Day 23,680: The Stickiness of Oatmeal.

I used to pride myself on flexibility. It comes with motherhood.

Now I’m tending toward focus. It comes with age.

I’m not sure which is preferred, and perhaps there’s a time and place for each.

Focus helps to get a big project done sooner, a  challenge conquered, or provide attentiveness to someone speaking who wants to be heard. But, in older years, focus can easily become crabbiness, a lack of agile thinking, or being too set in one’s ways. It can be what stops a grandparent from changing a daily habit of eating only oatmeal for breakfast to enjoy pancakes with grandkids, just because it’s more fun to share pancakes with syrup smiles with the next generation. I know. I had an old uncle who never strayed from his oatmeal.

In one’s younger years, flexibility comes easiest, I think, to the youngest in families who need to learn quickly to go with the flow. But, focus can become the ongoing practice that allows a person to succeed at a curriculum, become a decent piano player, qualify for a team, or gain any expertise.

I’ve come to realize my current need for focus is to balance my general overindulgence in flexibility. As with most things, it’s the balance that matters. My new hero in this is Jimmy Carter.

In his golden years, Carter has achieved a next chapter in life that eclipses what many would have thought the already pinnacle of his career – president of the US and leader of the free world from 1977-1981. He has led the charge to eliminate disease caused by the guinea worm in his lifetime. At age 93, he has reduced worldwide incidences from 3.5 million to just thirty as of December 2017! From 3+ million to just Three – Zero – 30!  According to the center’s site, it will be “the first disease to be eradicated without the use of a vaccine or medicine.”

But, with that focus, The Carter Center is not a one-issue organization. Its charter is to “wage peace, fight disease, and build hope.” The guinea worm project is just one of many health programs, as well as a series of efforts to improve conflict resolution and increase democratic processes around the world. For each effort, the center looks to have metrics, realizes failure is an option, and attempts to concentrate on issues not addressed by others – in other words filling vacuums.

This is all way bigger than what I’m attempting, but it makes me optimistic that I don’t have to choose between focus and flexibility. Both can reside in one individual if not one center.

I value flexibility, being spontaneous ,and trying new things. But, my family always chastises me to “stick with the plan,” so I need to learn to be more focused once a plan of action has been set. It’s a personal challenge, but I’m taking it on – being inspired by Jimmy Carter and Betty Reid Soskin, and any mentors I may trip upon.  I may eventually take up yoga since it requires focus while building physical flexibility. Meanwhile, I’m actively working on staying committed to daily blogging while not getting too stuck in my other ways, including my latest morning oatmeal routine.

Staying Focused on Gun Sanity:  Listen to Emma Gonzalez’s No BS speech.  Be inspired by one of these new leaders emerging from the Mass Shooting Generation