Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Small Steps Towards a Happier Life

It's only been a week since I last blogged and I'm blogging again... talk about a good start for the new year ! 

By the way, if you didn't catch it, that post, entitled "My Last Blogpost", was actually not my last ... as in never going to blog again... but it was my last blogpost for 2016. If you read alllll the way to the end you knew that. And if you didn't - now you do. 

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on that post telling me your "one little word" for 2017. I loved hearing your goals and hopes for the future! I did notice that nobody chose the word chocolate for their New Year's goal… as in eat more chocolate. I think that's a little sad, and so I'm just going to go ahead and choose that for my second word. There are enough non-sugar, whole foods eating people in the world, I am quite sure, which is maybe why nobody chose that word? Such a tragedy. In light of this, I have decided that somebody's got to fill this role, and it may as well be me. You're welcome. 

that's me outside, sneaking some chocolate

Another goal I have for the new year : better blogging.  And by better I mean less rambling, but more often. Maybe I will not get so behind on blogging if I remind myself that not every post must encompass all of the deep ponderings of life that are going on in my brain at the moment. There's nothing wrong with a few random pictures and some lighthearted thoughts. It doesn't have to be all or nothing! 

I have noticed this about myself over the years  ... an all or nothing approach to life usually means I default to nothing.  This applies to blogging, but to so many other areas as well.

Are you like this too ? Or maybe you know someone like this? 

coconut is like this :"give me allllll the toilet paper"

Here's how all or nothing thinking works (and these are not necessarily personal examples, but things I have observed or heard people say):

I don't have time to get my house organized, with a place for everything and everything in its place. I'll just keep functioning with things the way they are, always looking for the scotch tape, the scissors, the suntan lotion, my keys ... or any other item of importance.

Or this ...

We will never be able to go on the vacation our dreams because we can't afford it. 

I will never be in shape again because I'm a mom, and I don't have time to go to the gym. 

"who needs a gym when you've got one of these bad boys ??"

My family can't eat healthy because my kids and husband would rebel. And besides, all the food nazis I know really irritate me. I don't want to be one of them. 

I don't have time to read my Bible and pray every day - I barely have time to take a shower as a mom, let alone focus on my spiritual life. 

My life is too crazy to ... start a new hobby, read a new book, go to church, make a new friend ... (fill in the blank) ... 

You get the idea. 

our frozen fountain at the rice ranch

Thinking that we can't do it all - or do something specifically in its entirety - usually means we do nothing. At least that's pretty true for me. 

But here's what I have also learned... something is better than nothing.

"please just give me SOME of the chicken wings, daddy ?"

Some exercise- even it's just fifteen minutes a day of walking briskly or getting on a treadmill - SOMETHING ! - is better than nothing. Because over time, those minutes add up, and pretty soon I'm finding that I have more energy, more tone to those flabby calves, and yes, more motivation to do ... well, more!

abba doing her daily twirling exercises 

Making a few, realistic changes to our diet (limiting sugar, eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking water instead of juice or soda) is better than doing nothing at all to help my family form good eating habits. We don't have to buy into the latest all-or-nothing food craze (because in almost thirty years of parenting I have seen them all come full circle ... several times!) to make some meaningful and PRACTICAL changes.

These small, but time-tested changes are the kind that will last for a lifetime, and they won't have to be jettisoned with the next new food fad that comes along. 

jon jon eating some good old fashion bacon and eggs

(And yes, this includes eating more chocolate. Because chocolate is a vegetable, hello!) 

Some steps towards organizing my house is better than nothing at all. No time for a massive overhaul ?? Baby steps, people. Take one area a week - or even one small project a day - and focus on that. Make a list of the places in your house that need help: the laundry room, the pantry, the junk drawer, the area under the kitchen sink ... and take half an hour each day to attack those places. It may take several months ... or even a year ... to create "a place for everything and everything in its place". But then you'll have the rest of your life to reap the benefits of those small but consistent efforts. And as things start to default towards clutter again, you can reorganize as you go. Because let's face it - that thirty minutes a day organizing means thirty minutes less looking for lost keys ! 

"I know those keys are here SOMEWHERE!"

Let's keep going ...

Some prayer and Bible reading time first thing in the morning is better than nothing at all. Even if it's just fifteen minutes before my kids wake up, this is time well spent. Spiritual food is like physical food - the satisfaction you feel afterwards makes you crave it again. Filling your spirit gives you an appetite for more spirit-filling food. I've found that those little moments, even if they weren't the hour I had hoped for, inspire and motivate me to make time for more ... and before I know it I'm scheduling my morning devotion time in, rather than "hoping" it magically happens. 

Some savings towards that special vacation we've been dreaming of forever is better than no savings. For example: if you took $50 a month and put it in a "vacation fund", in one year you would have $600. Not much maybe, but think of it as a down payment on a trip to Hawaii. Five years down the line, you have a nice little pile of cash - or more if you add to that fund every time you have some extra money - and you've got yourself a sweet little condo on the beach with the love of your life for a week! (Our 30 year anniversary is this year and you bet your bikini we have been saving for such a time as this ! Okay, not a bikini, because I never wear them, but definitely a cute tankini with a big touristy floppy hat for fun. That I can swing.)

caleb wearing his Northwest bikini

Where was I ?

Oh yes ... baby steps ...

