Daily grind tip

*Big thanks to my friend Henry Petty for sharing his thoughts with us in today’s post.*

timeDuring the daily grind, we seldom find time for ourselves or a chance to really focus on “me”.  This is a great technique to cope with the daily life, to break it up a bit, to focus on yourself and to care for yourself.  If you’re finding yourself wondering where the day has gone and going to bed feeling empty and unfulfilled, this is for you.

Get an app on your smartphone that will go off every 2 hours during the day (there are lots out there).  When that timer goes off, stop what you’re doing and think to yourself, “How do I feel?  What do I need right now?”

copingcards.jpg (2)Take a few really deep breaths, scan your body and see what kind of pain is there, what it is that you need in the moment, and how you are feeling.Then try some techniques to relieve that feeling or to make yourself feel better.  It could be going for a brisk walk, doing some deep breaths, stretching, maybe listening to some stand-up comedy on YouTube, or listening to your favorite song.  Whatever that is, write it down on an index card.

This coping technique will not only break up your day, but will also make you feel good about doing something…for you!  It will show how grateful you are to be here, to be doing something loving and kind for yourself.

When you have made a stack of index cards, punch a little hole in them and put a keyring or something in them so you can refer to them every day.

Talking her off the ledge

With my friend Amy, sophomore year of college

With my friend Amy, sophomore year of college

I remember the first semester of my freshman year of college. After a whirlwind week full of orientation activities, including dances, parties, receptions, matriculation, and workshops, I settled into my tiny dorm room with my roommate who had a real love for brewing beer and listening to opera music. I wanted to make friends, do well in my classes, work part-time to pay for necessities, and spend time with my boyfriend. But finding the time to do it all was difficult. Ultimately, I spent most of my first semester holed up in my dorm room or a study room on campus, cramming and memorizing and reading and writing. Having graduated from a less than stellar itsy bitsy high school, I knew I had a learning curve if I planned on maintaining a good GPA at the difficult, private, liberal arts college I’d selected to attend.

I couldn’t find the mean between extremes my first semester. I made all A’s, but I didn’t meet many new people. I didn’t have much time to relax. I don’t even recall going to many events on campus or watching a movie.

Second semester was a different story. The pendulum swung back toward the middle. I hung out with people on the weekends. I danced my heart out. I made friends with new people, sat around doing nothing in the quad but eating apples and watching grass grow, and skipped class a few times. I still kept my grades up, but I stopped obsessing about having a perfect GPA. I just lived my life as a college student and enjoyed it.

This morning I talked to my favorite college freshman. I heard my 18 year-old self in her desperate voice, trying to balance work, campus life, friends, family, and course work. I remembered the overwhelming feeling of having too much to do and never enough time to do it. I remembered the constant stress of feeling that my life could not possibly get busier.

This morning while my 9 month-old baby napped, I shared a little of what I have learned about balance, eating the elephant one bite at a time, making a budget and living below my means, learning to ask for help when it’s needed, prioritizing long-term educational success over short-term employment, lowering expectations, and making new friends.

But I tried to bite my tongue, too.

My experience has taught me that advice is ample. Ultimately, though, the lessons I have learned were learned by doing, not listening or talking. “Show, don’t tell” is not just a great writing tip I procured from Dr. Tebbetts in Advanced Composition. It’s a way of life.

Talking to someone who really listens is good. Praying with someone who loves you and lets you fall helplessly into the arms of a loving God is priceless.

Sometimes talking someone off the ledge doesn’t require many words.

Just outstretched hands.

Keeping it simple

I have not read The Hunger Games, and I don’t intend to see the movie, either.

I don’t clip coupons, hunt for them online, or keep up with which business is offering freebies.

I don’t make my own laundry detergent, and  would not concern myself with properly sewing on a button unless my life depended on it.

I don’t have a Pinterest or Twitter account.

I’ve never been to a Zumba or spin class.

What in the world DO I do?

Only things I love.

Today is the only May 4, 2012, that will ever exist. Even as I type, seconds slip by that I can never regain. My itty bitty life will only last for a short period of time. I plan on spending that time doing only the things I love.

Unfortunately, part of living in reality is realizing that not everything I do will thrill my soul. In order to earn an income, maintain a sanitary and tidy living environment, and complete the never-ending list of other duties and chores necessary to function well, I know that sometimes, I will have to spend my time on less-than-thrilling subject matter. I must manage my bank account online. Occasionally, I am required to wait in line at the grocery store. I also have to scrub scum out of the bathtub periodically. During those times, I do my best to focus on the positive and maintain gratitude for the fact that I’m breathing and able to do those very things I tend to despise.

Aside from the necessary evils of life, I want to spend my time doing only what I love.

I love helping other people and find fulfillment in encouraging, serving, teaching, and sharing with others.

I love learning about things that interest me.

I love being outdoors regardless of what activity I’m engaged in.

I love God, and I love spending time learning about Him and getting closer to Him.

I love my family and friends. The more time I can spend with them, the better.

I’m really not a grumposaurus who hates all fads, trends, and fun things. I just don’t have time to do every single halfway appealing thing that comes my way. If I keep it simple, I’m able to devote myself to what matters to me. And if I’m focused on what matters, I’m one happy camper.