Backdate the FTF

It’s been a crazy crazy couple weeks. Family is the most important thing – you do what you have to, to cover them, to save them, to love them. And then, slowly, life goes back to normal.

I have to write. I don’t even care if people read (hi, my four readers!) but I have to organize my thoughts, and save them for future reference. So writing makes life normal. Routines make me happy, so we’re going to catch up on a couple missed Five Things Fridays, even though today is Saturday.

Five Things That Make Life Normal
1. Cleaning schedules
Monday bathrooms, Tuesday office, Wednesday living room, Thursday bedroom, Friday laundry. The dusting and the junk mail and organizing my work heels and my cowboy boots and my running shoes.
2. Cooking
With fresh meat and real veggies is best, but I’d take even skillet-in-a-bag in a pinch. I need to sustain and nourish and satisfy.
3. Commuting
I’d rather live where we do than in town, and the time bookending my day draws a line between the farm wife and the city life, lets me shift gears, and gives the introvert in me some peace and quiet.
4. Running
One foot, then the other. My back starts to sweat. The miles roll by and breathing gets harder. My shoulders tense up and my calves get tight and sometimes my knee pinches. But then, when I let it, when I don’t drown it in podcasts and playlists, magic happens. My body is screaming and taking all of the superficial thoughts away. The big stuff comes up. Truth comes. But even when I’m keeping the truth in a cupboard, I never feel more alive than with the wind in my face.
5. Church
Just as my commute bookends my day, Sunday morning anchors my week. Worship puts me in the right frame of mind, and I get to reflect on the past week and prepare for the coming week. Communion is a chance to reaffirm my faith. And you can’t help but sing hymns the rest of the day.

So although life never stays the same, I find comfort in the normal things to get me through the crazy.

Until then,

Morning FTF

Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.

Martin Luther

This time of year is special, not just for my birthday, but because my birthday marks the beginning of another year with my husband. We had kinda started talking, but we weren’t so close yet that he skipped his fall break weekend for my 21sr birthday. So I went out with lots of friends and he dug an old cow skull out of the pasture and laughed at the handful of less-than-completely-sober texts he got. Then came Homecoming Week, which ended with a sincere heart to heart about what we each wanted out of life and how we were affecting people around us. Two trips to the farm later, the rest is history. Every year gets better.

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You’ve heard me talk a lot about my personal development genre hobby. One recurring theme is routines, especially of morning routines. Routines make things easy, second nature. Morning routines make days easy, intentional and productive. A lot of things you read about don’t work for me – I have no kids, I have running groups in the evening so I don’t workout at 6 am, and I will never acquire a taste for coffee or hot water with lemon. But there are things I do want first thing. I’ll never get the morning routine I want by magic, so let’s make it happen.

Five Things I Will Put in My Mornings
1. A round of yoga flow/stretching. I don’t have time for a whole workout, but I can – and should – stretch and get my joints moving. Bonus points if I can get my better half to do it too and work out those farmer kinks in his neck and shoulders.

2. One housework task. A load of laundry in the washer before I leave, wiping down sinks, putting clothes back where they belong… the little things add up. And one begets a second, but if I only do one, it’s okay.

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3. Leave a love note. Ironically, the biggest thing about my mornings is what I’m taking out of them. I want as much morning stuff moved to the night before. That’ll leave me plenty of time to leave little sticky notes. Everywhere.

4. Prayer journal. I don’t read like I ought to, I don’t write like I ought to, I don’t pray like I ought to. I like being able to flip back and remember what was important to me. And if one day I don’t have strength to pray anew, I can pull from strong me.

5. Text my besties. Every morning, someone needs an ‘I love you’ or a ‘Have a great day, rockstar’ or even just a ‘how are you?’ Busy is no excuse.

Have a great morning – and weekend – and Homecoming!!

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Five Things I’m Thankful For

Busy busy day today. One of our closest couple-friends is getting married TOMORROW!! So I got to sleep in for a little bit, then got up and showered and went to their house to get stuff going with that. It was a great morning, we were laughing and singing to cheesy rap music and grumbling about how hungry we were and how far behind schedule.

And then everything changed. They happen so suddenly, bombs like those, don’t they? Everything’s okay now, the wedding will go on, but it was a scary couple hours when we just didn’t know. All we could do was pray. And drive really fast.

So, in honor of that, FTF: gratitude

1. My husband would drop the world for me if I needed him.
2. I have this amazing, extended, adopted, loving family that would drop the world if I needed them.
3. I have enough to survive any crisis. Money, faith, strength, whatever I need, I find a way to make what I have be enough.
4. There are brilliant minds all around me.
5. My running family is so incredible. So so blessed with them.

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The Problem with Self-Help (FTF)

Like I said a while back, I read a lot of self-help books. Every major bestselling (or Kindle free) book on time management or habits or productivity, I’ve probably at least scanned the jacket of it. They’re all the same.
1. Define your core values and your priorities.
2. Define what success looks like for you.
3. Set goals for what you want to do, minding your priorities, and break each goal into bite size pieces.
5. Create daily routines and habits that emphasize the good (a bite of your goal, sleep, exercise, warm water with lemon) and discourage the bad (toxic people, time wasters, inefficient goal-chasing).
And voila, a “life by design.”

I devour book after book like this. I play along. I imagine my life in 5 years. I write my priorities. I consider the discord between my priorities and my actions. I try to write SMART goals that ignite my soul and make my heart sing.

But I fail. We all fail. There are so many books because everyone has a solution for getting it to stick this time. If one book actually worked, we wouldn’t need so many verses of the same song and dance. (I’m having a ball mocking all the clich├ęs, can you tell??? Hellooooo 7 am Friday.)

But it occurred to me the other day, why all the books fail, what they all have in common. I have yet to find (please let me know if one exists) a book that mentions prayer in the five steps. What do YOU want to have. What makes YOU happy. What do YOU want to do. What’s that they say about best laid plans?

So I’m proposing five new steps to a more fulfilling life. Your priorities are God, family, friends, and health, in some order, so let’s get that out of the way.
1. Pray for clarity in finding your purpose, your role in His master plan, on Earth.
2. Define goals and habits you want.
3. Reflect and pray about these goals, and pay attention to whether your heart ignites passion or begrudgingly accepts (or even fights) them.
4. Do not pursue goals that don’t resonate with your soul, and don’t ignore what your soul really wants. I believe God gave us free will, but also designed us a brain and an instinct like His to discern this kinda thing.
5. Break the passion goals into bite size pieces like above. Continue as above, plus constant feedback about our spirit and our intent. Is reaching this goal purely for your benefit, or will it improve someone else’s life too? Are we trying to improve our lives to simplify and get back to what matters, or are we chasing the Joneses and their chaos?

At least some of the books have that going for them, they recognize that “having everything” often includes stress and no time to relax, and is not actually most people’s idea of success. But still they suggest goals like number of sales or dollars or something so that you can have the breathing room to live your personal life the way you want.

Stop the cycle. Start on your knees and ask for guidance, ask for vision, ask for strength to carry out whatever He would have you do today. As long as you’re following that and minding your family,  friends, and health, He’ll take care of the rest.

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Happy weekend!