White Space, Room to Really Live Schedules, Daily Habits & White Space

A few weeks ago I shared some tips for creating white space in your home, clearing the clutter so you have room to breathe, appreciate what you have, love and use.  We need white space in our days as well.  A few years back I shared the following post.  I still practice these disciplines.  I think the only thing I would add is this:  all too often we fail to acknowledge everything we need to do.  We tend to leave daily chores and errands off our lists.  I think women are more guilty of this than men, as we try to cram these daily chores and errands in with other activities, failing miserably to multitask, or draining ourselves mentally, emotionally and physically.  Our daily task list/calendar/schedule should include the daily-the Walmart run, laundry, vacuuming, picking up birthday gifts…  These are the things that tend to fill what little white space we thought we had.  These are the things that never really get completed, and so can’t be ignored.

Does the above set of pictures make you cringe?  Do feel the tension in your body building?  For so many of us, the idea of living by a schedule, sitting down to determine when we will do what, feels confining, makes us uncomfortable.  As much as I like to live an orderly life, to be as productive as I can, I honestly resist the idea of living by a schedule.  I sense rigidity, lack of creativity in schedules.  I want to leave the door open for those “God appointments”.  I want to be able to meet the unexpected needs of friends of family.

Consistency.  My word for 2016.  Here in lies the truth-the hard truth.  I can not be more consistent, I can not consistently move towards meeting my goals, completing my tasks without some measure of schedule.  More importantly, tracking my time, setting specific times in which to do specific tasks keeps me mindful.

I just finished reading “I Know How She Does It”, by Laura Vanderkam.  It is an inspiring book and exactly the motivation I needed to get back to scheduling.  Most interesting in her research was the reality that most Americans work fewer hours than they say, with very few people working more than 50-60 hour weeks, and most people overestimate their work hours by 10 hours!  On average, highly successful, full-time working mothers cap at an average of 44 hours per week.  As I continued to read, I realized the core of the problem, the explanation for this over-estimation of time, sense of being overwhelmed, living out of fatigue feeling there is never enough time is a result of really having no idea how we spend our time and thus making very few intentional decisions about our time.

Laura Vanderkam is also a firm believe in the 168 hours principle, challenging us to plan weekly instead of daily.  I was convinced of this principle after reading her first book, “168 Hours”.

When you treat all 168 hours as your canvas, and don’t hold to rigid assumptions of what must be work time, and what must be nonwork time, you can create some fascinating mosaics (schedules).

While I resist the idea of living confined to a schedule, unwilling to move away from it for the unexpected, I know from experience and am reminded that schedules, daily habits and white space are the key to consistency, the key to my taking care of what matters most and moving towards completion of my goals.  So, this week, I focus again on doing what I know I should do (that seems to be a recurring theme!).  I challenge you to do the same.  Step back from your life for a moment.  Look at your week, your 168 hours and decide how you want to spend your time.  Here are some of my tips for successfully planning out 168 hours/creating a schedule or road map by which to live those hours out.

  1.   Daily morning quiet time to center my thoughts, read scripture, pray over my day.
  2.   One load of laundry every morning first thing.
  3.   Plan each week on Friday (I have let this habit slip and I pay for it.  Planning on Friday allows me so much freedom from nagging thoughts on the weekend and kick starts my Mondays.)
  4.   Use a weekly planner with hourly increments, blocking off appointments, tasks to work on, exercise, hobbies, free time etc…  This gives me a great visual, helps me to see the whole of my week.
  5.   Plan for the unexpected by building in PLENTY of white space.  I always leave 30 minutes between appointments.  This allows for transition time, gives me some buffer should the task take a little longer etc…  I also leave gaps of time (an hour to two) in my schedule at least every other day.  I typically use these gaps to take care of household chores, but often end up using them to have lunch with a friend, cook a meal for a sick friend, care for a sick child, …

Schedules, daily habits and white space keep me grounded, focused and moving in the right direction.  When I look at my time weekly in lieu of daily, I am reminded I have plenty of time.  While I still resist “being scheduled”, I always find there is actually a great deal of freedom in scheduling.  Life is always better when I am aware of where and how I spend my time.  A schedule allows me to be intentional about my time and I find that I get more enjoyment from my “free time/play time” when I have lived my week by my schedule.

