My life is in upheaval. Not for any weird reasons. Just because, as you know, I’m moving. I literally spent 15 minutes looking for my computer earlier. It was under a bag and some clothes. And there are boxes everywhere. It’s chaos.
But really my life has been in metaphorical upheaval for this whole season, so might as well make a physical representation of that, right? Just kidding.
But at times like these, when things feel very much out of control, the stress gets higher. Whether that is out of control physically or metaphorically…well, did I mention I don’t handle change well?
At the beginning of all this, probably right before surgery, I made a conscious effort to change the way I was living, to be more intentional in the way I was living, in some small ways. After surgery and after the dark days (some of which you know about), I made even more changes to become more intentional, and more grounded.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend I have it all together. Those who know me in my real life would call me out hard, as they should. I’m learning so many things, and I’m not there yet. Most of all, as I’ve said, I’m trying to learn to breathe and let go. I’m not there. Probably not even close yet.
But I just wanted to share with you some things I’ve been doing to live more intentionally, on the off chance you’re struggling in this crazy life too.
1. What are you listening to? When I first knew I was going to have surgery, it felt important to me to refocus my life on God. I’m not sure why, other than the fact that my focus was not there at all and He knew it would need to be. If my mind wasn’t in a place where it could receive, it wouldn’t. So I changed what I was listening to.
I’m here to tell you I’m down with a lot of types of music. And there’s nothing wrong with other types of music. I am down for anything I can sing, loudly, too: pop, country, r&b, blue grass, and especially musical theatre (I mean). I listened most exclusively to Pop though (and musical theatre on my phone).
But, God asked me to give Him more air time, so I did. (If God isn’t asking you the same thing, then you’re good. No judgment.). I found a Christian radio station. I made a playlist called “praise”. At this point, I generally don’t have to tell Alexa my style when I say “play music”. (Every once in a while she loses her mind and has to be corrected that grunge rock has never been on my playlist.)
When I first started listening to only this, I only knew a handful of songs, the ones from church. Which meant I couldn’t sing along (tragic). But now my playlist has gotten quite lengthy, and I can sing along again. When song lyrics randomly come into my mind throughout the day, as they do, they are uplifting and serve a purpose, usually to remind me something God needs me to know in that moment.
2. What/how are you praying? I used to have a ritual of sorts. Before every work day, I prayed (or chanted really), “God, please make this a good day.” I work in healthcare. Days are hard: physically, mentally and emotionally. You have to be prepared to be loved and/or mentally (and sometimes physically) abused all in the same day. You have to be ready to pick people up (not metaphorically). I’m getting old. It’s hard. My body is suffering the consequences.
But I thought if I didn’t say that, it wasn’t a good day. A lot of times that was true. I’m not sure I was as much praying as doing what a player does before games where he doesn’t change socks (or whatever). I have to have good luck today, so I pray my prayer.
Now, before I get out of bed, I still talk to God, but I try to really talk to Him. I try to be specific. “God give me grace for others today and make this a good day.” (I mean ultimately I still need a good day out of it.).
There are still days where it’s “hey, make this a good day” because old habits die hard, but I’m trying to do better. An area I need to continue to work on is doing this on all the days, not just the 3 days a week I work. Yes, those are exponentially harder than any other of the 4 days, but I need grace and God in all the days. I’m still working on it.
3. What are you using your free time for? This one was tough. I felt like I didn’t have free time. But then I realized I did actually. I was just filling every waking second with random busyness so I didn’t have to think too much. When I stopped doing that, I found that I had moments of free time. (Also after 6 weeks of nothing but free time, I have found that I now crave that in a big way because I learned the value of it.)
I still watch Netflix sometimes. I still take naps because I love naps. I’m good at naps. But, I’ve started reading a lot. I also spend time creating, which helps focus my mind.
I do a lot do brush calligraphy projects, for myself, for others and for no one. I love finding new quotes (or old quotes) and writing them out. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know. Sometimes it’s overload. But it’s a way to put positive thoughts and important things in front of me. I naturally focus on the negative, but when you are writing out a quote, you have to focus on that one thing. If your mind wanders, you miss words or change words or letters, so you focus on just that. For someone whose mind runs on 16 different tracks at once, it’s a good focusing activity.
4. Who are you placing importance in? I’ve already told you about my people. I have other people I love to spend time with as well, including some very special little people.
But this people pleaser has learned that everyone isn’t always pleased, or pleas-able. And some people are critical for the sake of being critical. Those things use to crush me, but I realize now that they come from people who I placed too much importance in. I need my people, but I don’t need all the people.
I also need to spend time with me. Just me. I’ve learned about myself in this season because I’ve spent time with myself. It’s not always fun, but it’s necessary. I need to learn myself, the good parts and the bad.
I’m not there yet. I’m still gonna be bothered if someone doesn’t like me. (I’ve always been amazed at the people who aren’t). But not everyone is for everyone. That’s why God made a lot of us. The only thing I can do is be the best me I can be that day. Will I fail? Yes. Will I keep trying? I hope so. And at the end of the day, the people that matter most know that I tried, and they help me be a better me, even when I need that hard-to-stomach constructive criticism.
So those are just the 4 main places I’ve tried to bring intentional living to my life. I am a work in progress; we all are. I am not anywhere close to there. But God has called me to keep going, to keep trying with His help, and He’s continuing to show me how to be a better person, a person He can use.
As I’ve told you before, that’s what I want most of all, to be a person God can use, despite the broken, despite the crazy, despite me, because of Him. And I continue to walk toward that goal. I am glad to have you along on that journey. And if you’re in the journey here and in person, you have permission to provide constructive criticism (just not all the time and do it gently. I still break easily.). But, continue to love me and walk through it all with me just as you always do. ♥️