Friday, July 21, 2006

Changing your focus

I can't tell you the last time I sat down and grabbed the remote and watched a full program. In fact, I had to scan through the channels last week to find out which one was HGTV for my mom when she was here last week. I do know that 20 is Nickelodeon, 6 is PBS, 50 is Cartoon Network and 66 is the Disney Channel. Oh yeah. For hubby, 25 is ESPN and 95 is FOX News. There you go. We do have tvs in our house, we have DVD players and we still have 2 VCRs. So I am not telling you that you can't have tv in your house. But, I am telling you that I hardly watch a thing on it.
Even after being a Media Communications major in college, I have strayed from my television/video roots. For all you Minnesota fans, I even interned with Steve Edelmann & Sharon Anderson at KSTP's Good Company Show. Remember that one? It was the "Today Show" for Minneapolis/St.Paul. I studied tv and sort of hoped to get into it somehow. Then we ended up as guests on the Oprah Show. Our particular show aired 4 or 5 times. However, I admit, that even as a former guest on her show, I can't tell you when I've watched her program. It's been a very long time.
I'm sure I have a very valid reason. You know- a Nitty.Gritty. point to my story. As in, "I'm telling you all this because...". But, I'm not exactly sure when it happened. It's sort of been evolving and I'm realizing my reasons for not watching TV or movies has changed the past year or so. Some of you understand that when you have a husband or kids that you just sort of give up control of the remote and the channels that you click too. Just to keep peace in your home.
That is certainly a big part of it for me. But, still, I find myself turned off mostly by the constant barrage of messages that are sent directly or indirectly- through the shows themselves, and definitely through the advertising within them. If you watch tv at all, you must know what I'm referring to. Even a lot of music out there today tells us the same stuff.
The kinds of messages that tell me that I'm not good enough just the way I am. That I need something that I don't already have. Or that someone, somewhere has something bigger or better than me and it begins to create this discontent inside me- just by watching images on a screen or listening to certain songs. It might be the unrealistic body images of men and women- the size 0 and 1 types or the cars that gleam down the winding road at a savings of $2000 cash back, or the toilet bowl cleaner that does the work for me, or even facial cream that can diminish lines overnight. I'm telling you, these people and products are amazing, but they just don't do it for me.
It started happening to me the weeks I spent at Hurley Hospital waiting for myself and my family members to recover so that we could go back home. Each day there felt like an eternity to me. I had a million things running through my mind at any given moment and was dealing with post-traumatic stress syndrome (which I never believed in until I actually had it myself!) and would find that turning the tv on made my stomach churn. Even the shows I had been following and enjoying up until that time suddenly seemed meaningless and trivial. They didn't matter in my life one bit. It made no difference to me that Ross and Rachel were getting back together. Or that the stock market was looking up or that Oprah was interviewing Brad Pitt. I couldn't have cared less about any of it. It was strange. Even Al Roker's weather report made my stomach hurt. Nothing mattered at that point in time except for me praying that the people I loved most in life would live. I just wanted my life back.
It went on like that for about 6 weeks. (We came home from the hospital after 3 weeks.) And then one morning Chip called me to come downstairs to see something unbelievable happening on tv. I was still using a wheelchair or crutches to get around, so I made him tell me why exactly I should come and see the tv. He said, "You have to see this. One of the Twin Towers in NYC is on fire." I made my way down the stairs, and just like most of you, I sat glued to my tv the rest of that day. 9/11. I cried when the towers began to fall. It was like I was watching a bigger version of what I had just lived through six weeks earlier. I was still having nightmares every night because of the sound and smell of the building I was inside when it was crashed into by a car. It was so small-scale in comparison- but yet I knew exactly what some of these people on tv were feeling. And I knew exactly what they would be feeling for weeks afterwards.
These two events happening in my life changed my focus. They made me so keenly aware of the false messages that bombard our lives every single day. They made me realize that what matters in life is not what kind of car I drive or what kind of shampoo I use, but that I get one shot at it- and that I never know when that "one shot" is going to be over.
I can't say that I do it right everyday. I mean, I'm still human. I still have feelings and emotions and kids that can change those feelings and emotions with their own good or bad attitudes, and I still have hair that doesn't always cooperate no matter how much product in scrunch in it on certain days. I even turn up the radio and sing out the lyrics from songs like, Jack & Diane. But, my focus has changed. I try not to let that kind of stuff occupy more time from my life than it should. I sometimes have to remind myself after particularly trying days, that it doesn't really matter, as long as I keep my eyes and mind focused. I think you are all aware of my focus by now.
It's not on getting a bigger house. Or a fatter paycheck. Or earning the attention of someone I admire from afar. It's not about the 10 pounds I could stand to lose or the iPod I should think about getting.
It's about what I do each day that will matter for the rest of eternity. It's about me wanting my kids so badly to love God with all their heart, mind and soul, so that they can spend eternity in Heaven too. It's about me wanting to tell as many other people what I have learned in my life. That is that there are a lot of people and things telling you the wrong messages everday. Whether it be the music you listen to, the programs you watch, or the kinds of people you surround yourself with each day. Do they make you better? Do you get inspired after listening or watching them...or do they create a longing inside you for something more? Do you realize that if today were the last day you had with your closest loved ones that a lot of the things in your life just wouldn't matter anymore? I do. I realize it everyday, and it has changed my focus in life forever.


