How’s Your Heart?

This year, I’m investigating and pursuing the good life. I want to know what it is, how to get there, and how to live it. My original hypothesis (read more here) was that I would be happier, I would feel better physically, I would learn something new, and I would be more focused.

Looking forward to February. My new goals for February are to build better relationships with my people. I’m also focusing on the posture and status of my heart. How am I doing? Can I do better? The verse that I’m focusing in on a lot this month is Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (NIV)

I think having really good relationships with the people who are in your life is part of living The Good Life. Our work takes up a lot of our time, energy, and focus. Yet, on the importance rankings, it always comes in near the middle of the list. We can temporarily sacrifice our relationships to finish a project or do something once in a lifetime. Without relationships, our life isn’t as good – that’s a fact. 

The lady who lives across the street is about 90. I’ve lived across the street for 5 years and every year her family visits here. On her birthday, they put letters in her yard that said “Happy 92 birthday.” Each holiday they come see her. Young and old, from in state and out of state. Often people come to see her. She is loved, not forgotten, not ignored. She is beloved, she will be missed.

This is the legacy that is built when you have good relationships with your people. That is life goals. Isn’t that what we want from our children? Isn’t that what we want from our grandchildren? To be loved, we must give love.

My goals for February are to improve my relationships with my people. Some of my relationships are hard and I want to change the way I view them. I want to spend more time with my people having fun and getting along, making memories. I also want to work on accepting the struggles in our lives and looking for the blessings in our struggles.

My hypothesis is that I will again be happier with my people. I also think that I will notice the good things and appreciate them more. 

I will also maintain the progress I have made with my physical health and I want to try to increase it. Finally, I will declutter another area or two in my home. I plan to go through my closets again and look for things that don’t fit. I also plan to go through the paper clutter in my basement – manuals, warranties, instructions, and other papers for the home to put into a binder for the next owner or toss. Small victories are going to win the battle the organization. 

I also hope to have a big announcement next week. Enter your email address below to subscribe and you won’t miss it!

What have I achieved in January? This is my final update for January. We’re talking about love!

Exercise & Water. I exercised every week and drank water every day. I also took a 30-minute rest every day to recharge. I did not meet either of my goals for consistency but I will keep trying.  Results: I feel better but I think I will change my exercise routine to add some upper body strengthening like pushups and maybe a light dumbbell. 

Learning & Reading: I read the book of Matthew for January and I loved it. Soon, I hope to offer a further recap of some of my notes as a free download. Results: I think I learned the most by asking questions of my reading; by paying attention to what Jesus said and did; and by trying to understand how to apply it to life to make changes so I can live the good life.

Decluttering my office paper: I feel happier about the way my office looks. I have not had an instance of “why is there so much paper!” in at least a couple weeks. I spent a day mid-January shredding, scanning, and tossing much of the paper that was just laying about in my office. It was what I had to sort through just to find almost everything when I went hunting. 

Results: I read somewhere that a person made a rule to put everything away at the transition time. So, I also made this rule to put things away when I’m done. I had stacks of paper and sticky notes that were permanently on my desk. The result is that my desk, kitchen, and my craft area are much tidier when I begin to work. I feel less stressed and I get more done. 

The first photo was after I finished the project. The other photos are what it looked like with my paper clutter.

Rest 30 minutes a day. I loved this and will maintain it too. I didn’t do much in this area. A couple of nights I scrapbooked, a couple of nights I colored, but mostly I read. So far this year, I have completed two books that I started last year and didn’t finish and two books that I borrowed from the library app. I’ve also decluttered my phone and my kindle app so that I can see what I have started reading so I can finish them. 

Results: I feel happier, better rested, and less jealous. I used to be annoyed and felt like my husband and stepdaughter were “relaxing at me”. (Glennon Doyle) I also felt like I was doing all the things and that everything would fall down if I didn’t do it. Now, that I have made a decision to take 30 minutes to do something I like, I don’t feel those feelings. Additionally, I have decided to find ways to take back more time for me. 

Every day I looked forward to this small amount of time when I didn’t have to do anything for anybody but me. I didn’t schedule anything or put anything on a to-do list for this 30 minutes, it was just there. I waited until it was my time and then I decided what I wanted to do. If it was earlier in the evening around 8pm I could scrap. If it was later, around 9pm,  I usually decided to read. I decided what to do. I did what I felt would fill my soul with rest. It was fantastic – like having a really good, wonderful piece of chocolate on the spur of the moment. Like that. 

Overall. The lack of rest was making me feel trapped, like a slave. I felt unappreciated and used sometimes. No one told me to do these things, I was just trying to make an expectation of my own become reality. I thought things should be this way and then I made them that way. I ended up putting too much on my list of things and then resenting others for it. What? That makes no sense. Now, I have given myself some slack and I want more. 

What am I looking at to create slack? I’m trying freezer meal preparation so that I don’t have to spend every night cooking. Sharing responsibilities helps too. My husband and my stepdaughter are doing more as well. Finally, I’m adjusting my expectations and reviewing the way I do things to see if there’s a better way. 

For example, changing the day of the week to change the sheets and wash towels to a day with less stuff means I get to have ten more minutes on Saturday in the evenings. Or scheduling a grocery pick up on a day when my husband can do it, or when I’m already out doing other things so I don’t have to make an extra trip. Savings of 5 minutes, 10 times a week, gives me 50 minutes for me. 

Final thoughts. What I’m beginning to see is that living the good life is about pulling together pieces, improving on them, maintaining that improvement, and making more adjustments. My physical health is better and so is my emotional health. My environment helps me be more productive and I feel calmer which helps with my emotional health when I’m less stressed. Giving myself a break helps me feel calmer and more relaxed. Drinking more water and getting more exercise helps my physical health and improves my sleep which means I do better throughout the day. It all appears to work together. 

Are you seeing any improvements? What progress have you made? Are you going to join me in this pursuit? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below to enter the conversation. 

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