|image from Microsoft Office|
I quit making New Year's Resolutions a few years ago, but there is still something about this time of year that makes me start thinking about getting my life in order. I suppose it's the part where we have finished eating our way through the holidays and now it's January. Yippee, January. Which is followed by, lest we forget, February--also known as the Worst of all Months.
So since we really have nothing to look forward to but the cold (unless you are wise and made plans to get outta Dodge, which I have not), we might as well do some reflection. Now, last January was not a time for reflection. I had a newborn and a torn-out bottom and was in absolute survival mode. If you'd asked me about my resolutions I would have stared at you with dead zombie eyes. Everyone out there who is experiencing upheaval? You probably can skip the reflection. If it's all you can do to make it through each day, now is not the time to be all, "Hmmmm. I should start eating more fish."
Does anyone else think it's really too bad that the good things don't just happen? Why is it that things like eating well and being healthy and having good relationships take so much work? How come inertia never leads to abs?
I want to be healthy and fit and full of energy. But it takes a lot of work to plan, shop for, and cook the kinds of meals that will do that--it's so much easier at the end of a long day to swing by Little Caesars, grab a $5 pizza, and call it good (or, you know, bad). I want to be in better shape, but the only time I can fit in exercise would be to get up at the crack of dawn and work out to a DVD or podcast before people start waking up and attaching themselves to my body and never, ever, ever letting go. It's hard to see the pros in that when it's 6am and I'm still so tired and I've already been up once with a cranky teething baby. His naptimes (which I am guessing will soon become naptime, sob) are when I can do things like shower, clean, cook, make phone calls, and use the computer, so I'm kind of all booked up there.
I want to spend quality time with the Gentleman Husband, and I'm kind of getting the feeling that vegging in front of the TV most nights and then going to bed doesn't really cut it. But anything better will require thought and planning and clearing out a chunk of time where neither of us is trying to multi-task with knitting, blogging, paying bills, cutting coupons (hmmm, these seem to all be me . . . ). Occasionally it means planning dates, finding a babysitter, paying a babysitter, putting on makeup, the whole thing.
I want to have a reasonably clean, tidy house where I'm not constantly misplacing things or embarrassed to have people over. But this means creating some kind of cleaning schedule and sticking to it. Usually when I clean the tub I'm so proud of myself that it isn't until months later that I think, "Oh, right. I am probably supposed to do that again."
I want to be a good parent who raises an emotionally secure, intellectually stimulated, spiritually in-tune child. But most days I don't even think to read to him until bed time, and every couple of weeks I remember to play some Primary songs on the computer. Most of my time is consumed by keeping the little Dark Lord fed (he is a bottomless pit) and slept.
I want to be closer to God, and to feel the Spirit more. Again, this takes work. The best time for me to have uninterrupted, meaningful scripture study would be in the morning. You know, after I get up with a baby in the night, but before I work out, which would all have to be finished by 6:30am if I don't want TDL to wake up early and cut the whole process short. And really if I'm going to exercise I probably need to leave time for a shower in there too because otherwise I won't get one until/if he takes a morning nap. Also I should really be making a healthy breakfast for all of us. So that would put me waking up around what, 4:30?
So . . . yeah. Good times. I realize that there are seasons to life, and you have to figure out what you can do and what you need to let go for now. Julie Beck, the president of the Relief Society (women's organization of our church) has given some advice that I keep coming back to. One thing she talks about is living with Intention and Precision. (Note: she says precision, not perfection.) It's the idea of living with Intention that is on my mind more. If I want my life, health, relationships, etc. to be a certain way, then I need to be intentional and do the things that, over time, should give me those results.
When asked how we can best manage the busyness of our lives, she quoted a former Relief Society president (Belle Spafford) who said that we need to appraise our interests and evaluate our activities, prioritizing the things with the most enduring rewards. President Beck then talked about the concept of the Essentials, the Necessaries, and the Nice-to-Dos.
Essentials: These are the things needed for eternal life. Covenants, prayer, scriptures, service. These things must be done every day. It's how we get aligned and stay aligned with Heavenly Father's will.
Necessaries: Things we have to do every day. We have to eat. We have to clean in order to have the Spirit in our home. These are the things we have to do to be self-reliant, like work or schooling.
Nice-to-Dos: Our hobbies and interests, the things that fill our hearts with joy.
As I'm figuring things out, I can see where to put most things (whether I have the discipline to actually do it is another story). The one that is really stumping me though is the exercise thing. Has anybody come up with anything that works around their babies' schedules? Since it's winter and cold and our air is usually of such quality that you'd be better off sucking on an exhaust pipe, I hesitate to start any power-walking-with-stroller sessions outside. But maybe that's just me being a wuss or worrying over nothing. After all, in Scandinavia babies nap outside all the time. In the evenings I'm usually worn out and exercise is the last thing I want to do, but maybe that's my window if I don't want to get up at 4:00am.
Has anyone else made great (or tiny) strides in Intentional Living that you care to share with the group? Or maybe something that you're going to do & are excited about?