6 Simple, Daily Choices that Made My Week Better

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.


3. Journal

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.

4. Exercise

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.


5. Read

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!

6. Plan

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!

5 Choices to Help Get Out of that Slump

At the start of the New Year I felt a sense of motivation and determination that I have not felt in a while.  I was getting up early every morning.  I was writing every day.  I was having consistent, quiet prayer time before Hudson woke up.  I was not touching social media and was reading voraciously.  I was scrapbooking a ton.  I was running with joy.  I was going to baby story time, baby yoga, baby play dates.  I am not exactly sure what happened but somewhere in the course of the past couple weeks I have fallen into a major slump.  I have turned off my weekly alarm clock that was set to 6 am.  I have chosen to scroll through Facebook, instead of read and have been on the same chapter of Searching For Sunday for weeks now.  I am dreading my runs and workouts.  I am doing them, but that sense of performance and pressure and pain from college running is slowly beginning to seep back into my running soles.  I have writer’s block and I seem to constantly be hitting the delete tab.  The words are just not coming out the way I intend for them to.  I have not been to baby story time in weeks.  I keep finding really good excuses as to why we can’t go out.  I have not touched my scrapbooking table.  Pictures have been messily scattered all over the coffee table untouched for many days.  I just can’t seem to muster up the creative energy to continue it.

I am so tired.  My once abundant milk supply has also hit a major slump and I literally feel like I am running dry.  I keep training like I am in college, but the reality is I am not.  I go to the track and run basically the same workouts I used to but instead of going to the training room to have an ice bath and go home to just relax and revel in the fact that I have no responsibilities, I go home to immediately needing to nurse Hudson.  My body is rebelling.  I can’t do it all.  I am running myself to the ground and I am just now feeling it.

All of this to say, I am in a slump.  I know I will get out soon, but like Dr. Seuss said, “Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”  It is true.  It is easy to sit and wallow in the slump. It is easy to read the post on how to un-slump, but a different story to actually get out of it.  And the thing is, I think a lot of us know what we should do, but it sure can be hard to push yourself to do what you know long-term will be good for you.  There are a few things that usually help ease me out of a slump.  The key word is ease.  It does not happen all at once, but typically if I can consistently make a few small, but important choices throughout my day, I will slowly and surely find myself on the other side.  When it comes to the difficult task of un-slumping yourself, here are 5 small choices to help in the process:

  1. Wake Up Early

This one is tough because when I am in this low place, I really have a hard time getting out of bed period, but especially getting out of bed before 7 am.  The problem here is by hitting snooze and choosing to sleep longer, I am actually making my day start off on a bad note and this just further perpetuates the slump.  So, as much as I really, really want to ignore the alarm and snooze, it is so important that I make that first choice of stepping out of my bed.  It is hard.  But it matters.  Last night, I intentionally chose to set my alarm for 5:10 am and get up when Lance does.  This small choice is already making a big difference in my day.

2. Listen to Life-Giving Words

For me, that is a sermon or a podcast.  Yesterday, I listened to a sermon by Tim Chaddick and it changed my outlook, my day, and my heart.  Never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit to give you exactly what you need to hear.  The sermon was on ambition and work that is pleasing to God.  It was so powerful.  I am linking to it here. Part of the reason I have been in this particular place is because I feel like I am lacking purpose.  I feel like I try so hard, but then it does not matter.  I try so hard to make organic, homemade food for Hudson, and then he hates it and tosses it to Nala.  I try so hard to keep the house in order, but then the next hour, I see dirt and Nala’s hair all over the floors again.  I try so hard to be a good runner again, but my body is just not the same as college.  I try so hard to be a good writer, but no one reads this except my husband and mom (or so it feels). These are all the emotions running through my heart and mind and then I choose to play this sermon as I am doing dishes.  And I hear the words of Paul:

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody”  1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

And my whole body sighed relief.  This is enough.  What I am doing is enough.  I might not be in a fancy office or have the influence I used to when I was in the classroom, but I am doing important work and God delights in this.  This is all to explain the power and importance in allowing others to speak into your days to help point you back to the cross and to the love of God.  It is so easy to forget.  If I could I would listen to sermons on repeat in my head because that is how much I need daily and momentary reminders.  So, listen and consume content that is life-giving.  Allow the Holy Spirit to run through you and change your heart.  It will happen if you let it.

3. Exercise 

This one is kind of like getting up early.  I am the least motivated to workout when I am in this rut, but usually the best fix is to get out and run or make it into a yoga class.  Yesterday I literally went from bawling on the couch to running a 4-mile tempo on the strand.  And let me tell you, every fiber of my body wanted to just stay put on the couch, but I went and I am glad I did.  It allowed me to breathe and focus on something other than how I was feeling.  It gave me space to have rhythm.  It gave me the time to pray.  This might not be the thing for everyone, but getting outside and breathing air can be so helpful.

4. Connect with People

We are built for connection.  In my slumps, it is really easy to cancel plans and stay home.  And sometimes I do this.  But, as much as I can, I need to keep plans and connect with friends and family.  I need this.  Hudson needs this.  And maybe it is not going out, but it is having people come to you.  Invite people over.  Make play dates.  Put events on the calendar and commit to them.  Trust me, this can be the hardest one for me, but this connection is so important.  I almost always walk away from time with others feeling happier and rejuvenated.  Also, it is so important to have a few people in your life that you can talk about being not okay.  Just yesterday, both my husband and my mom prayed over me as I bursted into tears to both of them explaining how I felt.  What a blessing to have people in my life that will not only listen and love me, but will bring my pain to the Lord.  How thankful I am for that!

