Finding Truth Close to Home

Last week I had an unexpected afternoon to myself. I ate a solitary lunch and was looking at my to-do list. It was filled with everything from cleaning and household tasks to writing and more creative endeavors. But all of those things made me feel antsy and I knew that I wouldn’t be productive. I needed to get out.

Muslin Concepts

So, I headed to the Denver Art Museum for the Christian Dior exhibit. As I stepped into the first room, my breath caught. The beauty of Dior’s earliest collection literally made me stop. I had forgotten how incredible it is to see haute couture up close. The details, the quality, the way the fabric hangs is absolutely stunning.

After wandering for an hour or so, I felt refreshed and energized. I thought about my to-do list and all the things that would eventually get done. I so often hear that writing is about sitting down and doing the work; That often the muse doesn’t show up and yet we still need to be ready. And while I totally agree with this, I also need to remember that without filling my life with beauty and new experiences, the muse has very little to draw upon.

I recently finished Dani Shapiro’s memoir, Devotion. The book is about Shapiro’s spiritual journey and a lot of it draws on her yoga practice. She writes about attending workshops and retreats around her home base of Connecticut. At one point, she is offered an opportunity to travel to India to study at an ashram there. The chance to go practice in the land of yoga’s origins tempts her. Honestly, even without a serious yoga practice, I’d imagine a trip to a new culture would be tempting to most of us. Shapiro turns down the opportunity and offers a reflection that has stayed with me.

Truths found out there don’t travel well.

Dani Shapiro, Devotion, pg 152

What she means is that if we can’t learn new truths at home, we aren’t ready to learn new truths. Traveling abroad won’t tell you what you can’t hear at home.

She’s not discounting travel or the beauty of learning from cultures outside our own norms. What she is saying is that we can’t depend on leaving home for a life-changing experience. If we are unable to be changed at home, we cannot expect to be changed abroad.

I needed to hear this. I’ve been feeling in a creative slump lately and it’s so easy to think that if only I could fill my world with a trip or an exotic experience then I would have material to spark creativity. I imagine how lovely it would be to walk the streets of Paris or Florence, surrounded by beautiful architecture where the very presence of greatness inspires so many of us. Or maybe a trip somewhere completely new like Peru or Palestine will spark that newness that is so exhilarating.

And while I will always feel invigorated by travel and exploration, I’m learning that the lessons I need to learn are right here. Now, a break in routine is often necessary to help us see those lessons. Shapiro didn’t limit her yoga practice to living room videos – she attended retreats and pushed her limits. When I was feeling overwhelmed by the routines of my small world, a visit to an exhibit twenty minutes away transported me to another place and time.

What I’m trying to remember is that intentionality starts at home. Where can I look to disrupt my routine? Maybe it’s a walk at a new park. Maybe it’s seeking out art exhibits that help me expand my horizons. Maybe it’s reading a challenging book in a different environment, rather than in my own living room. How am I holding both sacred – the need for new and the recognition that I can learn from where I am?

As January comes to a close and we enter February – perhaps the longest month of the year – I hope to keep this at the forefront of my thoughts. All the truths I need are close to home, right where I need them most.

How do you mix up your routine? What are some truths you’ve found right at home?

Are you signed up from my newsletter, The Compost Heap? It’s been a couple months since I’ve sent one out and I’m trying to get back in the practice. It’s a short letter with a thought, a book recommendation, and some other thing or two that has been interesting lately. You can sign up here: The Compost Heap.

Review: NKJV Reader’s Bible

Now that we’re a full week into summer, I’m slowly finding a routine. My favorite part of school being over is a slower start to our mornings. The girls are still up before 7:00 but we don’t have to be anywhere for a while. I’m enjoying a cup of coffee while still in my pajamas, reading a poem or two, and starting to read a chapter from the Bible.

_240_360_Book.2523.coverA couple years ago, I set a goal to complete the Bible in a Year and when I was done, I wasn’t really sure what to do next. My big goal had been achieved and it felt a bit strange to just start right back in Genesis. But I’ve missed the daily rhythm of reading from the Bible and was having a hard time finding a good fit.

I’ve been using the same New Living Translation Study Bible since college and love it. But when I saw Thomas Nelson’s Deluxe Reader’s Bible, my interest was piqued. I haven’t read the New King James Version since my first Precious Moments Bible and I’ve enjoyed rediscovering this poetic translation.