Advertisements

Schedules, Daily Habits & White Space

Does the above set of pictures make you cringe?  Do feel the tension in your body building?  For so many of us, the idea of living by a schedule, sitting down to determine when we will do what, feels confining, makes us uncomfortable.  As much as I like to live an orderly life, to be as productive as I can, I honestly resist the idea of living by a schedule.  I sense rigidity, lack of creativity in schedules.  I want to leave the door open for those “God appointments”.  I want to be able to meet the unexpected needs of friends of family.

Consistency.  My word for 2016.  Here in lies the truth-the hard truth.  I can not be more consistent, I can not consistently move towards meeting my goals, completing my tasks without some measure of schedule.  More importantly, tracking my time, setting specific times in which to do specific tasks keeps me mindful.

I just finished reading “I Know How She Does It”, by Laura Vanderkam.  It is an inspiring book and exactly the motivation I needed to get back to scheduling.  Most interesting in her research was the reality that most Americans work fewer hours than they say, with very few people working more than 50-60 hour weeks, and most people overestimate their work hours by 10 hours!  On average, highly successful, full-time working mothers cap at an average of 44 hours per week.  As I continued to read, I realized the core of the problem, the explanation for this over-estimation of time, sense of being overwhelmed, living out of fatigue feeling there is never enough time is a result of really having no idea how we spend our time and thus making very few intentional decisions about our time.

Laura Vanderkam is also a firm believe in the 168 hours principle, challenging us to plan weekly instead of daily.  I was convinced of this principle after reading her first book, “168 Hours”.

When you treat all 168 hours as your canvas, and don’t hold to rigid assumptions of what must be work time, and what must be nonwork time, you can create some fascinating mosaics (schedules).

While I resist the idea of living confined to a schedule, unwilling to move away from it for the unexpected, I know from experience and am reminded that schedules, daily habits and white space are the key to consistency, the key to my taking care of what matters most and moving towards completion of my goals.  So, this week, I focus again on doing what I know I should do (that seems to be a recurring theme!).  I challenge you to do the same.  Step back from your life for a moment.  Look at your week, your 168 hours and decide how you want to spend your time.  Here are some of my tips for successfully planning out 168 hours/creating a schedule or road map by which to live those hours out.

  1.   Daily morning quiet time to center my thoughts, read scripture, pray over my day.
  2.   One load of laundry every morning first thing.
  3.   Plan each week on Friday (I have let this habit slip and I pay for it.  Planning on Friday allows me so much freedom from nagging thoughts on the weekend and kick starts my Mondays.)
  4.   Use a weekly planner with hourly increments, blocking off appointments, tasks to work on, exercise, hobbies, free time etc…  This gives me a great visual, helps me to see the whole of my week.
  5.   Plan for the unexpected by building in PLENTY of white space.  I always leave 30 minutes between appointments.  This allows for transition time, gives me some buffer should the task take a little longer etc…  I also leave gaps of time (an hour to two) in my schedule at least every other day.  I typically use these gaps to take care of household chores, but often end up using them to have lunch with a friend, cook a meal for a sick friend, care for a sick child, …

Schedules, daily habits and white space keep me grounded, focused and moving in the right direction.  When I look at my time weekly in lieu of daily, I am reminded I have plenty of time.  While I still resist “being scheduled”, I always find there is actually a great deal of freedom in scheduling.  Life is always better when I am aware of where and how I spend my time.  A schedule allows me to be intentional about my time and I find that I get more enjoyment from my “free time/play time” when I have lived my week by my schedule.