5. Pray!

This leads me to the fifth and most important choice.  Choose to pray.  When I am on fire in my faith, I tend to pray aloud in the mornings.  The words flow easily and I have a great enthusiasm to speak out my prayers.  When I hit these types of slumps in both my life and my faith, I tend to not even be motivated to voice out my prayers.  Some mornings I feel so tired and unmotivated, it feels hard to even voice prayers.  Thankfully God even hears my sad little whimpers that are left unspoken.  Earlier this week, my heart was given so much relief when I read the words in Matthew 6:

“When you pray, don’t babble like the Gentiles, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words.  Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things you need before you ask him”  Matthew 6:7-8

Even on those mornings where it is hard to muster out the words, the Lord knows what I need.  He knows my heart.  When I pray I am not going to some distant god, I am speaking to my Father who deeply loves and cares for my well-being.  Therefore, I don’t need to worry about phrasing things in the most eloquent way or even saying them aloud.  He knows what I need.  He knows how I am feeling.  There is just so much relief in this. So when I pray in these slumps, even if my prayers are fragmented or if it is difficult for me to find the right words, I can know that the Lord will meet me where I am and offer me an abundance of peace and grace.

Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.  And it is not as simple as checking off a few things on a list.  However, I am learning that by focusing less on the slump and more on daily and intentionally choosing these five things: wake up early, listen to life-giving words, exercise, connect with people, and pray; I am able to more easily transition out of the slump and onto flat ground where I can go back to running with joy.

 

Starting Slow, Finishing Strong

This mama needs to start slow.  In college, I used to be able to roll out of bed, slide on my shoes, and hit the pavement at a 6-something-minute pace.  Emphasis here on used to.  The funny thing is that college for me was not even that long ago, I am just three years out, but my sense of pace has already greatly shifted, both in a literal and figurative sense.  My pace in terms of running has definitely changed.  My current pace now is what I used to think of as a slow, shakeout run.  But it is not just running, it is an overall life pace that I can feel is shifting as I type this.  In college, it was about going.  It was about jumping into cold pools before the sun rose.  It was about midnights in libraries and drinking coffee at 1am.  It was about miles and miles; pages on pages; words upon words.  It was all about speed and getting things done.  Trust me, I am still all about getting things done and accomplished, but my pace is entirely different.  I need to start slow.  I need to warm-up.  I need to lie in bed just a few extra minutes and wake up as I read just a couple pages.  I need to sit and sip in silence.  I need to stay in pajamas just a bit longer.  I need to hold my baby and not worry about my to-do list for just a few moments longer.  I need to take it slow.

I am all about the slower starts, the lazy mornings, the clear schedules.  My whole essence thirsts for the slower pace.  This easing into things is becoming essential to me.  It is essential for how I run and also how I live.  The danger in this, however, is when we stay in the slow and never learn to shift gears into the uncomfortable.  I start slow, but I never finish there.  While starting slow is key to me, shifting gears into uncomfortable speeds is also required.  I was reminded of this inherit need for speed (ignore the cliche rhyme) last week when I returned to the track.  My feet literally have not touched a track in just about 3 years.  Last time I was on a track was June 2016 in Kansas for my last collegiate 5k.  So, it has been some time.  And I could feel this separation.  I was doing a 10 by 400 meter workout with my dad so kindly agreeing to take my splits.  The first one felt raw and scary and too fast.  The second, third and fourth felt like I had made a mistake in choosing to workout at the track.  The fifth and sixth one felt completely numb, yet still painful.  But it was the seventh one that made sense.  It was in that seventh 400 meters that I hit my stride.  I felt back at home.  I remembered the turns and the straight aways and where to settle and where to push.  Don’t get me wrong.  The 7th-10th 400 were still painful and uncomfortable, but by number 7 I knew I would finish.  I knew I would not slow down.  Is this not life? It is hard, hard, hard, and then you hit a point of endurance.  It does not necessarily get easy, but it becomes endurable.  You become stronger, more confident, and more fierce, that by number 7 you know you are not stopping.

It is a great balancing act to create a life that holds both the slow and the burning speed.  It takes trial and error.  There are days that will feel too slow and days that have way too much intensity.  So you adjust.  You learn.  You create good patterns and break the ones that always put you into ruts.  I am learning that timing and structure are key elements in helping me balance the slow with the quick.  Here are 5 things that help me achieve this balance:

  1. Start Day Slow

I need to start my days at a very slow pace.  If I know I have a commitment or somewhere to be early, I get up even earlier to allow for the space to wake up.  I no longer can just roll out of bed.  I need time.  I need coffee.  I need scripture.  I think a huge part of being able to work hard throughout the day is allowing the start of the day to be slow and gentle, not rushed and frantic.

2. List and Schedule 

I am a list-oriented person.  I really struggle when I do not have lists to guide me.  I am always at the grocery store or Target, with a list in hand.  Even if it is the smallest errand, if I don’t write down: puffs, detergent, tea, and salad, I will become distracted or waste time.  Lists keep me focused.  I need them.  The same is true with my days.  As a teacher, I was my most productive self because I have the schedule of bells ringing throughout the day that kept me extremely structured.  As a stay-at-home mom, I must create these bells on my own.  For those mamas that work in the home, it can be so easy to waste our days.  It is essential to list out the “work” that must be done.  Not only list out what needs to happen in that day, but schedule it in so you know exactly when it will happen.  This helps keep me focused, so when I am doing the work elements, I am not thinking about yoga class and when I am in yoga, I am not thinking about laundry or dishes.  This is the ideal mindset and I don’t always succeed, but this is the goal.  List and schedule, so the lines of work and rest don’t run and bleed into each other.

3. Commit and Don’t Back Down

For me, one of the most important practices when balancing working hard and resting well is making sure I stay committed. It is so easy to back down and choose the easy route. It is so much easier to not do the hard work. It is also very easy to skip your time of rest and choose to do “the more important” things. Achieving balance happens best when we keep our commitments. Once I start backing out of commitments, I easily begin to fall into ruts. Even on the crazy, full days, if I have a workout scheduled, I need to follow through. It is that simple.

4. Schedule Rest 

This is one I am trying to currently figure out. Rest does not come naturally to me. I am learning that if I don’t schedule it, just like I would something important, like a meeting or a workout, it won’t happen. Some days I follow through and take this time of rest seriously, while others I ignore it and prioritize other things. Part of starting slow, and finishing strong, means that there also must be a middle time of slow and quiet and calm. For me, this does not usually mean taking a nap at 1pm. It looks more like grabbing a book and getting off my feet for 15 minutes. It looks like stopping. It looks like sitting. It looks like espresso in my favorite mug right after Hudson falls asleep for his final nap. It ultimately looks like surrendering to the Lord and relying on His strength, not my own work and capabilities and production.

