Posts Tagged ‘spirituality’

By the time June rolls around, spring has given way to summer’s heat and January is just a distant memory.  Cold weather?  I can barely remember what it is to wear shoes and sweaters.  By now, resolutions often ring a faint bell but they are pretty hazy this far away.

This year, I do remember my resolutions and I can still recite them at the drop of a hat, thanks to this monthly check-in.  I am now at the point of accepting some of them as part of my routine, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are ingrained or permanent habits.  (That old saw about it taking 21 days to make or break habits is bogus – it takes far longer to truly make something stick.)

1.  Read my Bible daily.  First half of the month, right on track. Second half, not so much.  I won’t whine or make excuses, it is what it is. But there is now this frequent niggle and nudge inside me to pick it up and read it more days than not.  I’m encouraging that niggly nudge to grow and get stronger.  It’s the same feeling that can get me up and going to the gym before daybreak.

2. Exercise.  At the risk of repeating myself, see #1 above.  First half of the month, definitely on track. Second half, other things took priority.  And I don’t kid myself that gardening burns as many calories as the gym.  I may sweat buckets while dragging the hose and digging weeds, but the exertion level is not the same.  However, I’m okay with my results for the past four weeks; the things that overshadowed my regular routine were important and urgent and are now completed, so no more excuses.  And my weight dropped beneath 120 earlier this month.  It still hovers and flutters around that mark, but we’re headed in the right direction.  Anyone trying to lose a few pounds, take heart.  Changing the way you eat and exercise are key – they don’t always yield dramatic results, but be patient and let them work their slow magic.

3. Prayer life.  It’s not without ceasing but it is regular and more frequent than daily.  I pray for health of friends and family and for many who are near-and-dear to my nearest-and-dearest.  I try to stop and appreciate and give thanks for the abundance of good things that happen every day.  From small mercies to big blessings, all good things come from God and I hope I never forget that or fail to give Him thanks.

4. Cultivating the fruits of the spirit. This one is still an enigma.  I know I set it as a resolution but how can I measure this?  It isn’t like cultivating plants in my garden.  I can see how my plants grow; I can see them mature and bloom and bear fruit.  I know there must be a way to similarly see and measure this growth but in the meantime, I keep praying and studying know the more I do that, the more the fruit will grow.

I hope this month finds everyone thinking back on whatever you resolved to stop or start roughly 150 days ago.  Whether you’re struggling to keep those promises, or struggling to even remember what you promised yourself, there’s no time like today to get started.  And think how great it will feel in December to know you made good on your resolutions in 2012 and see the results of your efforts.

Happy resolving,


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Someone on Twitter resurrected a 2009 MSN article that touted many “surprising” benefits to gardening, such as:

It is a spiritual antidote to daily stress of fast-paced living and onslaught of technology, which has led most of us to “attention fatigue” (a polite way of saying we all suffer from a little ADHD, probably due to the constant barrage of stimuli we seek from the internet, our cell phones and televisions.)

The sensory experience of gardening “allows people to connect to this primal state,” says James Jiler, the founder and executive director of Urban GreenWorks

It has been demonstrated that depression and bi-polar disorder symptoms are lessened in sufferers who garden and the reasons may go beyond the therapeutic benefits of being outdoors and taking out our frustrations on weeds or appreciating nature’s beauty.

Digging in the dirt isn’t the same as taking Prozac because humans evolved along with M. vaccae and a host of other friendly bugs, the relative lack of these “old friends” in our current environment has thrown our immune systems out of whack, according to Christopher Lowry, Ph.D., an assistant professor of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado.

It provides a form of physical exercise that is both gentle and productive, making it easier for most people to stick with, versus other forms of exercise.

“It’s not just exercise for exercise itself, which can become tedious,” says Katherine Brown, the executive director of the Southside Community Land Trust in Providence, R.I.

And it may help reduce the risk of dementia, and stave off its devastating effects.