Friday Success

Friday really is key to any success I experience week to week.  I used to plan on Sunday evenings.  However, I often found myself forgetting things over the weekend, my family resisted “meeting” on a Sunday evening, I would be tired etc…  Then I read an article suggesting using Friday afternoons for planning.  When I worked full-time outside the home, Friday afternoon was perfect.  However, now that I am self-employed and work from my home, I find Friday mornings to be far more effective.

Why Friday planning?  Planning the following week on Friday helps me release all the little “reminders” running through my brain.  I get them written down on my master to do list or on the weekly page.  Second, anything critical I have failed to take care of can be handled Friday mid-morning or afternoon.

Am I always able to Friday plan?  No.  There are occasions when I am forced to schedule a client, have a meeting or a family event arises.  When that happens I try to leave some time on Saturday morning to do what I would normally do on a Friday morning.  Truth be told though, more often than not I can keep 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. or so open for planning.

What Does Friday planning entail?

  1. Go through email making certain I have written down tasks, printed or saved any attachments/documents I need, filed correspondence I need to keep in an email folder, place critical communications requiring action the following week in my @ToDo email folder, and delete everything else possible.
  2. Process any papers that have stacked up in the Miscellaneous file box.  Yes, even an organizer stacks papers.  Processing these papers is very similar to the process for email.  Anything requiring action the following week is hole punched and placed in my PlannerPad organizer.
  3. Sit down with iphone calendar and PlannerPad monthly calendar to “sync”.  I do not typically carry my planner with me everywhere (although it is usually in the car).  I use my iphone calendar for scheduling monthly events/appointments.  However, since I am a paper person, a visual person, and driven by lists, I transfer information to my paper planner.
  4. Review the monthly calendar and transfer meeting/appointment times to the appropriate weekly pages and add to the weekly lists specific tasks that are necessary to complete for that meeting/appointment.  For example:  If I have a board meeting coming up I note the board meeting on the appropriate week.  I then back track to the previous week or week and half and note tasks like: send out meeting reminder, draft agenda, make copies of documents…
  5. Every other week I also go over my master to do list marking off any items completed and making certain I have not let go forgotten.

While this may all sound a bit overwhelming to you, I challenge you to try.  I promise about three weeks into it you will find yourself staying on top of tasks, minimizing the amount of paper stacked, etc…

Friday planning sets me up for success Monday morning.  Sunday  I can relax, rest, practice Sabbath.  Sunday evening I can glance at my weekly pages and know that my plan of action is in place.  Come Monday morning I can jump straight into work.

 

 

Step Back- To Find the Way to Move Forward

It is hard to believe the holiday season is here.  Time marches on.  School started and I welcomed it with open arms.  While I relish the lazier days of summer, opportunity to step away from the schedules, I am always ready for back to school. Ready for the new schedules.  Ready for structure.  The structure and the schedules can fill up, and if not careful, the schedules crowd out everything else.

I found myself there a few weeks back.  Not just there, but feeling overwhelmed.  Then a small health issue and time was not enough.  The instinct for most of us it to push through.  I tell myself to give a little more, wake up a little earlier, go to bed a little later, skip lunch, say no to the home parties/social events.  No one wins in that.  Fatigue, frustration, loss of focus-that is all to be gained.

The only way to move forward is to take a step back.  It’s the counter-intuitive thing to do.  I step back.  I block off some time each day for a few weeks.  I have to stop.  It is not until I stop I can see what has consumed the time, the days.  It is not until I stop I can assess the time and the activities, knowing if the pieces fit or are indeed too much.  Those moments are for figuring out what is real, what is clutter.  Those moments are for taking time to go back to my true loves-making the time for that reminds me who I am, the life I have, and how to move forward becomes clear.

I talk about “white space” a lot when I talk about managing time.  White space gives me opportunity to breathe, to take in life, but they also give me opportunity for the unexpected.  When life becomes overwhelming, the plates can’t all be juggled and kept spinning the white spaces become the moments of clarity.  The white spaces are on my calendar and in the schedule I keep.  But spiritually, the white space is when I am still-the moments I quit telling God and instead I release it all and wait for Him.