5. Finish Strong

In a race, the goal is always to finish strong. No matter how fast you started or even if you lost a shoe in the first 100 meters, finishing strong is what matters. Just like certain runs, I end my days on burn out. I collapse. I stop. I trudge my feet. This is not what I want for my life. I want to end each day stronger than when I woke up. And sometimes I fail. I hit a wall and waste hours watching the Bachelor. I hate how I do this, but it is the truth. I don’t always finish my days strong. I sometimes, oftentimes, crawl into bed, emptied and exhausted and fixed to a screen. The best ways for me to avoid this place is to set limits on work and screens, so by 8 or 9 pm, I can fill up, spend time with Lance, and rest in knowing that enough has been done. If I don’t have clear time limits, I can quickly crumble into a place of weakness and mindlessness.

There is a time for the slow and a time for the head down, grinding, uncomfortable pace too. I have strong tendencies to live in the extremes. I have days where I stay in pajamas too long. I have days where I am-consumed with work and cleaning. Some days I get it terribly wrong, today might be one of those, but my prayer for today is that I can continue to strive at living a more balanced pace, so I can ultimately be more in-tune to the Lord’s will for my life.

 

 

5 Ways to get Motivated to Workout Alone

This mama needs to work out alone.  This is much more of a need than a want.  Every part of me wants training partners and a team to keep me motivated, but this is just not the season I am currently in.  It seems like groups meet either too early or too late.  6 am just does not work for me because I have a sleeping babe and a husband that needs to leave for work even earlier.  Evening groups also are not ideal because Lance is finally home and I want to spend time together as a family.  I also usually have to run with the baby jogger so this makes it so I can’t run on all terrains with ease, nor can I run quite as fast with a jogger in hand.  All this makes it very difficult to run with people.  I think I am not alone here.  It can feel nearly impossible to find even just one person that is at a similar level of fitness and is available to train with you at the same time that works for your schedule.  While it makes working out so much more fun when you have someone to share in the miles and the sweat, the reality is that there are going to be days where working alone is your only option.  And let me tell you, working out alone is 100 times better than not working out at all.  This past month I have had a lot of solo runs and workouts.  And the truth is, I am loving it.  Initially, not so much, but when I am in it and grinding alone, there is something that changes within me.  It is crafting within me a strength and boldness I did not know I had.  I am learning that you really find what you are made of when all eyes and pressure are off.  There is no coach yelling out my splits.  There are no teammates pulling me along.  There is no one.  Just me and my watch.  I could stop.  I could skip an interval.  I could slow down the pace, the time, the effort.  But I don’t.  I grind it out.  And let me tell you, it is a grind.  I run circles and circles around the park by our house.  I sprint, I tempo, I recover.  I am constantly checking my watch to make sure I am on pace.  When you workout alone, you are required to dig deep within yourself.  You no longer can rely on teammates pulling you along.  It is all you.  While I would not recommend doing this all the time, I get something out of my workouts now that I never found in college on the track.  I cannot even name exactly what that something is, but it’s wonderful.  I jog home from an evening workout at the park with a sense of confidence, strength, determination, and passion that I just never got in college.  There is something to this working out alone thing.  It is an exercise not just for my legs, but for my heart.  My pace is not what it was a few years ago, but the effort is.  The passion is.  The heart is.  I might not be as fast, but I don’t think I have ever truly loved running more.  It is real to me in a way that it never was before.  It is more of an old friend.  That is exactly what running is to me now.  It is an old friend.  But I digress.  The whole point here is that working out alone can be a powerful experience, but truth be told, it is not always easy to make that initial push when you don’t have anyone keeping you accountable.  Here are 5 of the best ways that get me out the door even when it is just me:

1. Drop the Excuses 

The excuses never seem to leave.  It is so easy to let the excuses rule your day.  It is raining.  I woke up 5 times last night to be with the baby.  I am sore.  I don’t feel good.  I don’t have time.  I need to do x, y, and z first.  I will do it tomorrow.  And the list goes on.  If you are anything like me, you will never 100% feel like working out.  Every single day I am again faced with the battle.  My bloodshot and tired eyes tell me no.  My aching back tells me no.  My long to-do list that I just never seem to get to tells me no.  The crying babe tells me no.  The rain tells me no.  But, my heart tells me go.  It tells me to run and sweat and try as hard as I can.  It tells me to tune out the millions of no’s I have floating in my head.  This is not a battle that is easy to win, but I think the first step is recognizing the excuses.  Put them on paper.  Then write down your goals.  Choose those goals over all the excuses.  Actively tell yourself that you are ignoring the excuses and taking action to meet whatever goals you have.  It is raining but I am going to get better by doing this long run.  I have slept only a few hours but I will be stronger after running this tempo.  I have a lot to do but this workout matters just as much.  The excuses are so much easier to listen to, especially when you are working out alone, but you need to drop them, or it just is never going to happen.

2. Make a Plan 

This one is especially important when it is just you.  Working out used to be so much easier for me because it was something that was scheduled into my days.  Workouts were every Tuesday and Thursday at 3:30 pm.  There was a van that drove us to the location.  There was a coach that had a plan and would tell us exactly what to do.  There was a whole team that was doing this same exact workout.  These are the perfect conditions and the fact is, even then, I did not always want to do the workout.  I dragged my feet out of the van.  This is just more reason why having a set plan and time to workout is so essential.  Without one, it is nearly impossible to make it happen.  I am not a college athlete anymore.  I am a stay-at-home mom.  No one cares if I workout.  Literally no one.  Except maybe Lance.  The fact is I can just not workout and there are no consequences.  No coach calling me up.  No teammates waiting on me.  Because it is just me, I really need to create a plan that will help me stick to my training and workouts.  Just like in college, I have chosen Tuesdays and Thursdays as workout days.  Just like college, I try to make these workouts non-negotiable.  I literally pen them into my calendar.  I set a time.  I plan to have someone watch Hudson or I plan to workout right when Lance gets home.  I plan whether I am going to drive down to the strand or if I am going to just do loops in the park.  This planning part is so necessary, especially for true workouts.  If you are just going out to run, it can be looser, but for those tough and grinding workouts, you really need to set up a plan to ensure it actually happens.

