In my mid-forties, I was burning the candle at both ends, staying up late, over-committing in projects, with the kids, and never saying "no" and it was catching up on me--taking toll on my health. I went on a long health fast, changed my ways, planned more sleep, ate more healthy, exercised more regularly, had regular quiet times, and took Sundays off. If I can't get something finished by Saturday afternoon, I put it on my schedule for Monday and take Sunday off.
Staying strong and healthy into my 60's was a commitment I had to plan and make. Planning to be strong inside and excellent of faith also required a plan. Now, at the end of 20 years of Mom conferences, I am taking time to rethink my priorities and commitments for the next few years. Only as I plan my life can I become most effective. I wrote about it a lot last year in Own Your Life. But I also created a planner for The Lifegiving Home so women could also plan and prioritize their ideals to live life intentionally in The Lifegiving Home Journey, hoping this book would help women think and plan according to their own family and their unique messages and ideals.
My first night home, this past Christmas, I had a lively discussion with my family regarding the creation of lists. Being a driven family in general, each of us agreed that we generally wake on any given day with a sense of what must be done, and how we want to accomplish it. Being a family well-versed in the intricacies of the MBTI (Meyers Briggs Type Indicator), we decided that Js (of which I am one) are more inclined to actually setting lists down on paper.
But that we all had lists of some sort, whether in our minds or on our calendars, was plain, and it reminded me afresh of how deeply I believe in the practice of planning life. By this, I don’t just mean a ticked off to-do list, but rather the creation of structures and rhythms that allow us to both accomplish what we need, and also to live in health.
Sarah shares some thoughts she has had on planning and priorities as she ponders her life from Oxford.
Something I have learned very quickly in Oxford is that time is a precious commodity. I live on a schedule of 8-week terms, and this year find myself working, chairing a society, and living in community in addition to full-time academic work. If I don’t jot down a list in the morning, I am highly likely to miss the deadline for a paper, a phone call, or a meeting.
When I moved to Oxford, I got a handy day book and actually signed up for Google calendar. And for the first month or so, I was extremely productive. And highly efficient. But after five weeks of high-powered work, I was also exhausted, and realized that there was one list that I had entirely forgotten to make, one structure I had forgotten to add to my outline of life. And that was my plan for the care of my self - soul, spirit, mind, and body.
One of the fundamental plans I think is necessary both to the cultivation of an individual life and that of a strong and healthy home is a plan for the care of one’s self. This is not a self-centered setting of my needs above everything else, it’s the recognition that the high demands of a life spent in the creation of a home, the love of friends, and the accomplishment of work (whether the raising of children or the writing of papers) requires a stable, healthy person.
And the only way that health will be achieved is if that person provides what is necessary to keep their strength intact.
When I realized this, midway through my term, I sat down one Saturday morning (with a good cup of coffee and a bit of music, of course) to evaluate what I needed on a regular basis in order to stay physically healthy, spiritually centered, and emotionally stable.
For me, this meant regular times of deep quiet in which I could pray or think. It meant fellowship with close friends and connection with family. It meant enough sleep, and time to make healthy meals. It meant daily walks, and margin enough to read or write creatively. Each of these things were within my power to achieve. I simply needed to weave them into the rhythms I created on a daily basis in my home.
Home is the domain in which I have the power to rule. Within the confines of home (for me at the moment, a slim little bedroom and a good kitchen in England - yours may be quite different!), I can choose how I will structure, spend, and give my time. The rhythms I provide for my own self-nourishment and for the accomplishment of all I desire will determine either my exhaustion or my ability to live in a place of strength.
Nothing good in this life, home or friendships or writing or children, comes by chance.
We must choose, plan, and provide for the grace we want to create, the love we want to give, the joy we hope to cultivate.
In these late winter days, may you discover and form the rhythms you need in order to live richly in your home. May your planning ‘lists’ bring life.