On the treadmill this morning, I started to say to myself, something that sounded like, “I’m so glad 2016 is gone, gone, gone. 2016 sucked!” But then I looked around me and something about seeing all of those people at the gym, early in the morning—huffing and puffing, sprinting and loping, lifting and stretching—made me realize 2016 was a gift to us all, just like all the rest of the years. 2016 had its disappointments, to be sure. But isn’t that the truth about all of the years?
My life changed quite a bit in 2016. I finished writing my second book. I went back to full-time work at the insurance company—the same insurance company I left five years ago when I went to work with the High Calling. H became a certified, professional ski instructor. We went on some great trips. We ate prime rib and ice cream and Thai food and potato chips. I quit worrying about the size of my pants. It truly was not all bad.
I find myself at the start of this year, feeling a deep sense of peace, an overwhelming disposition of calm. I’ve been trying to put my finger on the source of this aura of comfort that surrounds me, even though you and I both know the source is bigger and greater and calmer than we have the ability to imagine. There is something to be said for making space for the source to do its work, right in the midst of what may seem to be one of the craziest moments in our collective memory.
I’ve made three changes that help create space for me to notice—and even sink into—peace and calm, right in the midst of the storm.
Tame my inbox. I signed up for Unroll.me a few years ago, but I’ve been more vigilant about it this year. It manages my email inbox by grouping all of my subscription emails together. Once a day, all of my subscriptions arrive in my inbox in one email. These are the messages I asked to receive. They include blogs and newsletters from people who teach me things that matter. They include updates from my local grocery store and they alert me that it’s time for an oil change in my vehicle. At some point, I signed up for these messages because of their value to me. Once each day, I open my email from Unroll.me and I read the messages that feed my soul. Other emails still land in my inbox, but if I don’t know the sender, or if the message didn’t come through the contact form here on my website, that message could sit in my inbox for days.
Train my sleep. I go to bed the same time every night, and wake up at the same time every morning. Even on weekends and holidays. I have an alarm that goes off each night, forty-five minutes before my bedtime. When the bedtime alarm goes off, I turn off all screens—no television, no computer, no phone—and I start making my way toward sleep. Some nights, I listen to a podcast while I fold clothes and put them away. Other nights, H and I sit in front of the fire and read together. Some evenings, I take a long shower and breathe in the steam. Training my sleep has turned out to be the missing link for me. I get more done in a day that begins with a solid foundation of restful sleep.
Turn some pages. Last year, I noticed I wasn’t reading as much as I once had. I promised myself I’d pick up a book and read for at least an hour each day. What a gift I gave myself with that promise! I love to read books, and I’m surprised I’d let that habit slip away. Reading books takes me away from all the noise. My thoughts come to me more clearly and the urgency of the world slips away. Somehow, reading helps me regain my grasp of what matters most in this world. Reading clears the lens through which I view the world. I am less reactive, more reflective and, I think, more realistic in my approach to culture.
I imagine you’ve got some ideas about keeping calm, too. I’d love to hear them. Please leave your ideas for peace and calm in the comments, and I promise to read them all. Right now, my alarm is telling me it’s time to close the laptop and start making my way toward bed.
Your three changes really spoke to me, Deidra. I appreciate your sharing them here. The one that intrigues me the most is number two. Although I don’t have trouble sleeping now as I am chronically exhausted from breast cancer treatment, I have had difficulties in the past. But I think I could benefit from a consistent bedtime with technology shut off earlier, and space to slow down with my husband or a book. I’ve been mulling over how to revamp my evenings and this idea gives me a good place to begin. Thanks!
Let me know how it goes, Wendy.
This is all good stuff, Deidra.
Personally, I find social media to be a bit too much for me a lot of the time. I severely restrict my time on it, accepting I may miss some good things I’d want to know about. I need to keep my head in order. Nobody is going to do that for me.
I tend not to subscribe to blogs, but to put my favorites (like yours) in Feedly, then come at them when I know I can give them my full attention. But I like your Unroll idea. Same thing. You are coming at your subscriptions when you have the best chance to give them attention.
Good post. Important!
Nobody is going to do it for us. Wise, wise words right there.
Created Well @ TheAntiBlog
So I have a one month old – my first one! My husband and I decided that me staying at home was best for us, so not only am I adjusting to momhood, I’m also adjusting to not working for the first time in 20 years. I don’t have anything in place for more “peace and calm” right now(except my husband tries to make sure I get a bath in every night, God bless him), but reading, writing, and baking are things I will HAVE to make room for once we get settled in our new rhythm. My pregnancy was uncomplicated but not enjoyable, so many of the things that were life giving to me were put I hold. I appreciate this post, as it’s reminded me what many veteran mamas have been saying to me over and over – don’t lose yourself in motherhood. You’re still an individual person.
Oh, congratulations! You will, indeed, read, write, and bake again. I promise you. You will.
Love these 3, Deidra.
Amazing that often what works best for us are a few common sense choices that add up to recalibrate who we are.
I’m sharing this over on LinkedIn.