3. Gear Up Confidently

When I was running in high school and college, I always wore my lucky racing socks come race day.  It is such a small detail, and sure I guess it is a bit in my head, but I am a firm believer that how you clothe yourself matters, especially when it comes to performing well.  Everyone has their thing, for me it was my socks.  For you, maybe it is a headband or your lucky watch.  Whatever it is that makes you feel stronger, faster, better; wear it.  Every. Single. Workout.  This is a new thing of mine, but recently what makes me feel fast are leggings and a visor.  In high school, I always ran in spandex shorts.  After a few years and a baby, there is no way I will ever run in spandex again.  In college, I wore slightly more fabric.  I typically ran in a pair of Lulu shorts.  This style I am linking here was my favorite.  A month or so after Hudson was born, I tried on a pair of these shorts and it was embarrassing.  They technically fit me, but they didn’t feel right anymore.  They felt way shorter and snugger.  That led me to leggings.  I am sure very soon it will start to warm up again and it will be too hot to workout out in pants, but with this weirdly cold California winter we are having, it works.  I have recently been obsessed with the leggings from Gap. They are really great quality, super cute prints, and much less than a pair of Lulu tights.  Here is a pair I have recently been working out a lot in and loving.  I have been loving workouts in these tights for a few reasons.  1. They keep me warmer. 2. They make me feel faster.  3.  They make me feel confident.  While I used to feel confident in my spandex shorts; now I feel best in tights like these.  They just fit me better and they meet me where I am at.  Fast but not that fast.  Serious but not that serious.  Competitive but not that competitive.  Tiny shorts were college days, now it is all about the long tights.  To top my workout outfit off, I grab my visor.  I have never been a visor person or really a hat person in general, but my visor has become a necessity for hard workouts.  I have been loving this Adidas Superlite one.  Again, some of this stuff is all in my head, but I think what is in your head matters, just like what is in your heart.  Wearing a visor makes me feel like a mature and seasoned runner.  It makes me feel serious.  It make me feel fast as I imagine it making me more aerodynamic.  Of course the right shoes matter a whole lot, but that is for another day.  The shoes matter, but the even smaller details of leggings and visors matter too.  Choose gear that gives you confidence.  Choose styles that make you feel faster and stronger and more powerful.  If you invest in good quality stuff, I really believe it is easier to get out the door and get that workout done.

4. Find a Sound that Inspires You

I know a lot of people like to listen to music when working out.  If this is you, create a specific playlist that is especially for those really hard, grinding workouts alone.  Take some time in crafting a really strong and powerful playlist.  Put the songs in there you know will help you push through and not just give up since no one else is watching.  I might be an anomaly, but what really pumps me up is a good podcast.  I love listening to inspiring and motivating interviews.  Granted, if I am in a really tough section of a workout, I might not be really listening to it, but the rambling of words as background can help distract me from the pain.  I tend to listen to interviews by women telling stories of faith, family, and dreams.  My current favorites are the Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey and That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs.  Listening to these podcasts, help me feel like I am not out there alone.  It makes me feel connected.  I know music can do this too.  Maybe for you, you prefer working out unplugged.  That is great too.  Choose a background that will inspire you.  Put the extra effort in and drive to a nearby location that will have more peaceful sounds than car engines.  For workouts, I typically run to the park or drive to be down by the strand.  Location and sounds matter, take the extra time to think this through.

5. Find a Coach 

It is hard when it is just you training for a specific goal.  Even if you are working out alone, you need to have a person that knows your training goals and will help create and tailor training that will get you there.  Thankfully I have a husband that is also the perfect coach.  I am not good at generating my own workouts, but tell me what to do, and I will do it.  And this is exactly what Lance does.  He writes out my workouts and I get them done.  You might not have a person that is able to do this, but there are so many great online resources and apps.  To really feel like you have your own coach, you should check out Freeletics.  You can pay for a membership to get training or there are also free plans.  I am linking to the site here.  Whether it is a virtual coach through an app or website or your spouse, find someone that can guide you and keep you accountable.  One of my favorite parts of working out is talking about the workout after.  I love coming home to Lance and telling him all about the workout and how I felt.  Even though you are technically out there alone, you should not be really alone.  It is essential to have a team behind you that believes in you and pushes you to be your very best.

I know this is turning out to be a long one, but I want to end with this: don’t think working out is just for the real serious athletes.  Also to be clear, “working out” is going to look different for each person.  To me, a workout is anything that really pushes me out of my level of comfort.  For me, a regular run comes relatively easy.  It is calming and meditative.  Therefore, a workout is more than just a run.  It is usually a tempo with a pace at least a minute faster than what I typically run.  Or it is a set of intervals where I am changing my pace based on my goal 10k time.  This is what working out looks like to me, but your workout is likely different.  If going out for a 5 mile run puts you out of your comfort zone, then that is a workout.  If sprinting a 800-meter distance puts you out of your comfort zone (which it should), then that is a workout. If going out for a 2-mile walk puts you out of your comfort zone, then it is a workout.  The point here is that on a weekly basis, you are committing to pushing yourself outside of the normal, comfortable routine you are used to.  Whatever working out looks like for you, I hope these 5 things can be the push you need out the door because let me tell you, it is worth it, even if you are alone.

Routines Pt. 3

The Evening Routine

Just like all the other parts of the day, I think it is so important to be incredibly intentional with the ends of our days because at least for me, there is a greater temptation to use my evenings just to veg.  This almost always leaves me falling asleep wishing I used time wiser.  After a long, full day it is easy to say I deserve to just lie here and watch Hulu and stuff my face with cookies.  While this is the more tempting and easier choice especially when you are exhausted, I do believe that our evenings have the potential to hold so much more for us.  I think there is a way that evenings can be both restful and fulfilling.  For me, as much as I choose it, watching shows on Hulu does not feed my soul in the same way that scrapbooking or spending quality time with husband does.  Some nights, I fail at having a good evening routine.  Actually a lot of evenings I do, but I am learning that if I try to incorporate these 5 things, I end the day right.