Don't have time to read a book ? Read a chapter each night. No time to invest in a hobby ? Take an hour each week to do something you love. No time or energy to entertain weekly? Have people over twice a month ... or once a month ... some time for friends or new relationships is better than none at all. 

I just wrote about a number of areas where all or nothing thinking can hurt us ... or at the very least hinder us from making changes in life that will benefit us. 

Here is one though, that deserves your all ....

... giving your heart to Jesus. This is one area that merits a complete surrender. We can justify a "something is better than nothing" mentality in so many situations - organizing our houses, changing our diets, setting money aside for vacation, etc. But giving my heart to Jesus - my whole heart, not little pieces of it - was the best decision I've ever made in my life. 

Does that mean I've never had times of doubt or struggle ? Does that mean I've never experienced seasons where I questioned that decision ? Times when I wondered if maybe the "crowd" was right when it told me at age seventeen that my new found faith and commitment to Jesus Christ was too radical, too much, and really I just needed to remember: "everything in moderation, Patti" ?

Of course not. 

Every act of radical commitment or unashamed devotion in life will be challenged or questioned - or sometimes even derided - by those who choose the path of least resistance. That's just life. Especially in this day and age. Couch potatoes don't like to listen to Cross Fitters preach about their passion for sweating and taking it to the next level. Why ? Because we're convicted.  (Lol, speaking from personal experience here!) It goes against human nature to watch someone else completely surrender something - whether that's physically or spiritually speaking - and then give them a high five. Most of the time we'd rather scorn what we don't understand or experience ourselves. 

So my choice to "give my life to Jesus" as a teenager was not met without opposition... even when it was my own struggling faith. But 32 years after praying that prayer of repentance, the one where I handed my mess of a life to God and said "I don't know what you want me to do with this, Jesus. Please take it - all of it - and fix it" ... 32 years later and I have not one regret for giving Him my all. 

Because by giving Him the big things - namely, my heart - He has access to the small things. He helps me make those changes, take those baby steps, in every other area of my life. And because I am trusting Jesus - daily - to save me and make me who He wants me to be ... I don't have to worry about getting all those other areas right. I can take small steps towards improvement in whatever it is in life I want to accomplish, and leave the rest to God. What a relief ! I don't have to be perfect. I can trust in Jesus. 

And now it is late Sunday morning – one of those very few Sunday mornings I am not in church because we had to cancel due to an ice storm! - and I need to go start lunch. 

I have lots of small changes planned for 2017… How about you? Leave your thoughts in the comment section, telling me just a few things you plan to improve on in the coming year.

I'm off to eat some chocolate! 


Grammi Faith said...

I need to change so many things in my life, I would like to start over. You are such a wise woman, wife, mother, friend. I love you tons my wise and beautiful daughter. BTW I figured out how to change my Apple ID password so now I wait for them to verify my real ID then send me a new password to change. HA HA I just received your text asking me if I figured it out.

Charlotte said...

i'm so happy to learn that chocolate is a vegetable.
For my first big groceries of the year i go find some things with chocolate, choco powder, choco cookie, mellocake, choconuts, choco pasta. It was today and i don't yet eat any chocolate.

I love your post because i need to learn to make baby step. I want making a lot of big steps in one time but with only two legs i'm fall.

With baby steps i'm sure i'll can going on a good direction.

So first project, re begining drowing, art and craft ( nothing since 10 years).

Most important is loving my family in happy days and in so bad hard days ( cancer, divorce, lost ), these two past years learned to me that yes i can carry all my family because god help me during the hardest days. And when they saw that my mom and brothers and nephews understand that they can do the same and be happy when just one more day, one good day and step by step we all growing ,learning and return to an different AND happy life not each minute of a day because we thinking too much.

Tomorrow my mom go to check her free cancer, 18 months, it was a miracle and god carry me during the six months of incertitude with a mom who was totaly paralysed, and today she walk. Little step after little step and like i promised to me 20 years ago never i let my mom alone, so we do the way with our both and different sick condition and it's easy at two than one.

And this year, i just want to be happy because i do what i dream when i was a young lady, taking care of my mom, loving her just like she did for me and understanding i'm strong and if i doubt i pray and ask support.

So two words for 2017 happy and chocolate and hoping for more Lily and bunny giggling.

Pogue Mahone said...

I'm with you- I plan to eat more chocolate,too! :)

mom of three said...

Great post Patti! Learning to take baby steps again, with the faith of a child. My health is rapidly failing, and taking a few steps every day, literally, is a true accomplishment for me. Now I must have faith that those steps will lead to more steps. My goal is to follow your advice... thank you for sharing your faith and family with all of us! Loving you from Woodburn!

katrynka said...

I am already working on cleaning and organizing the house in genera,as well as a specific focus on my craft room! We also started eating low carb,so we have both lost weight. I'm struggling a bit with maintaining discipline in my eating since the holidays, but I'm going to get back on track!

crystalkupper said...

This year is going to be dedicated to getting our newest daughter's medical care set up, as well as settling into to our 7th location in the last 12 years. To do so, I'm taking a year off grad school. I miss "just" being a mom.

Jennifer said...

I love your pictures and am so glad for this reminder. I'm definitely an all or nothing kind of person. I'm trying to do better about using the time I do have more wisely. I loved this thought from my worship service a few weeks ago. "The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing." It is super easy to get distracted and worried by lots of things that aren't truly the most important thing for me.