Simplify

     I have been at loose ends since I finished my twelve weeks with Power Thoughts. Since then, I have been contemplating my health goals, my life goals, reconsidering my boundaries, reading, and rereading.  I have started Joyce Meyer’s 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life, and I am amazed at my tendency to compliciate my life, and make things harder than they need to be.

     The ideas that are most helpful to me as I regroup are:

  • Spend more time at home
  • When in doubt, don’t
  • Enjoy (don’t fight) your circumstances
  • Our lives are cyclical–like seasons

The health goals that I think I can keep are:

  • Get more sleep
  • Make an appointment for a massage
  • Walk the dog!
  • Take more bubble baths
  • Eat dark chocolate
  • Find a puzzle game I like

This may seem like a frivolous list, but…the best goals to make are the ones I can keep!  The goals above speak to exercise, stress relief, brain power, and healthy indulgences (the anti-oxidants in dark chocolate).

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One Road to Personal Peace

     After reading the chapter about Power Thought #9, I pursue peace with God, myself, and others, I realized that I really needed to work on having less personal turmoil in my life.  I live a lot of my days frustrated, rushed, and upset–at myself, because I am not doing everything I think I should be able to do.  Crazy, huh?  Well, it’s hard to see sometimes

     Recently, as I was about to head out to another activity, I realized how much I did not want to go, how much I dreaded it.  It was a “hobby” type class that I’d signed up for and I was determined to follow through with it and future classes because it was supposed to be fun, darnit!

     As I accepted the fact that I did not want to go, that gave way to the thought that I did not have to go.  I could back out.  I could quit.  I do not think it’s a great thing to commit to something and then quit, but in order to build more peace in my life, that’s exactly what I did (as graciously as possible, mind you).

     So, I learned that one very concrete way that I can pursue, establish, and maintain peace with myself is by not overbooking myself.  There may be a part of me that thinks I need to be busy every minute with a productive task or activity, but that’s not what I really want, that’s not what makes me happy, and I will always rebel against it, in some way or another.

     In order for me to be at peace with myself, I have to have downtime.  I have to have a couple of days (maybe on the weekends?) when every second is not scheduled.  This give me the chance to be flexible about my day, get things done that have to be done, and still have time to read, or write, or bake, according to my mood.  So, to add the concrete action to the power thought:  I pursue peace with God, myself, and others.  I pursue peace with myself, by keeping a lighter schedule and giving myself time and space.

He Makes My Soul Prosper

     God makes my soul prosper by providing me with rest and relaxation–something I had never even considered a need, let alone a need that God wants to meet. 

Recently, I have been having unusual fantasies.  Normally, my fantasies are about finishing our house, getting a better job, my  husband having more time off, me fitting into my skinny jeans—that sort of thing.  But, all last week, I kept thinking about having twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep, having a day or even several hours to do whatever I wanted, alone. 

It’s odd how when you’re a child, you might get those two full days of freedom—the weekend, but as soon as your adult, it just doesn’t happen.  The weekends get crammed full with run-off from the work week—laundry, house cleaning, grocery shopping, bill-paying, gift shopping, errands, and the unending necessity of cooking and doing dishes.  Sigh.  Before I started teaching, I took a day of annual leave on occasion, simply to have eight hours of time to myself.  As a teacher, I can’t just take a day off whenever (or ever), and I feel the stress of not getting that time. 

Part of it is my fault.  I am not sure what happened, when it happened, or how it happened, but I have trouble letting myself relax.  Deeply ingrained in my make-up is the rule be productive.  I feel like I have to knock out the “to do” list.  I must make progress.  I must be constructive. 

Well, this can only go on so long, and then I SNAP.  Usually, my snaps are not that dramatic.  I eat too many cookies, cry a little, a sleep it off.  To avoid those kinds of meltdowns, and also simply to remember who I am and what it’s like to have fun, I am trying  to have an unproductive day of whatever here and there, or at least a few hours. 

I did it today, and I want to do it again!  I can’t imagine the bliss of having a real day off every week.  Today, I just limited the items on my “to do” list to very simple tasks that would be easy to achieve.  Then, I moved the excess items to next week.  Ahhh…a day off. 