1. Leave the Dishes

The last thing I want to do after we eat dinner, is spend more time in the kitchen.  So I don’t!  Lance is always really great about clearing the dishes, so after Hudson and the high chair are cleaned up, I leave the kitchen.  There are always pots in the sink and counters that could use a wipe down, but I intentionally choose to not touch it.  I am sure some of you are thinking how you would never do that.  How you have to have your kitchen spotless before you go to sleep at night.  To each their own, but for me personally, it steals joy when I end my night in the kitchen.  Especially staying at home, I feel like I am constantly in the kitchen.  As much as I can control it, I choose to leave it as soon as dinner is done. I only return to it to find something sweet for dessert! The amazing thing with this is that the world keeps spinning and no one seems to care that the pans do not get cleaned until the morning.  Lance loves me just the same.  Hudson loves me just the same.  It really is crazy how we put these unneeded expectations on ourselves.  Who says the kitchen must be spotless before you sleep?  Why is that a rule?  It shouldn’t be and if it is, I break it.  Will Hudson remember that we had pans in the sink or will he remember the walks we took together as a family after dinner?  Will he remember the crumbs on the countertop or will he remember the laughter and the play that happened after dinner? I think it is all the latter.  Like I always say, the dishes can wait.

2. Wear Real Pajamas 

By 8pm I am in my pjs.  This is one of those very small details but I think putting on a pair of comfy pjs help switch my mindset into resting mode.  With the colder weather, I have been wearing a pair of flannel pjs every night.  These flannel pajamas are like my nighttime uniform.  It is my signal to stop, to rest, and to be satisfied with the work I have accomplished.  So after we do Hudson’s evening routine (I’ll write more on this in future posts), I tiptoe out of the room, put on my flannel pajamas, and get right into evening mode.  I know some moms might use this time right after the little ones go to sleep to do some cleaning up around the house, but I really try to do all this tidying up before Hudson is asleep.  Similarly to my kitchen philosophy, if there are a couple pillows not fully fluffed or a few random toys out, I don’t fret about it.  I know those things will get done the next day during my cleaning cycle.  Similarly to the idea of sabbath, I think it is essential to really carve these evening hours out as sacred time for rest and rejuvenation.  For me, this time of rest starts with the comfort and warmth of flannel and finally getting out of those yoga pants I have been wearing all day.

3. Invest in Yourself

This is going to look different based on your own interests, but for me this typically looks like having a small activity to myself that I enjoy.  This is usually something I do right after Hudson has fallen asleep.  Sometimes I will go in the playroom and continue to work on Hudson’s first year scrapbook.  I typically do not spend a ton of time on this, I might do this for 30 minutes, maybe an hour, but I usually do not produce more than a page of work, but this set apart time of sorting through photos, cutting out shapes, and designing layouts gives me joy.  It makes me feel calm and at peace.  And the thing is, I am not even very good at scrapbooking.  The shapes I cut out are not always the most even, even though I use a stencil.  I have not invested in a lot of extra, fun scrapbooking things, so the pages really just have the images and my own handwriting.  The point here is not perfection.  It is the act of cutting, pasting, creating that brings the joy.  To me, I love the pages I create, not because they are perfect, but because of all the smiles I see of our family on those pages.  Scrapbooking allows me to take a step back and be reflective of all the amazing memories we are already making.  It is proof that while we definitely do not have it all together, we are making memories that will forever be captured in the pages of my less than perfect scrapbook.  This is just one option.  And the reality is that a lot of nights, I don’t always feel like doing this.  It sometimes feels like too much on especially exhausting days.  So, I choose something else.  My other go-to, typically has been picking up a book.  Alongside activities, it is also important to practice self-care during this evening time.  I don’t even know what to write here because honestly I don’t do a good job in this area, but I really want to.  For the past few months, I keep thinking how I should really have an evening skin care routine.  It just seems like one of those things you do when you’re really grown-up.  I still do not have one, but I am determined to develop one soon! Even if it something as simple as putting night cream on every evening, I think this small act of caring for your skin is the perfect way to invest in yourself.  Note to self: buy night cream.  Right after writing this I went down a rabbit hole of watching nighttime skin care routines on Youtube.  And let me tell you, I had no idea you could use that many products just to get “unready.”  I use maybe one or two products just to get ready, or let’s be real, sometimes zero.  Maybe one day, I will have a routine like this, but if you are with me and get overwhelmed in this area, start small, purchase one thing of night cream.  Then, maybe one day I’ll be cool enough to have a whole routine where I roll my face with that roller thing and put on 8 different products.

4. Spend Quality Time With… 

Again this will vary, but for me it is with my husband.  If you’re single, maybe this will look like calling your best friend you haven’t talked to in a while or video chatting with your mom.  However it looks, I think it is important to end the day with connection with someone.  Lance and I like watching shows together in the evening.  This is our thing, but I typically fall asleep, so we are currently in the stages of figuring out better ways to spend quality time together, without me falling asleep.  We both are training for races so we are hoping to better use the time right before bed to stretch, roll out, and talk together.  We also almost always brush our teeth and get ready for bed together.  As much as we can, we try to not be on screens during this time.  I used to be terrible at this, but I have noticed I am so much more present with Lance when I plug my phone in to its charger early and don’t touch it.  Sometimes I need to just leave it in the other room so I do not even have the temptation to touch it.  After Hudson falls asleep and we both have finished up whatever personal activity we were pursuing for that evening, we really do try to spend good time together.  In all honesty, we sometimes really fail in this area because we are so exhausted, but I think we are both learning that this hour to hour and a half we have together is so precious.  We really need to use that time together well.

