This past week was a good week. And it was actually the simplest things that made it good. Nothing revolutionary. Just intentional, simple, daily choices. This is a concept I often think about. How seemingly small choices can make a day, a week, a year, and I am going to go as far as say a whole life.
Emily P. Freeman’s “The Next Right Thing” is a podcast I have recently been devouring. I love Emily’s podcast for a lot of reasons: her soothing voice, short yet largely informative episodes, and mostly for the fact that she is a resource full of amazing wisdom. She is wise and reflective. I think we could all learn a thing or two from listening to her podcast. Anyway, a lot of what she talks about is how the process of decision-making is so important because it is the decisions we make that inform the life we live.
When it comes to making decisions, I am an incredibly indecisive person. I am always the last one to order at a restaurant. I always overthink my ice cream order, then end up with the same thing I always do: a strawberry cone. I scroll through amazon, obsessively read reviews, add things to my cart, and then remove them and then add it once more. I could go on and on. Making decisions is not my strong suit. So, “The Next Right Thing” podcast is helping me. It is reminding me that I don’t need to always be thinking 5 steps ahead. I can be present and just focus in on what truly my next right step is. It could be as simple as taking the time to actually make myself a grown-up lunch, and not settle for those dino chicken nuggets. This is such a small choice I can make in my pretty ordinary days, but it does have the power to transform my perspective, mood, and attitude.
This week was good because I intentionally made a few very small decisions. There is so much I still need to learn about myself, but I am slowly beginning to catch on to the things that help me, and the things that easily trip me up. Listed below are the 6 things I have identified as the very things I need in my life on a daily basis. Again, we aren’t talking about anything extravagant or expensive. Literally, it is as simple as getting up early and sitting down in the afternoon to read. Sometimes the difference between a good and bad day is just a few very minor adjustments.
1. Rise Early
I have written about this before and you can read more about that here. I am a big believer that waking up early is one of the best decisions you can make for yourself all day. Depending on your personality it could also be one of the hardest decisions. By waking up before Hudson, I give myself the time to wake up to the day in a quiet and calm state. I often do not feel very good as I step out of bed. My brain is often flooded with excuses the moment I wake up at this early 5 am hour. And the thing is, sometimes those excuses win. I find that when I get out of my normal routines when on trips, it is more difficult to get back into the swing of waking up early. After the marathon and our family trip to Maui, I had about a month of not getting up early. I felt so tired from the past month of miles and travel, that I convinced myself that I needed extra sleep. Therefore, I would just wake up when Hudson woke up. The result? Not good. The month of August was definitely a slump month for me. I felt tired all the time. I felt incredibly unmotivated (you will notice that my posts on here have not been as consistent). And mostly I just felt like not enough.
It is not like waking up early is some magical solution, but I remembered this week the power in making this first choice. All week I have gotten up early, sometimes at 5 am, sometimes closer to 5:40, but everyday this week I have had at least a solid 30-minutes of time to wake up. And let me tell you, it makes all the difference.
2. Open Bible
After I get coffee, I jot down a few key things that happened the day before, and then I open my Bible. I need this to be the first thing I consume in the day, along with coffee of course. My days absolutely start off shaky if I choose Instragram over the Word. There are days where I fall short, but I try to always read the Bible before anything else begins. Sometimes it is multiple chapters, sometimes it is just a few verses. This simple act of choosing to open and read God’s word is more powerful than choosing to make your bed. Making your bed is a good habit, but it will not literally transform you from the inside out like the living word of God will.
This is a new one that I added this week. I have always been the diary-keeping, journal-writing type of girl. Except here is the thing, if you were to go through the numerous notebooks I have kept over the years, you would notice a trend. They are all half-filled. I am really great at starting journals, but rarely do I stay consistent enough to get to the very last page. When I get back on a journaling kick, I often want a fresh start, so hence the many half-filled notebooks that I have stuffed in my bedside table. I want this half-filled notebook phase to end. I want to be the person that fills up an entire notebook before moving on to the next one. The only way I will get to this point is if I treat the act of journaling as habitual of a routine as taking vitamins or brushing my teeth.
Just like I must consume the word of God first, I then must output the feelings and questions and anxieties of my heart. The pages of my notebooks, along with the ever-present ear of the Lord, is my personal sounding board. When I journal honestly, I see things more clearly. This week, in my early morning journaling, I used this time to pray to God. I sometimes struggle with prayer early in the morning. I easily lose focus and the words are more difficult for me to vocalize. Prayer through writing just makes more sense to me. For you, it might look very different, but find a mode of output that allows you to gain a sense of clarity, peace, and connection before the chaos of the day begins.
After the marathon, I basically stopped running again. And let me tell you, my body felt this break. I often complain about the hard work of running, but the truth is, I am not very kind when I don’t run regularly. Even if it is just a few easy miles, my body, mind, and heart need it. I need the rhythm, the space, the quiet that running creates for me. Even though I rarely feel like it, after a run or a yoga class, I always feel more motivated and inspired. I almost always think of my best ideas when I am out on a run. Running gives me a greater capacity to show patience and love to the people in my life. I am a better overall mother, wife, sister, friend, and daughter, the more I carve out space to run or go to that 6 pm barre class. Last week was my first week back to exercising every day except Sunday, and my mood was the best it has been all month. There is something to breathing hard and sweating daily.
I started 2019 off with the goal to read at least one new book per month. I know for some this might not be that much, but for me that was an ambitious goal. And the truth is, I began to read less as the year went on. This week I changed this trajectory and I started my habit of daily reading again. This all happened two Wednesday evenings ago when I felt exhausted from the day and needed some alone time. So, I left the house and I drove to the library. I know, a slightly strange place to retreat to, but for some reason it felt right. Here in this tired, worn out, and slightly discouraged state, I stumbled upon Imperfect Courage by Jessica Honegger. The Lord led me to this book. It is the perfect combination of being a good, faithful woman, while also not being afraid to chase after our God-given ambition and passion. I am loving it. I also find that reading books like these help make me feel more connected and inspired. I almost always notice that my writing comes more naturally the more I read.
Reading is just another small, daily choice that makes a huge impact in my days. The choice to intentionally sit outside and read while Hudson naps is also a way that I force myself to rest. This one act allows me to get off my feet and just take in words without any other agenda. Not to mention, our dog Nala loves when I choose to read because I am able to also throw the tennis ball for her!
This is such a small thing, but the weeks that I take time to plan out, are so much better than the ones I don’t. I go a little crazy when we stay at home. I also easily become stuck with trying to figure out what to do the day of when I don’t plan ahead. This week I got back into a rhythm of loosely planning out my week on Sunday evening. I quickly jot down the days I will run and how many miles. I write down a few days that I will intentionally make time to escape by myself and make it into a yoga class. I write down a few major household tasks. And I look at our MOMS Club calendar and pencil in a couple playdates or text some mom friends and create playdates. This does not take much time at all, but it gives me so much clarity as I go to sleep Sunday night. I can wake up Monday morning and feel like I am waking up to a schedule and routine. I know what is ahead. There are things to do, people to see, and places to go.
Hopefully that all was not too boring. I wanted to specifically write this out because these few small choices, while definitely not revolutionary, are really making a big difference in my overall outlook and mood. It is amazing what these consistent and simple behaviors can do to a day, a week, a year, and yes a whole life. I am curious, what are your go-to daily choices? Comment below!