Two separate studies that followed people in their 60s and 70s for up to 16 years found, respectively, that those who gardened regularly had a 36 percent and 47 percent lower risk of dementia than non-gardeners…

And of course, the benefits of eating freshly picked, homegrown produce can lead to better physical health and nutrition.

But none of this should be surprising to those who are Bible students.  We know that gardening IS the world’s oldest profession.  In the second chapter of Genesis, we see the Lord God took Adam and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.  Even after he and Eve were cast from the garden, God commanded Adam to continue gardening, telling him, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

I’ve always loved Kipling’s “The Glory of the Garden” and especially this bit:

Rudyard Kipling Glory of the Garden

Whether your garden consists of a few herbs or plants on a balcony or windowsill, a small plot in a community garden, or you tend a huge old-fashioned farm garden, I hope your efforts bring forth many good things for you this year.

Happy gardening,

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And here we are, 90 days into 2012. Are you still hanging tight with your resolutions or are you struggling to recall what they were?  (We’ve all experienced that before.)  This year, I’m sticking to my guns better than most years, but as you’ll see there have been some bumps along the way this month.

1. Cultivate a daily prayer life.
My goal last month was to make prayer and Bible reading a priority first thing in the morning.  I’m 1 for 2:  prayer yes, Bible reading, no.

2. Read the Bible through in 2012.
There’s no way to gloss over the fact I’ve completely fallen behind on this.  Truth be told, I haven’t read ANYTHING in the last month – no magazines, no books, no nothing, except online stuff that is directly related to work and blogging.  And every day I fall further behind, I cringe because it means I’m two readings behind.  So instead of trying some marathon make-up reading, I’m dropping back to one reading  a day, and trying Seinfeld’s “don’t-break-the-chain” starting today.  Here’s hoping it works. Stay tuned, update in 30 days.

3. Exercise at least 4 days a week and drop the last 15 pounds I want to lose.
A success!

  • Week one, I managed yoga, pilates and two hours of weights;
  • Week two consisted of a 3-mile run, yoga, pilates and an hour of weights;
  • Week three two four-mile runs and yoga and pilates;
  • This week, three days of running (12 miles total), plus yoga and pilates.

My goal weight is 110. I’m back to 121, which doesn’t sound like much of a stride, until I explain my weight bounced up to 125 early this month, a delayed reaction to last month’s overindulgence in sweets; it prompted an introspective look into my psyche a few days ago.  The running helps; I just need to figure out how to still squeeze in an hour or two of weights a week while maintaining the early morning runs.

4. Get my desk organized and keep it that way.
A qualified success.  I’m still wrestling with the way I deal with incoming mail, but I have a basket to hold it now until I cull out the bills and toss the junk, pretty much once every week to ten days.  My blotter has stayed visible all month.  Woot!

5. Cultivate the fruit of the spirit in my life.
This remains the hardest goal to measure progress against, but I find myself dwelling more on my daily walk with God and looking for ways to encourage others.  I’m thinking that counts as progress. 🙂

So how are your resolutions doing? I came across this photo not too long ago, and it rang true: stop giving up

If you need to start over in April, that’s okay – just commit to making it the last time to start over.

Happy resolving,

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Labor Day seems a fitting holiday to talk about this subject.

Later this week, I’m getting a free spicy chicken biscuit from Chick-Fil-A.  Yummmm.  That could become a very very bad habit, so I limit myself to visiting them just a few times a year.  But in addition to addictive chicken sandwiches, I really appreciate this eatery for being closed on Sundays. Ditto for Hobby Lobby, another favorite place of mine.  I am very loyal to stores that give their employees one day a week off, and to the stores that close on holidays.

An idea has been rolling around my head for some time now:  what if all of America rolled back the clock a bit, and carved out a “day of rest” each week and holidays? I’ve started planning meals for Sunday so we can eat at home more often than not.  Occasionally we still eat out at lunch or dinner; it takes time to change a very ingrained habit but I’m working on it. I predict the crockpot will become my BFF on Sundays.

Apparently I’m not alone in my longing to simplify and slow down our life, at least one day a week.   I even found a blog post that advocates bringing back blue laws.

