Naked on the Tundra

Several people have asked me why I chose Naked on the Tundra as the name for this blog.  I know it’s a problem for some of you, especially if you’re reading this at work and your IT department is filtering your email and internet access.  I apologize for that, but it couldn’t be helped.

Naked on the Tundra is a phrase I started using many, many years ago, when I was trying to explain to someone how it feels to do something completely outside of my comfort zone.  Being Naked on the Tundra means being alone in a cold, desolate, and sometimes unfriendly place, without any protection.  It means not knowing when or if anyone or anything will come along to help. 

Here are some instances where I’ve had that feeling:

Getting married at the age of twenty and moving to a new town in a new state where I know no one?  Naked on the Tundra

Moving to Germany, thousands of miles away from friends and family?  Naked on the Tundra

Going back to college after ten years?  Naked on the Tundra

Getting divorced and being a single parent?  Naked on the Tundra

Getting married again?  Naked on the Tundra

Learning to SCUBA dive when I don’t like putting my head under water?  Naked on the Tundra

Moving to a new city and state ALL BY MYSELF?  Naked on the Tundra

Starting a blog?  Definitely, Naked on the Tundra

If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that we are not meant to go through this life alone.  First we need to have faith in God, trusting that no matter what happens and how scary it is, that He is with us every step of the way.  Second, we need our family, immediate and extended, every crazy, dysfunctional one of them.  Yes, we need boundaries, but we are linked by God’s design and we need to work through our issues and celebrate that we are connected by blood.  Lastly, we need a core group of friends, not the 348 friends that the average adult user has on Facebook, but the kind of friends with whom you can laugh, cry, and completely be yourself.

Regardless of how mature or faithful or connected I am, there are still things that make my adrenaline flow, when my instant reaction is feeling Naked on the Tundra.  I don’t think all the prayer, counseling and positive self-talk in the world can stop that very human response.  When I rely on God, family and friends, though, I know there’s someone out there who’s ready to toss me a blanket and give me shelter until the season passes.

What makes you feel Naked on the Tundra and what do you do to work through it?  I’d love to hear your stories.

As Yourself

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Galatians 5:14

On my commute this morning I started thinking about this verse. I was at an ATM in a slightly sketchy part of town and for some reason, I always feel a little nervous when I’m withdrawing cash there.  I felt a little ashamed for feeling that way, but the truth is, I’m not very trusting.  Initially I started thinking about how I need to do a better job of loving people.  Then as so often happens when I’m thinking about a difficult subject, my mind shifted gears (no doubt a defense mechanism or avoidance tactic) and thought, well, what about the ‘as yourself’ part of that verse?

What does that mean – to love myself?  Because that doesn’t feel particularly comfortable either.  it sounds selfish, self-centered, egotistical, surely not something I should be doing.  It’s a command, though, so what does it really mean?

First, I need to take care of my physical body, eating good food, exercising, making sure I get enough sleep.  Simple, right?  I do okay with eating good food – and yes, chips are good food, but I at best I walk for fifteen minutes a day and some days I do basically nothing.  And sleep?  That’s probably my biggest downfall.  I struggle to get more than six or seven hours a day (far less if I’m in the middle of a good book!).  Clearly some work to be done here.

Another aspect of loving myself is taking care of my emotional needs.  My mental state can be affected by how I care for myself physically, but I also need the right balance between my home and work life (I could write several posts on that topic so I’ve got work to do here as well!) and interaction with other human beings.  I need good friends who lift me up when I’m down, carry me when I’m struggling, wipe my tears when I’m broken, speak the truth in love when I’m going astray, and people with whom I can laugh so hard I can barely breathe, until tears are running down my cheeks.

It’s also recognizing my gifts, talents, and blessings and using them. It’s easy for me to get in the habit of doing lots of things instead of focusing on my best things.  There are all kinds of reasons for that – wanting to please or impress people, wanting to be perceived a certain way by others (boy, isn’t she a hard worker?), and even being a martyr (well, if no one else is going to do it, I can do it all, I don’t mind). 

Finally, it’s recognizing that I’m a child of God, fearfully and wonderfully made.  He loves me.  It’s that simple and that amazing and profound all at the same time. My life has a purpose and I was created specifically to fulfill that purpose.

What do you think it means to love yourself?  Feel free to add your comments at the top of this post.  I look forward to reading what you think.

Conscious Consumerism

There are a couple of things I’ve been thinking about today.  The first was a news article in the New York Times about the ‘bruising’ workplace practices at retail giant Amazon followed by Jeff Bezo’s response in the form of a memo to his employees. Since I take all news with a grain of salt (let’s face it – news about good things aren’t nearly as interesting as some dirt that’s been scraped up), I’m not sure how accurate the article is.  It’s a troubling article to be sure – I can’t imagine anyone wanting to work for a company that treats employees that way.  It’s likely that there will be more news on the subject as people weigh in and share their experiences with Amazon so I will need to see how it all plays out and determine what is truth and what is false.

That brings me to the other thing I’m thinking about.  For many years now, I’ve tried to be a conscious consumer – supporting local businesses, patronizing companies that are environmentally responsible and give back to the community. All this media hype has made me realize that I’ve been basing my decisions more on convenience (what stores are located near me or what can I purchase online so I don’t have to leave my house) and my emotions (they’re so nice when I come in to shop!). 

It took several minutes of wracking my brain and doing random searches on Google, but I found the website for a little book I had back in the 90’s that ranks companies based on five different criteria: Human Rights, the Environment, Animal Protection, Community Involvement, and Social Justice.  If I care about all these things (and I do!) and if I want to vote with my wallet, I need to be far more informed about the places I shop and the products I purchase.  It will only cost me $10 to be a more conscious consumer, which seems like a pretty good investment in making the world a better place to live.  I encourage you to take a look at the site and see how your shopping habits measure up.