Morning rituals: finding a sustainable practice that sustains you

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Sunrise

Let’s talk morning rituals. Over the past year, I’ve read tips on making the most of the initial hours in a day—from “eating the frog” to exercising to avoiding social media to praying or fasting. Although I’ve tried all of the above and more, my focus over the past year and a half has included three top priorities: prayer, purpose and performance. During the first hour of my day, I reconnect to my “source” through devotions and Bible readings. Then, I journal for 15-20 minutes before jumping into that day’s creative pursuits. Finally, I hop on my exercise bike, hit the yoga mat and power walk through my neighborhood or head for the mountain trails. And not only has this morning ritual sustained me during an unsettled 2020 and into the new year, but it also proves to be a sustainable practice that I can adjust as needed.

Visit my new home at chrismadayschmidt.com and let me know what type of practice, morning or otherwise, sustains you?

Now what? Pivot vs. panic.

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Here’s what I know: the “new normal” can more aptly be classified the new “not” normal. But the question begs: “Now what?” In my post, “When life is spinning out of control…” I share the one thing within our control. Even if it’s simply to breathe… congratulations! I get it. I, too, am scared. Exhausted. Discouraged. And wrapping my mind around the current climate proves boggling at best. Unplug for a moment (after reading this post) and close your eyes. Put your hand over your heart. Feel, and listen. You’re here for a purpose. What is it? Perhaps the new “not” normal will serve as your personal pause button: to pivot vs. panic. In other words, allow this time to change your course: to redirect your thoughts. To replace limiting beliefs with truth. Because here’s the other thing I know: that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:38).

How will you pivot?

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

I quit.

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One day, you wake up and just know it’s time to say, “I quit.” I quit the negative self-talk. I quit complaining. I quit obsessing (see “A time for everything…). I quit whatever no longer serves me—the toxic behaviors that harm vs. heal, the co-dependent relationships that eclipse vs. edify, saying “yes” when I mean “no.” I quit making excuses and, instead, take ownership of my decisions, my goals, my commitments, my successes—and my failures. I quit piling on the unrealistic expectations, and replace them with my victories, big and small. I quit dreaming new dreams without attaching wings: the tangible steps I must take to create the reality my heart envisions. One day, you wake up and just know it’s time to say, “I begin.” And embrace every thrill ride, every bump, bruise and disappointment because it means you’re alive and present in this moment. That you’re breathing and you were created for a purpose.

What do you need to quit in order to begin?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

A new perspective on the ‘dream job’

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Lately, I’ve been reading whatever I can get my hands on, mostly self-help-type materials: inspirational blogs touting the value of assessing our relationships, healthful tips like plant-based eating to feel lighter and happier, ways to overcome body stiffness and tests to match people with their dream jobs, etc. One such article stands out among the rest this week: that not everyone will be able to #dowhatyoulovewhatyoudo because the reality of it is this: not everybody will be able to “fully express their purpose, their identity, their life’s work through the thing that pays their rent.” However, there’s hope. According to The Good Life Project, “Your work isn’t just your day job. It’s the full spectrum of how you offer yourself to the world and do the work you’re here to do.” This requires a blending of our gifts and passions that comprise the work we do to live a [working] life true to ourselves. A good life; a fulfilled life. That’s the challenge.

What is your dream job?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

When doubts begin to threaten your peace: remember to look up

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Yesterday morning, as I drove through my neighborhood to work, my thoughts turned inward. Doubts began to intrude on my peace. Tears sprung to my eyes and I blinked to keep the waterworks from spilling over onto my cheeks. And then a beautiful thing happened: I remembered to look up. At that moment, the sunrise bursting through the clouds served as a reminder which I continue to reflect on time and time again: I am loved. I am here on this earth for a purpose. I matter. Even when I feel invisible or misunderstood, the Creator paints a canvas of hope upon my heart in order to reflect outward onto a hurting world. Dear friends, it’s easy to get caught up in the holiday frenzy. To feel insignificant, overwhelmed or broken. Even as I type these words, my heart squeezes with emotions I have yet to explore. But it’s enough, for now, to know that I need only look up.

What is your panacea when doubts take hold?