Chris Cothery said...

Hi. (and hi to Chip, too!) I have been reading for a while and have never written. THANK YOU for todays blog. It is awesome....and so honest and heartfelt and IMPORTANT. I agree so much! I am the mom of 3 great daughters (23, 21 and 19). When they were 1, 3 and 5 I found out a had a brain tumor. That was the worst and best of times! Even though it was many years ago now it has ALWAYS continued to influence how I see each day. I feel as though I know you and I keep you all in my thoughts and prayers. Take good care! Chris

shawnna said...

WOW -- you really ROCKED it out this MORNING -- (as always) -- :)
I totally get you -- i don't think i have watched anything except disney channel with the kids in over a week -- but i will admit I sort of traded my hour or so of TV per day for computer/scrapbooking time - but at least there/HERE I get FILLED up by what i read instead of depleated -


Anonymous said...

AMEN! That was one of the best sermons EVER.....!
I wish I could know you as a good friend! Blessings....

Sheila said...

WOW! Just this week I was sharing with my Pastor's wife my "addiction" to reality TV, and through her prayers, I avoided them this past week! You are an awesome inspiration, Jody! :)

Heather said...
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Heather said...

Thanks Jody! We are going through a book called The Treasure Principle, by Randy Alcorn, in a small group at my church. Your post today is a great example of "Where your heart is, there your treasure will be also." Thanks for the encouragement. It helps to know that I'm not the only one "changing my focus."

Laura said...

i think i need to reread that post EVERY day. thanks jody!

Kellie said...

This is so true, Jody. And you put it so, so well.

There's nothing like loss to sharpen our focus and show us what really matters.

BTW, on a lighter note, I ordered a venti, non-fat coconut latte today at SB, and thought of you. It was yummy indeed.

Sometimes the little things in life make it worth living...not necessarily coconut lattes, but knowing why you tried one in the first place, and remembering that you're lucky to be able to savor it. That's all. :)

Cris said...

Wow! What a wonderful post Jody. I really enjoyed reading this one. It makes a really great point and it's oh so true. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Deanna- yep Dee-na said...

thanks Jody. i wish everyone could read this. i don't feel so 'uncool' anymore when life must and does take a different focus.
i have no clue what's on tv lately... and i probably won't much more for this year- we are so incredibly busy and focused on other things.
i started working at SBuxs for some extra income and I'm LOL at Kellie's response... but it's true.
Now I'm going to have to try that latte. lol : )

laura said...

what an awesome post. you remind me of dennis prager when you talk about happiness and what matters in life. he is a conservative jewish talkshow host from here in CA who talks a lot about meaning of life, and has a great focus on HAPPINESS - even in the worst of times. you should check him out sometime.

laura said...

sorry about that link!

i love your blog, jody!

amy j said...

Thanks Jody for your comment on my blog...and for the thoughts on our family. I have to admit that I too don't watch tv much anymore. It's usually on, but I have no clue about shows anymore. When we watch, it's generally educational type stuff...history channel, discovery etc. I absolutely hate mindless television, though I must admit there are days when that's all my brain can manage to something mindless. It's rare now. Who has the time to just sit and watch after all.