IMG_9363I also enjoy the “reader’s version” formatting. This means it reads like a book: One column formatting without verses. The chapter titles are printed at the top of each page and the chapter number is printed in the margins but otherwise, those key markers are unobtrusive or missing altogether. There is no commentary, concordance, or references.

As the description reads,

The NKJV Deluxe Reader’s Bible is an invitation to get caught up in the story of Scripture, as history, poetry, and prophecy come to life on pages designed for people who love a good book.

This Bible is ideal for someone looking for a clean, simple reading experience. It has helped me remember that the Bible is literature and reading it as such has deepened my experience. I needed a refresh when it came to this familiar text and a different translation combined with a beautiful format was exactly what I needed to reignite my morning routine.

What is your favorite Biblical translation? How do you refresh your morning routine?

I received this book free from the publisher via BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion. Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

Incorporating Habits into Routines

Next week is spring break. Will you rest during spring break? The family literacy teacher asked our class this opening question. The only woman in the room without kids, she was looking forward to a week of sleeping in, unstructured time with family and friends, and relaxing.

IMG_8552All the moms looked at her blankly. This was not a language misunderstanding; this was a life-circumstance disconnect. None of the moms in the room would sleep in or relax. If anything, our routines would be thrown off for the week and we would be filling long days that were usually helped by the school routine.

Normally, I love slow days. Even though we wake up at the same time, regardless of the weekend, weekday, or holiday, having a pajama morning is lovely. Easing into the day is more relaxing and I love the break in routine.

But I also need to go into next week remembering that it takes time to establish a vacation routine, too. That for as much as my kids need and thrive on unstructured play, having an unstructured routine can be stressful.

Lent is almost finished – just over a week until Easter. Every day, I’ve been reading through the book of Exodus, “giving up” some of my precious writing time to dive into the Bible. For the most part, I’ve been consistent, with just a couple make-up days. Now that I’ve established this routine, I’ve been thinking about what I’ll keep in its place.

Because that’s the point, right? Not to simply go back to old habits but to continue living intentionally, using my time wisely, and recognizing the power of habits and routines.

What kind of routine do you thrive on? And, are you able to sleep in on holidays or do you keep getting up at the same time?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “routine.”

Morning Rituals

I just finished reading Found by Micha Boyett. It’s her journey as a new mom in finding space for prayer, contemplation, and the spiritual practices she enjoyed before her time was consumed with an infant-turned-active-toddler. Among many other gems, she talks about resetting expectations – perhaps prayer is one line while nursing rather than a focused quiet time. She also talks about the rituals of motherhood and how the day’s routines aren’t that different from those who live a monastic life.

It got me thinking about routines I keep sacred. Some are spiritual and most others simply help my sanity, which I’m learning is a spiritual practice in itself. Before I had Bea, I had a pretty set routine. I’d make my lunch each night before bed and I’d be in bed no later than 9:00 to give myself time to read before I went to sleep. (I think it got pushed to 9:30 after I married Frank, but I was still very strict!) I’d wake up at 6:00 each morning and always left the house at the same time. As a single person and even when it was just two adults in our house, it was pretty easy to keep a set routine.

And then Bea came along. Just when I thought we’d found a rhythm to our days, her naps would change or she would be teething or daylight savings would occur or some other phenomenon would happen to throw our routine off. It took a while, but I learned to relax in the non-routine of it all. There are some things, though – even in the chaos – I held sacred.

Bea's morning ritual
Bea’s morning ritual

1) I always make our bed. No matter if I napped with Bea again in just a few hours in those early days, knowing it was made at the start of each day made me feel like a whole person. Even now, having a made bed makes me feel ready for anything.

2) I always shower and put on “real” clothes. Staying in my pajamas all day makes me feel like I’m recovering from an illness. Early in my stay-at-home days, I made a decision not to wear yoga pants out of the house. I would change into jeans, run an errand, and often change back into my comfy pants. For whatever reason, going out feeling semi-put- together made even the longest days doable.

3) Frank is wonderful about letting me have a first cup of coffee while I read the news on my phone. It has looked different at different stages, but having that moment to ease into the day and catch up on the world helps my mindset, especially on days we have nothing much planned.

4) We (mostly) have family breakfasts. Even with the busyness of tax season, we try to sit down together in the morning. This has been vital, especially when Frank works late at night and misses bedtime. It’s one meal we can connect and focus as a family.

5) This is a new routine, but I’ve moved my Common Prayer book to my nightstand. I try to read three prayers a day, but am satisfied if I just read the morning and compline prayers. There’s something about getting that in that makes me feel less guilty if other study falls by the wayside.

What are some of your sacred routines?