intentional living for me = taking time to read
intentional living for me = getting enough sleep
intentional living for me = preparing for a day the night before - including picking out an outfit
all images via pinterest
Until tonight, I hadn't realized how intentionally and deliberately I'd set up boundaries in my life. The purpose of designing my life like this over the past 10 years was to limit my commitments and activities so that I can listen to what my body, mind and soul need. I read the Bible, and it says to "Love your neighbor as yourself." You cannot love others until you love and take care of yourself. Once you have your needs (not wants!) met, you can then reach out to others and love them and be there for them. Sounds simple to me but ohhhh we as women have a difficult time with this.
After hearing from various friends how stressed they are with too many things to do and too many people to do them for, I found a new appreciation for my own schedule. I have busy weeks filled with work, family commitments, volunteer work at church, and meetings to attend, along with the myriad of details it takes to organize a home and personal life! So I set up boundaries that help me, and no one's objected so far. There's nothing new here but I'm intentional about following them which has allowed much stress to leave my life in the last 10 years.
- I don't go out during the week because I need to be home by 9 to get enough sleep for work the next day.
- If I do have to go out, I don't go out two nights in a row. Like this week. I have youth group Wednesday night, so I am choosing to not see a movie with friends on Thursday night so that I have energy and focus for a dinner on Friday night.
- I turn my phone off at 9 PM daily, and it's known that I won't respond to a text or phone call until the next day. And it turns out my alarm on my phone still rings loudly even when the phone is set to silent.
- To speed things along in the morning (I'm not a morning person at all.), I take 15 minutes at night to prepare lunch for the next day, shine my sink (thank you, flylady!), set out clothes, shoes and my bag for the next day, and I set things by my front door that I simply cannot forget the next day. I've been known to put out my makeup on the bathroom counter in the order in which I put it on, and get all my smoothie ingredients ready the night before so it's 75% done and the non-awake-me can finish making my breakfast without much thought in the morning.
- I keep Sundays free of set plans so that I'm available after church to go with friends to coffee or lunch, watch football or relax in the pool and hot tub. (We hit the gym so often on that day that we now call Sundays "Hot Tub Sunday"). I make plans to be home by 6 PM so I can prepare for the week - doing laundry, preparing food for weekday meals, reading, and getting loads of sleep before monday morning.
- I have carefully chosen commitments - work of course, then volunteer work with teens at church on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings, and another media ministry involvement once a month. A myriad of opportunities are out there, but I simply cannot say yes to them. As a wise person once told me, focus on doing a few things and doing those things well.
- It took me years to realize there is nothing I do that has to be done by me alone. I am not the only person in the world who can bake cookies, help with an event or give someone a ride.
- If I decline a request made of me outside my chosen commitments, I do not have to give an explanation as to why I am saying "no". It is not their business, and if someone insists on knowing, my stubborn side emerges and I refuse to give a reply. Politely, of course.
- It's not the most fun economy at the moment, so I don't have a huge budget to go out to eat, go to movies and shows, or take road trips and vacations like many of my friends do. If something is too expensive, I will turn down the opportunity. If I can do a compromise, I will. For instance, some friends meet halfway across the state every summer for a weekend at a hotel and casino. It's their fun weekend to catch up and do some gaming as well. Their budgets are a bit higher than mine, so I compromise. I avoid the hotel and gaming costs by going out to dinner with them to catch up on their lives, then I might spend $20 or so on a machine, then call it quits. It's way more fun anyway to watch others play the slot machines - and rejoice with them when they win back their money!
- I go out way less than I used to but that's okay. Like many other bloggers, I've found joy in things that don't cost much if anything at all: reading all the books I want from the library (not to mention the movies and CDs I check out constantly - to explore all kids of movie genres and music styles I'm not familiar with), game nights with friends, calling friends and family around the country, making meals at home and baking more, and meeting friends for dinner. Sleep, fresh air, organizing my home, donating items to thrift stores, reading on my deck...... those are free as well. I live a rich life.
I read the following blogs which have helped me tremendously in setting priorities and goals and in letting things go from my slightly cluttered, need-to-come-up-with-an-organization-system apartment.
edited: Wanted to add that I learned this year to not be intimidated at the gym or in pricey shops or let advertising get to me.
At the gym, we are all on our own workout program, and in fact, we don't know if the person next to us recently gained 20 pounds, lost 50 pounds, or has stayed the same size for 20 years! I won't let them look down their nose at me as I work out the best that I can and leave the gym feeling satisfied with how I feel.
Similarly, advertisers don't know my personal story. A dozen commercials may air that insist I buy products to sleep better, drive more quickly and accurately, feel better, and have a safer place for my money, but really and truly, "they" don't know me or my story but they are doing their jobs. I could have ten million dollars in the bank or fifty cents in my purse. I'm the only one who knows my story and what my budget, life and priorities can handle. "Just say no." Yeah - I just went there.