28 March 2019

5 Habits Changing My Life For the Better

I have often been very proud of myself that I tend to be the type of woman that is a doer, the one who always gets things done. 

A list maker and goal setter, I am always moving and planning for the next step.

I am currently working through a breakup, along with acknowledging some messy, sensitive area's of my life with the Lord that need to die. So basically it is a very Lenty Lent.

Slowly, I am finding a new rhythm. I have made some new female friends and am taking time to reconnect with others.

Part of this grieving, healing, and growing process of this season are making time for healthy habits that are life-giving and good for me.

1. Waking up at the same time (for me that is early)
I have been an early riser for the longest time. My goal is everyday to be up at 5am. In all honesty, the last two weeks it has been hit or miss, but it is all about progress not perfection.

After my feet hit the floor, I will wrap up in my robe and head to the coffee maker to get a hot cup of caffeine in my system. While I drink my coffee, sometimes I will look out the window to see the sun rise. Then I head over to my cozy chair for some prayer, reading my Bible, or writing in my journal a bit.

Waking up the same time everyday is a discipline that helps me make sure I am taking care of myself.

2. Peaceful morning routine
I like a slow start morning. I know I need to make time to fuel my soul as I start the day.

My favorite way to start the morning is staying in my jammies, reading a good book or my Bible, and drinking several mugs of strong coffee.

Ideally, I try to have some time for prayer and exercise daily.

3. Block schedule my Time
I learning how blocking my time for certain things helps me use that amount of time more intentionally.

I have started doing this for different writing projects, cleaning or tidying up, my daily social media use, and even brainstorming for new projects or ideas. Setting timers on my phone for these and other daily tasks is a really helpful tool in making sure I am getting done what needs to get done.

4. Set daily times for social media
I remember a time when I could not imagine not having the Facebook app on my phone. I really couldn't imagine deleting it. I know, lame right? Needless to say I am doing just fine with not having it on my phone anymore.

Overall, I think I have a pretty healthy relationship with social media (though I could unsubscribe from a few podcasts).

I only go on Facebook one time a day, usually no more than 30 minutes. I try to give myself one big chunk on Instagram: watch stories, engage with followers, or share pictures.

5. Write down in my planner the days I will exercise 
Like each of these, I do not follow them perfectly. 

Typically on Sunday afternoon, I sit down with my planner for the coming week to look at what is coming up. A part of that is looking for which days I can make time to take an exercise class and get some cardio/strength training in.

Looking back on those checkmarks from the days I exercise encourages me and makes me feel good about myself.

Even the smallest habits can lead to a big difference in your day and how you feel about yourself.

What are the habits you cling to in your week? 
What habits or healthy choices are making your life better?

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08 March 2019

Making Meals Restorative When You're Eating By Yourself

"You have everything you need to live a beautiful, meaningful life," a close mentor said to me recently. 
This wisdom has enriched me in many areas of life, and it can be enriching for women in any state of life. But recently there is one simple area of my life that it especially impacted.
As a single woman fresh off of a break-up, one of the most difficult adjustments to my new rhythm is getting used to cooking for another person and eating meals myself when I'm home.

We grow up enjoying most meals with loved ones around us. Even in college, many meals are with friends on campus. But if you live by yourself, or your schedule doesn't always coincide with your roommates' schedules, mealtime can be a necessary routine that is often very lonely.
Learning how to meal plan for one, exercise hospitality, or even eat alone as a single woman can feel uncomfortable. We can find ourselves with too much food to consume in one sitting or even in one week. Setting the worries of the day behind us when we come to the dinner table was easier when there were others at the table with us; it's more difficult when you wish to talk through with someone what happened during the day and there's no one to do that with. Even the practice of sitting at a table can feel purposeless when there aren't other people filling the chairs around you.

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07 March 2019

Jesus, help me: my prayer for lent

Here we are one day into Lent.

For many past Lenten seasons, I've treated these 40 days as a program for spiritual improvement. It was all about what I could "do" with hard work and striving. In some sense, I think I was trying to become a spiritual ninja.

The last few years I have thrown away such nonsense of spiritual legalism. That does not help me and it is not good for my soul.

But this Lent especially, it is much more simple.

This prayer I find myself heavily relying upon (Jesus help me) is walking me through a messy, confusing time.

That very good, honorable man I told you about several times here, well I broke up with him. The reason? I came to realize I did not have peace about being a step mom to three little boys in this situation. And feeling that way, I didn't have peace in continuing our relationship.

It is messy, sad, and confusing. But even with all of that, I have such peace in the decision.

I think on some level I wanted the first man I seriously dated after my divorce and annulment to become the man I would share my life with. Maybe it sounds a little crazy, but I did hope for that on some level.

Even if we did not end up together, I know this man was so good for me. He taught me how to trust and love again. He showed me there are still good, honorable men in this world. He was worthy of me and truly respected me. I knew what it was (really for the first time) to be in a healthy, loving relationship with a man. There were gifts and lessons I have learned for which I will always be grateful. I am just sad it had to end this way, for both of us.

But getting back to my prayer for Lent.

When I sensed this might be the end, I called my sister and poured out my little hurting heart. One of the things I said to her in that conversation was, "I don't really know what to pray now other than Jesus help me."

Jesus help me.

The next day I was cleaning out my junkie old car because that evening I was picking up a brand-new (to me!) used car. In cleaning the car, I went through all the compartments and pockets. I came across this old prayer card of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, coffee stains and a little beat up. I don't even know where it came from or how long I had it.

But I flipped it over and saw the exact same prayer I shared with my sister the night before.

Jesus help me.

I burst into tears and slowly read through the prayer.

It felt like a confirmation of a painful, sad decision I was making, but at the same time it felt like a love note from Jesus: "I see you sweetie pie. I know this is hard and confusing. I promise I have not forgotten you."

Even now, a little over a month later, there have been other little instances where my Lenten prayer shows up...a gentle reminder from God.

Those three little words are a prayer I keep on repeat right now, especially on days where the sadness feels like too much.

But I know it won't always be this way. I know my vocation is to be married. And I know there still good men in the world.

So this Lent I am not trying to do it all. In all honesty, I'm not doing a whole lot.

I am being still and open and writing in a Lenten journal.

I am praying the Rosary every day.

And on the good, in-between, and not so good days, I am praying over and over, "Jesus help me."

Praying for a Resurrection of hope and healing in your hearts over these 40 days and into Easter and Pentecost, friends.

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