As I come off a time of vacation, I feel like an astronaut re-entering the earth's atmosphere. Coming from a place of quietness and serene beauty, I am suddenly thrust into an atmosphere of noise and chaos and come hurdling down with a giant splash, sinking down into the depths of reality and gasping for air as I come up among the waves of reality -- emails and phone calls to return, work demands and deadlines piled sky high while I was gone, appointments, household chores and the dailies of life. The rest, relaxation and restoration I sought is basically vaporized by the clamor and pressure of reality. In a word, ugh!
Can you relate? Are you facing this same problem as you think about an upcoming vacation, or have horror stories of your own re-entries from the past?
How do we combat this physical and emotional battle and bring alive more of the R&R each day? Today is July 1st, the beginning of the second half of 2013. It is a perfect time to start something new, and I am going to set myself a goal of doing just that for the rest of the year - intentionally planting seeds of the calm and quiet peacefulness that replenishes me during those fleeting vacation days. Won't you join me?
Throughout the summer I will be staying with the theme of "Margin Monday" as we look at ways to be mentally/emotionally fit. From the old Seinfeld show, we'll use the father of George Castanza's battle cry - "SERENITY NOW!!!!"
I will be sharing a variety of methods for us to seed, grow and nurture this goal of mindfully having a garden of sanctuary for our souls - time and stress management techniques, inspirational and motivational quotes, books and websites. By taking action on little bits of wisdom and advice and using them as the seeds for your soul sanctuary, you will begin the process of creating a life less stressed and more nourishing, less crammed and more spacious... more less, and less more!
The first "seed" I'd like to offer you is from a great book that I highly recommend (and one that I am highlighting as our book of the month choice), Richard A. Swenson's "A Minute of Margin". He originally wrote the book "Margins" (a previous book of the month here), and from that created this lovely gem of daily reflections that quiet, inspire and offer practical advice. So grab a cup of chamomile tea, sit back and take a few moments to exercise your soul gardening skills.
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It is important to understand our emotional reserves. It is important to understand how much we have at the beginning of each day and which influences drain our emotions dry or recharge our batteries. It is important to learn what our limits are and not to take further withdrawals if we are already maximally depleted. And it is important to respect these limits in others.
We often have trouble accepting the idea of rationing our emotional energy. It is simply too difficult to quantify feelings. We feel ashamed admitting that our spirit is exhausted. But our hesitancy in no way constitutes proof that such limits are only a convenient fiction for the weak. Instead our hesitancy is an obstacle to overcome. Margin gives us permission.
Rx: First, identify those triggers that drain you disproportionately – financial difficulties, argumentative children, traffic, noise, sleeplessness, work overload, negative people. Perhaps you cannot change the external event itself, but you can either decrease exposure to such events or develop more personal control over your response. Second, identify those activities that enhance emotional resilience – positive people, laughter, rest, music, worship, prayer, Scripture reading, accomplishment, sports, hiking, fishing. Specifically schedule space in your energy budget for this important recharging of your batteries.
A Minute of Margin by Richard A. Swenson