if I manage to stay disciplined on the small things
like completing a daily housekeeping chore, I feel less guilt about what’s
undone when I sit down to create. I need
to create, but I’m also responsible for a lot of other things. It’s hard to escape that pressure to get
everything else right before I spend time making something, but if I’m
disciplined enough to keep things in good enough shape, I can sit down and work
on the things that make me happiest without the nagging feeling that I should
be washing dishes.
Mostly, I need to practice discipline to actually get the
work done on my big goals. I’ll never
get my book published if I don’t do the steps to get there. I’ll never finish a painting if I don’t sit
down and do the sketching and brush work.
It’s great to have goals; it’s better to make them happen.
I’ve been procrastinating this step for months. I’d like to say something like, “I’ve been so busy with other things that I just couldn’t get this together until now,” but the truth is, I’ve been avoiding this part of the book publishing process. Like a good INFJ, I know that if I never put my book out into the world, I won’t be disappointed or hurt if it “fails.”
My definition of failure is all wrong, though. If I only want commercial success, I may indeed fail. If I want to fulfill my mission and share my story, then the only failure is to never publish. So…..
I am ready to write book proposals, and I would love some beta readers. If you’re interested in being a test subject, I need to hear from you. First, sign up for the e-mail list. You can do that here:
I’ll draw 5 subscriber names at random to send the beta copy to. Then, I need to hear from you again after you read the book. I’ll send a few questions to gather feedback, and you can add any additional comments that you think will strengthen the book.
When you subscribe to the mailing list, you’ll receive a free copy of a Colossians creative Bible study workbook. If you’ve already signed up, you’re already in the drawing. (You may also be wondering why you bothered to sign up since you haven’t been getting anything from me. I promise I have material scheduled to go out the rest of the month, so thanks for your patience!) You’ll also recieve two e-mails a week from me – one with creative Bible study material, and one with prompts to practice your art skills. Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time.
I’d really love your feedback and support. Thanks for walking with me through this journey so far!
I have taught art at our church’s Rec Camp for the last several years, and I’m always looking for new techniques to make sure I don’t do the same things every year. This year involved not a single drop of paint, but we did a lot of gluing.
This Mindset Monday is a great reminder that every day is a new day. Whatever happened yesterday is gone, and you can only work through today. It sounds like fortune cookie advice, but it doesn’t make it any less true. We can only live right now – not in the past or the future. We can certainly remember the past, and we can plan for the future, but we live one day at a time in the present moment.
As an introvert who deals with depression, I can ruminate on
the past like it’s my job. I can lay
awake at night replaying conversations and kicking myself for being an idiot or
saying the wrong thing (because at two in the morning, I know exactly what I
should have said twelve hours earlier).
I can still recall the horror and shame I felt about making fun of
someone publicly in middle school (that was a looong time ago, friends) if I
let myself dwell on my past. Bottom
line: that mode of thinking sucks.
It’s destructive in so many ways, not least of them being it cripples the way I see myself now and in the future. It discounts the grace of God to remove my sin from me, as far as the east is from the west.
Living in the past isn’t living; it’s dwelling on something
I can’t change in a way that hinders me from moving forward. I may suffer consequences from choices I made
in the past, but that doesn’t define who I am in this moment. That doesn’t change the fact that I can only
work from here, now and keep improving.
As much as the past is no place to live, I am equally good
at getting my head caught in the clouds of future planning. So much so, that I can plan every pound I
should lose and how down to the daily menu and workout level, but in doing so
end up planning and planning and planning and never stepping into action. Or I plan too aggressively and can’t
accomplish all those plans in the timeframe I allotted and end up feeling like
a failure when I don’t measure up to a crazy standard I set for myself.
It’s easy to get excited about planning a goal, but living
in the future is just as torturous as living in the past: I can see the thing I
want to accomplish, but I’m planning all the time and never doing the grunt
work to get there.
So, how do we focus on the here and now without forsaking goals and planning or never honoring the past? We remember that every day is new.
Every day is a new opportunity to wake up and start
again. Maybe that restart is just to
keep going because you’re on track.
Maybe your restart is more like a reboot with a new objective. The goal with this mindset is just to focus
clearly on today, and work through it without getting lost in the weeds of past
and future. It’s grace to let yesterday
go and try again. It’s freeing to let
tomorrow go and just do the work of today.
I love these verses from Isaiah because it’s God saying,
“Look, that other stuff we just talked about – that was yesterday. You just wait and see what I’ll do next. In fact, I’m already working on it, so buckle
up, buttercup, and see what happens.” (Obviously, I’m paraphrasing and taking a
little creative license. Although, I’m
pretty sure, “Buckle up, buttercup,” is frighteningly accurate in my own life.)
If God never stops moving forward with his work and his
plan, why should we? While God is never
limited by time or space, we are, and we should use those limitations as tools
to focus on the thing right in front of us first and best. The things we do in this moment lay the
groundwork for what comes next, and if we never get to work in this day, tomorrow’s
work will be a mess.
Live today, then let it go.
Every day is new. Today is a new
day, and I must start it new and fresh without the lenses of yesterday and
tomorrow filtering out the purpose in today.