BeStill

Step back in a moment of nothingness to be still, to find the way to move forward.

Why I Prefer Weekly Planning and Color Coding to Daily Planning

IMG_3926

IMG_3927

I am a firm believer in everyone having a month at a glance calendar and weekly calendar.  A daily page is fine, but it really only functions like a list and can often cause us to micro-manage time, losing site of the big picture and where our time is going.

A monthly calendar lets us keep track of the BIG items, the major appointments, the birthdays, holidays and other special occasions.  The weekly calendar lets us look at our week from a broad perspective.  I believe we can either think about 24 hours per day, or we can think about 168 hours per week.  When we allow ourselves to focus on 24 hours per day, we confine our time.  There is no way in a 24 hour period to do something in each of your priority areas.  Planning day to day means we  have to be extremely disciplined each day to think about ALL of our priority areas and deliberately decide which one is most important for the day.  I have never been disciplined to do that.  When I confine my thinking to 24 hours I find I fail to do any task in some of my priority areas.  I also find that carrying over tasks from one day to the next grows, sort of the snowball effect, the farther into the week I get.  Planning day to day also makes it more difficult for me to say “yes” or “no” to requests that come up.  Allowing myself to focus on 24 hours limits my awareness of what’s next and not being fully aware of that often means I respond in the wrong way to requests.

Weekly planning gives me a broader picture of my life.  It also affords me the opportunity to map out activities in each of my priority areas.  I also find that with weekly planning I can be more flexible.  I can move tasks around depending on unexpected interruptions/opportunities and feel comfortable doing so because I know I have mapped out my priority areas for the week.  Weekly planning makes me more aware of time-realizing how much I actually have.  Laura Vanderkam in her book, “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think”, speaks to this point.  Through her research she found that time and time again people over-estimate the amount of time they work.  It is doubtful that anyone in this country really works more than 60 hours per week.  People think they do, but only because they really have no concept of time and how they are spending it.  When I focus on 24 hours, I find myself in this very position.  Feeling overwhelmed and rushed.

Successful weekly planning begins first with knowing what “Must Do” appointments exist for the month.  Block those items off in your calendar using a red pen.  Doctor’s appointments, parent-teacher meetings, kids’ events, staff meeting, etc.. Estimate how much time each appointment will take and block that amount of time off.

To help me balance where I spend my time, I like to keep a running list of the tasks I would like to or need to complete that week for each of my priority areas.  I love the Planner Pad and the space it offers for this (see above).  I jot down tasks for home, my business, my blog, board appointments, the kids etc…  I generally have about 6 areas.  Once I have those lists, I either block off specific times on the calendar (a client appointment, blog deadline…) or block off periods of time I know I will be less distracted and able to tackle a few projects.  Each priority area has a color.  If there is a task I really need to complete in order not to fall behind, I highlight it in yellow.

Each week I am surprised by how much “white space” I have left.  And that is important.  We all need white space.  That’s a whole other post, but white space affords us time to breathe, deal with the unexpected or experience the joys of the spontaneous.  168 hours is a lot of time.  When I sit down and look at my time from that perspective, looking at the week as a whole, I can always find time to block off for the important, the necessary.  By color coding I can visually see if one priority area is getting more of my time than another, and determine whether or not that is warranted.

Weekly planning frees my mind.  Instead of watching the 24 hours tick away, I find myself enjoying each day and looking forward to the hours yet ahead.

If you have felt overly stressed by your schedule, seem to never get everything done, find yourself spending more time making lists than doing tasks, I challenge you to try weekly planning.  PlannerPadCopycat   This coming Friday set aside an hour.  Pull out your phone, calendar, slips of paper lists… and think about how you want to invest next week.  Block off your time.  Know there will be interruptions and opportunities.  Leave yourself some space for those.  Then, enjoy your weekend knowing you are prepared with a weekly plan of action come Monday morning.

