My word of the year for 2023 was supposed to be "simplify".
I had decided late in 2022 that as part of my new year's goals, I was going to try to take a step back from everything that didn't matter and be very intentional about what we allowed in our home, what I allowed on my calendar, and habits I wanted to build.
I announced this over on my Instagram page back on January 2nd.
On January 9th, I received some news that did NOT feel like simplifying.
For five months, I would fill my current role of Director of Special Services and also fill the role of Interim Superintendent.
I must admit that as I was navigating through the dual-role, there were some moments that felt very frustrating and complicated.
There were days that I didn't feel as if I were making progress in either job.
There were even days that I cried on my way home from work because I was feeling very overwhelmed.
However, there was also laughter.
There were opportunities for me to learn about myself, set goals, and connect with colleagues that I did not usually cross paths with.
And as crazy as it sounds, over the last five months, God has truly taught me through this experience to simplify.
Yes, I typed that correctly.
Even with the addition of these new responsibilities and expectations in my job. Even with longer hours and more tasks to complete. Even with more decisions and more personal interactions and more...and more...and more...
Habits are so very important.
I've blogged several times about habits. My morning routine incorporates several habit loops and I am thankful I had this established when my life got really busy in February. When things get stressful and overwhelming, the automaticity of our habits can keep our lives feeling more stable than not. A well-established morning routine, along with an organized task management system at work, really helped me to keep my sanity as I navigated life with two jobs.
We must prioritize.
Yes, we need to prioritize certain activities over others. To grow spiritually, we MUST be in our Bibles. To get closer to God, we MUST pray. To get healthy, we MUST make good food choices and move our bodies. But these types of priorities are not what I'm talking about here.
I'm going to be very transparent for a moment. This semester was hard. There were some moments at work where our leadership team had to make very difficult decisions, deal with unexpected conflict, and say hard things. There were some struggles within the school organization and some struggles with families.
People have big opinions about the public school system and while we are making every single decision based on the information we have (and often can't share with the public), it still hurts when people put their thoughts out there on social media without knowing the full story -- which unfortunately stirs up discourse and division. I had to learn to prioritize what I could control and what I could not control. Other people's opinions, words, and actions fell into the latter category, so I had to let them go.
I also had to take a step back in my personal life. I had to decide what I was going to give my energy to and what I was not able to give my energy to at the time. With a daughter in high school, one in junior high, and one in elementary -- the parenting game is challenging at times. There were some moments over the last five months where I had to recognize that while I would love to help everyone (I am an Enneagram 2, after all -- "the helper"), I had to take a step back from some situations and focus on my own family.
There are seasons in life where we can be on the front lines of standing in the gap for others, helping them to reflect on their own situations and make changes, and growing together through mutual accountability.
And there are seasons of solidarity in life. Seasons where the whole goal is to pray for others and keep our little families moving in the right direction...closer to Jesus and closer to each other. I've had to accept the fact that this season is where I am right now.
Finally, God is so good.
Throughout this season of having some extra duties at work, chasing three busy girls, and trying to sustain healthy relationships, I have seen the hand of God at work every day.
My family, friends, and colleagues have picked up the slack where I have been lacking. They have prayed for me and served alongside me tirelessly and for that I am so grateful.
Because my morning routine habit is so automatic at this point, my Bible time has continued through all the craziness. God has revealed so much and offered me so much peace through this practice and I am thankful He had prepared me ahead-of-time by challenging me with my habit-building.
Looking back, I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to serve in this double-capacity over the last five months. And I am so grateful to hand it over to someone else on Monday.
Thanking God & simplifying here on this rainy Saturday morning here at the farmhouse,
You may remember at the end of 2018 when I shared about my morning routine on the blog.
Although I knew how important a morning routine was, it wasn't until I read The Power of Habit last year that I learned how beautifully automatic mornings could become.
Another example might be reaching for your house keys to unlock the door as you walk to the house when you get home.
ââThese sequences of events are automatic.
You don't even think about them.
There's practically no thought necessary to get the mail from the mailbox or unlock your house.
Did you know that humans are wired to make a specific amount of decisions each day?
We each have a certain decision-making capacity and we often use a lot of our decisions on meaningless activities.
(Sidenote: This is often why people make poor food choices late at night. They've hit their decision quota for the day, so they're unable to effectively decide "no ice cream" is the correct option.)
By creating healthy habits in our morning routines (and in other areas of our lives), we create automatic sequences and cut out decisions.
Make your morning routine a habit.
Here is my morning routine:
Now...in all honesty, over the last few months, my third and fourth steps have gone away.
I injured my hip while training for a half-marathon back in the fall and I wasn't able to workout for several months.
Now I'm healthy again and will need to re-train myself to include that working out habit in the mornings. For now, it's a daily decision.
The beauty of the habit cue is that we have the power to change our habits.
Last summer, I started experimented with habit loops.
When my feet hit the floor every morning, I would turn around and make the bed.
Within two minutes of my alarm going off, I have already accomplished something and now every time I walk by the bedroom through the day, I will remember that accomplishment.
As part of my bedtime routine, I've laid out my workout clothes and my clothes for the day.
Once the bed is made, I put on my workout clothes and head outside to run, to the basement to the treadmill, or to the living room to workout with a video.
It is automatic and once those clothes & tennis shoes are on, it sure is easier to get that movement taken care of first thing in the morning instead of having to decide to fit it in later in the evening.
After my workout, I start the coffee pot as I walk to the shower.
When I'm out of the shower and ready for the day, I make coffee and do my Bible study.
Cue (feet hit the floor)
Enjoying my mornings at the farmhouse,