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?

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?

Make a difference: be the good

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This past week proved fraught with disappointments and discontent. On Friday, I woke up feeling sad, out of sorts. Most of my disquiet revolves around the unrest in our world—the tropical storms ravaging the Southeastern U.S. and the fires burning through the Northwest, the recent earthquake in Mexico, the political turmoil on the forefront of our nation. If I don’t pitch my tent in these valleys, I’m able to rally. But I can so easily get sucked into social media and news reports under the guise I need to remain informed, yet I end up more unsettled. I don’t want to live with my head in the sand, but I also think it can be easier to become uber-focused on all the negativity and everything that’s wrong in the world. Rather than glorify enmity and division, however, let’s consider how we might make a positive difference to those in need—whether near or far. Because there’s still good: be the good.

How will you make a difference?

Photo courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

What my first iPhone taught me

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What my iPhone taught me

Last month I became a first-time iPhone owner. I resisted the lure for years and, when I finally decided to make the switch, my adult daughter met me at the store ‘for support.’ Since that evening, ‘B.A.’ has demonstrated infinite patience with my questions, user errors and FaceTime practice. At the beginning, she offered to review various settings with me, yet graciously allowed me to test the waters on my own. And she was notably impressed after I posted my first screenshot on Facebook. In the midst of my burgeoning tech savvy, however, I’ve learned it’s more rewarding to engage in everyday life, each moment—even the teaching kind (thanks B.A.!)—as it unfolds, without worrying about checking in on social media each time I go somewhere, or orchestrating the perfect selfie or posting photos of every meal I cook. Technology means well, keeps us connected. But real people, in real time, can never be upgraded or replaced.

How does technology impact your life?

Social networking: checking in and out

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Social networking

Social media can be a time waster, yet it has its place. I use various forms to maintain contact with family and friends, as well as promote my writing and sprinkle encouragement. And, social media is how I keep up-to-date as far as world events. But I can’t count the number of times I get sucked into the drama, the recipes and book reviews, music and cat videos, the goofy memes and even the political harangues. Yet I like feeling as if I’m part of something bigger than myself. Plus, I’m thankful for the people I’ve reconnected with, and for instantaneous communications—although not always a good thing when you feel compelled to respond immediately to a text or a private message. I think, like with most things, setting aside allotted time—particularly to check in and catch up on Facebook, email, texting, Twitter, etc.—might be one answer to rein in the day-to-day distractions and simplify life.

Where does social networking fall on your list of distractions?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

When life isn’t perfect

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I think I can

Whether you think you can,
or you think you can’t,
you’re right. ~ Henry Ford

My life isn’t perfect. Surprise! However, when I publicize on social media or speak to others, I attempt to post or express words of affirmation and encouragement. Because a positive, can-do attitude is one that builds up, rather than tears down. Especially when life isn’t perfect. This doesn’t suggest I’m less than genuine or true to myself, but it can sometimes be misleading. Yet I choose to speak life in a society that is consumed with hate and greed. After all, if we attract what we focus on, it makes sense to choose the good things. And that’s just it: it begins with a choice. Not only that, it’s easier to win over the people around us with a smile or kind word than with a complaint or angry look. Plus—even if it’s not a good day, there’s always something good in every day.

What kind of life do you portray to others?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

A self-help junkie finds simplicity

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Self-help junkie

 

I suppose you could call me a self-help junkie. My latest venture is a 33-day path to purpose, passion & joy through Panache Desai’s book: Discovering Your Soul Signature. In my post, “Dialing down the distractions,” I talk about the benefits of tuning out interruptions. Prior to picking up Desai’s guide, I disconnected from the internet for a short hiatus. Although unplugged for a short time, this exercise in self-control removed a bit of the external chatter to allow me to take a step back and focus inward with fewer diversions. To become more connected with myself. I know I can do all that and still keep up with social media but, as an all-or-nothing type of girl, a fast from Facebook helped me move one step closer to the balance I seek in my life. And it reminded me of an important factor I almost forgot: what simple feels like. I’m excited to see where my new venture guides me.

What does simple feel like to you?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Relax! it’s just social media

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Social media gaffe

[Image credit: digitart]

Wow wow wow. My head is still spinning over a social media gaffe I still can’t believe happened. It began with a harmless little joke I wrote on a friend’s Facebook status (which had also picked on another friend). But it became apparent right away that saying anything at all about their post, even in jest, was offensive. To make matters worse, after I apologized I tried to lighten the tone and wham, out comes the profanity. Seriously? This is Facebook, people—a forum for sharing inane prattle, family photos, weather forecasts, silly memes, political rants and ice bucket challenges. News flash: When you post anything on the Internet, you expose yourself to public ridicule and the possibility for a debate. It’s the nature of the social media beast. Bottom line: If you can’t take the heat, you know what to do. Or why not just unfriend the offending party … that’s what I did. Play nice, people.

Have you ever been reprimanded for your social media behavior?

Getting unplugged

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Unplugged

[Image credit: cooldesign]

Between doctor’s appointments, adult-child drama, work and financial commitments, freelance deadlines, an eight-week yoga challenge, keeping clean clothes in the closet and food on the table, and trying to log in eight hours (not so much) of Zzzzs every night, I’m stretched thin.  The household tasks are going by the wayside and I serve more leftovers than anything else, but life continues.  Albeit with piles of dust bunnies, and laundry that needs folding.  But I’m in serious need of a break.  And so I’ve begun making plans for myself.  I’m calling it my weekend “unplugged.”  For me, that means no social media, including games, no cell phone (except for emergencies only, of course), no email or laptop, no TV or radio.  And no chores or outside commitments.  As soon as my freelance deadlines are buttoned up, I’m running away.  For 24 hours.  I don’t have the details completely worked out yet, but that’s okay.  I know I’ll be traveling light.

When was the last time you got “unplugged?”

When one door closes

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[Image credit: nattavut]

When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look
so long and so regretfully upon the closed door,
that we do not see the ones which open for us.
~ Alexander Graham Bell

I’ve been looking forward to this evening all week.  Although I’ll be saying goodbye to a dear friend — someone who has played an integral role in my life over the past eight years — later on I’ll be saying hello to a new friend who I actually met through the first lady.  Thanks to social media, it will be easy to remain in touch with my cross-country friend so that door will never be completely closed.  And as for my new friend, I’m excited for a girls’ weekend getaway.  I wish that gaining one relationship didn’t mean losing the other, but I think that concept proves true with many of life’s bittersweet moments.  Perhaps it’s all about forfeiting one dream to gain something even better … in time.

Which door do you see?