Block It

timeblocking

Distractions.  Do they plague you as much as they do me?  The phone buzzing with calls and texts.  Social media beckoning me.  The requests of children.  Tick-Tock, the clock ticks.  Minutes pass into hours and if I am not careful the day has passed and no progress made in areas of priority.

One of my favorite time management practices is to time block.  There are many things in my day I can simply do as time permits and some I can even do while multi-tasking.  However, if I am going to make progress towards my priority areas and goals, I have to set aside time to focus, to work with intentionality.

time-blocking

My weekly calendar often looks similar to this.  As mentioned, I don’t time block everything, but I do time block the priorities. Anything related to my businesses goes on my calendar in green (my favorite color and representative of money).  I put personal objectives in red, often highlighted in pink.  Time blocking helps me focus.  I am a visual person.  When I see the time literally “blocked” on my calendar I respect it.  I protect it.  This allows me to then keep these designated hours and to work without interruption.  I often turn my phone on silent, tell the girls what I am doing and how much time I need (when they were younger I often sat a timer) and then with gathered supplies set to work.  I rarely have huge blocks of time, but even 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted time affords me the opportunity to get a lot done.  If I am seeking to make progress on a major life goal, this uninterrupted time is a necessity.

I also us time blocking when I begin to feel life is out of control.  Sometimes life changes, we enter a new season.  Our kids enter school, we begin a new job, additional family duties develop, we develop new hobbies etc…  Sometimes it is simply that I have lost site of my goals, I have stepped back from personal discipline.  Whatever the reason, when life feels out of control, my stress level rises, my productivity declines, I use time blocking to track a week.  Using time blocking to track your time gives you a glimpse into your reality.  Where is your time really going?  What is using up your time?  I am a firm believer that KNOWING, creates change.  When I am really aware of, KNOW where my time is going, then and only then can I begin to manage my time.  Not KNOWING, means my time is managing me, and that is when life becomes chaotic, stressful.

I challenge you this week to time block.  Either block off the tasks you know you have, or simply take this week to learn something about yourself-where your time goes.  Time blocking is a tool.  Time blocking requires discipline.  Time blocking can be ever evolving.  However, if you want, like I want, to be an effective woman, time blocking is the key.

Use this form to track your time. PlannerPadCopycat

No Such Thing as Balance

We all long for balance.  The problem is there is no such thing as balance.  Life is not perfect.  We are not perfect.  Others around us are not perfect.  Harsh words for a recovering perfectionist.  Harsh reality for all of us finding ourselves battling the striving versus the being.

There is no such thing as balance.  Our days will be too full.  The unexpected will happen.  Something or everything will take too long.  As we seek to live a more organized life, to live our priorities in a meaningful way, we need to remember that balance will never be achieved.  The scales will always be tipped just a little one way or the other, AND that is o.k

scales

As long as the scales are gently rocking back and forth we can maintain, we can move forward, we can be confident we are living our priorities.  It is when the scales go crashing to one side or the other we need be concerned.  This week my business is taking more of my time, tipping the scales to one side.   However, I continue to protect our family dinner time, to honor the coming holy holiday, and limit the number of appointments next week.  When I can release the idea of balance, perfection, I can honor my family, friends, clients, home.  I can free myself from guilt as I meet the priorities of each given day or week, knowing next week there will be a shift in priorities.

It can be difficult to keep the scales gently rocking back and forth.  And there are those times, times of unexpected illness, loss, and even opportunity, that keep the scales tipped to one side longer than normal.  As long as there is a shifting back, as long as we remember the shift is necessary, that’s o.k.

My paper planner is key to helping me keep my eye on my priorities, keeping the scales from tipping too far to one side or the other.

