NOTICING - Is Casual Always a Good Thing?

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What does does it mean to be CASUAL about something?

Webster tells us that casual means relaxed, irregular, not concerned, not permanent ....

In the mid-90s, it meant we could wear jeans to work on Friday.  In the early 2000s, it meant dress shirts and ties were the exception rather than the rule. When talking about dating, it meant there was nothing serious or long-term going on. Casual was fine for fashion protocol  at work or dating relationships, but there are several things in my life that I have allowed to become casual and I don't like the results.

Piano playing: I used to be really good. I don't mean kind of good, I mean really good. I could whip off several Beethoven Sonatas and Rhapsody in Blue any day of the week.  I must have thought that I could retain that same skill level without regular practice because now I pull out a piece to accompany a choir and it can be a struggle. I have gotten casual about a talent I was given.

Healthy eating: I have a health degree. I used to teach health classes. I taught community nutrition classes. I have had times in my life when I tracked what I ate so that I was eating a healthy, balanced diet and I felt great. Somehow, I have let myself believe that I just need to put something in my body that will silence the hunger or remedy the lack of energy. This has led to popcorn for dinner or a DQ Butterscotch Dilly Bar for lunch. The only fruit intake is a glass of oj every few days. While I may not be struggling with a weight issue, I am not putting the right fuel into my body that allows me to run at peak performance. I have gotten casual about my eating habits.

Relationships: Just because we live in the same house and have been married for almost 20 years doesn't mean that we should take our eye off of what got us here. It was time together. It was time that was about us - not about kids or work or house chores or other obligations we both may be involved in.  It was dedicated relationship time. Saying I love you at the end of every phone call or in every text doesn't equate to paying attention to each other. I have gotten casual about my relationship with my husband.

Grandkids: My parents had to drive across the country from Wisconsin to the west coast to visit their grandchildren. They didn't get to see them very often, so they made a big deal out of time together. I, on the other hand, have all 7 of them within 35 minutes of my home. Because many of them drop by the house on a regular basis, I have gotten casual about taking real time to build a relationship with them.  Just because I am home when they are here does not mean I am building a relationship. I need to focus on them and make time for them and get to know who these little people are and they need to know who I am. We need to put dates on the calendar. We need to play games and read books and go for walks and do stuff, not just be in the same room for a Sunday family dinner.  I have gotten casual about the relationship with my grandchildren.

Prayers: Not everyone reading this blog prays - I get that. Substitute what you do to feed your spirit. I read scriptures and pray. I pray best and feel closest to God when I get on  my knees in the morning and at night and really focus on what I am doing. I think about what I am saying. Someone once said "what if the only things you had in your life tomorrow were the things you gave thanks for tonight".  That freaked me out and I got really good at giving thanks. I know that prayers can lift others, so I believe that when people are struggling I need to pray for them. When I am casual about this, I crawl into bed and start a prayer and then fall asleep long before I finish. In the morning, I might utter a prayer in my head while driving to an appointment or in the shower.  That's not bad, but it's casual and it doesn't have my full attention. I have gotten casual about my communication with God.

I could go on and on because once I started noticing where casual was showing up in my life, I found it was eroding many things that I used to pay rapt attention to. Some of those things will stay casual because I don't care as much and I am choosing not to give them as much attention as I once did (for example, making sure I had make up on every time I left my house orhandwriting a note in every Christmas card); those things will stay casual. There are other parts of my life that are important to me and I now realize that I made the mistake of thinking that if they were really good (or I was really good) that it would magically maintain itself. I now see that it won't; it takes attention and effort and discipline. I see it as a challenge because it won't be easy, but I am going to get some things BACK on my list of important things to do.  I hope this helps you find one thing that has become casual for you and that you will make a commitment to give it the attention it deserves.

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