5. Drink Water, Floss & Pray 

I am a terrible water drinker! I need to get better in this area, but right before bed I always make sure I have at least a few big gulps of water.  I also keep a cup of water in our room so when I get up at night to nurse Hudson, I always make sure I sip water before heading back into bed.  Along with water consumption, I am a terrible flosser.  Every time I go to the dentist, my gums bleed.  I have heard, “You need to floss more,” a countless number of times.  I go through phases.  Sometimes I am all about the flossing and I am super consistent with it.  Others times, I skip it all together.  It is kind of like bed making, which I talked about here.  It feels small, but it is a consistent healthy habit.  Even if you had an evening of tv and cookies, at least you are doing one thing productive and healthy! Plus, your gums will thank you.  Once the water drinking and flossing have ended, Lance and I together always end our days with prayer aloud.  As I wrote in the morning routine post, prayer is an important part of the way I begin my day.  For us, it is also an important way we end it.  I am thankful for this time to hear the prayers and heart of my husband.  Maybe you aren’t the praying type.  I still think having some type of quiet, intentional time before sleeping is a great way to end the day.  Maybe it is a meditation.  Maybe it a moment of gratitude.  Maybe it is a conscious breath in and out.  However you end your day, I hope you can feel like it is enough.  This is a struggle for me.  So much so that I am currently reading A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough by Wayne Muller.  I have just begun so we will see if it helps me with this battle I daily fight of wondering if everything I do is ever enough.  I do not always end my days feeling like it was enough.  I sometimes end with a sad heart.  A tired heart.  A defeated heart.  This is the reality, this is real life.  But, this sad, tired, defeated heart can turn to the Lord and lay down the struggles and triumphs of the day and also the hopes for a better tomorrow.  I am so thankful for this hope!

 

 

To Read

This mama needs to read.  I think a lot of people can relate to this feeling of not feeling like they have time to read.  For me, reading can sometimes feel indulgent.  The act of just sitting down to read a book that is just for enjoyment can sometimes feel too much like vacation mode.  Isn’t it interesting that it is totally fine to read a book for fun on vacation, but when it comes to every day life it feels harder to justify? This is definitely true for me!  It is much easier for me to read a book that feels more practical, like a book on sleep training your baby or a book on church, but those fun memoirs and fiction books feel like the books I need to wait for until I am on vacation.  I have a feeling this is not just me.  I think especially as women, we can feel guilty for taking the time to do the things that fill us up when we know there is plenty of things that need to be done.  I am writing this because my own heart needs to hear it! This is such a lie and we need to take the time to just sit and read a book that is just for fun.  It does not always need to be a practical one or one that is very heavy on theology.  In the past month I have been learning to fall back in love with the act of reading just to read.  As I have mentioned in a previous post, I used to adore reading.  I would stay up past my bed time, reading with my little reading lamp under the covers.  Reading was my thing and it was something I actively thought about during my day.  I looked forward to time alone with a good book.  Since then, life has changed quite a bit.  I am much more tired than I used to be.  My mind is much more busy and anxious.  My to-do list much longer and more complicated.  A lot has changed, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is my desire and love for words.  For a while, I have ignored it, only picking up books when I had to.  I was really only reading the books we were studying in the classes I taught.  Who has time to read books for pure pleasure?  Not me! I am busy! I have more important things to do.  This was my false logic at the time.  I did not realize that by denying this desire to read that has always been there, I was really missing out on something that helps calm my spirit and gives me clarity and creativity.  It was not until this new year that I finally began to really read again.  Since then, I have finished three books that were purely for fun.  How did I do it?  I deleted Instagram.  I truly believe this one act has allowed me to get so much more reading done.  Now, instead of constantly checking my phone, I am opening up pages.  This act is such a small difference, but it has completely shifted my mindset and perspective.  Instead of mindlessly scrolling and feeling jealous and comparative as I see the pretty lives of others, I am giving my mind rejuvenation as I fill it with inspiring stories and words.  I almost always walked away from Instragram feeling down, but when I put down my book, I feel calm and rested and productive.  It is a small change, but it really is changing a lot for me.  For some, Instagram and social media is not an issue, but for me it absolutely is.  I cannot handle it well.  I over-consume it.  For me, it is better to just have it deleted.  For some, books are not the things that fill them up and give them rest, but whatever that act is, I think it is so important to identify that for you and replace it with whatever is tearing you down.

Reading is becoming even more important with a little one in our home.  I know how quickly kids learn to imitate others and I want to do my very best to model being more interested in words and stories found in books, rather than the stories my friends post on social media.  I think one of the best ways to show this to him is by reading as much as we can together.  Even in these early months, I have enjoyed reading books with Hudson.  When was the last time you read a children’s book?  Or The Jesus Storybook Bible?  Even if you don’t have kids, you should really pick one up.  It is amazing how much I learn in children’s books and how touched I am by them.  They get at my heart in a way that adult books don’t.  One of our favorite books to read is a Veggie Tales Book called, God Made You Special.  I so resonate with the pages in that book.  Especially the ones on feeling down and not liking a certain trait of oneself.  This is me basically every day.  Recently, I have been faced with really questioning God as to why he made my personality so shy and unsure at times.  For as long as I can remember, I have always been one of the quieter ones in the room.  I still get nervous to share in group settings.  My heart races when I feel like everyone is looking at me.  I over think before saying a word that by the time I do speak, my words are fragmented and shaky.  I have recently been wondering why God made me this way.  I often look at other people that do not struggle in this area.  I admire their confidence, boldness and outgoing nature.  It is so easy to wish we were made differently.  I know I do.  But this book, this book for children reminds me the truth that my heart so desperately needs to hear: God made you special.  My point in sharing this is to point to the fact that you don’t need to be reading Shakespeare or Hemingway or Austen to be deeply moved.  Sometimes all it takes is some Veggie Tales.  If you are anything like me, you could use less screens and more pages and words and chapters.  So, instead of thinking of it as an indulgent act that you will do if there is time, I would suggest pausing and taking the time to pick up a good book right now.  The dishes can wait.  Reading is more important.

Rest

This mama needs rest.  