IMG_3928IMG_3927

Across the top of my weekly pages I have a column for each of my priority areas.  My Home, Children, Business, Blog, Volunteer Commitments.  It is here I can track the weekly tasks.  Not only does this allow me to capture all the things I need to get done, it allows me to see where the bulk of my tasks are.  If week after week my business or volunteer activities require the bulk of my tasks, I can see the scales are tipped and I need to make some adjustments, focusing energy and tasks on family, myself, our home.  If I struggle to find a category in which to place the tasks, I know I need to assess my activities, determine if it is time to change priorities, let something go in order to embrace a new opportunity, new season. When a week seems overwhelming I can look to the next and make adjustments, focusing attention on another area/category.

There is no such thing as balance.  There is a gentle ebb and flow.  Once I embrace the ebb and flow, remembering the goal is to keep the scales gently tilting back and forth, I can release myself from the grip of perfection, the striving to do it all, and live more fully.  I can trust that while this week may be more about work, next week can be more about family, friends, caring for a loved one.  I can live a more beautiful life of purpose.

Are You Going to Do More Than Survive the Holidays? PLAN

I was asked to speak recently at a church women’s event, one of my favorite things to do.  With the holidays upon us, I was asked to speak on surviving the holidays.  For most of us that is exactly how it feels-like we are just surviving.  Much of life used to be that way for me as a strove to find success in my career, sought to have the cleanest house and most organized pantry. Life was often nothing more than moving from task to task, falling into bed exhausted, praying for a little respite to come my way.

chronic-fatigue-syndrome-s1-woman-suffers-from-cfs-in-bed

God’s plan for our lives holds so much  more than that.  There are no promises of pain free, sorrow-less days, but there is the promise of transformation, healing, strength, hope and joy.   We are reminded life is lived in the ordinary moments of our days as we love others.

P.L.A.N.

There is a way to develop habits and lifestyle which lead to more than just surviving the days, the holidays.  I’ve not perfected it for myself, but it gives me a guide, an accountability tool to use.  As we plan our days, determine our “to do” list, we need to filter everything through the PLAN.

P:  Purpose/Priorities

L:  Limits/Letting Go

A:  Acknowledge/Assign

N:  Nurture

Purpose and Priorities.  Too often we move through life allowing others to determine our choices and actions.  We say “yes” in order to please, gain a sense of accomplishment, fit in with a group, to avoid guilt, and the list goes on.  We give no thought to our purpose and priorities.

As I have sought to simplify my life and live a more organized life that reflects who I am as a Christian woman I have come to realize I must spend time here-in this place of determining priorities.  Scripture tells me I am to place Christ first, which means daily I must spend time with Him, study Him, seek Him.  Then I must care for those He has entrusted to me, my family.  I then consider the gifts and talents He has given me and consider ways to use those gifts to serve others, whether it is through paid employment or volunteer work.  When you set these priorities and limit your “yes” to only those things you have talents and gifts for, it really isn’t hard to determine priorities.  (The next step will be critical, so come back Monday.)  Interestingly, for those of us who call ourselves, believers, the priorities are pretty much the same.  He has a clear road map in the Bible.  The only real variance is the latter, using our specific gifts and talents.

To live according to our purpose and priorities, we must allow God to transform us.  Transformation begins with the renewing or our minds, thus the scripture reading, bible study, prayer and corporate fellowship.  Scripture also tells us the heart is the wellspring of life.  While we want to think through our decisions carefully, often those “best yes” decisions are the ones made with our whole being.  The one that just “feels” right as it aligns with our minds.  Those decisions you can smile at, settle into like a warm blanket on a cold winter night.  The one that when carried out gives deep satisfaction, peace and joy.