It would be nice to see this more often

I don’t think we necessarily need any laws to make this happen – as consumers we have tremendous clout. Just say no to shopping on one day a week. Traditionally that day has been Sunday. If we all did it every week, there would be no need for stores, restaurants and movie theaters to be open that day.  Without any sales, they’d soon find it in their best interest to close their doors and give their staff a day off.

Yes, hourly employees need to work in order to get paid, but somehow hourly employees managed to get in their hours back when stores were only open six days a week. If we did it before, I’m pretty sure we could do it again.

Think of the good things that could happen if all retail establishments closed on Sundays and holidays:

1. More time for us to relax and rest. Whether we choose to spend our time worshiping or in quiet contemplation, or socializing with friends and family, the possibilities are endless. Enjoying a leisurely Sunday meal, whether it’s breakfast, brunch, lunch or supper. Hanging out in our own or someone else’ living room or backyard, going for a walk, picnicking in a public park or enjoying a public beach. In this frenetic life we live, time is far more scarce and precious than money What a stress reliever to have 24 hours each week to just BE instead of scurrying around and spending money to amuse ourselves.

2. Less traffic and reduced emissions. I don’t think people would ramp up their driving the other six days of the week – I think we’d all simply drive less if we didn’t have anyplace to go on that one day a week when everything is shut down. Think of all the gas we’d save, plus wear and tear on our roads and highways, AND we’d give the atmosphere a much-needed break from emissions.

3. Learning the discipline of delayed gratification and how to “make do or do without” – at least temporarily. We have come to rely on having everything at our disposal 24/7. Necessity is the mother of invention and it’s character building to learn that if you didn’t get what you needed the day before, you’ll have to improvise or wait.

4. Spending time, not money.  Gasp. I know; that’s crazy talk in this nation of consumerism. Our leaders tell us the economy needs us to buy more stuff.  That’s bunk, and we don’t have to buy what they’re selling.  Less time to shop means less shopping.  And more time to spend appreciating the things we already have and learning to esteem what’s really important – like people and simple pursuits:  take a walk, toss a hook in the water, fly a kite, make a picnic, read a book, take a nap.  Be honest:  don’t those sound like a lot more fun than acquiring more stuff we don’t really need, or standing in line with a bunch of other restless souls to see a movie or get on an amusement park ride?

So who’s with me? Are you willing to give up patronizing all retail establishments one day each week? Can we stand to stay away from the stores on Thanksgiving Day?  If so, be sure to make your voice heard: tell the store managers WHY you will not be patronizing them on those days. Encourage them to close their doors and give their employees time off to enjoy with family and friends. Encourage your friends and family to join in with you. Together we can take back control of our schedules and have time to rest our minds, our wallets, and our planet.

Happy resting,

Photo copyrighted to bluecinderella @ flickr.com

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As I mentioned on January 1, I’m approaching my resolutions a little differently this year, and focusing on one area of improvement each month.  (Trying to change too many things all at once has been my downfall in years past.)

So, putting first things first, January is my time to get back in the routine of regular Bible reading, study, prayer and meditation. A couple years ago, I got halfway through the Bible, but when the summer swim team schedule shifted around, I let the daily readings fall by the wayside. So I’m picking up where I left off, and at a minimum, will finish what I started in about six months.  If the habit is ingrained enough by then, I’ll simply start over and keep reading.  (The Bible is definitely not the kind of book you can read once and say you’ve gotten all there is to learn from it 🙂

I’m using a free online tool called habitforge.com to keep me accountable during these early days of re-establishing this habit, and so far it’s working. Getting that email every morning and being able to press “YES!” every day is a good feeling. (It’s a handy little tool for ANY habit you’re trying to adopt – or quit, if it’s something you’re giving up.)

And every so often, I’ll post how I’m doing with the current month’s resolution.  I hope everyone who is trying to become healthier, more spiritual, more organized, etc. is faring well with your resolutions.  And if you’ve already had a slip-up on a resolution, it’s okay – every day is a new day to start over.

Happy weekend – it’s national bubble bath day!!!

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