Meanwhile, here’s what’s been saving my life
I’m going to need you to teach me about LinkedIn. 🙂
I love the practical way you are doing life. Something about that sleep rhythm is so appealing. I’ve never disciplined myself about bedtime as I tend to be a night owl and use that as an excuse to keep the light on too long. As for what is calming me right now? I find such solace and strength in the Psalms. The Lord very specifically led me to Ps. 131 the other night and I keep coming back to the second verse of three verse song – “But I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” There’s something about the time of life I am in (I’ll be 53 in a couple of weeks) that gives perspective about our growing up, maturing, and heading into the second journey of my life with a quieted, calm soul. Thought I’d share this Psalm that I think may be easy to read and dismiss. I know I have. Somehow I think there is something precious there that comforts and gives hope. Thanks for sharing your journey, friend. You are a gift to the world.
I’m a night owl by nature, but I’ve found this new rhythm really suits me.
Thank you for sharing that verse, Dea. It’s beautiful and yes, I have passed it by.
I must say I loved your chapter you sent for us to download. Wonderful.
I do a lot of things a steady calm. I just sometimes sit in quite and write. I’ve been more intentional about listening to calm music this year so I am buying music on iTunes and invested in a Bluetooth speaker to calm me at night before bedtime. I have my nightly decaf tea… to calm me , and my wonderful favorite pillows and my big, thick blanket that makes me feel like Linus when I’m at home.???? Reading always calm me and has since I’ve been a child, so I make sure I do that nightly, but so does taking pictures, so I’ve signed up for LaShawn Wiltz at http://www.Everydaycandy.com for her #project52 Photography challenge, and I’m finding more time to participate in my hobby I love. I also love to blog, so I do that too. Lately, prayer has been on the agenda, this month, and I’ve been writing God prayers this month.
Thanks so much for your kind words about the book excerpt, Jennifer! I’m excited to get this new book into the world in April.
Hobbies are good for us. So glad to hear you’re doing things that make you happy…and calm.
There have been many days recently that I don’t even have time to look at unroll me. Today I deleted like 6 of them that I hadn’t read yet. I was a little worried that I might be missing something. But, like you, it’s all Shutterfly ads and some blog subscriptions. And, technically, the emails are archived so if I go looking for one, it will be there. It was so freeing to just let them go.
I need to do that sleep thing, but I’m a student again (we’re in language school before our move to Spain). Even though I’m married with 2 young children, we live on campus and go to class all morning and I’ve reverted to college habits from over 10 years ago! Too much coffee, not enough sleep… And I didn’t have a smartphone in college. Or Wi-Fi.
Great ideas! I have never heard of unroll me. It sounds like a great idea to consolidate your emails. Sounds like you have great ideas to calm yourself!
The sleep idea is one I need to work on. It is a little hard for me as hubby works weekends and we get up early (6am). Tuesday thru Friday we could go to bed around 10-11pm and get up around 8 each day. Turning off all devices is a good thing
I also believe in exercising for about 30-60 minutes daily. Also have a cup of decaf tea before bed. Something like Sleepy Time. Tea is filled with antioxidants and will calm you down.
Have a great 2017!!
I’ve been enjoying going to bed at the same time and rising at the same time. I’ve truly found strength in structured routines and find myself anticipating the morning coffee and evening reading moments. I’ve also been enjoying guided meditations on Spotify. I find my largest need for calm is on the drive home from work, listening to a meditation begins the transition to offer my best self to my family.
“There is something to be said for making space for the source to do its work, right in the midst of what may seem to be one of the craziest moments in our collective memory.”
As this week progresses, and our world seems to be catapulting toward an unimaginable governance, I think it is all the more powerful of us, as faith filled folks, to leave or make space for the source to do its work. There are strong lessons to be learned here, and we need available space to do that.
I like number three. To read more. I used to read like crazy, and now I tell myself I’m too tired to read and I need a mindless break at the end of the day. Writing this, realizing, my mind needs a break because I’m filling it with other noise. Turn off the news and read a book. That’s what I’m going to try to do. Thanks for the attention getting poke.
Someone asked me about my big reading goals every year. This year it’s 72 books. I said that I can easily read a book a week BUT making it 6 books a month forces me to slow down and read instead of scrolling instagram, and putting “read a book” on my weekend to-do list instead of rushing all the time 🙂
Happy reading in 2017!
Charity Singleton Craig
I have been doing almost exactly the same by focusing on the beginning and ending of my day. I have been able to carve out about three hours in the morning for exercise, reading, even dinner prep before heading to the office. It’s been a great change in my life. I’ve also been focusing on creating more ritual before bed and getting to bed on time or even early. It’s made a lot of difference. And I love Unroll.me!
A nighttime alarm — GENIUS! Why have I never thought of this? I love these ideas. Thank you!
meditating on accepting what is, as it is . . . loosing my want of it to be different than it is . . . . . . accepting that all serves purpose; all is a teacher . . . and, reminding myself that I don’t know how anything ought to be at any time.
Going unplugged from Saturday evening to Sunday dinner has been a peace/calm game-changer for me since the month began. And I agree on the tame inbox…it feels so dang good.