I write to process life. My writing takes place here, but also and especially if it’s not entirely my story, it also takes place, longhand, in some random spiral. But I rarely keep these spirals, once they serve their purpose, I trash them. Reading through them later is like trying to reopen an old wound; all the emotions can easily flood back in and what purpose does that serve?
The processing I’m doing now? Well, right now, life kind of feels like a load of wet towels in my top load washing machine with an agitator in the middle. (Written in 2018 and revisited in 2019–Yep, same feeling!) It just seems like October 2018 was the starting line and stuff just keeps rolling in slow waves. I’m thankful for the feeling of a slow rolling in versus being pounded into the rocks. Although I’ve had my share of those moments since October too!
I mentioned in an old Daybook Journal post the term Kendra uses for large families,–wide families as she calls them. Let me tell you, wide families can stretch a momma thin. There always seems to be multiple pressing needs. And then needs become more intense as the family ages. No longer are the needs a blue sippy cup over a pink one, they now involve thoughts and decisions that weigh the eternal life of the soul in the balance.
Today, I’m going to share six ways I mentally reset my heart, mind, and soul when I’m stretched thin.
1. I Write in My Gratitude Journal Daily
I had gotten out of the daily practice of writing in my gratitude journal which is honestly how most of my woeful stories begin. A while back, I took this practice one step further. I used to have a couple of different gratitude journals I’ve started over the last couple of years. There was a day when I sat down and compiled them all into one.
That’s right, I re-wrote all the gratitude lists I’ve started the last couple of years. Basically, I flooded myself with gratitude. This act reminded of all the things I had been grateful for in the past: little daily things, events, things my children have said or done…things I had already forgotten. Revisiting them was so good for my soul.
And the part I mentioned above about not keeping all the heavy, messy journals, I don’t need to because I do keep my gratitude journals. They fill me in on the old details but through a lens of gratitude instead of a lens of angst. A much better way to recall past memories if you ask me.
2. I Seek Silence
I strive for weekly Adoration–even if I don’t physically go to the church I strive for a certain amount of time to be silent with my Lord. I turn off the radio in the car. I step away from the computer and when I am at the computer, I mind my own business; I don’t follow every link down some deep, dark rabbit hole. I start talking to my husband and children in a quieter voice. I become hyper intentional about noise…input and output.
3. I Listen to Encouraging Music
When I don’t seek silence, I listen to good music, everything from Gregorian Chant to Tobymac. I also sometimes just need a good ‘ol country song blaring with the windows down while I’m driving–preferably some back road with a freshly mowed field nearby. (I know, I pretty much summed up a whole bunch of country stereotypes and songs in one long sentence.)
4. I Say the Saint Michael Prayer Before I Fall Asleep
Instead of long, drawn-out prayers…or no prayer, I say the St. Michael prayer. I don’t worry, think or ponder anything after that. This is especially helpful for mommas of older children living out on their own.
This has actually become a nightly habit now. I must have held onto to it after some reset period and have never put it down. It’s such a habit, I say this anytime I lay down, even for a second in the afternoon or on Sunday after church.
5. I Look for Beauty or Create Beauty
I use my camera more (although not as much as I used to or should). I really like my little point and shoot to grab quickly. I made a mistake a number of years ago by upgrading to a DSLR. It became too much work for me and I stopped picking up my camera–bigger, faster, more expensive doesn’t always equal better.
I catch sunrises and sunsets. I buy small bouquets of flowers from the grocery store to put on the mantle or the table. I pull out my favorite quilt for my bed. Sometimes, creating beauty may just mean dusting those corners that often get overlooked, or wiping down baseboards. Seriously!
I have all the diffusers going all the time! I might have a calming blend diffusing in the bedroom, a cheerful blend in the living room, a grounding and earthy blend in another room. And one of my favorites, when I need a reset, is to take a hot Epsom Salt bath with a few drops of Vetiver and Frankincense in the bath. This is such a relaxing, grounding blend! Smells are incredibly powerful tools to use to support our memories and our present mood.
6. I Say No…Without Any Guilt
Fortunately, I can say “no” with very little guilt to begin with so this is pretty easy. It also helps that my husband totally and completely supports and encourages me to say “no” often. I would love to do this, that or the other, but sometimes, I just can’t. Not right now. And that’s ok. I even have to say “no” to myself with some things I truly enjoy; this is not a discriminatory “no.”
Bonus–I Read My Bible for Pleasure and I Exercise
I sit with my Daily One Year Bible at the counter and read. I don’t read this Bible for “quality” or study. I read strictly to get the Word in on a daily basis. I use my cheap pen from some hotel we stayed at during soccer. I use whatever color highlighter I grab–no color-coded Bible Journaling here.
Also, I have had the YouVersion app on my phone for a while now but have never used it. A friend reminded me of it so I looked over it again. I would love to find friends over there! If you’re on there, let me know! I just started a “Read the Bible in 90 Days Plan.” Obviously, it will take me longer than 90 Days because the plan and Bible do not include the Books of the Apocrypha; I’ll read those after the “official” plan ends.
I love that I don’t have to lug my Bible around with me, although I learn and remember more when it’s on paper. Reading the 90 Day Plan on my phone is strictly for getting the Word into me every day; much better to read it–or read it first, than scroll through social media.
And a note about how I read the Bible because if we friend each other over there you’ll see it anyway. When I read, if I think it, I make a note of my thoughts–which I can do in the app! It doesn’t matter if the thought is, “Um, interesting???” or “Whoa!” I make a note of it. The second thing I do is if it makes me think, I pause and highlight it–again, something I can do on the app!!
Double bonus, I Google pictures of Bibles and prayer binders…eye candy I like to call it. The Scriptures tell us the Word of God is living and active–there is something life-giving for me when I see other’s Bibles, “decorated” or not. Just seeing a Bible that someone uses to spend intimate time with God is a powerful witness and encouragement to me.
I also exercise. I started out doing a ten-minute stretching video a couple of years ago and began to notice how much better I felt–partly because I was moving my body and partly because I was committing to myself and accomplishing my goal of stretching. Then I added walking on my treadmill and doing strength training videos with some dumbbells we had around the house.
Seasons have come and gone where my exercise has slipped off my radar. Not only has my body, but also my mind suffered during those times. When I consistently exercise, I can tell I have a new strength–mind, body, and spirit from this physical activity and the accomplishment of showing up for myself every day.
So when I’m in serious need of a reset, I make sure to include exercise in the program. Right now my son’s assistant soccer coach is training him and he generously tweaked the program to work for me and also provides accountability which is keeping me on track.
So that’s what I’ve been doing, or not doing trying to reset my body, mind, and soul. I’m trying to feel better, less wet towel soggyish if you know what I mean.