Has your life’s Exclamation Point . . . become an Exasperation Point? The highlights of life can be sabotaged by discontentment, discouragement and frustration. Sometimes we have to re-arrange the way we do things, in order to boost the energy we need to catapult us to greatness.
When I worked in PR, everyday was crazy, exciting, unpredictable and full of “pats” on the back or “kicks” in the butt; one way or the other, you knew where you stood. Raising children is a little different. Often times, nothing too exciting happens during the day – from teaching them Math and having late night talks, to throwing in some “moral character” with a splash of discipline and fun activities. I’ve worn the heels, gone from suits to sweats and am now somewhere in the middle.
On any given day, I find myself researching a new business venture, catching up on 6 loads of laundry, emailing friends to plan girl’s night out, having a conference call with other moms to discuss a class party, while thinking about how I’m gonna cook chicken for the 3rd time this week, when it occurred to me: Is this my life? Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy, the deep kind of happy that a few bad days or set of circumstances can’t steal.
But my life needed a tune up, like a musical instrument or attitude adjustment. I love my husband; he’s very supportive, loving and fun to be around, and as a bonus, he’s good looking. I have a small core of really good friends. I have 4 kids that are loud, fun and interesting. My life is full, but I knew with the tools and resources I had, things could be better. I laid on the bed one day and just explained to John how I felt.
WITHOUT fear or threat that perhaps he had not provided a good life for us, he did a little research (another great quality of his – thoughtfulness) and by morning handed me a book, that has taken me on quiet an interesting journey, to fine-tune my happiness from mediocre to deep contentment, where people want to know why you’re smiling. My quest began with: The Happiness Project, a book by Gretchen Rubin.
I’ve heard it said: When a student is ready to learn, the teacher will appear. Happiness is a state of mind. Per Webster’s dictionary, happiness is a state of well being, a feeling of contentment, joy, satisfaction or pleasure.
I felt this, but not to its full capacity. My mom is always reminding me that my calling here on this earth (no matter what position I hold in or outside the home) is to invest in the hearts of my children. It’s not about recognition, fighting for a position on the corporate ladder, the need to feel appreciated by the outside world or add another gold star to my collection, but it’s about devoting your time and energy into raising healthy, Godly, well adjusted children that will go into the world with confidence, knowledge, and a sense of community.
But in order to do this, Mama needs to be happy! And if Mama ain’t happy, well . . . you get the gist. The first category in the Happiness Project is: To Boost Your Energy. To be honest, I’ve never been so tired in my entire life. Before kids, I trained for a marathon, raced in triathlons and had endless energy. Now, it’s a different story.
“The Happiness Project” lists 4 things that are needed to “Boost Your Energy:
1) Go to Sleep Earlier
2) Exercise Better
3) Toss, Restore and Organize
4) Tackle a Nagging Task Early
I don’t know about you, but all my life, I’ve gone to bed late, put exercise on my “To Do” List (and rarely crossed it off). I allow that pesky task to haunt me all day (hoping it will just go away – of course it gets bigger and steals my joy).
It’s like a perfect storm – just as the kids are saying “Mom I’m Hungry (after they just ate) you open the closet – and out springs jackets, scarves and a skate board into the floor, about the time the door bell rings and unexpected company has arrived. Yikes. You feel conquered, overwhelmed and under pressure. Then comes the guilt . . . I’m a terrible mom, how will my kids turn out . . . whaaa whaaaa whaaaa!
1st Month’s Challenge
Challenge 1) Sleep Earlier:
I began going to bed earlier. Can you say: Hard. I starred at the ceiling and noticed all the blinking lights in the room, from the phone to the clock to my lap top, it was like the “Vegas Strip.” Some people count sheep: I was counting loads of laundry. Your body has to be reprogrammed. But with my next challenge, sleep came earlier and sleep came easier.
Challenge 2) Exercise Better:
I’ve never liked waking up early. My dad always said “the Sunrise is so Beautiful.” I figure the Sunset looks much like the Sunrise, so I’m ok with that. But, in order to exercise better, I began taking the kids to school, so I could just keep going – head downstairs and begin working out. The first week, I didn’t like it. I felt angry, tired. The “Work Out” guy’s voice on the DVD annoyed me. But then I created my favorite playlist on my ipod, for better motivation. Now that I’ve created this routine, I enjoy the time for me. Plus, when 6:30am rolls around, my eyes just pop open. Your body gets use to what it knows, getting up and working out.
Challenge 3) Toss, Restore and Organize:
My bedroom closet had become “Central Station” for things that didn’t have a name, a home or description. Honestly, I found things I should have taken a picture of and tried to figure out its name on Google.
I had a hard time letting go of comfortable underwear – the kind your mom says you NEVER want to be wearing if you end up in the Emergency Room. It was hard giving away those red shoes you’ve never worn, but are waiting to find that fantastic dress to match it.
I found parts to toys I didn’t know we had, books I’ve never read, snack wrappers, gifts that had never been given. . . . and the list goes on. It took 3 days to cleanse my closet, but in the process , it cleansed my mind. I found 10 incredible outfits to choose from vs. dredging through piles and baskets of wrinkled things, to discover one sock, jeans I couldn’t wear or a bad concert t-shirt. Difficulties like this, make your head hurt, especially when you’re in a hurry and need to be somewhere 10 minutes ago.
Challenge 4) Tackle a Nagging Task Early:
Between emails I needed to write, bills that needed to be paid, a conversation that needed to be had or a mess that needed to be cleaned, it haunted my thoughts all day. It drove me crazy. Now, I wake up, conquer the the task and feel good about the VICTORY, early on.
Motherhood is NOT easy. Have you ever spun so many plates or juggled so many schedules?
Probably not, but it’s also Fulfilling and Fun. Your cup is not full, it’s Overflowing. And if someone came in right now and said: “I’ll take your place if you’re not happy” We would karate chop them into a million pieces. It’s ok to complain, but it’s most important to jump back on the saddle. Lord willing, this position is for many years to come, thus we need to find that Deep Happiness and Contentment, so when we’re teaching our kids “Life’s Lessons” we’ll find ourselves – Whistling While We Work.
Wanna Boost Your Energy? Start with you! You are the family’s “Hub of Communication” the CEO of your household. Take charge . . . GIRLS! In cleaning those closets and exercising for you, you’ll feel Accomplished, Organized and Victorious. Rid your life of Exasperation Points and Make them Exclamation Points to your Happiness! You are More than Conquerors.
Scripture: Phil 4: 11-13
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.