Resting is something that does not come naturally to me.  I really wish it did because it is so important, but it doesn’t.  In the moments of my day that actually lend themselves well for rest, I seem to resist real rest in place of what I am calling “pretend rest.”  I think we all have a tendency to do this.  Last night, I had an unexpected window of free time.  This could have been an ideal time for rest.  I could of curled up and read more of my book.  I could have just laid down and turned on a show.  I could of just closed my eyes for a few minutes and prayed.  I could have done all these activities of rest, but instead I chose “pretend rest.”  I chose to fold the laundry, while watching “Tidying Up.”  What I really wanted to do was just lay there and watch Marie Kondo perfectly fold laundry, but that is too restful.  I must do that plus something productive.  Why do we do this?  In my life, I seem to always blend rest with what actually needs to be accomplished, which ultimately results in mediocre rest.  I don’t want mediocre rest. I want real rest.  I want the type of rest where you just nap in the middle of the day, not because you are sick, but just because.  I find the only time I truly grant my body rest is when it is fully in need of it.  When I am hit with terrible body aches and feel sick, then I can just lay there and rest.  However, if I am feeling good, I forget that I am still in need of rest in the middle of my days. I need to better grant myself permission to fully rest, not pretend rest.  Pretend rest looks like folding laundry and watching a show.  It looks like laying down while going through emails.  It looks like emptying the dishwasher while listening to a sermon.  Don’t get me wrong, these things listed above can be great ways to get things done while also relaxing or doing something more fulfilling, but I think the issue is when we deem these things as our true rest.  Rest plus something else cannot equal pure rest. Rest alone equals pure rest.  It is that simple.

I need a lot of grace in this area of my life.  I need to not just rest and turn everything off, I need to rest in the fullness of what God has already accomplished and done for me.  Everything I could do will never be enough.  It will never save me.  I am enough and I am saved solely through the grace of God.  I was reminded of this truth as I read Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:5-8 earlier this week:

“You are saved by grace!  He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift- not from works so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:5-8).

I feel like I can end this here.  There is not much else I can write that is not perfectly captured in those verses from Ephesians.  It is all God.  It is all grace.  And it is all good.  We are so little and are to-do lists are so insignificant to what has already been accomplished.  Therefore, there is no point in filling our time with pretend rest when what we truly need is to fully rest in the goodness of God and his ever-sufficient grace.

2019: The Year of Open

Last Friday, Lance and I had our first date night in a while, and it was amazing.  One of the pieces of advice we both seemed to hear a lot in pregnancy was that you must prioritize your marriage when you start having kids.  Already, I can see how true this is.  The reality is that life is so much busier and more structured than it used to be and if we do not intentionally make the time to just be Lance and Kelli, husband and wife; we will live our lives solely as mommy and daddy.  This is not good for anyone, including Hudson, especially Hudson.  I want my son and any future children we may have to look at our marriage and see a strong Christ-centered marriage that sets an example for them.  We realized that we need to be more intentional about having date nights once a month.  Since this date fell just a few days before the New Year, we ended our date at Urth Cafe and set intentions, goals, and habits we hope to strive after as a family.  We first attempted to come up with what we wanted our overarching theme for the year to be.  What one word did we want to really focus and embody in 2019?  While a few words were tossed on the table, we landed with open.  I wrote it in big letters in my planner: “2019: The Year of Open.”  In many ways, this directly aligns with a vision and campaign at our church entitled The Open Campaign.  In the way that our church is striving to be more open to the surrounding community, Lance and I also hope that we can live 2019 well with an open heart, home, and hand.  The aspect I really love about this concept of openness is that it is two-fold.  In one sense, being open allows us to pour out into others, but the opposite is true as well.  Embracing a posture of openness, also allows us to be filled up.  Both are essential.  Unfortunately, I have a tendency to hyper-focus on the pouring out, that I forget to fill up.  This year, I personally want to better embrace this idea of allowing time and space to be filled up.  I wanted to share 5 ways in which I am attempting to do a better job in this area.

