Hope Sets Healthy Boundaries

Isn’t it interesting how we can tell others what to do but not apply that same wisdom to ourselves?

In my life coaching ministry at GateWay, I often ask women, “What are you doing for fun?” We track their progress and talk about the importance of setting healthy boundaries.

Sometimes we refer to an emotional boundary as setting a fence around the heart. fence-autumn

Likewise with my writing clients. I may ask, “What are you doing for an artist date?”

They tell me about roaming through bookstores, writing morning pages at a quirky and fun coffee shop or choosing a new journal.

Terrific success for my coaching clients. Not such a good job by their coach.

I find it increasingly difficult to schedule artist dates and/or find some time for fun in my busy schedule. Am I too busy? Yes. How can I remedy that? Hmm.

One of my friends recently asked me, “What are you doing for Rebecca?”

I had to stop and think about that question, because we often define fun as something we do that costs money.

But I need to consider other things that are just as relaxing and important for me – activities that cost little or nothing. Fun might include playing the piano, banging out chords that help release some of the pressures of a stressful day.

Walking through crunchy leaves or strolling through colorful chrysanthemums at a garden store. These joys remind me of the creator and how he blesses us with an autumn Kansas.

Other possibilities for fun:

  • An occasional movie
  • Watching the baseball playoffs with my son
  • Jayhawk basketball and OU football
  • Pulling out my coloring book and finding a quiet moment on the deck
  • Singing
  • A new color of fingernail polish
  • The turquoise and corals of a Kansas sunset
  • A haircut
  • One of the autumn craft shows
  • A new journal or reading through the old one with an attitude of praise

These are some of the things that bring me joy, however I need to work harder at getting away and forcing myself to relax. Is that an oxymoron? Forced relaxation?

Even now, I feel the need for some time away to reboot my soul and refresh that creative spirit in me.

I write better after a break when I feel more energized to connect sentences that form paragraphs, outline chapters and introduce new characters to the world.

So I need to be more proactive about using my time off. I need to actually schedule a writing retreat and a personal sabbatical – wherever and whenever I can – soon.

As 2017 approaches, I need to discipline myself to do the same thing I ask of my clients – to find that special place of inner rest, to plan an artist date, to find my own creative boundaries.

Hope asks accountability of others but also demands spiritual nourishment of the self. Even as I help others, I need to do a better job finding myself and define that fence around my heart.

Anyone else want to join me in the search?

©2016 GateWay of Hope – repost of RJThesman.net.

Why We Should Slow Down

Whoops… I did it again.Molly Totoro

I was about 95% recovered from my January accident, when I tripped over the dog in the kitchen and broke my right shoulder.

We sat down to an Italian anti-pasta dinner and a glass of Chianti, but I decided we needed plates. I hopped up from the table, took two steps towards the cabinet, tripped and fell.

In hindsight, we did not need the plates.

I love symmetry, but this was ridiculous. The break was almost identical to the shoulder break in my left arm. The second I went down, I knew I had done it again. I didn’t hear a pop, I didn’t feel the break, I just knew this was the worst possible déjà vu.

Fortunately, I wasn’t home alone. My son helped me off the floor and into the car. We drove to the ER just like we did five months ago.

While waiting for the inevitable news, I asked him, “What could I have done differently?”

His first comment was kind and consoling: it was just an accident. Then he thought for a moment and added, “Maybe you could’ve slowed down.”

Two weeks later, those words continue to ring in my ears. Out of the mouths of babes they say. They are right. My son was right. I need to slow down.

I have studied time management for years. I am an organized person by nature, and addicted to busyness. “I don’t know how she does it all,” is the highest compliment.

My daily challenge is to complete as much as possible in as little time as possible. Efficiency is the name of the game.

It wasn’t all that long ago, a decade perhaps, that I was in the thick of life. I was a full-time teacher, a full-time parent to three teenage kids, the caregiver of my aging mother. My day began at 5 AM and I collapsed in bed around 11 PM.

Nearly every minute of every day was filled with responsibility. I could barely take a step without looking at my planner. I felt as though my life were a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle. My planner provided the guidance to fit each piece.

I wouldn’t run an errand, even take a trip upstairs, without taking the time to consider if I could combine activities for greater efficiency. Life was hectic, and my brain was on constant high alert.

Old habits die hard.

I am retired now. We are officially empty-nesters. I am no longer the caregiver to aging parents. Yet I still strive to be as efficient as possible. My planner is still my guide.

When I stood up from the table to get those plates, I was in a hurry. It was time to eat and I had to keep to the schedule.

Be efficient, Molly. Get it done, Molly. Don’t dillydally.

In reality, how much time did I save? One second? Five?

I’ve been looking at life all wrong. It is not the time I save that matters.

It is the time I savor that is important.

No one cared about the plates but me. We could have eaten without them. I could have taken my time to bring them to the table, and no one would have thought less of me. The meal would not have been ruined. The relationships would still be strong. And I would not be out of breath and mentally exhausted.

How much of life have I missed by rushing around trying to complete the tasks on my to-do list?

I find satisfaction in checking off the task rather than joy in doing the task itself. In fact, I’ve been known to add tasks to my list just so I can check them off.

stress - relaxWhat do I gain by living life in a constant horror of motion?

I may accomplish much, but at what cost? The accident taught me this frenetic lifestyle is harmful — physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

It is time to get off the self-made roller coaster. I can no longer believe the lie that busyness is next to godliness.

Busyness, in fact, robs me of God’s peace.

There will always be chores to do, responsibilities to accept, and people to serve. God has equipped us to accomplish His purpose. But He has also given us adequate time to complete that purpose.

Each day is a gift from the Lord, and He desires we find joy and beauty in every moment. We can’t do that if we treat life as a sprint, rather than a marathon.

It is time to slow the pace: stroll a little, linger a while, take a few extra moments to savor the joy in the everyday. Saving a few extra seconds is not worth the sacrifice.

©2016 Molly Totoro for GateWay of Hope

Molly Totoro is a writer who has a heart and passion for authentic living. She firmly believes “Everyone has a story to share.” Molly helps others write their stories to impact future generations. Follow Molly’s new blog series, “How to Journal” at Revising Life after 50.