Commitments for This Year to Build a Sustainable Life!

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No matter how hard we try, none of us is able to control all of the circumstances and moments of our lives. From time to time, when my four were much younger, and I had pushed them to their limits during the day without a nap, too much activity, beyond their bedtime, too much sugar, and sometimes with lots of over-stimulation, bedtime would be impossible. Out of utter fatigue, they would wail and cry, throw little fits and not give into sleep until their bodies finally capitulated to utter exhaustion. Their reaction was equal to the level of exhaustion and abuse their bodies had taken.

I realized that there was nothing to do except let them cry and fuss until they finally fell deep into sleep. They didn't need to be disciplined--they needed to be loved and rested. Only when they caught up on their rest and their metabolism went back to a normal blood sugar level over a couple of days, were they less agitated.

Mamas do the same thing, at times.

When living without enough sleep, and eating too much junk food, with work and taking care of others--who are often immature, irritating and draining, wrapping presents, cooking, life takes them to utter exhaustion, they are prone to fits expressed in different ways.

We cry, too--but in a more adult way.

By being grumpy, irrationally angry, irritated or tearful at the smallest circumstances, our bodies rebel at exhaustion and show us that we have abused them.

Our hearts will not have peace until our bodies have had rest.

Even though we had a wonderful family time through the holidays this year, I am still finding myself drained and tired from all the constant demands, and the continued load of work I had for ministry through all the weeks of celebrating. The many meals, messes, dishes, shopping always takes a toll on me.

From many years of Christmas, I realized that in order to go into the new year with peace and a good attitude, I needed to catch up on life and take time to stop to ponder my priorities, and give my body, heart and mind rest,  before I jump forward into a new year of more activity.

Today, I got up before everyone else because I always feel a desperate need for time by myself. (When everyone is home, there is no end to talking, discussing, opinions, energy and adrenaline spent.)

Lighting several spiced candles, turning on some favorite music and toting a big cup of tea latte, I settled into a comfy chair and just sat and allowed the stress to flow out of me. Sitting quietly for a half hour, I began to plan my next days so that I would have time to steal away a few minutes for myself regularly. It is different for me every season, so I always have to come up with a new sustainable plan of how to secure that important alone time for me. Getting some control of my life and planning for productivity means that others who draw from me will have more to draw from.

These are goals I wrote down for myself today. Each of us have differing priorities, so make your own list apply to you.

  1. Emotional health is something I have to stay on top of as I live a very giving-out life and can become down or a little depressed if I don't figure out how to refuel. How am I going to refuel emotionally? What plans for friends, time with Clay, getting away by myself, will affirm the empty me and give me a sense of refreshment? I put some specific simple plans into place.
  2. Spiritual Health  What do I need to do to gain control of my spiritual life? I need time to read scripture to give myself guidance for attitudes and for ways to trust God in the myriad details of my life. Is there anything I am fearful about? Am I harboring bad attitudes? Do I need to put anything to rest in my heart in order to move on without stress? What do I need to give to God in prayer? What devotion or spiritual book might I read in the next months that I most need right now to fill my soul? I know that I would never have made it through all the stresses and strains of my life is my spiritual time had not been a priority over all my years. God is my stability and gives me strength and wisdom to have the right attitudes. Without my spiritual perspective being guided by truth, my attitudes go awry.
  3. Physical Health  Planning my physical health is a big issue for me. What can I do to control my diet this month? (For me, no sugar or breads, limiting carbs, eating mostly fruit and veggies and lots of water--only two cups of coffee or tea a day--that's cutting back for me!) When will I exercise? I carry so much adrenaline, so I have to exercise in order to relax. It is so snowy and cold here in the winter that I have to find alternatives to my normal long walks to get exercise. I have a few videos I use to get in at least a half hour of exercise a day, and several dance playlists from Joy that I sometimes use, too!
  4. Educational goals. Reading restores my mental attitude. I plan what books I will be reading. I keep a journal to jot down what I am learning. I pick a book to read aloud to whoever is here. Readalouds are still a part of my family life, and stories give me happiness and soul-filling moments each day.
  5. Putting together rhythms for my family after losing all control during the holidays is essential. Morning, breakfast routines, devotions, meals, chores, work, ministry, evening meals, and relaxing activities are a must for me to control and plan, as I always have lots of people in my home. If I don't plan it, I will lose control of my time and find myself irritated at the very people I want to serve.
  6. Figuring out what is realistic in my ministry schedule, (podcasts, blogs, speaking engagements, expectations from publishers) and what I might just have to say "no" to. I cannot compromise my overall life and my own well-being just because others may want me to give more of myself.  But if I do not have my priorities in place, I will burn out from being available to every who wants something from me. I am finite and can only do so much if I am to keep going for many years to come. Boundaries is my word of the year for this area.

This year, I actually took the outline of the chapters from Own Your Life, again,  to give me some guidance and reminders about how to better own my time, my emotions, my commitments, etc. in the days ahead. This concept of taking charge of my life and purposes has taken hold in the past few years and so it still helps me each January to use these concepts to give me a plan for moving forward.

Take time to plan and refuel so that you can move forward with peace, a quiet heart and a restored soul. And now, off to sleep a very long sleep so I can begin to catch up! :)

If you want something to give you ideas of how to move forward in the new year, you might enjoy reading Own Your Life again and jotting down ideas about how to move to purpose and peace. Or find another book that will help stimulate you to the kinds of priorities you need to refresh your own life.

I will be starting a new podcast series on Own Your Life in a week and a half, so find your copy or order your copy and plan on joining me by reading 2 chapters a week for a 9  week series about getting your life back in focus and making plans to leave a legacy through your life. I will have new material and ideas of how to continue building on the foundations you have laid. Hope you will be encouraged. Join me and tell your friends. :)

Happy Friday and weekend to you.