  1. Get Up Early.  When I was teaching, I woke up every morning at 5am.  While I initially dreaded that early morning alarm, it allowed me to be so much more productive and efficient with my time.  I did not realize it at the time, but that early morning commute was a really important time for me to wake up, plan the day, and pray.  It gave me a pause before the day fully started.  Once I stopped working, I stopped setting the alarm and chose to have Hudson be my new alarm clock.  This worked initially, but I began to realize I was starting my days grumpy and unprepared for the day ahead.  Even if it is just 15 minutes of uninterrupted, quiet morning time, I am able to start the day at peace and in joy.  While I don’t quite feel ready to set my alarm back to 5am, setting it to 6am this week has allowed for time to sip my coffee, drink a glass of water, light a candle, write down what Hudson did the previous day, and spend some time alone with the Lord reading my Bible and praying for the day ahead.  These sound like such simple things, especially the one on drinking water, but I am finding it is these simple acts that put me in the right frame of mind to be open to loving and pouring out to the people in my life.
  2. Write Daily. Writing is something I really enjoy to do.  I have always been the journal keeping type of girl.  Journaling and just writing in general really helps me process how I am feeling and why I am feeling that way.  While I really love writing, I have not prioritized it.  I hope to keep a daily practice of making sure I am writing on a daily basis. It might not always be a full blog post in one day, but regardless of the type of day I am having, I hope that I can take at least a few minutes of it to practice my craft of writing.  Even in just a week, I have experienced certain days where the words just rolled off my fingertips and others where the interruptions were abundant and the words scarce.  I am not concerned about length or even initial quality, I really just want to write because it is something I love to do.  The other goal in writing is that I can share some of what I write to be open and vulnerable.  It does not come naturally to me to want to share personal pieces of my life, but I want to be more open in this way.  I know that I am not alone in a lot of my experiences, especially recently in motherhood, so I hope some of what I write can connect well to others.
  3. Read Daily. Like they say, garbage in, garbage out.  Some of my very worst days are the ones spent scrolling on Instagram at every free moment.  Some of my very best days are the ones where I forget where my phone even is and I pick up a book or am outside.  What I consume in a day greatly affects my mood and outlook.  While I am a very slow learner at times, I am finally coming to terms that I cannot handle Instagram.  In the past few months I have deleted and re-downloaded it basically every single week.  I delete it because I am consuming too much of it and then re-download it just to check one thing and the next thing I know I have scrolled away an hour.  Time is now even more precious now, and I do not want to waste it away scrolling through content that often times does not even motivate or inspire me.  I close the app and I feel tired and unmotivated to do anything at all.  I am done with it (hopefully for at least a longer stretch than just a week).  I am very intentionally training myself to pick up a book rather than my phone.  Similarly to the writing intention, I am not expecting to finish novels in just a couple days.  I am a slow reader. This week I have just been reading a chapter a day.   This may seem small, but it is a whole chapter more than what I previously would read in a day. To me, it is not about going through all the bookshelves.  It is about slowing down and just reading.  And not just reading to read, but really delving in and being invested to the people and the lives I read about.  This past week I keep having an image of myself as a little girl staying up past my bedtime reading The Boxcar Children in bed.  I can still remember how those books made me feel.  All I wanted was to be in bed reading about the adventures of Henry and Jessie and the other Alden siblings. I craved those stories.  For quite some time now, I have not craved reading like I used to.  I think schooling and being forced to constantly read material that was not always the most riveting created this lack of desire within me.  I also think I became tired.  Reading is more effort than Netflix.  Whatever the reason, I stopped reading for pleasure and I am really missing it.  I want to return to that little girl curled up reading The Boxcar Children.  Reading, along with listening to really great podcasts, fills me up.  It opens up my perspective and feeds my love for words and storytelling.  Reading is good for me, Instagram is not.  So here’s to hoping in 2019 I read more and scroll less.
  4. Invest In Friendships.  We are built for connection.  God intended for us to live in community.  I love community and I love people, but I am learning more and more that I am naturally more introverted.  It takes more internal convincing and pushing to get myself out to meet with friends.  I always leave a phone call, a brunch, a walk with a friend in such a better mood and mindset.  I love connecting.  I long for connection, but I often times forget that this is a need of mine.  This year, I want to be more intentional about having an open schedule and calendar that allows for planned meetings with friends and even last-minute ones (because sometimes these impromptu meetings are the most important ones).  Friendship is a gift of God.  He is so kind to place people in our lives that make us laugh and make us better.  I never want to be too busy to take the time to invest in the friendships I already have and reach out to make new ones as well.  This year one of my hopes is to be slow to say no when it comes to friends and connection.
  5. Take Sabbath More Seriously. Recently, I have been extremely convicted in not taking the Sabbath as seriously as I should.  When I was running in college, I used to be annoyed that our coach always had long runs on Sundays.  The longest run of the week was on the day that was meant for rest.  I felt like I could not fully practice a Sabbath when I was running 12 miles at 7am on Sunday morning.  Now I am no longer tied to this obligation of Sunday long runs, yet still I find myself not fully embracing the Sabbath.  I still find myself scrambling to get things done even on a Sunday.  I am not fully satisfied with the work that I have done, so feel like I still need to get a few loose ends taken care of.  This is not the Lord’s desire for us.  If even the Lord needs the seventh day to rest, how much more I need it.  He does not care how clean our house is by Sunday; he wants us to rest regardless the state of our home or the length of our to-do list.  So much of my days and weeks are filled with obligations and things I must do, I really want to strive towards using the 6 days of the week in more intentional ways that will open up my Sundays so I can really have no agenda other than church and small group.

Did you notice that word open pop-up in each of the 5 intentions?  2019, my hope and prayer is that I can live out these intentions, not with obligation or pressure, but with joyful willingness because I know these things will allow me to ultimately be more open to your will in my life.

 

To Leave the Laundry

This mama needs to leave the laundry.  I am a list-type of person.  I easily become unfocused and overwhelmed when I don’t have a list to direct my day.  Even if I don’t have a physical list on paper, I feel like I am constantly carrying around a mental list in my head.  I am currently learning that I am writing these lists in all the wrong ways.  While there is nothing inherently wrong with a to-do list, if that list is not composed correctly or with enough breaks and rest and joy, that list is going to leave you burned out.  The way I write out my lists is that I think of all the practical things that need to get done.  Regardless of what day it is, I can almost guarantee that there will be dishes in the sink and dirty laundry in the basket.  These two tasks seem to be never-ending.  Once I list these things out, I tack on the things that really bring me joy, like writing this blog, reading my new copy of Homebody, and working on a scrapbook of Hudson’s first year, to the very end of the list.  I do this almost every day and the same thing happens nearly every day.  I don’t get to the things that truly fill me up and bring me joy.  The result? I end my days feeling exhausted, burned out, and ironically unproductive.  By doing the things that I have to do, I end not feeling as fulfilled or even as productive because the projects that really energize are left untouched.  While the kitchen is usually pretty tidy and laundry never sits in the basket untouched for very long, the scrapbook project I began sits in the corner of our bedroom neglected.  The books I’ve been looking forward to reading have piled up.  The empty room I have been looking forward to converting to a playroom gathers dust.

All this to conclude that I need to restructure how I write out my lists.  I need to start putting some of the things that really bring me joy at the top of my lists not at the very bottom.  I need to be more intentional about writing in things like pause, rest, play.  I need to be okay with occasionally leaving the laundry and instead picking up that book.  I need to fully let go of this false notion that in order to do the fun, fulfilling, and restful things; I must first accomplish the mundane and necessary things of life.  While the laundry of course must be done and the dishes must be put away and the dinners must be made; it is not always as urgent as I make it out to be.  Laundry can pile up for one more day.  Dishes can sit over night.  Dinner can come out later and be more simple.

The irony in all of this, is that I am still in the midst of learning this lesson for myself.  I have begun this post over a week ago.  I have been interrupted multiple times in writing this.  What were the interruptions? Laundry, a baby, dinner.  I know deep in my heart what I long for and could actually use, but I still do the things I feel are the priority.  I am still learning, but hopeful that I can slowly let go of the “have to’s” in order to embrace the “love to’s”.