Happy Sunday! I hope you are having a terrific one.
Here is a brief list of how I incorporated voluntary simplicity into my life this week:
(1) Exercise. Voluntary simplicity involves focusing on people (not things). Too often we get so busy we neglect our health. That was a real struggle for me when I was still in the rat race. I've never been skinny, but early in my career I began to pack on pounds due to my insane hours at my desk. That continued for a number of years until I became a mom and I wanted to be healthier for my kids. I've been a fairly healthy eater throughout my adult years, but lack of exercise had been my pitfall. So, as a young mom, I joined the Y near my office and faithfully went to workout every work day at lunch time. Over time, I lost over 30 pounds. And I kept it off for several years. I also aspired to lose a bit more but was not able to. To do so, I really needed to up my exercise, but I just didn't have enough time for that. I barely had time for what I was doing. But then things changed, my professional demands intensified greatly. My ever more demanding work life meant I had little control over what I ate at times, and eventually I had to give up my dedicated exercise schedule. Despite having kept the weight off for several years, once my work demands forced me to give up regular exercise, it all came back--and surprisingly fast. How depressing! I realized that the only way to change the situation was to exercise regularly again, and I vowed that when I stepped down from my paid gig and had more control over my schedule, I would get back into the swing of it. That worked well initially this fall, but then we went on several family trips and Thanksgiving arrived. Basically, my schedule got crazy and my exercise schedule fell by the wayside. Earlier in the fall, I had re-lost some weight, but things stalled as my exercise waned. This week, however, I've renewed my resolve. I'm proud to report that I did not miss one day of exercise. There are so many benefits to exercise. It is not just about weight loss or weight control. When I exercise regularly, I am a happier person on so many levels. It really is not to be missed. So, I share this in the hopes that it will encourage anyone who struggles in this area. Particularly moms of young children, we find it difficult to find time to take care of our health. But I think the flight attendant advice is apt in many aspects of life--we need to put our own oxygen mask on before we attempt to put on the masks of our children. If we expire before we get anyone else's mask on, we're not helping anyone. It is not noble to sacrifice oneself in that manner. Taking care of ourselves means we're more likely to be here and be in a position to help others.
(2) Meditation. This week was the second time I made it to my church's weekly meditation session. This time, it was a "drumming meditation," which was something new for me. Frankly, this was not my cup of tea. All the pounding of the drums gave me a headache and stressed me out a bit. But it was great to try something new. The drums were pretty. And the second half of the session involved just a regular meditation, which was nice. It's always important to try new things. Even if it was not my favorite type of meditation, I learned a lot and was inspired by the people who attended.
(3) Advent. As a Christ-follower, I'm preparing for the celebration of Christmas. That celebration means different things to different people. After all, many non-religious people celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday. To me, at this point in my faith journey, I think Christmas means reflecting on what it means to have Jesus in my life. Carrie Underwood bravely took on the iconic role of "Maria" in a live TV version of The Sound of Music recently. I don't follow her on social media, but I've heard that she responded to the barrage of vicious criticism of her performance by simply stating that there are a lot of people who need Jesus in their lives and she will be praying for them. I've been thinking about that response. To me, what she is saying rings true--a lot of people are worn down by the negativity of the world, the lack of hope, and the absence of love in their lives. They don't know any better than to attack others. To me, having Jesus in your heart means understanding that there is a better way to live--to have hope and love in your heart. If we keep Jesus in our hearts, then we will radiate his hope and love to others who need that encouragement and peace. This week, I've tried to be mindful of this. I've tried to reach out to others to encourage them in various ways. And I've thanked those who have done the same for me. Christmas is a time of light in the darkness of winter. I believe we're called to be light to one another.
Cheers! And have a lovely Sunday. If you celebrate Christmas in a religious sense, I also wish you a meaningful Advent!