It was so nice to get up without being in a rush to get somewhere or do something.  The morning had a completely different feel.  I took a bubble bath, and used my fancy Bath and Body Works sugar scrub, and drank my coffee in the tub.  Then, I went to a local craft fair with my husband’s mother and aunt.  I bought my niece’s birthday present, and the ingredients to make my step dad’s birthday cake.  I mailed a package.  There endeth my productivity.  I indulged in a banana split for lunch because I’d been craving ice cream.  Then, this afternoon, I lounged on the couch with my dog, and watched not one, but two chick flicks—Nanny Diaries and Post-Grad.  I snuggled under a hand-crocheted afghan, breathed in warm, puppy smell (I know it’s strange, but I like it), and felt luxuriously well cared for. 

Still, I was going to have to get myself together at some point and fix supper for my husband…Then, my cell phone rang.  It was hubby asking if I wanted to cook or if I wanted him to pick up something on his way home.   Ha-ha!  I did not have to cook or do dishes.  I believe that this was a blessing, a treat, a God-given day!  I have never really thought of my desire for time alone to relax as a need, but I think God does.  I am seeing more and more that God sees me and my needs holistically.  His care for me does not begin and end with food and clothing.  What a gift this day has been.  My needs have been abundantly met, by God.  I wonder if it would be possible have time off like this on a regular basis.  Definitely something worth praying about.

Power Thought #8:  God meets all my needs abundantly.

Eating Too Many Dove Chocolates? Five Easy Ways to Take a Better Break

     For me, eating too many Dove Chocolates is a sign.  It is a sign that I need a real break.  I am not very good at taking breaks or at finding balance between Productivity and Relaxation.  I usually eat a little chocolate on my way back to the computer or the project or buy myself a little something while I am running errands and try to pass that off as a break or self-nurturing.  What a joke!  When I woman needs a break, she loses her sass, spirit and spunk, and tries to feed her soul with junkfood and shopping “treats.” 

     The real break, or the most desirable treat is time.  How about a couple of hours to do something fun?  Something that isn’t productive at all?  This is scary to me.  It means I might not get to mark off everything on my to do list.  Yet, ignoring the “I need a break” signs leads to frustration, anger, and for me, extra pounds.   You could also add on stress, and more frustration and anger, etc. etc.

     So, even though my Productivity isn’t as great as it might have been in previous years, I am recognizing the fact that I am a whole person–not a robot, and that means that my peace and contentment are more important than getting things marked off the to do list. 

     One of the struggles here is that due to my lack of experience at giving myself breaks, I don’t  always know what to do.  However, I have gathered a few ideas.  They usually come to me by thinking, “What did I used to do for fun?”  I think back several years, and then I have something to try.  Here are a few of my random suggestions:

  1. I love to put my feet up, and snuggle up on the couch and watch a show or a movie that is just for me–something that feeds my soul–not  necessarily something that my husband or friends would watch.  It’s my choice.  Today, I took a break and watched two episodes of Little House on the Prairie.  How wonderful!  (I also remembered as I was watching that both Melissa Gilbert and the actress who played Nellie Oleson published autobiographies last year; I might enjoy reading those books…)
  2. Play with the dog or dog.  Create a toy from a “found” object outside or in the house.  Most of the time while I am working, I ignore Scout the Dog’s attempts to get me to play.  At some point though, I realize, he’s right.  I really do need to throw this toy for him.
  3. Make something little.  Some really tiny creation.  Sometimes, when I am working a lot, my brain is so tired that I just want to do something different.  I don’t care what it is.  I want to make something, but I don’t have the time or energy to start a big project.  A few simple things to try:  bake some cookies (use the bought cookie dough), make a sign with a favorite verse or saying on it, embroidery a tea towel, make a simple pin or necklace.  Art doesn’t have to be big and grandiose!
  4. Get outside with your camera and takes some pictures of anything that catches your eye.
  5. Take a nap.  If you can’t fall asleep, focus on your senses.  What do you hear?  What was the most beautiful thing you heard all day?  What beautiful thing did you see?  What do you smell?  What was the tastiest food you at that day?  What was the best texture?  I find that focusing on how my body is experiencing the moments of my day gets me out of my robotic mind-mode and helps me feel rich and grateful for the whole of my life.  Also, in focusing on the senses, you may stumble upon an idea of a poem, something you want to photograph, or simply something you want to share with an special person.