I have come to ask myself this very important question as I try to make that final determination between “want to” and priority. Will doing this “thing” affect someone’s body, mind or spirit.  If not, if it only affects me or has no real relational value, then I don’t do it.  It simply isn’t part of how God has designed us.  Now lest you think that means you can quit cleaning toilets, exercising or all that other mundane, not so much fun stuff, stop and think.  As a wife and mother (or husband and father) the care of my home impacts my family’s mind, body and spirit.  A clean, well managed home provides them a place of shelter in which to find safety, rest, health.  It is a place meant to refresh and prepare them to go out and carry out their purpose and priorities.  Exercise helps me maintain or regain strength.  It offers an opportunity to release stress and ensure my cardiovascular system is staying healthy.  I can then serve better, care for others better.  I can inspire or encourage those around me to do the same for themselves.

Get it?  Setting our purpose and priorities is about perspective.  To have the right perspective you have to stop and give it thought, look in scripture for guidance and seek His counsel that your mind may be transformed and your life may spring up from within your heart.  That is the place of peace and joy.  That is the place that even when tragedy or mishaps occur you can carry on.

What are your purposes and priorities this holiday?  Have you given it any thought?  Mine are:

  1. Create a home environment in which friends and family find peace.
  2. Keep our schedule open enough we have time to fellowship one on one, with family and close friends.
  3. Establish times to serve as a family, remembering Christ came to love, to serve and to save.

Set your “P” today.  Don’t rush into the holiday one more day.  Step back, get some perspective and decide your purpose.

Quit Blaming Your Stuff: 3 Questions to Help You Be REAL

So often we blame our STUFF or our CALENDAR for the stress in our lives.  Neither is correct.  Each of those are as they are because of choices we have made.  Choices to purchase something, to keep something from mom or grandma’s attic, to commit to an event or activity or project.  We have no one to blame but ourselves.  Ouch.  That hurts.  However, it is the truth.  The longer we live in denial about that fact, the longer we will live in stress, in overwhelmed, in over drive.

It is easy to accumulate.  We accumulate things, tasks, events, people, debt, the list goes on.  We get caught up in “the world” and the way everyone else lives.  We move through life on auto pilot or so busy and distracted we fail to even notice the moment, the people, our choices, our words, our actions.

My desire is not to just be organized.  My desire is to live a simpler life.  I want to live in each moment.  I don’t want the pull of the next task or event to distract me from this moment.  I don’t want the mounds of laundry, overflowing kitchen cabinets, or piles of paper to keep my mind abuzz with “you should”, “you ought to”, “you failure”…  I want life to be simpler.  I want it to be organized. I want it to reflect my style-my heart.  That life requires decisions.  It requires honesty.  It requires knowing where my time will be spent today.

Here are 5 Questions I ask myself:

1.  If I bring this task or thing into my home where will it go?  For tasks, that means where on my calendar will I put it?  For things, that means where in my house will I store it?

2.  Why do I want this thing?/Why do I want to do this task?  I am a firm believer that things need to have a purpose-even if that is to simply sit and look pretty and bring a smile to my face.  I am a firm believer that tasks I do need to fit my Life Statement.  Does this task help me reach a goal or meet a need for the people holding highest priority in my life?

3.  Can I maintain this task or thing?  I have to look ahead at my schedule and my space to determine if next week I can still find time on my calendar or will still have the space for this item.

If I can’t answer these questions, especially number 2, then I give myself 24 hours.  If the thing or task fits, I’ll know.  If I remain uncertain then I let it go, having faith that in due season if it is a necessary thing or task, the opportunity will re-emerge.

I don’t want to go through life on auto pilot.  I don’t want to miss that moment to connect with another.  I don’t want to miss the whisper of the Holy Spirit, because I failed to sit and rest.  I don’t want a home so filled with things that bring me and my family joy, but are never shared with another.  If I don’t, then I have to.  I have to quit blaming my stuff, my calendar or others.  I have to make a decision.

Breathe_quote

I Skipped Church and Lived to Tell About It

The fact that skipping church causes me great angst is probably something only a woman over 40 from the South can understand.  Well, and maybe only a Southern Baptist woman over 40 from the South can understand.  Add to that I am a PK (preacher’s kid) and MK (missionary kid) and well, skipping church is just about equal to sex, drugs, and rock and roll and ensures a ticket to hell.

