THE LOVELY GRIND
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I'm Michael Priebe, author of The Lovely Grind messages of spiritual inspiration for workdays and creator of The Lovely Grind website. So where did all of this come from? The answer is personal experience that spurred a lot of reflection on the spiritual and emotional plights of the modern working man and woman. I am passionate about the topics and insights presented on this site and in my writings because they come out of personal experience and out of my own spiritual and intellectual explorations.
Why did I write messages about working through anxiety, physical sickness, and depression? Why did I write messages about the modern worker's struggle to ward off cynicism, anger, and the lure of unhealthy living? Why did I write messages dealing with the pain of abandoned dreams and the myriad challenges related to believing in oneself? I wrote about each of those things because I went through each of those things, and I attached a spiritual focus to each of those challenges because a spiritual focus is what pushed and lifted me through them. My own experiences showed me that God doesn't abandon us in dark times. Instead, He holds us through the worst torrents of the storm and then, eventually, He allows the skies to clear so that we can see the bigger picture.
I fear that many people are having a hard time connecting with the bigger spiritual picture of their lives because they are too stressed out by the task of simply surviving their daily grinds. When we have to deal with long commutes, workplace politics, tight household budgets, and the fatigue and confusion of it all, it can get difficult to connect with a spiritual purpose and a deeper life. I mean, when we are so consumed by the difficult trick of keeping our workplaces and households satisfied, who has the time or energy for spiritual devotion and healthy living, right? But the trick is to make the energy and find the time, little by little. The trick is to stop imagining that a content life resides at some faraway location at some future date. We have to embrace the present. There are small ways to make each day enjoyable, even if we are not currently enjoying much about our job or some other aspect of our grind. Not only does such a daily/weekly quest to improve and enlighten oneself accomplish the trick of making each day lovely, but it builds a path toward significant personal growth that will eventually shock us with its magnitude.
A few years ago I felt nearly hopeless. I had a lengthy list of improvements (professional, financial, physical, & spiritual) that I wanted to see occur in my life, but it was starting to seem as if those improvements would never actually happen because I couldn't see through the stress of my daily grind. I wanted to return to my mostly abandoned dreams of being a professional writer, but I felt crushed beneath the weight of an unsatisfying office job (a stable and well-paying job at a large technical college, but one that really wasn't in line with my true creative passions).
I wanted to have more energy and enthusiasm on a daily basis, but years of being professionally stressed had made me apathetic toward my own health and dependent on cigarettes and on anti-anxiety and blood-pressure medications that left me fatigued. Where in the world would I find the stamina needed to make wholesale changes to my health one painful inch at a time, and how would I ever find the inspiration necessary to survive another year or two at the office while I saved up enough money to try self-employment?
As it turns out, the act of fostering a daily connection to God and to His larger spiritual perspective was able to push (and at times carry) me to the next steps in my life. I'd always been a Christian by definition, but as I began seeking the strength to wean off of medications, quit cigarettes, get in better physical shape, and save up enough money to attempt a career change (all while dealing with the daily stresses of my office job), I was forced to become spiritual in a deeper way. I began relying on short, spiritually inspiring messages (i.e., daily devotionals) each morning to put my head and my heart into the proper places before I went about dealing with my daily stressors--stressors that could have otherwise derailed my personal resolutions--and I began writing The Lovely Grind messages as I reflected on the difficulties of modern professional life and on what it takes to rise above the fog of the daily grind.
As I began taking the first steps down my long path to a better future, I began to analyze the stressful workdays that had contributed to a somewhat listless attitude toward my own happiness over the years. What was it about workdays that could make them not only difficult but spiritually dangerous? What was it about the modern workplace that could sap a person's enthusiasm and optimism? I noted how it seemed to be a common part of the modern human condition to deal with difficult coworkers, rude clients, humdrum daily chores, a lack of professional fulfillment, and the numbing sensation of simply sitting in an uninspiring workplace for so many hours in a day. I noticed that many people simply seemed accustomed to having the creative magic and spiritual energy drained from life as a result of the workplace's bottom lines. I mean, when we think about our workplaces, does that picture conjure up magical emotions and supernatural possibilities for us, or does something about that picture feel a little bit like the opposite of spiritual and inspiring?
As I reflected on the soulless language and lifeless concerns that can make up a lot of professional life, I began to realize that such cold reality can be countered by bringing a spiritual and balanced-living focus into each day, and as I reflected on my own struggle to stay happy and energetic in the face of a less-than-satisfying professional existence over the years, I began to suspect I wasn't even close to being alone in such a struggle. I began to believe that many stressed workers could use a little extra spiritual inspiration in their days, and I began to write The Lovely Grind messages to offer such inspiration.
Since the first seeds of these messages began swirling through my consciousness several years ago, I have been fortunate to realize many of the improvements that I once feared might never come to pass for me. I have been able to quit cigarettes (an almost twenty-year habit) and prescription medications (five of them that were also present in my life for nearly twenty years. A note: prescription drug withdrawal can be long and nasty and should not be undertaken without the expert advice and support of a trusted physician and individuals who have experienced it for themselves). I have survived money difficulties and found an improved definition of financial happiness, I have regained physical and mental vigor through exercise and (mostly) healthy eating, and I have found the courage to pursue my true professional dreams of writing (and discovered the comfort that comes from believing that God wants to see us pursue the dreams that He's planted in us).
So what are The Lovely Grind's messages ultimately about? They are about forging a personal relationship with God while getting closer to your individual definitions of personal happiness and professional fulfillment. They are about surviving workdays while transcending the petty problems that can make those days infuriating and physically, mentally, or spiritually damaging. They are about developing an enlightened perspective that recognizes the greater spiritual picture that is always being painted by our daily responsibilities and struggles, and they are about developing a sense of appreciation (and humor) that recognizes every profound blessing and awe-inspiring irony that God places into our lives.
I wrote The Lovely Grind's messages to shine a light on a variety of professional/workplace challenges so that readers will know that they aren't alone in such struggles, and I wrote these messages to give spiritual inspiration to people who are on the verge of having their capacity to dream swallowed up by the bottom lines of their daily grind. I wrote these messages for all of the people who are suffering because of abandoned professional dreams or overly stressful workplace environments, and I wrote them to help all of the people who don't know how they will survive the long string of workdays currently standing between them and the realization of their self-improvement resolutions.
The hectic stress of the workplace usually doesn't pause so that we can sort out our personal issues and pursue true spiritual development, so we have to find some way to incorporate tiny measures of such growth into each day, even as we are struggling to satisfy the quotidian requirements of our grinds. We have to, in effect, transform the "grind" into something that is our own and something that is lovely.
I sincerely hope that these messages (and the better-living tips included on this site) will help you to not only survive your grind but to make it lovely. I hope that they will give you comforting and productive thoughts to latch onto as you move, step by small step, through your own journey to a profoundly satisfying future.
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MICHAEL S. PRIEBE
AUTHOR OF THE LOVELY GRIND MESSAGES