When all the butterflies die: look forward to new growth

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While scrolling through Facebook recently, I stumbled upon this quote: “That feeling you get in your stomach when your heart’s broken. It’s like all the butterflies died.” I know a few things about broken hearts and dead butterflies. Hope deferred. Unmet expectations. Loss and emptiness. But during this new season, I am compelled, now more than ever, to make sense of my path. To reclaim that feeling of contentment I talk about in “Try it on for size…” To don happiness as a daily accessory. To welcome new growth. For far too long my attention has been fixated inward on my needs and wants and disappointments. And it’s time for me to look outward and focus on those around me.  To take a break from the distractions and agendas and whatever else thwarts, rather than advances, my purpose. Hopefully, in time, as I breathe and pray, I will discover what makes me tick and who I’m supposed to be.

How do you know you’re on the right path?

Your breaking point: recognize the signs

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This past year seems like it’s elapsed in a whirlwind, with my goal to pursue the power of P (peace, patience, purpose and a more passionate prayer life) being usurped by the practice of mindfulness. Which makes sense, because it’s a concept that involves each of these pursuits. This past weekend, the chance to practice mindfulness showed up in a big way: As is often the case, my plans on paper did not translate well into real time, and I quickly recognized the signs that signal my “breaking” point. Close to panic mode when the little piles and pressures in front of me become overwhelming, I turn inward and disengage. Oftentimes, this means a solitary trek into the mountains as a means of avoidance. This weekend, however, I opted to dodge all outside commitments to allow my soul to catch up to my body right where I was at. To let the day unfold with no agenda. And with no regrets.

What does your breaking point look like?

Image courtesy of Graphics Mouse at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Strong enough, smart enough and brave enough: all you have to do is ask

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Be strong enough to stand alone,
smart enough to 
know when you need help,
and brave enough to ask for it.
~ Ziad K. Abdelnour

I’m not sure if it’s a Type A thing, or just a fragment of my own personal makeup; however, I feel that the practice of enlisting the help of others is oftentimes viewed as a sign of vulnerability rather than a display of strength. The writing life is typically a solitary endeavor but, after juggling, rearranging and finagling my schedule (see “The price of sacrifice…”), I finally conceded I needed assistance to pursue my vocational goals. This meant approaching my little family and informing them when I would be unavailable, and then pinning my boss down to ask for additional flexibility in my “9-5” work schedule. All it took was a little smarts and a whole lot of bravery to walk away with blessings from all parties. And a renewed sense of my purpose.

What do you need to ask for help with?

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Keep your eyes on the prize: how to quiet the chatter and remain present

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During a recent visit with my acupuncturist, I informed her that the chatter in my mind overwhelmed me. She treated me accordingly and I walked out of her office feeling calm, centered. As I drove home that evening, I contemplated how easy it is to become preoccupied by distractions that don’t serve or advance our purpose. How we get wrapped up in the news, TV, politics, social media or anything else that adds to the “chatter.” I’m not advocating ignorance: it’s important to remain educated on what’s taking place around us—near and far. And to get involved in whatever capacity we’re able. But here’s where we must be mindful: If we spend more time immersed in diversions, we begin to worry, play the comparison game, make excuses and turn inward. Live in our own little worlds. If we keep our eyes on the prize, however, it’s easier to quiet the chatter and remain present. To make a difference.

How do you keep your eyes on the prize?

Photo source: http://www.ideapod.com.

Defeating the demons: pressing in to get your head (and heart) unstuck

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In my recent post, “Make peace with the past…” I contemplate the choice to salvage the Someday mentality [“Someday my dreams will come true, I’ll accomplish X, Y and Z or fill-in-the-blank”]—or to let go of the one-sided dreams. You know the type—where the outcome centers on circumstances beyond your control. Today, I’m at a crossroads as I fight a few familiar demons: rehashing old habits, rethinking past choices, dwelling on the old. Yet the only way to reclaim my reality is to dig deeper, to press in to those areas which best define me: my passion and my purpose. To pursue, with greater intent, life’s simple pleasures and the transformative power of prayer, the mindful practice of gratitude and self-compassion. And to finally release those things which I cannot change in order to appreciate the life that’s smack dab in front of me. Not a million miles away. Not within the pages of a fairytale. But here, and now.

How do you defeat the demons?

Image source: askideas.com.

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