All joking aside, I doubt skipping church causes much angst in very many people this day and age.  But it does me.   Always has and I guess always will.  Although, I must admit in recent years the angst is a little less.

The girls and I had our girls weekend.  Dad was on his annual guy vacation, AKA Golf Trip, and the girls and I were left at home with a weekend to fill.  The weather was great.  Fall hit our neck of the woods and it was fabulous!  We attended a great “talent show” of sorts at my old University, Ouachita Baptist, helped with a baby shower for one of our former babysitters and searched for a Homecoming Dress.  The latter could be a blog post in and of itself, but I’m not sure I have recovered enough yet to write about it.  Throw in decorating the front porch for fall, cleaning the swimming pool and changing out the girls’ closets and we had ourselves one productive weekend.  Sunday rolled around and we found ourselves wanting to enjoy a girls day at home.  I love those days.  The kind we used to call “pajama day”, back before school entered the picture.  The kind where no one puts on make-up or does their hair.  The kind where I get to sip my coffee, watch a movie, look through old magazines and listen to my daughters.  So, we did just that.  We slept in (they slept in, I enjoyed three cups of coffee while watching the Food Network).  It was a great day.  We laughed, we had a few squabbles, we just let the day unfold.

Despite all that was good about the day, I found myself feeling guilty.  And well, guilt can just flat out take the joy out of a thing if you don’t get it in check pretty quick.  At first I blamed the guilt on being a PK, MK and Deacon’s wife.  After all, THAT woman never misses church.  Not only does she never miss, but she is thrilled to be there!  Then I blamed it on growing up with a mom who lived in a very black and white world and was quick to let her “judgement” of a situation be known.  In reality though, I had to admit I felt guilty because I am a RECOVERING PERFECTIONIST.  There.  I said it.  Hi, my name is Shana and I am a RECOVERING PERFECTIONIST.  The problem with being a perfectionist is not just that you want things perfect, which ahem, we all no is absolutely impossible.  The problem is that being a perfectionist comes with a whole slew of other issues-people pleasing being one of them.  In a perfect world everyone would approve of me and be happy with me.  In a perfect world I could please everyone and meet everyone’s needs when they need them met.  In a perfect world I can be every place I need to be right when I need to be there.  The real reason I feel guilty about skipping church is I am afraid of/worry about what that “other” church lady will think or say.  I’m afraid I’ll let my kids down.  It was a prompting to go to my Heavenly Father and confess-again.  God doesn’t want me to live in that place.  He knows this is a fallen world.  He knows I am a sinner, forgiven and prone to making more mistakes, the same mistakes over and over.  He prepared for that.  He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for me.  He extends grace and mercy to me every day, every moment.  He isn’t keeping a check-list.  He simply wants me to release my expectations, and be.  Be still.  Quit striving.  Listen for His still small voice.  It’s hard.  And just about the time I think I have conquered this Perfectionism thing, I am hit with those feelings of worry, doubt, defeat.  But when I stop, when I take that moment to breathe deeply and really think about what I am doing/feeling, I am reminded to press on and have hope because God is with me and He is faithful.  I can overcome in the moment.  I may not conquer it completely, but I can overcome it.

Yes, I skipped church and lived to tell about it.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t something that needs to happen often.  I believe in church.  I believe in the biblical instruction to gather and fellowship with other believers.  There is great value in that. I need it.  My family needs it.  Church is often my time to praise, to express gratitude, to care for a fellow sister  or brother in Christ.  It is necessary, just not mandatory.

It’s Monday.  I’m saying it again.  Hi, my name is Shana and I’m a RECOVERING PERFECTIONIST.  Life isn’t perfect, but it is beautiful.  It has purpose.  And some days you just have to stay home and live in the moment.  Full disclosure.  The following pictures depict my less than perfect life and pursuit of peace as a RECOVERING PERFECTIONIST.

2014-07-31 08.55.54