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I was listening to an audiobook yesterday while scurrying around my house. It was a fun book by Annie F. Downs, and I smiled a lot while I listened and folded laundry. If you have never heard of Annie F. Downs, you should definitely check out her podcast titled That Sounds Fun. In fact, the book I was reading (ahem, listening to) was also titled, That Sounds Fun. It is an easy listen, but yet there are so many points which resonated with me. I will definitely replay several sections before returning it.

Throughout the book, Annie uses the term amateur repeatedly. An amateur is a person who engages in an activity for enjoyment instead of payment or as a pastime instead of a profession. An amateur is inexperienced, yet participates for pleasure and fun. Taking her words to heart, Annie told me that when I start a new activity, I should not ask, "Am I supposed to be amateur or professional at this?" She suggested instead asking, "What brings flourishing in my life and in the lives of the people I love?"

This single suggestion made me want to throw my to-do list up in the air in celebration! Not my household chore to-do list (although that could be very freeing also), but my life to-do list. There is something about the way God created me personally that keeps me in big goal mode all the time! I can name a hundred things I want to do in the next 5 years and I want to do them all well. Like professional level well. And that is the to-do list I struggle to manage in my life. That is the very heavy list I am now considering turning into light, free-falling confetti.

For instance, I enjoy writing although I have no formal - or informal - training in it. Writing seems to help me in some way. Sorting ideas and rehearsing them into formed paragraphs simply makes me a teensy bit healthier inside. I needed a place for that, so this blog site developed and Katie's Story was born. Blogging became the best little outlet for me. Over time, however, I began asking the same question posed in the book which was, essentially, "Am I supposed to be amateur or professional at this?" When I saw that the amount of time in my days could not support another professional level gig, I considered closing my blog entirely this past year. Was it worth the effort involved if it didn't have a significant end game?

Annie's suggestion of a different question strikes me as much more helpful in what to do next. Does writing bring flourishing in my life? Yea, I think so. Especially when I don't feel pressured to produce regular content or grow an audience. Does writing bring flourishing in the lives of the people I love? Yea, I think it does this also. I can't speak definitively for other people, but the feedback I receive tells me that it at least encourages or challenges some. Does writing hold the promise of payment or profession? Nope, not at all. All of which means you may find grammatical errors, typos, or random thoughts in my blog posts. And I think I'm okay with that. So... amateur.

Nursing is the work for which I am paid and highly trained. It is my profession, and I dearly love it. I also consider parenting my profession based on the many years I have spent becoming educated and skilled in it! Writing and speaking are my pleasures. Discipling and mentoring women and loving my husband well are my passions. Reading and exercising and learning new things are my pastimes. These activities are all part of my purpose and lead me toward thriving.

I am keeping the amateur box for my life. And I'm going to worry less about what I put in that box or how long it stays there. And I think I'm also going to change the label on the outside to say Flourishing.

So how about you? What brings about flourishing in your life and in the lives of the people you love? I would love to know!



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