Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Winsome Wednesday: 10 Things I Do (Almost Daily) to Spark Joy in My Life

I'm taking a slightly different approach to this week's list of lovely. Instead of linking out, I thought I'd dig around in my own life. I'm not a naturally joyful, sunny kind of person... I have to make it a spiritual discipline to follow Paul's advice in Philippians 4:8, from which my "Winsome Wednesday" post springs. These are 10 simple house-keeping and soul-keeping habits I've created in my daily life that help create an atmosphere of joy in my heart and in my home. They are written in chronological order rather than ranked order.

#1: Rising Early
I'm an early riser born to early risers. I won't say this is for everyone, but getting up before the rest of the house allows me the space to get my head on straight and spend some time reading or writing or praying before the day starts bustling. The corollary to this, as you might have guessed, is that I rarely stay up past 10 p.m. Actually, I'd love to crawl into bed around 9.

#2: Keeping a Journal
I've used a journal since 1992. That was junior high, ya'll. Thankfully, how I've used a journal has evolved quite a bit since the days of my fickle crushes and tween angst. Journaling is now my number one place for quiet reflection, prayer and communion with God. I treasure my current journal because it's a like a secret garden I can go to plant spiritual seeds and record sightings of new life forms. I treasure past journals, and even past entries because in them I can meet my former self... for better or for worse.

#3: A Very Brief Workout
I've never been an athlete. My body is just asymmetrical enough that I'm uncoordinated and prone to feel like an old lady any time I attempt high impact exercise. And I think I'm fine with that, because I discovered the joys of yoga about a year and a half ago. I turn my personal morning yoga session into a soul-centering, God-worshiping time with a 19-minute, 3-song playlist. Maybe someday I'll get up the guts to make a little yoga video to share with you.

#4: Create Visual Calm
This is a fancy way of saying that I like my bed to be made every morning because it's the biggest thing in my bedroom, and the simple act of straightening out the quilt makes the spot where I journal look clean and tidy. This also means I send my three boys' dirty clothes down the laundry chute, close my shower curtain, plump the couch cushions and maybe if I'm especially ambitious, clear away the dishes from the table and counter. I also make the boys participate-- no toys are allowed on the main level. They have their room on the second floor and their toys in the basement. It's not a perfect system, but it keeps the level of crazy down. Oliver, my 2-year-old, breaks this rule routinely. As I type, he's playing with some contraband Legos on my desk.

#5: Take Out Trash
I have a very small trash can that requires me — or now that it's frickety freezing outside, my husband — to take out the garbage a couple of times a day. My recyclables also go out frequently. In general, I feel most joyful not only when my cans are empty, but also when my house is free of unlovely clutter.

#6: Bring in Beauty
Marie Kondo of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy writes that the point of tidying and discarding things that you don't truly love or need is to have the physical and mental space to enjoy the things that do spark joy. For me, this requirement is filled on the cheap with a $3.99 bouquet from Aldi or snipped garden flowers in the warmer months. I keep a bud vase with a single sprig above my kitchen sink and a pitcher of something on the dining table. I keep them long past their prime because even aging flowers seem beautiful to me.

#7: Window Watch
My current house and my previous house are both endowed with glorious mid-century picture windows. While living on small town main drag Virginia Street, my sons and I often snuggled backwards on the living room couch to watch the birds, squirrels, pickup trucks and Amish buggies go by through that picture window that was our TV. Now, my big window is in my KITCHEN, because I must be God's favorite, and it overlooks the overflow of trees from the Rocky River Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks. I can watch deer (and they watch us), fox squirrels, chipmunks, juncos, titmice, cardinals, blue jays, starlings, robins, woodpeckers, chickadees, cottontails... all from the comfort of my kitchen table. While eating cookies and drinking hot tea. Maybe I'm wasting time. But for me, this day-dreamy activity really fills my joy cup.

#8: Wall Posting
This is not a Facebook thing. I'm talking about actually physically writing out verses (sometimes the same verse from several different bible versions) and inspiring quotes on Post-It notes or little scraps of paper and setting them about my house-- on the walls, stuck to the interior of my wardrobe, above the sink and near my work space. I don't post these each day, but I put them places where I can see them each day.

#9: Dish Wash Worship
Don't get me wrong here. I do not actually like or find joy in the actual task of washing dishes. My shirt always gets all wet and my hands always get all dried out and dishes seem to multiply like bunnies in a house with three little boys and one big boy, none of whom I've properly trained in domestic tasks. I used to have a bad habit of letting dishes pile up in my over-sized sink. Lately, I've tried to reform myself, especially in light of how much I love my little kitchen with its tidy white cabinets and level floor and afore-lauded picture window. About a year ago, when my husband gently drew my attention to our FEMA site kitchen sink and tried to instruct me in not letting it get out of hand, it made me hate dishes even more. So, I've swallowed my pride and have made a habit of washing dishes in two bursts- mid-morning and late evening. If I miss the first burst, I catch up in the evening. This necessary evil lands on my Spark Joy list because I make sure no one seems to need me, plug my ears up with headphones and crank up some upbeat worship — recent favorites for dish washing include I Am They's self-titled album, Rend Collective's Campfire, Bethel Music's We Will Not Be Shaken or Loft Sessions. (All of these stream free on Amazon Prime, FYI.) If my kids are not properly stowed in the basement or their room, I'll use my little bluetooth speaker instead. Either way, dish washing time is worship time for me.

Read books
I'm not one of those snobs who doesn't watch TV-- I'm a sucker for PBS period dramas. But the joyful feeling I get from reading lasts much longer than the temporary pleasure of escaping to Downton Abbey. From my reading time, I get fuel for both my journal time and for my wall postings and often, my blog postings. It's a joy that multiplies. Lately, I've been reading Joan Chittister's The Friendship of Women and Marie Kondo's Spark Joy.

If I didn't get around to journaling in the morning, say I got inspired to write an early morning blog post (ahem) and ran out of time before the make-breakfast-wipe-noses-wipe-butts-pack-lunches-pack-backpacks-put-on-boots-and-mittens-machine has awoken, then I also like to do a loose form of the Daily Examen in my journal by considering my brightest and darkest moments of my day and lifting it to the Lord to either illuminate or heal.

Do these 11 resonate with you? What are your personal methods for sparking joy and gratitude amid the daily grind?

No comments:

Post a Comment